Night came and went and then it was day time again. Lisa was sitting, drinking coffee in the living room when Johnny came down the stairs, eating a bagel.
"Bye Lisa!" he said between bites, kissing her on the cheek.
Lisa watched him go with cold, sad eyes. When was she going to tell him? Mark was, after all, his best friend.
Johnny opened the door to reveal Claudette, who was waiting outside.
"Oh, hi Claudette!" Johnny exclaimed and hugged his future-mother-in-law.
"Oh!" she greeted.
"Bye!" Johnny said, and went off to work.
"Bye!" Claudette waved after him, then walked over to where Lisa was sitting.
"Hi, Mom." Lisa said, "how are you?"
"I'm okay! How are you?" Claudette said, sitting on the couch adjacent to Lisa.
"I'm fixing the apartment for Johnny's birthday, but I'm really not into it." Lisa wined.
"Oh, why not?"
"Because I'm in love with Mark, not Johnny." Lisa said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, and in many ways it was as she had had this identical conversation with her mother at least a dozen times over the past few weeks. "And here I am, planning his party."
Claudette rolled her eyes. Here we go again.
"It's not right, Lisa! I still think you should marry Johnny! Now you can't live on love. You need financial security." She explained, pointing her finger. Lisa, as a woman, had no financial security without Johnny, who was a man.
"But I'm not happy!" Lisa shot back.
Claudette simply shook her head again. As if happiness mattered for her daughter.
"And he still thinks I'm going to marry him next month. He's a fool." Lisa put down her mug and stood up, grabbing the broom and starting to sweep.
"You expect to be happy? I haven't been happy since I married my first husband! I didn't even want to marry your father." Claudette spat out.
Lisa gripped the broom hard. "You never told me that!"
"It's true. All men are assholes! Men and women use and abuse each other all the time. There's nothing wrong with it!" Claudette spouted, "Marriage has nothing to do with love!"
Lisa didn't want to fight with her mother anymore. She was tired enough from two straight days of sweeping.
"Johnny's OK, I suppose." she said. "Actually, I have him wrapped around my little finger."
"You should be happy then!" Claudette implored. If there's one lesson she'd always tried to ingrain in her daughter it's that she should be happy manipulating men into horrible situations.
"But I don't love him!" Lisa yelled again. How many times did she have to say it before anyone would understand!
"Oh!" Claudette sighed, standing up and facing her daughter. "Don't throw your life away just because you don't love him! That's ridiculous! You need to grow up and you need to listen to me!"
Lisa just stared at her mother. She was done with this.
"OK, Mom. I'll see you at the party."
Claudette sighed and rolled her eyes and sighed again and then rolled her eyes again. And then she kissed her finger and put that finger to Lisa's nose. Lisa crinkled her face all cute like.
"Bye bye my precious." she said, and left the apartment.
* * *
As Johnny walked home for what would be the final time, he couldn't help but realize once again that San Francisco was a beautiful city. One of the most beautiful cities he had ever seen. From the beautiful Golden Gate bridge, to all the beautiful buildings, to all the townhouses and all the beautiful streets with beautiful street cars. It was the magic hour now, twilight, and the city just glowed. He took the scenic route today, past the Disney Store and the cathedral and before he knew it he was home.
He opened the door.
Everything was strangely dark.
And then the lights flicked on.
It was everyone! Lisa, Denny, Michelle and her boyfriend Mike, Johnny's best friend Mark and Lisa's Mom Claudette. Some random other best friends of Johnny's. Everyone.
Lisa ran forward and touched his arm. Everyone broke out into the Birthday Song. As they sang, Johnny blushed.
"Oh wow!" he said as they chanted his name, "Wow, all right, thank you, thank you! All right, ha ha!"
They finished and Johnny grabbed a glass of champagne, toasting everyone around him.
"Hey thank you!" he said, "Thanks for coming! Thanks a lot again! Thank you!"
He tilted his glass towards Denny. "You want to drink this one?" he asked.
Denny looked at Johnny confused. Wasn't Johnny a recovering alcoholic? And wasn't Denny a recovering drug abuser? Whatever. It was a time for celebration.
"Yeah later!" Johnny said. "Later?" Denny asked. "Yes! Later!" Johnny said again and took a sip.
Words could not express how happy Johnny was to be like this, to be celebrating after everything that had happened. To be celebrating with all his friends, all of the men, women and children he loved so dearly. For now, for right now, he loved the whole world.
But all of that, was about to change.