"Mr. Shore."  After almost a year, Clarence's affect still jangled with trepidation when he had to interrupt his new boss.  Or anyone, really. "There's a man here to see you. He says he's your friend."

Alan ran through the possibilities.  It didn't take long.  Denny was out having facial, and while Ellenor was sufficiently imposing to cause confusion under certain circumstances, Alan had full faith and confidence in Clarence's ability to determine gender.  The claim was certainly an interesting one, if unlikely to be true.

He gave Clarence his full attention. "What does he want?"

"I didn't ask.  Since he wouldn't even leave a name, I thought it might be…personal.  He looks--"

Alan raised his forehead in encouragement.

"Personable."  Clarence said it with an explanatory yet non-critical flop of one wrist.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Alan strode out into the paralegals' area where Melissa conversed with a new girl--one he'd made a note to try out himself later.  But now he cocked his neck and puzzled at the visitor sitting--legs crossed--in the comfy chair. 


A well-built blond sporting much too much spray-on bronzer leapt up, hand extended.  "Alan!  I wasn't sure you'd remember!"

"They say you never forget your first." Alan reciprocated the hearty shake.

Clarence's eyes rolled to Melissa.  They all stood frozen, as if shoes glued to the floor.

"The first person to show you how to roll a doobie." Alan clarified and cast an insincere assurance in their collective direction. 

"But I trust that's not what brings you here today, or has the DEA, in its infinite wisdom, decided only to tackle battles in sizes of which it might win?"

"No," Gregory took his hand back and stowed it in a khaki front pocket.  "I've changed since high school.  I got a music degree from Amherst and taught for a while.  Then, in 2004, I married the chef I'd been living with.  We moved to Providence and opened a bistro with live music five nights a week."


"Not hardly!  That's why I'm here." Gregory's voice shot up at least two octaves, almost to a falsetto.  "The little tramp's been cheating on me!  With one of our busboys, no less!  I want to divorce his skanky ass, but Rhode Island won't let me."

"Pardon?" Alan willed himself not to flinch at the screech.

"I know! Isn't it insane?  The state doesn't want us married, yet they won't let me divorce him."


"Richard.  My chef.  And Massachusetts, the state that married us, says we can't get a divorce here unless the affair occurred here.  So I thought of you.  I saw you were still here and thought you might help."

"You want to have an affair with me? In Massachusetts?  To establish grounds for a divorce?"  Alan flickered wide-eyed lashes.

"That wasn't why I came, but ...would it work?" Gregory looked taken aback.  Then he checked Alan out up and down, letting his gaze loiter in the middle.

"I suppose it would be cheaper..."

Alan stepped behind Clarence's desk for cover. "Clarence, I need the Rhode Island and Massachusetts divorce statues.  Now please.  And do knock before entering." 

With a hand to the small of his back, Alan ushered Gregory into his office and shut the door.

"It's a bit sticky," Alan concluded after a little research.  "Divorce law is gender neutral and all quite clear cut.  Ten thousand divorce attorneys have to have had something to do all these years. What we may be able to do is challenge the validity of the initial marriage itself and seek an annulment. But that will raise broader issues."


"First, for an annulment to be granted, our position must be that the marriage has not been consummated."

"Ho!" Gregory chirped. "But it has! In a big way.  You would not believe our Astroglide budget."

"So a reasonable person might presume.  But such ongoings are not the same as legal findings.  And that is precisely my concern."

"Oh, it will be," Gregory sighed. "There's pictures. Video. It's even been YouTubed.  Find another way to go.  This one's a non-starter, believe you me."

Alan turned the statute book around.  "It might surprise you to learn that you and Richard have never had sex."

"Pardon?" Gregory reached for his iPhone.  "I can show you some clips if you don't believe me."

"Under Massachusetts law, you've never had sex with any man. You've had sodomy.  Did you enjoy it?"

"Every minute."

"Good.  Nonetheless, sodomy does not qualify as marriage consummation, and we can look into instigating annulment proceedings.

"It does, however, raise the obvious issue of can any homosexual marriage ever be consummated, and if not, can gay marriage fall into what a marital arrangement is intended to be.

"This filing could have far reaching implications. At least make things intensely uncomfortable for you. Are you sure you wish to proceed this way?"  Alan waited for a response.

"I need to ditch the bitch, but you're right." Gregory thrummed fingers on his forearm.  "There's a big party out on The Vineyard this weekend.  A lot of people will be there. GLAD members.  Maybe if you could come and talk to them.  We'll take the pulse.  See how it shakes out."

"The Vineyard?  Gregory, this is really not my specialty.  I could give you a referral to a number of excellent family law practitioners--"

"Oh, don't be a poop.  Just come with me and see where this goes." Gregory squeezed his hand. "I'll fly you out.  It'll be fun." 

Still no response. 

Gregory rolled his eyes. "Okay, fine. You can bring a date."

"Were you having gay sex with a man in here?" Denny stormed in less than an hour later.

"Absolutely not! If I were to be not having gay sex with anyone, it would be you."  Alan continued working.

"Good. And what's this I hear about you taking a gay marriage case?  You know I'm opposed to gay marriage." 

"You're opposed to gay everything." 

"Not Marcia Gay Harden.  I like her. She's hot."

"Who wouldn't?  Anyway, I'm trying to get them unmarried to fornicate ad lib.  You should approve of that."

"Well..."  Denny seemed to give a little. It was a tough dilemma.

Alan dove in the available crack.  He set down his pen.  "Denny, here's the deal: I have to go to a gathering of gay activists on the Vineyard this weekend.  You can come with or, you can leave me to the care of dozens of willing and, well-dressed and moneyed gentlemen.  Your call."

Denny regarded his fingernails.  "How's the fishing?"

"I hear they're catching. With the proper fly techniques." Alan grinned at him.

Denny scowled and raised a finger.  "One day you're going to push me too far."

Alan leaned back and laced his fingers. "That should be an interesting day, indeed."

"I wonder where I left my Speedo," Denny mumbled as he wandered out Alan's door.

The bed and breakfast room was almost pitch black.  It must have been some outside noise that awakened them.

"Move your elbow."  Alan's mouth felt like it had just been used to shoot every one of the camel scenes in Lawrence of Arabia.

"That's not my elbow."

"Move it anyway." Alan tugged on the top sheets and scrunched toward the edge of the mattress.

"Why aren't you in your own bed?" Denny griped.

"Why are you still dressed?" 

Indeed, they both wore the better part of severely rumpled suits they'd donned Friday night.

"I don't know." Denny rubbed his eyes and checked them both over.  "What happened to your jacket?" He pointed to suspicious looking stains splattered over Alan's front.

"Never mind my jacket; what happened to Saturday?" Alan squinted to focus on the tiny date display on his watch.


"Either my watch gained a day or we lost one." 

"What's going on?"  Denny struggled to sit, then gave up and lay back down flat again.

Head and stomach protesting with every motion, Alan crossed to the controller and flipped on CNN.  A custody battle for the offspring of some alcohol infused child who possessed more money than talent and more talent than underwear passed for news of interest.  At the bottom, the dateline confirmed that it was indeed early Sunday.

He thumbed down the sound.

"I don't know, but I don't intend to find out until my head either returns to normal size or blows off.  At the moment, I don't care which.  Move over."  Alan crawled back into bed and pulled the covers of his head. 

"Hey!  Use your own bed."

"I don't feel well, and this one's already warmed up.  Move over." One hand clutched against his stomach, Alan tried again.  This time he gave him a little shove.

Something crinkled beneath Denny's bottom.

"What's that?" Alan reached for it.

"Hey, hey, hey!"  Denny protested.  "I thought you had a headache!"

But Denny had jumped back enough for Alan to get the paper.  It was a legal document.  A certificate.  A marriage certificate. 

It was a marriage certificate between Dennis Crane and Alan Shore dated Saturday.  The day before.

"Denny," Alan said, "About that missing day.  I think you should see this."

Denny glanced at it and chucked it back at him.  "It's probably an April Fool's joke by some pissed-off judge you've slept with."

"Possibly," said Alan, studying the signature.  "Although it's not April, and I never found her to be particularly funny."

The timbre of the television announcer changed. "And in local news, legendary Boston attorney Denny Crane has become the latest celebrity to take advantage of the Goodridge finding as he married his partner of several years--Alan Shore-- in a private ceremony on Martha's Vineyard."  A blurry camera phone picture of them kissing over a wedding cake appeared on the screen.

"Or not," said Alan.  He folded the certificate into his pocket.

Denny reached out a finger to the stains on Alan's jacket.  "Oh, that explains it.  Icing."  He swiped, then popped the finger into his mouth and sucked.  "Mmm! Butter cream!"

"What?" he asked to Alan's disgusted stare. "Did you want me to save you some?"

Alan pressed both hands to his abdomen and rolled over

Paul hung up the phone.  "The bad news is that it is a legal marriage.  Somehow someone persuaded the magistrate to waive the waiting period and issue an immediate license--"

"Denny Crane."

"--and the marriage has been duly recorded at the courthouse."

"And on the Internet," said Brad.  He cued a blow-up of the kiss on to the wall screen.

Alan peered at it. "What do you think?  Is that tongue?"

"If it is tongue, it's yours," Denny said.

"I think it's icing," said Alan. "Pink icing."

Paul groaned as if in pain and raised his voice.  "But as for the good news, getting an annulment should be straightforward, assuming there has been no consummation."

Brad shot a look to Shirley.

Shirley shot a look to Alan. 

Alan blinked and looked carefully at an unfocused nothing.

Denny looked at his hands in his lap.

At the piercing silence, Paul peered over his glasses.  "Denny?  There hasn't been consummation, has there?" 

But it was Alan who answered. "Paul, did the doctor not explain to you the amnestic effects of the GHB that was found in our blood?"

"Oh boy."  Shirley rubbed her temple with her palm.

"You don't remember…anything?" Paul tried.

"Not until I awoke Sunday feeling refreshed and invigorated and incomprehensibly happy with a sudden urge to sing Julie Andrews show tunes." Alan seemed oddly unperturbed.

"Last thing I remember, we were sunbathing naked at Gay Head--"

"Denny was naked; I was fully clothed."

"Like a photophobic Eskimo," Denny grumped, "Then Alan said it was time to get ready for the party.  We went back to the room, had a drink, dressed, and the next thing I know, we're waking up in bed together.

"But I will say this: if we did do it, we were married, so it wasn't a sin.  Tell the religious right to stick that in their chompers and chew."

Somehow Denny managed to carry off lines like that and not sound ludicrous.  Alan could never quite fathom how.

Paul squeezed his eyes closed, then turned to Alan for help.  That was never a good sign. "Mr. Shore, can you provide any elucidation as to that point?"

Alan exhaled in to his hand and made a show of taking a deep, sensuous whiff of his breath. "I can't be completely sure.  Brad, what would you say?"  He twisted the curved of his palm towards Brad's nose.

Brad squirmed.  "Wait a minute. Aren't we putting the cart before the horse?" He eyeballed Alan. "Or at least before the horse's--"

Denny's eyes shot up.

Alan swiveled on him. "Bradley, if you are so eager to turn the discussion to asses--"

Brad postured. "Alan, any time you--"

Paul cut them all off with one very impatient hand. "What is your point, Brad?"

"Look, we've been here before thinking we were running damage control on one of Denny's marriage fiascoes.  We all invested a lot of time, effort, money and lost sleep only to discover that not only did Denny have no intention of dissolving the union, but that he had things under control the whole time. I'm just saying, that with the two of them running around sleeping together, playing flamingos, and God knows what else they do together--"

"Fishing," Denny mumbled. "Sometimes a milk bath."

"--that before we go investing a bunch more of our own emotional and the firm's financial resources into this dog-and-pony show, it would be prudent to get a good faith assurance that this isn't some kind of a prank, and that they do, in fact, want this marriage dissolved."  Brad rested, looking intolerably smug and not even a trifle winded.

Paul and Shirley looked inclined to side with Brad.

"Fine." Alan tossed up his hands. "For the record: I had no foreknowledge of this, minimal memory of how it happened, and it is absolutely our intention and desire to have this marriage-- to which I did not knowingly consent--annulled as soon as possible.

"Denny."  With a flourish of his arm, Alan turned the floor over to Denny.

Denny spared him two seconds of an icy glare, then pushed back and stalked from the room.

"Huh."  Brad crossed his arms, making for an odd fusion attitude of self-satisfied and uncomfortably awkward.

Shirley closed her folder.  "Let's try this again tomorrow. Say three o'clock. That should give everyone--Alan, that means you-- some time for further consideration."

Alan just stared out the door where Denny had gone.  "Oh dear," he said at last.

Alan crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's. Or vice versa.  He had made up his mind to turn this case over to a sub-specialist, but he was going to turn it over looking good.  He finished up the last of the briefs and placed the referral call.

Another man was leaving Denny's office when Alan showed up there.

"My private dick," Denny said.

"Not so much anymore," Alan observed with a nod toward the gap in Denny's fly.

"Oh."  Denny zipped and plopped down in the chair behind his desk. "What's so terrible about being married to me, anyway?  Why not buy the cow instead of taking the Crane for free?  I'm rich.  I share my--" 

"Toys."  Alan molded himself into the sofa.

"I was going to say 'women.'" Denny was still fiddling with something in his lap.

"There's nothing at all terrible about it.  I quite like it. It's like a well-worn favorite sweater, or a perfectly broken-in pair of shoes." Alan relaxed and waxed softly philosophical as he only did when he believed no one--or no one but Denny--was really listening.

"So why are you trying to annul me?  I don't like it.  I don't like people pretending I was never here. It'll be true soon enough."

"Because I was drugged and manipulated. I don't like it; I don't understand it, and I won't stand for it.  Frankly, I'm mystified as to why you're so complacent about the whole thing."

"You're still young, Alan.  You don't know it yet, but as you get older, you have to accept loss.  Loss of control.  I didn't ask for mad cow. Or to be relegated to sitting in my office playing with my...bobblehead."  He plunked the plastic Denny Crane figure back on his desk.

"You can fight all the way and be miserable, or you can stay alert for the fun in what comes along.  You might see it's not always bad."  Denny boinked his bobblehead for emphasis.

Alan shook his head in incredulity. "I have work to do." He stood and smoothed his tie. "Can we talk about this tonight?  Say eight.  I'll bring cinnamon buns."


"Pretzels?  Caramel corn?"

"No. No sleepovers. You're divorcing me. I don't want you in my house."

Alan was overcome with sudden, acute empathy for everyone who had ever dumped or divorced Denny or anyone who ever would. "I don't believe this. You're making almost no sense even for you, which--I must say--is a stupendous achievement."

"No sleepovers until this is settled. People might think we're gay."

"I think that was pretty much covered by our marriage announcement on TBS, FOX, CNN--"

"It's different if we're married.  If you're leaving me--"

"I'm not leaving you; I just--"

"Alan, you're young," Denny repeated. "You have many years to make and remake yourself.  What I am today, tomorrow, next week: that's how I'll be remembered. I can't be flip-flopping around like a damn trout.  Make up your damn mind."

Denny marched out of his own office, leaving Alan staring after him nonplussed.

Denny's private investigator figured the whole thing out.  It turns out they had been drugged at the party.  Or more accurately, Denny had drugged them both.  You see, someone had offered Denny a bowl of Aqua Dots saying it would help him score tonight. Denny had had his eye on a pair of women who were together and, having not considered there would be women at a gay party, he hadn't brought his own blue pills.

So he took a couple of blue ones.

He then pressed a couple on Alan, who assumed they were breath mints and the damage was pretty much done from there.

"That still doesn't explain this expedited marriage," said Paul.

Brad flipped though the investigator's file.  The cell phone photo of Denny in the rainbow garter was a keeper.

Denny indicated the signature on the certificate. "Judge Harrington was at the party.  He came up short on a poker bet with me last year. I guess he's still holding a grudge."

"How much?" asked Shirley.

"Excuse me?"

"You said he came up short. I'd like to know: what sum of money could have been the impetus for a debacle such as this?"

Denny shifted his bulk. "It wasn't money. It was strip poker."

Shirley's eyes bulged.

"You'd think a jurist of his caliber would know enough to check the rules before sitting down at a card table.... "  Denny's voice trailed off then boomed again. "So here we are. Damned if I'm going to let him win.  He think's he's played me. I'll show him.  No divorce; no annulment.  Marriage number seven's going to be the lucky one for me."

Denny looked to Alan. "Do you feel lucky?" He backpedaled. "Like getting lucky?"

Glances ricocheted around the room.

Brad snorted and shook his head. He tossed the folder to Paul. "Don't say I didn't tell you so."

Alan picked up the folder and slowly leafed through it.

Denny remained adamant on the sleepover issue, so they compromised on the balcony.  Even he agreed there could be nothing at all ambiguously gay about two slightly toasted men sharing cigars and their deepest secrets alone in the darkness.

Alan began without preamble before he lost his nerve. "Denny, I'm hardly a deep well of interpersonal emotion. When my wife died, I genuinely believed that all that I had to give another person went with her. 

"Until I met you and you touched places…things within me that I didn't know existed. You…"  Either he lost the nerve or the train of thought.

Or he knew it was more sentiment than Denny could stand to hear in words.

He started again. "I know for a certainty that there is nothing in me beyond this, Denny.  You are my last meaningful relationship.  I am not asking for anything from you beyond that which you have already seen fit to give, but I do insist that if there ever is need or reason to memorialize it as such, to commit the ineffable to the cold confines of black and white legalese--a situation I am not overeager to see happen--I would dearly wish that it were done so with your full and sober consideration.  Because it is what you want as well, and not simply because you drank from the wrong bowl at a party and are making do."

For a while there was only the stillness of the balcony. 

With another man Alan would have wondered if he'd gone too far. With Denny he only wondered if he'd forgotten what they were talking about.

But finally Denny put down his cigar.

"Alan, I've loved you longer than I've loved any of my wives.  I don't know what that makes you, but it sure as hell isn't making do."

There is a law school maxim that who ever speaks first in a tense situation loses, and so Alan clamped down on his tongue and counted the seconds, listening only to the beat of his own heart.

"What the hell.  You can have your divorce," Denny said at last.

"That's it?" Alan almost laughed.  "I bare my soul, and you want to annul me?"

"That's the way you wanted it five minutes ago."

"That's what I said, but you of all people ought to know that sometimes when someone says 'no' she means…"

"If we stay married, we can't have sleepovers.  Isn't that a good enough reason for you?"

It was, but it wasn't wise to give in too easily to Denny. Like a pit bull, his joy came from more from the tug-of-war than from seizing the toy itself. 

"Can we watch Beaches tonight?"

"Beaches? Bikinis?  Topless?" 

Alan thought he could hear the drool.  "Now that you mention it, I think that's the one."

"Sounds good.  You bring the popcorn; I'll have the hot oil ready."

"Melted butter."

"You have topless beaches your way, I'll have 'em mine."

Suddenly life was gentle and easy again.

"What are you thinking?  I know that laugh."  Denny's voice jarred him.

"I'm thinking that if we were to move to Rhode Island, this matter would be rendered moot."

"Hell of a commute."


"Hm?"  Denny chewed his cigar.

"Get a helicopter.  You can afford it."

"Oooh!  Pulling back the stick between my legs.  Huge billows of air buoying up my--"  Denny churned his hand between his thighs.


"Mmm," Denny growled. "Could work.  What should we name her?"


"Our helicopter."

Alan stood. "I don't know.  Let's talk about it at the house."

"You know," Denny drained his Scotch glass and rose, "you're more trouble than all my wives put together.  Even Angie. Once, I had to buy a jai-alai team to keep her happy." 

"Did you say trouble or troubled?"

"Same thing."

"I suppose," said Alan.  "Come on, Free Bird. Let's go."  He waited at the door and closed it behind Denny as they left.

All along the hall junior associates prepared to burn the midnight oil. 

Alan raised his voice.  "You did intimate that it would be acceptable to have intercourse since we're legally wed."  He linked through Denny's arm and held fast.

Heads popped up and turned behind various desks.

"Why do you always have to push it?  I said I'd sleep with you; can't you be happy with that?"  Denny grumbled, but he fell into rolling rhythm with the step and the arm and the shoulder.

"I like to push it.  I like the way you push back.  The way we push against each other.  I find it...intensely climactic."

"I'll be checking your sheets for icing in the morning."

"No doubt."

The banter continued all the way to the parking garage.