TJ switches the light off, sitting back on his stool.
He watches as Dale walks around the room, taking steps in all different directions as he reads different signs, and cites different things. TJ’s eyes fall to the feet on the floor, watching for any tipsy movement or misplacement that leads to an almost trip. However, everything comes with ease around the entire room for a span of 10 minutes, before Dale makes his way over to the switch and hits it.
“$20 please?” Dale questions as he looks over at TJ, who sits there stunned.
“I’ll gladly give you that $20 because I am so damn happy that you are making such great progress,” TJ answers as he reaches into his pocket and places a bill on the bench. “Honestly, it warms my heart to see that. I mean, I admit – I was really worried there for awhile bud. But to see you do that, and not one slip up, that was amazing.” Dale smiles as he walks back over, sitting beside him.
“My goal all along was to go through these exercises and keep getting better just so that way I could walk down that aisle in January and be happy, seeing life straight as I married her. Now, I’m ready to go back to racing with the test at Darlington, and ready for the upcoming season.” TJ smiles as it was great to hear positivity, rather than being served and scared of the future.
“What about nerves?” Dale knew that was a topic as he glances outwards into the room.
“They’re there, for sure. I mean, there’s always the question of whether you’re exactly who you are and where you need to be to win races. Certainly walking into Darlington I’ll feel that. But I’m confident, and I’m happy.” TJ just kept smiling as it all sounded great.
“So, this wedding in January. I know you have this book of official announcement crap for after the wedding – but what about the wedding? We’re doing it here on the property but traditional or not?” Dale knew the question was going to be asked, having heard it already from a few people.
“Standard, typical wedding procedure is all that you need to know.” TJ shakes his head, easily accepting. He was worried there’d be something strange popping up due to this king-queen business.
“So you just need to know that book stuff for when you go back to Pitronia and announce?” Dale shakes his head yes. “And what about her name? Is she officially becoming Marie Earnhardt, which by the way sounds nice?” Dale knew how it rang together, having sung it a couple times in his mind as he counted down the days till January.
“Queen Marie-Anne Belle Kastona Earnhardt. There is no dropping names in the traditional sense.” TJ looked over perplexed, knowing he was missing something. “But she did drop Calantay to remove any trace of her father from herself, and future generations.”
“Say the name again, please.” Dale rolls his eyes.
“Queen Marie-Anne Belle Kastona Earnhardt.” TJ just shakes his head as he glances towards the glass on the counter.
“How the hell do you remember that?” Dale smiles as he looks at his best friend.
“Marie-Ann is her full name. Belle was her middle name off of her cousin. Kastona was her mother’s last name. It’s very easy.” TJ shook his head as he thought it over.
“And you, sir, would be King Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr.?” Dale looks away as he thinks it over. There was a bit more than that.
“While for the sake of my life here, I will not be taking the name, I will officially have the Kastona name in the Pitronia records.” TJ then looks over, confused. “Country tradition, buddy. That’s just how it goes, and I respect their wishes.”
“So that means that Alyssa becomes prince-”
“She’s already princess, being Marie’s daughter. So therefore she’s Princess Alyssa Kastona Earnhardt, with her future husband to add his last name to the end.” TJ then glances up, thinking it over with a smile.
“So that’d be Alysssa Kastona Earnhardt Gordo-”
“Hey now, what did I say about that?” TJ laughs, remembering how Dale had wanted to avoid the thought of his daughter dating, and any prediction that Leo and Alyssa would get together.
“So then it should be Alyssa Kastona Earnhardt Har-”
“TJ Majors!” Dale then gives him a punch as TJ immediately looks over, surprised, rubbing his arm.
“Well then damn well listen to me. I told you – my girl ain’t dating no boy, nor getting married, nor any hokey pokey.” TJ laughs as he watches Dale walk away from him.
“You keep telling yourself that but it’s going to happen. I tried the same with Madeline and she kissed a boy in school.” Dale then spins around shocked.
“Grade 2 and kissing?” TJ shakes his head yes. “Holy shit.”
“That was my reaction, before wanting to call the school and demand an answer.” Dale shakes his head.
“I’m going to need those guards sooner than I originally thought.” TJ then laughs as he follows Dale up the stairs.
“So how about Elsa then?” Dale then looks over at TJ.
“She’s only 11 months….”
“Elsa Kastona Earnhardt Busch marries Brexton Kastona Earnhardt Busch, or just Brexton Earnhardt Busch?” Dale rolls his eyes.
“You had the name placement right first, and that’s no way ever happening. Do you want a cause a riot amongst the fans?” TJ thinks it over as he smiles widely.
“Can we please, please, please prank them?” Dale just rolls his eyes again. “Is that a no?”
“Keep it up, TJ. I’ll be sure to send the boys to your house to pick up Madeline for a date.” TJ’s smile immediately disappears as Dale looks back with a grin. “Two can play this game, buddy.”
“And to think you guys have gone from drunken stumbers and stupid antics with video games, to setting each other’s kids up with boys,” they hear and glance towards the kitchen, seeing Kelley standing there beside Marie. “My oh my how times have changed.”
“Hey Kelley, is Wyatt available for a playdate?” Dale questions with a glance at TJ, who immediately returns it with a death stare.
“Oh there is no way you boys are getting me involved in your antics.”
“It’d be no surprise to see them officially be related though,” Marie comments as Kelley glances over at her.
“Don’t encourage them,” Kelley states. “They got enough ideas of their own. They don’t need our help. They need us to keep them out of trouble.”
“Yeah, that’s impossible with this guy,” TJ says as he points to Dale. “Hence why you’re still involved in his life because there’s no way he can avoid it.”
“Listen here Mr. Innocent, you’ve done your fair share too,” Dale replies as Marie shakes her head.
“I’ll tell you all about their antics later,” Kelley whispers as Marie smiles. She knew there was some good stories to be told.