By Niles Reddick

Christina and I got engaged at Griffith Observatory overlooking Los Angeles at sunset. We had done most pre-marriage necessities–met each other’s dysfunctional families, shared about previous relationships, and agreed on future goals. We paid the fee to park, walked to the edge of the cliff nearest the Hollywood sign, and stood breathing in the view of the sprawling city below. We saw a light zoom across the sky, a UFO we assumed, and which underscored the importance of the moment. I bent down on one knee, pulled the engagement ring from my pocket, and asked her, “Will you marry me?”

“Yes,” she said, tearing. 

I stood to clapping. There were visitors and park officials who had watched the proposal. It made the moment even more special.  After talking about moving in together, what we might keep of mine, how the commute might work for my job downtown, we got into my Jeep and headed back down the mountain to Little Dom’s, an Italian restaurant where I’d made reservations. Though I felt like she might say “Yes”, I honestly didn’t know and figured if she said “No”, then we might keep the dinner reservations, talk through the “No”, or simply skip dinner, making someone else on the waiting list a happy diner.

We had the appetizer rice balls, the vegan spaghetti entre, and indulged with a delicious olive oil cake with a strawberry-rhubarb topping.  We asked a Canadian couple at the next table to take our photo, and I excused myself. In the restroom, I noticed a person who seemed familiar washing his hands. We both nodded. He wore a cap, a plaid short sleeved shirt, jeans, and Vans. Back at our table, I saw him at a nearby booth with his date, a petite brunette with haunting eyes who also looked familiar. She wore a comfortable linen dress and sandals. 

“Christina, do you see the couple two booths from our table to your left, my right?”

“Yes, I do. I noticed them come in. I may be wrong, but I think that’s Megan Fox. She played in the Transformers movies.”

“Oh yeah. What about her date?”

“I think that’s Machine Gun Kelly. See the tattoos on his arms, the white hair hanging out from under that hat?”

“Yeah. I saw him in the restroom. He looked familiar.”

“I think it’s cool we can go to a neighborhood restaurant like Little Dom’s and see stars.”

“Especially since we are so close to the observatory. You want to get their autographs?”

“No, let them eat in peace. That’s what makes this place special. It’s not all paparazzi.” 

I stood with my phone, turned on the flash, and took photos at different angles. I moved around, Christina threw back her head, pushed out her arm, dangled her left hand with the engagement ring I’d financed, and people clapped, even Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly. As we waltzed out of the restaurant, I said, “I’ll always be your paparazzi.”

Niles Reddick is author of a novel, two collections, and a novella. His work has been featured in over four-hundred-fifty publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIFBlazeVoxNew Reader MagazineCitron Review, and The Boston Literary Magazine. He works for the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

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