The wedding had gone swimmingly so far. The bride, Jill Fenton, resplendent in a cloud of pink chiffon, about a size four squared, snuggled as close as the dress would allow to Jack Kasparik, a wavering bean-pole sweating profusely in sea-green tux.
The bespectacled pastor tucked his goatee into his chest, peering anxiously over Havana-striped Polo glasses at the couple. Now, he thought, let’s get the saddles on the horses and let them gallop off in matrimonial bliss.
He cut his eyes toward the bride’s brother, the purported best man. He could have been her twin. Some might have thought he was riding shot-gun, but who knew for sure? His resemblance to a sumo wrestler swaddled in a white tent led to speculation.
Holding his palm out to the big-un, he asked for and received the tiny ring, then placed the sparkler in the groom’s sweaty hand.
“Now, repeat after me,” he said, pinning the trembling groom with his eyes, willing him to hang in, wondering if he should offer a sip of cold water. “With this ring …”
The groom started stammering; sweat rolling like rain drops down the funnel of his furrowed brow and cascading off his rail thin nose. “With… with… Uh… Oh…. With this…” His eyes began to swap holes, jerking rapidly.
Reverend Kelly quickly continued, raising his voice, willing Kasparik to follow. “Ring. With this ring, I thee wed.”
“With this rin….” The air hissing over the pale lips sounded like a balloon with a pin prick in it. The effect was the same. Kasparik melted like American cheese beneath the broiler. He took a bent knee step forward; his outstretched hand toppling a flickering candelabrum. Sucking in air with a raspy gasp, he recoiled, teetering on the platform’s edge for the longest second known to man. He collapsed clutching pink chiffon.
And Jill came tumbling after.
Muted twin thuds echoed from the pile chased by Jack’s groan of excruciating pain and Jill’s strident whisper. “Say it – say it! With this ring…”
In the weeks that followed, whenever Reverend Kelly made hospital visits he checked on Jack’s recovery. The young man’s head had healed with minimal scarring. But it would be months before he got out of traction. Jill’s emulation of a seated senton* pulverized his vertebras. He doubted the fellow would ever step up to the marriage plate again.
Rumors about Jill were bouncing around like bongo drums echoing off canyon walls. Evidently, she didn’t want the dress to fade before she had a chance to use it. She was newly engaged to a dude more her size. It seemed the guy owed her brother a big favor. But, if a wedding was in the offing, he hadn’t been asked to tie the knot.
The pastor’s wife, who had played the wedding processional on the piano, was reluctant to give helpmate advice. But when Kelly came home from a hospital visit and mentioned Jill’s new beau that got her over the hump.
Removing a batch of oatmeal cookies from the oven she parked the cookie sheet on a hot-mat.
“Kelly, we’re not doing this anymore. If they aren’t members of our church or family, we’re not marrying them. Agreed?” Pursing her lips and wrinkling her nose, squinting emerald-green eyes, she tattooed him with the look.
He stood shaking his head from side-to-side, nostrils flaring, inhaling the delicious aroma whispering “eenie, meeny, miny, moe.” Her visual punctuation escaped notice.
But he had already crossed that bridge. “Agreed, my love.”
He reached for a treat, juggling the hot morsel between his hands and blowing quick puffs of pastoral hot air.
“I want that on record,” she said. “Now, say after me, I promise never to marry …”
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* A professional wrestling maneuver used to finish off an opponent.
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