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Topic: The Comedy of Errors (not about the play)( 08/18/11)
the church bells rang that day
By Jim McWhinnie
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I, the local parson, was about to do my job of hitching two young lovers in the bonds of matrimony, and looking back, I earned every penny of that day’s honorarium. Twenty dollars, if I remember. But if not, I do remember everything else that took place that fateful, star-crossed afternoon of a hot and sweltering August day.
The groom was a good ol’ boy, a country boy, who drove a dark green pickup with oversized tires, mud on the fenders, and a Skoal smokeless tobacco spittoon kept handy on the dash. He and his four groomsmen worked late shift at the local ironworks, earning good money for that part of the country, hard earned money which they spent every Saturday night on two-for one beers at Wally’s Country Bar and Dance Hall. But all that was about to change – or at least, that was what in the thinking of Bette, his bride-to-be. She was certain he’d change his ways when she finally got him to saying his “I do -s.” She always called her groom, William; his family called him, Bill Jr.; his friends called him Bubba, I called him young Brother Taylor.
Millie, our church organist, had given me the nod that time had come and that she was about to shift gears into the wedding march. Nothing fancy, just the same old wedding march one usually hears at the get-go of a wedding. I shook Brother Taylor’s sweaty hand, gave him a wink, and off we marched down the aisle, five blue-collar boys dressed up like penguins led by one good-looking man dressed in a dark gray suit and a royal blue tie.
We arrived on time and took our places, grinning and near giggling, wanting to make fool excepting that family was watching and we didn’t want to tarnish the family name. Our eyes turned to the back door and watched four young lovelies dressed in soft pink dresses drift down the aisle, each carrying their bouquets of daisies and each wondering when their time would come to wear the white lace and satin.
Finally, the organ paused a most dramatic pause, setting the stage for her playing the organ notes that sounded like Gabriel’s trumpets. Everybody stood and turned their eyes to the empty space where the church doors once were before they were opened wide. Dun-dunty-dun-dun-duuuun!
No bride. No bride’s father. No nothing but an oh-my-goodness gasp of silence. Dun-dunty-dun-dun-duuuun! Nothing. The mother of the bride looked at me with pleading eyes. I shrugged my shoulders in a statement of no knowing what I could do. She then looked at me again but this time with a little bit of “You best do something, preacher!’ fiery passion in her eye. So I took off to the back of the church – all in proper decorum, mind you. There I found a frantic wedding director safety-pinning the bride’s dress back together. It seemed that Bette had put on a few pounds since the day of the dress fitting, splitting the zipper down the back. However, problem soon solved and I hustled back to the front, nodding reassurance all the way. Dun-dunty-dun-dun-duuuuun! The crowd at first went “Awww” as the bride approached but then they settled into a quieter “unh?” after she had passed by. Oh, yes, and as she made her tardy stroll down the aisle, to her horror, her wedding bouquet began to fall apart, flower by flower until she arrived before me with but one rose and a fistful of baby’s-breath left.
But no mind! We had all finally made it. I tried extra special to make it a fine affair, hoping to get the festivities back on track. We were doing better, that is, until it came time for the vows to be made. The groom’s “I do” ended up being presumed that day for he passed out about halfway through. And though we were able to prop him up, his voice never really came back – matter of fact, never did his color. The father of the groom stepped on the dress and the flower girl picked her nose.
But in the end, the church bells rang and we all went dancing down at Wally’s Country Bar. Li’l Bill and Bette live in a double-wide with daisies planted out front; he still works at the mill and she keeps having babies.
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