Red and purple tulips in glass vases lined the steps of the library. Purple and white orchids set off the white tablecloths draped over the small tables of the children’s section. Chairs lined the open space in front of the magazines decorated with white bows and simple string. A little person in a red tuxedo stood at the front and waved his hands for everyone to begin being seated.
Weddings, well, weddings both give me hope and scare the crap out of me. I enjoy them, never turning down an invitation if I can help it. I even have a stockpile of toasters just in case a few friends want to take a trip to Vegas on the spur of the moment. But I have never been a part of the actual event. I can say I have only envisioned myself up there in only two times of my life and both caused me a bit of anxiety.
But the ceremony is a drug. Way better than any I may have unknowingly imbibed the other night at Dave’s bachelor party. Watching this ceremony, this joining of two people, gives me a high of hope. Is that sentimental? Yeah. But every once in awhile I think I need that. A junkie fix of sentimentality.
I never said I was a good person. At times, I am down right bad at being a person.
But back to the ceremony.
I walked my mother to her seat. Ushers escorted various mothers, grandmothers, and bearded ladies to their seats. Dave stood tall at the front, healthy and full of color looking ready. He nodded at me and I smiled back.
The procession music played and we stood. Clara appeared from the director’s office and the audience in attendance held their breaths. Elegant, tasteful, and gorgeous, Clara floated down the aisle to the beat of the music. I think Dave began to glow when she reached him, kissing his cheek. He brushed a strand of hair from her face and they stared at each other for a moment before turning to the small statured master of ceremonies.
Then Dave turned back to the crowd.
“Thank you all for being here. I can’t tell how much it means to Clara and I that you made it. Thank you again to the library for allowing us to use this wonderful venue. Also, please don’t write down your passwords where anyone can see them, always backup your data, and if you are having trouble, attempt to restart the computer and other devices such as routers and modems before calling technical support. It will save you time. And don’t download bad sh... stuff. Thanks.”
Dave gave a thumbs up to my mother. She shook her head and smiled. The crowd seemed confused, but some got the joke and laughed to themselves.
Now that Dave’s obligation was over, they proceeded. As weddings go, it was average. They exchanged vows. They put rings on each others fingers. They kissed the bride. Nothing to it, nobody singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” A perfect affair.
After, while food was being brought out and the men folk were stacking chairs to prepare the dance floor, I pulled Jessie outside.
“What’s up, man?” he said.
“Hey, uh... Remember the other night at the party?” I asked, lighting a cigarette.
“No. Not a thing. After Dave was done with that blue tiki crap I went out back, smoked a bowl then drank the rest of it. Total blackout.”
“Nah. Woke up yesterday in my trailer’s kitchen with a box of Oreos stuck on my foot. I never even bought any Oreos. Fuckin magical.”
“So how did we all get home?”
“Dave said Sam gave us a ride. We closed the place down and he took us home.”
“Did he say who was with us?”
“With us? What the hell are you asking me, man? Is this what it’s gonna be like when I’m doing computers here? Weird ass loopy questions?”
“No... I just... There was this girl and she... we...”
“You got some sex? Fuck, yeah. I think I’m going to like this town. Dave said some crazy shit happens here,” Jessie said.
“Calm down. Look, do you remember a girl named Cassidy? You know, before the Gargleblaster?”
“Nah, man. Sorry.”
“Look, I don’t know what the problem is. So you slept with a girl you can’t remember. Happens all the time.”
I looked at him for a minute, “The circus must be an interesting lifestyle.”
Jessie shook his head, “It gets old.”
He went inside and I sat on the steps to finish my cigarette. Public ordinance says smoking has to be done away from the front of a public business, but I had some things on my mind and the library wasn’t open anyway.
“So who’s Cassidy?” a voice said.
I looked up and Natalie Ford walked around the side of the building.
“You heard all that?”
“Some,” she said, “I closed my ears and went Nyuhhhhhhhh for the rest.”
I laughed. She laughed.
“It’s nothing. Things got a little wild out at Dave’s bachelor party.”
“What’d y’all do?”
“Went out to the Honky Tonk.”
I laughed again, “World famous... Look... We never got a chance to...”
She held up a hand, “Don’t. Don’t worry about it. Wasn’t meant to be, I guess? And after what happened to her... Evan, life’s short and mean and... I don’t want to hate you.”
“I don’t want you to hate me either. The way you left, though. I’m sorry.”
“Me, too. Should have at least had that coffee with you.”
She looked at me. I saw her, the real her then. Scared. Tired. Hopeful. She shook her head.
“No... That might be fraternization. You’ve had enough of that, Mr. Banned.”
She tilted her head a little. Her hair spilled onto her cheek. She brushed it away.
“Half the reason I came back. I’m going to be moving back soon. Working here. Betty’s retiring. As long as the board okay’s it, anyway, but they don’t have much say with the way they’ve been pushing for hiring. That’s what Louise said anyway. Your mama didn’t tell you?”
“No, but I’m glad. Maybe... maybe everything’s coming together.”
“Maybe. Now put that cigarette out. Bad for you.”
“What will do I get if I do?”
“You might get a dance with the prettiest girl in the room. She got all dressed up for it.”
“Won’t the bride be jealous?”
She blushed a little, “Stop that. Ain’t going to happen.”
She reached over and pulled one of the flowers from the vase. Bending the stem, she fit the orchid into her hair to hold it back. She smiled.
I smiled. I stamped out my cigarette and followed her in.
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