The International Writers Magazine: Faux Marriage
I Thee Wed
nervous minister glanced at the time again and waited on the barren
hillside looking steadily for any signs of the impending and very
late wedding party. Next to the minister stood the ministers
secretary, as the official witness had not even bothered to show.
The waiting continued.
A soft breeze caressed
the knoll and kicked up a swirl of caramel colored dirt that dusted
the tips of the clerics glossy black shoes. The cleric sighed
and brushed at them for a few seconds. When the minister looked up,
the first of the wedding party could be seen arriving around the narrow
A gleaming black car pulled to the side of the road and stopped. The
breaks squealed. After a few anxious moments, the side door flung open,
spilling forth an ostensible, red-eyed groom, glass in hand. The rest
of the party piled out in a stumbling, hoarse-filled roar. The apparent
groom guzzled the rest of his drink and handed it to one of his party
who then handed it to the driver. By the way the driver snapped the
glass from the young mans hand, it was obvious to the minister
that this party had been difficult. It was true in the way they stood
and it was true in the way their drunken cries filled the echo of the
dew-filled air. It was obvious that the bachelor party had not yet ended
from the night before. The clerics head slowly shook from side
A second car pulled up in front of the first and parked. The driver
immediately stepped out and gallantly opened the door for the awaiting
party. The bridesmaids, followed by the maid of honor, slipped out of
the coach gracefully. Each were given assistance by the driver and each
bowed daintily enough so as not to let their perfectly coifed hair touch
the topside of the car door.
Unfortunately, each delicate egress was met by a disparaging remark
from those first arrived. The commentary ranged from the randomly amusing
to the drunkenly insidious to just plain rude. All of this shocked the
minister, but what was even more shocking were the equally crude answers
given by the elegantly dressed bridal party.
Any further remarks were better left unsaid as the bride-to-be breathlessly
emerged from the vehicle. The minister looked at the wavering, still-drunk
groom and the portrait perfect bride and began to voice her doubts to
the secretary. The secretary smirked, shook his head and agreed.
As the smiling, lovely young woman inched her way up the hill, her groom
held back. He thought of the waning moments as a bachelor and could
almost physically see them growing smaller and more distant with each
oncoming step. The sense of loss gathered slowly upon his shoulders
until he could feel the touch of every girl he would never bed weigh
him down to the girl now at his side.
The familiar words began their ritualistic chant and echoed in his head.
He smirked drunkenly at how surreal it all seemed. How detached it all
was from the truth. He knew all the players, all their foibles, all
their lies and all their infidelities. How each of them stood upon that
hilltop, smiling falsely in the sun, dressed far too ceremoniously and
far above their means. The garish costuming of the bridesmaids, one
of whom he had slept with. How his normally ill mannered friends were
suddenly stifled by the austerity of it all. The rigidity and solemnity
of the minister. It struck him as some sort of bizarre reality play
in which he was taking part. His legs began to tremble. He grasped at
Kims hand as he always did in moments of weakness but found to
his surprise that her usually firm grip seemed lifeless and clay-like
in his. The words of this ritual play turned to him.
Julian, we are gathered here on this hill to witness the bond
between you and Kim to become much more than a bond but a commitment.
The rent-a-God addressed him, invoking some sort of ancient deity off-stage.
Julian had heard these lines a thousand times before at every wedding
ceremony and every bad movie ever made but now they were directed at
him. The words began to wake him from his current drunken torpor.
Julians eyes darted to his side and for a split second, he was
not nervous. Then, the reality hit him like. By God, Im marrying
Kim! The words exploded in his still-fuzzy mind. As if on cue, his knees
His eyes fell onto the cleric. Christ, who the hell is this? He had
nearly no recollection of how he got here, of walking up the hill, drunk
as he was and still was. He studied the person who was marrying him,
all her imperfections, moles and all; her polished make-up and gaudy
dress and wondered what in the hell he had been thinking. For that matter,
what they had both been thinking?
For the person who stood before them, reading some sort of god-awful
Scripture was anything but holy. She reminded Julian of one of those
sad, post-menopausal women that came to happy hour at the local bar
and who stayed far too long and far past an hour that ceased to be anything
Rotund, jowly and indifferent, the ministers dead monotone did
nothing to allay the fears in Julians mind. He wished to be elsewhere.
He looked at Kim. She shot him an icy glance, nothing more. He knew
she was pissed at him for going out last night and not stumbling in
until 3 oclock this morning. Her vague attempt at a smile was
not one of adoration but one of smug satisfaction that told him she
knew he felt like absolute hell this morning. She did not know of the
Bloody Marys he had consumed on the drive over. Nor had she any
idea of where had been or whom he had been with last night. It was a
hell of a way to start a marriage.
His concentration fell upon the words that fell from the jagged-toothed
gape of the minister. It was a mouth of lies, one he instantly disliked
and instantly distrusted. Yet, she was the one who would bind them together
for all eternity, however long that would take.
Do you, Julian, take Kim, to have and to hold, in sickness and
in health, from this day forward.. Was all he heard until his
mind began to roam. He gazed out at a boat sailing off out of the harbor
for a while and thought of the night before and looked at her and then
as she noticed his gaze,he looked quickly away. A smile crept
across his lips, but quickly faded as he heard nothing and noticed the
witness staring at him. What the hell was the guy staring at? He didnt
like the look of the guy. Hell, he didnt like the look of any
of them. Paranoid from the drunken night, it seemed they were all staring
at him, Kim included. In fact, she was boring a hole right through him.
Her lips tightened and the minister cleared her throat. Kim yanked on
his hand so hard that he thought she might have dislocated his wrist.
I-I, uh..do! Julian sputtered. Two words in the whole damned
production and he nearly messed them up.
Kim nodded pleasantly at him and then at the minister and she in return.
The woman continued.
And Kimberly.. She droned on, reading Kimberlys choice
of vows. Julian had to hold back a laugh. Kimberly!
His mind fell back into the familiar pattern of loitering without much,
if any intent and he thought of all the girls he once knew years before.
Each and everyone came back to him, if only in memory, but they did
return he drunkenly thought in the convoluted logic of the moment.
He thought of them as he stood in the last, final moments of his so-called
freedom. Little did he know he was already dead and buried the minute
he met Kim. He thought of the ones that mattered and the ones, whom,
in the end, did not. He wandered through the many nights spent alone,
of the endless games played and nights wasted.
He thought of the select few he once believed would have been standing
with him at this very spot and of all the runners up, the near almosts,
the should haves and the never to have been and how they had all been
wrecked by something. Some character flaw, whether it was indecision,
career-mindedness, immaturity, mental instability or how the idea of
responsibility ruined their belief of meandering through life.
His mind then drifted to the close calls, the false pregnancies and
the plain insanity of finding the right one. In many ways, it was a
horserace where there were no winners. And now, thankfully all bets
His mind darted to the ones who had come closest and had nearly made
it. A bead of sweat ran from his forehead down his cheek and into his
starchy, rented shirt. He could feel the heat rise from inside his jacket
and the way his black jacket radiated the already warm morning sun.
As he stood in the persistence of memory, breathing his last free breath
as a single man, he inexplicably asserted a soft, but discernable Fuck
you. to all the women whom, in some way, had either let him down
or outright rejected him.
It felt good to finally let go, he smiled, eyes shut. They were all
behind him now. Now, he was ready to get on with it. He opened his eyes.
Everyone was staring at him, including Kim; she seemed to teeter on
the edge of incredulity. Oh God, he thought to himself, I said it out
Excuse me?? The minister retorted slowly.
Go on. Julian croaked.
I beg your pardon? She asked in a voice dripping condescension.
Finish it! He commanded.
The minister stammered, looking for her place among the Scriptures.
She stumbled through it and found her nervous erratic pace once again.
All was right; all sins forgiven; Julian breathed a sigh of relief to
But all was not right. It would take Kimberly many months to forgive
him completely for saying that to her at the altar. In time, she would
find out all about his bachelor night tryst, among others. She vowed
that she would get even. He was not the only one with secrets.
© Joseph Grant Feb 2006
from the Dead
Joseph Grant keeping the peace
Joseph Grant comes to us from New York City and
his short stories have been published in over 30 literary reviews and
ezines and has written articles for various newspaper, such
as The Pasadena Star. He has published a work of verse, Indigo,
with Alpha Beat Press and is working on his first novel. Joseph
t resides in Los Angeles, CA.
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.