From Bride To Broom

I was at the altar, holding the clammy hands of Glenn Gordon Jeffries. I was trying hard not to noticed the flap of skin that was his left eyelid, wondering when if ever that windbag preacher would get done with all his yammering. He was going on about circles and trust and I swear, you’d of thought it was Easter Sunday the way he was grandstanding. I smiled through it all, just waiting to hear the magic words and be done with it.

Glenn Gordon Jeffries, owner of Gordy Burgers—where I’d spent the last two years sweating in a drive-thru window fending off Saturday night drunks with a broom—right there in the palm of my hand. And I was looking damn good I must say. My dress was killer—white, strapless, one of those mermaid lace bodice deals I’d found special order that squeezed my boobs like a high school boyfriend. And it managed to cover up that sun-faded, PROPERTY OF KELVIN tattoo on my lower back.

So I was counting down those last precious seconds of my old life, as it might have been, when that jolly fat preacher finally got around to asking if anyone objected to me becoming the fifth and hopefully final Mrs. Glenn Gordon Jeffries. And that’s when the door swung open, and there stood Kelvin. All six-foot-dumb of him. Panting and heaving from not being on the couch.

Worse still he had those two rug rats, Elvis and Exxon with him, and they busted right in the church like it was WrestleMania, hollering, “Momma Momma!”

Well, every head bald and dyed whipped back like the Kentucky fried Colonel had announced a new recipe. Then I remembered it was my weekend to have the kids.

Son of a snapper, you’d think Kelvin could have cut me some slack. Gordy wasn’t looking so hot right then, even for him. I fluttered my new inch-long eyelashes at him–wispy glamour I think they’re called, knowing how hot they looked with my mascara. He gave me a weak smile.

“Carla, you have kids?

I rolled my eyes. Do I have kids? Does he have a pacemaker? Sure my dress was white but what did he take me for?

Freaking twerps, always coming in and messing up anything half decent. And worse still was that Kelvin hadn’t bothered to dress them proper; still wearing those same Monster Energy T-shirts I’d dropped them off in last week. Figures.

Elvis knocked into the bouquet while Exxon took to the organ. Kelvin stood there like a dumbass until someone told him that there’s no smoking in the church. He stubbed the butt out right there in the aisle, grinning like a jackal stumbling upon a nest full of eggs. Meanwhile, Glenn Gordy’s pudding grip was getting awful loose in my hands.

Kelvin pipes up. “Hey Carla, I ain’t the only one’s got something to say.”

Oh my hell, could they not see I was trying to make a better life for myself? Kelvin, I swear, that man makes my blood hotter than a turkey fryer. If it weren’t for my dress and that curl-flattening humidity I’d have marched down there and stomped another hole in his tail right there in front of that boob-staring preacher.

Instead I attempted to reel Gordy in, gripping those mushy mitts of his, trying to smooth things over but hoping I’d at least still have my shift in the drive-thru. That’s when Renee waltzed through the doors.

The congregation came alive as she flitted down the aisle, my aisle, about the same time Exxon found his groove on that organ. Gordy’s good eye went wild and I knew I was in trouble. Renee, sauntered up to the alter and ran a finger over his tux.

“This who you’ve been spending your time with, Momma?”

My daughter’s voice was like her skin, sunned and smooth and untarnished by Marlboro Reds. Renee could charm the devil out of his horns, being that she looked like me twenty years ago. Only she had Kelvin’s stunner blue eyes and was without the wreckage of the twins and the years of working double shifts to keep the lights on in the trailer. She reached out and fixed Gordon’s tie in such a way that his tongue parted his lips. His pudgy hand fell like a rock from my grasp, and for a moment I thought stroke number three was in the forecast.

“Carla,” he managed, still looking at Renee, all rapt and stupid. I tossed the bouquet to the floor because I knew what was coming. “If you’re thirty-two, how is she—”

A snicker from the preacher. A howl from the aisle. I set a butcher knife glare on Kelvin, whose smile went wide as the Tensaw River. “Thirty-two? Awe come on, Carla!”

The pews sang out with the commotion. Most of those still seated were looked to be enjoying show, yukking it up about the same old Gordy. Same old Gordy who asked Renee what she thought of acting. His eyes roaming her endless legs. She was perfect for the new franchise commercial. My commercial.

Gordy never saw me leave, tromping all over my expensive dress that hid my stretch marks so well. The twins trailed behind me, yanking on the train and fighting over the last piece of gum while that stupid lug of a man Kelvin handed me a cigarette, shaking his head and chuckling about our new son-in-law. I didn’t have the energy to slap him proper.

Besides, I was late for my shift.



–Pete Fanning/2016


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