“Well, that seemed to go all right,” said the young curate to the vicar, easing off his clerical garment into something more comfortable, and checking his long hair in the vestry mirror.
The vicar nodded. He was a florid faced older man, reaching behind himself and struggling a bit with his cassock fastenings.
“Not too bad, I suppose. You get used to them. The groom looked pretty miserable though, didn’t he? To say the least!”
“You’re telling me!” giggled the curate. “Are you surprised? Bride’s got a face like a car crash!”
“Multiple pile-up, more like!” chuckled the vicar, and after a little technical chat and a final glance in the vestry mirror he led the way back into the church.
As soon as they stepped back into the nave they knew something was wrong. There was no sign of the bride and groom, whom they had left signing the registry book. The congregation were standing in little groups, for the most part silent, and as the two clerics reappeared every face in the church turned towards them.
In that instant the curate knew what had happened. His hand went up to his throat. Yes, the microphone they had used to amplify the service was still there. And still live.
He looked wild eyed at the vicar, who had gone a nasty shade of greeny white.
The bride’s father, a large man in a three piece suit - Something in the City, they’d decided - was advancing down the aisle towards them in what could only be described as a threatening manner.
“Where… where’s the bride?” stuttered the vicar.
“Where do you think she is? She’s gone, ran sobbing down the aisle. Her mother went after her. She was screaming blue murder.” He was almost incoherent with rage.
“Oh my dear God,” said the vicar. Whether this was a prayer or a curse was not clear. “I’m so sorry, we didn’t realise…”
“You’ll realise well enough when you hear from my solicitors!” shouted the bride’s father. “There’s such a thing as slander, you know! My poor little girl - the so-called happiest day of her life - ruined - ruined - And the cost of it all! Have you any idea how much….” He broke off, unable to go on.
“You’d better send the photographers home,” said the curate, who had a practical turn of mind. “I doubt if they’ll be needed now. Where’s the best man? And ring the caterers. Any chance of a glass of that champagne I saw in the porch? How about you, vicar?”
This suggestion was greeted with silence, broken by the sound of hysterical laughter from somewhere at the back of the church. All eyes turned to where the groom was lying on his back on a pile of kneelers, laughing helplessly and waving two tickets in the air.
“Fortnight in Majorca for two?” he cried. “Honeymoon suite thrown in? Half price, anyone? Don’t be shy now!”
The curate stepped forward. "Well, what about taking me, Nigel?” he said, smiling sweetly. “I’ve always fancied Majorca, you know. And the hotel looks positively gorgeous. Pity to waste it.”
The groom sat up suddenly. “Yeah, why not?” he gurgled. “It’s a deal.”
And the two men left the church arm in arm, with never a backward glance.
I retired to the Cotswolds ten years ago after selling the retail business in North Wales which I had built up over forty long years. Fortunately for my sanity most of my time was spent creating advertising copy and promotions, which dramatically increased the business and taught me the power of words. Being a member of the Chippy Writers’ Group encouraged me to attempt a lifelong ambition to write a novel. Recently published, In the Shadow of Hitler is a romance set in the ruins of bombed-out Hamburg in 1946.... more