Jess was pissed off. He had much better things to do with his Saturday afternoon. He still needed to take his skateboard to the shop for repair. His mom would have to give him money for new rear wheels. And he needed more guitar picks and new strings. He had homework too but even that wasn’t enough to get him out of this!
The pastor had called just before noon in a panic. There was a wedding at 3:00 and they were short an altar boy. Unfortunately for Jess, lucky for the bride, his mom had answered the phone.
She agreed immediately. “Of course. Jess isn’t doing anything today.”
So here he was, sweltering in a white robe made for someone much shorter, his scuffed runners visible under the receding hemline. His mom would not be pleased.
Jess really didn’t mind working the regular Sunday service. He and Steve, the pastor’s son, were the regulars at the 11 o’clock service, snuffing the candles and straightening the hymnals just in time to scarf free sandwiches and desserts from the After Service Coffee Chat. He was fast becoming skeptical about this God and unquestioning belief thing but the perks were good. Pastor Jim let him and Steve set up their skateboard ramps in the parking lot and they were even allowed to store them behind the rectory. They didn’t get chased away by the custodian at the school anymore, even though it was kinda funny when he freaked out at them.
The opening organ notes sounded and he realized he’d been miles away.
“Jess,” said Steve. “We need to light the candles.”
Weddings were actually pretty easy and they usually scored a few bucks each.
“Where’s your dad?” asked Jess.
“Oh, he’s not doing this wedding. Some old guy’s marrying them. He’s a family friend or something. I don’t know. My dad told me but I can’t remember. Reverend somebody.”
“Great, that helps,” Jess replied.
“Whatever,” was the best comeback Steve could manage.
Jess settled into his seat to wait out the ceremony. At least these benches were cushioned. He wished he hadn’t had to leave his phone in the office. It was so nice out today. So sad to be stuck here.
The organ music increased in volume and the wedding began. Jess had to remember to check out the bride. His mom always bugged him about it, although mentioning white, lace and any kind or colour of flower usually ended her interrogation.
Jess wasn't quite sure when things started to go wrong. He could see that everyone was in position. The guys at the front by the railing in their dorky suits were chatting. Only the groom looked nervous. At the end of the aisle he could see some girls waiting with flowers. But there was no minister. Steve slipped out quietly to find him. He was still in the office shuffling through papers. He looked up quizzically when Steve knocked and seemed a bit surprised when he reminded him about the wedding.
“Yes, yes. I’m on my way,” he said without haste.
The Reverend Clark ambled slowly into the church. He was much older than Jess had expected. He seemed a bit confused. “Crap,” sighed Jess. “This might take a while.” He really wanted to get out of here.
When the pastor was in position he motioned for everyone to stand and the bride walked slowly to the front of the church. Jess noticed that the groom looked anxious and was really sweating.
Poor sucker, he thought. Must be the monkey suit.
Jess had totally tuned out again when he realized Steve was laughing – out loud! And now the old pastor looked really confused.
“We’re here to witness the marriage of Helen and Robert,” he insisted loudly, obviously not for the first time.
“No!” shouted the groom’s father, walking towards the front of the church. “Reverend, we’re Helen and Robert.”
“What? um pardon?” stuttered the Pastor.
“You have the wrong names, George, uh Reverend,” said Robert, with as much calmness as he could muster. “Mathew is my son, remember? He and Jennifer are getting married today.”
Jess chuckled. These things usually went so smoothly. The guests were fidgeting. The bride looked like she was going to cry. The groom, wow, he was really red now, sweating and swaying!
“Sorry,” said the pastor, cupping his hand around his ear. “I forgot my hearing aid today. What did you say?”
As Robert prepared to shout, the groom went down, not like crashing off a rail on a skateboard but slowing collapsing, melting onto the blue carpet and landing on the bride’s veil. Her head snapped back. She let out a whoop that was something between a shriek and a sob as she toppled backwards down the three small steps, taking out a bridesmaid on her way.
It was a holy mess! But within a few minutes all was made right. Jess barely noticed how the actual cleanup happened, just that all was calm by the time he had fetched a glass of water for the bride, which the groom drank eagerly. Within minutes they were ready to try again. Someone had insured that the good Reverend was marrying the right people. The congregation was engaged, diligently hanging onto every word and movement as if collectively they could ward off any further calamity. All went well on the second attempt except now both the bride and groom were so pale they matched the wedding dress.
After the service the best man handed Jess an envelope and mumbled something apologetic about best laid plans. “No problem,” chuckled Jess. “Best wedding ever!”
Wendy Simpson lives and sells real estate in Oakville. Although her university days are long behind her she’s never lost her love of reading. She is the mother of three adult children and three (soon to be four!) grandchildren. She travels as much as possible and loves to spend several weeks each year in Victoria and the Cayman Islands.
See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.