Day 267 – Meditation in the Backwaters of Outer Space – Part 2

Word count: 1505

Jack sat on the edge of his seat, wide eyed and excited as if at the end of a really good action film where the previous three hours had been a boring rite of passage culminating in the superb reward only granted to those with the strongest perseverance.

Emma was now an inch away from Bill, who looked distinctly like a small furry mammal that had, without due care and attention, found itself straggling for life as it drowned in a deep and murky quagmire. The entire church was silently waiting their next move.

“Wh-what’s wrong, honey?” Bill said, as nervously as a man with a shotgun pointed at his head.

Quite what was wrong, Jack had already worked out from the bedraggled and shoe-less nature of the bride. Far from being a self professed expert in such matters, Jack had always been far keenly aware his surroundings more than his brother. Bill had, and clearly remained, embarrassingly poor at judging the bleeding obvious.

A second later, Emma’s screamed explanation had confirmed Jack’s hypothesis, “The car was late! The shoes didn’t fit! I had to walk through the rain and the mud to get here and – and it’s ruined! It’s all ruined! The flowers aren’t the ones we wanted – and their wilted! Oh my god, Bill, this isn’t happening!”

Bill was stuttering like a man being pressed for his final words on death row. Jack, whilst enjoying the show, did feel a creeping guilt: but he put that down to acid and flicked a couple of tablets into his mouth from the packet that he always carried around.

“Honey, it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine, we’ll… we’ll get the invoice, we’ll get a refund…”

“But I want my wedding!” her voice was laced with so much momentum that it shook the very building and sent a wave of whispering around the pews.

“We-we-we can, darling, j-j-ust t-t-take my hand, sweetie, count to ten…”

“Count to ten? My wedding is ruined! I’m not marrying you!”

“Honey, remember your happy place? Us on the beach – the honeymoon?”

“Don’t you do this, William!”

It was getting uncomfortable now. Even the ant-acid was now longer helping. To his right he felt an elbow nudge him. He turned and saw his father giving him an angry nod. He tried to play dumb and give him a non-descript look. His father repeated his angry nod and cracked Jack’s patience.

“Oh alright, alright,” Jack stood up and went over to Bill, “Listen, why don’t we find a nice little quiet place to have one of those nice little chats we have together? Perhaps the vicar can arrange some tea?”

The wearisome vicar looked surprised that he had been brought into the conversation, “Yes, I er, suppose?”

Three and a half minutes later they had left the aisle and were recommencing shouting in the vicar’s office, whilst the vicar himself was putting on the kettle.

“Bill, it’s not happening! I’m not marrying you like this – screw the reception, screw the guests, screw the honeymoon. It’s a disaster! It’s ruined!”

“Emma, Emma, no, we can pull through this…”

Jack was rolling his eyes. In all truth, he would rather that they just said their goodbyes now and that he never clapped eyes on his sister-in-law-to-be’s face again, but the little angel in his head screamed some sanctimonious bullshit about doing the right thing and given that the acid in his stomach would be horrendous if he ignored it, Jack began his plan to do the very thing he did no want to do.

“Emma, dear, why don’t you sit down? Have some tea? Bill, you sit down too.”

Both Bill and Emma were staring oddly at Jack as if he had just announced that he was terminally ill. They both, however, obeyed and sat down.

“Vicar, how’s the tea coming along?”

“Almost there, uhm, do you take sugar?”

“Two for me, one for Emma -”

“Oh and just a splash of milk,” Emma added.

The teas arrived and Jack felt a wave of calm sweep over him.

“Now then, you do not have shoes, is that correct?”

“Well, I, they’re in my bag…”

“And they don’t fit?”

“Well they are a bit loose….”

“But you can walk in them?”

“I don’t want to!”

“But can you?”

“I suppose…”

“And the flowers?”

“Awful! They are yellow, I asked for purples and lilacs!”

“But not the end of the world?”

Emma flustered, “End of the world?”

“Darling,” Bill stepped in.

“Emma, drink your tea.”

Behind them the vicar was sat in his chair, faffing about on his computer.

“Emma, do you love my brother?”

“Yes,” she smiled.

“Does he make you happy?”

“Yes…”

“Then can we please just get this over with so we can get to the free bar?”

Emma smiled at Bill, Bill grinned back and four hours later, Jack was propping up the bar, demanding another shot of the green substance he did not know the name of or even particularly liked the taste of, but it seemed to be getting him through the evening.

Dinner had been a painful barrage of speeches and nice things. Swan decorations awaited them on their tables. Everything was dripping in metaphorical molasses. There was not a single thing untainted by Emma’s sickly sweet nature. As best-man, Jack had succeeded in maintaining his speech under his self-designated two minute mark – to the sadness of his brother, who had hoped for more.

The free bar had not lasted as long as Jack had hoped and they failed to stock the bottle of his favourite whisky. The night was never ending and confounded relatives kept approaching him to ask him how he had been since the last family event – the funeral of Aunt May, in fact.

Jack was into his fourteenth shot when someone who he recognised to be his second cousin sprang upon him like a lion on a gazelle.

“Jack! How are you? It’s been ages!” Simon definitely shared the same genes as Bill.

Jack employed the same tactic he had been using on all the guests who claimed to know him all night, “Jack? No, sorry, I’m not him…”

“Yes you are, I saw your best man speech!”

“No, no, I’m on the bride’s side…. old university friend of dear Emma’s, lovely girl.”

Jack was staring around for an exit. The gent’s was always an option, but the first two times it had been used, he had bumped into further relatives that he had no wish to encounter. Weighing up his options as to whether or not to risk it again, he ordered another quick shot from the bar. The waiter slid the glass down to him and he caught it, threw the contents into his mouth, slammed the drink on to the bar, and stood up as if her were a god among men.

“Are you sure you’re not Jack? You look very alike? We used to play together when we were younger – remember the tree house? You would lead us all up there and play Invisible? We always took hours to find you and you’d always be in the café round the corner! I’ve no idea why we always forgot!”

“No, no, not me. I grew up in… France, International School…”

“You’re not a Jacque are you?” Simon laughed. Jack subdued his desire to kill him with a single blow.

“No, English parents, I am…” he prepared to set off, walking forward, but head titled behind to speak to Simon directly when he slammed into something solid.

“Oh hi Jack!” it was Bill.

Jack’s face fell, he looked awkwardly between them both, his brain working over time with smoke no doubt protruding from his ears.

“I need… the bathroom, sorry!” he dashed off to the gents.

Thankfully it was quiet in there. He stood by the sink and patted cold water on his face. He checked the time, it was almost nine in the evening. Soon the married couple from middle class hell would leave and he would be free to return to his lovely village cottage with his slumy lifestyle, his Sky TV and his twelve year old best friend…

He stared at himself in the mirror, “Keep with it Jack. Have faith. You can do this. Just go through, order another drink and breathe. They might have left. They might have moved on to graze on pastures new. Simon might have left to go home, he had a long drive after all – wherever it was he lived. Bill will have no doubt been pulled aside by some old drunk relative – new or old – and Jack could make his escape as clever as it had been in all those years of playing Invisible.

Jack nodded coolly to himself and exited the bathroom. Immediately outside were Bill and Simon.

“Are you alright? You’ve been to the bathroom four times in the past half hour?” Bill said, worry crinkled into his snooty face.

Jack gulped. One more hour, he thought to himself, one more hour.

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~ by S.G. Mark on June 30, 2012.

One Response to “Day 267 – Meditation in the Backwaters of Outer Space – Part 2”

  1. Loving this series so far!!

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