Rarely in Gary’s adult life have there been happy moments, let alone his childhood for that matter. Today is supposed to be an exception to that according to his fiancé Brenda and her overly enthusiastic mother and various friends. Today is the big day, Gary and Brenda are to be married. In just a short while, 17 minutes to be precise, Gary is to go through the ritual that should be “the happiest day of his life”.
But this doesn’t feel true for Gary. Sure, Gary is a man who suffers from bouts of severe depression but there are real reasons he isn’t ecstatic about today’s vows before God and the twelve other people in attendance. First, he has no family or friends present today because his brother and mother (the only family he ever had) are dead. In fact, the church today’s festivities are to take place also has a cemetery to the left of the parking lot. The very cemetery his brother and mother were put to rest not 14 months ago shortly after an accident involving a drunk driver. This is a thought Gary has not been capable of shaking. Equally he can’t stop thinking about his bride to be Brenda, mostly her unfaithful ways, his doubts that the unborn child she is carrying is actually his and how he loathes her so intensely.
Gary is a very non-confrontational guy, he also truly hates attention. He won’t say anything about what he sees cruel in speaking his vows to a woman he despises at the same church he gave a eulogy for the only two people who made his childhood pleasant. For Gary, this feels like God’s sick humor in the form of irony.
Gary has been dresses in his black dress pants, black shoes and white dress shirt for the last two hours. Brenda is still in one of the back Bible school classrooms turned makeshift dressing room. He makes his way slowly to a back pew, contemplating his situation. Regret is all that passes in and out of his mind. He reaches his seat and without looking he rested his bottom into the instantly uncomfortable pew. He sits completely and unknowingly motionless, consumed in his thoughts. He doesn’t even notice the laughter and childish giggling coming from the room his soon to be bride is occupying.
Moments pass and he hears the chapel doors open. The loud screech of the old door jars him from his deep thinking long enough to peer at his wristwatch and notice only 6 minutes stand between him and his unwanted future. He stands to greet Brenda’s uncle- out of his polite nature. Steve gives him an overly firm handshake and exclaims in his typical obnoxious tone.
“Hell boy! Talk about a shot-gun wedding I tell you what! It’s raining cat piss outside! You ain’t gonna be running away with no cold feet today! Man, the rain literally smells like 100%, Grade A cats piss!” Gary gives Brenda’s Uncle Steve a quick half effort chuckle then walks toward the door to peer outside, one last time as a free man.
Looking out the door Gary notices the rain does in fact smell like, well, “cat piss”. He peers out through the heavy downpour at the parking lot and catches a faint glimpse of the small cemetery his real family is resting. He closes his eyes and thinks to himself slightly sarcastic with a hint of acceptance.
“Here’s to the happiest day of my life! Wish you were here Mom and Donovan. Love you both.” His head still down watching the smelly rain puddle at the door, he moves his watch into view- 2 more minutes. About to cry, Gary’s head whips up and toward the main road that passes the church driveway. The sound of an ambulance passing at unbelievable speeds startled him so much that his saddening train of thought derailed. Next, two police cars, sirens blaring and moving at blazing speed dart pass. His head and eyes followed the police cars and once out of sight he realized his eyes were placed back on the cemetery. This time he notices faint figures in the distant rain.
“Surely nobody would be out in this weather!” he thinks. He looks and sees the parking lot has no new vehicles since Steve arrived. He steps out more, getting a few drops of the putrid rain on his black dress shoes. Looking again at the figures he knows for sure two people are slowly, very slowly walking toward the church.
“Who in their right mind?“ he whispers. Brenda’s mom steps outs the room and yells across to Gary.
“Gary! It’s time sweetie! Close that door please? The rain smells like a*s!” He ignores this and steps out further, this time not caring his clothes are going to soak. He makes his way cautiously toward the even clearer visions. He hears a voice coming from the chapel door, this time Brenda.
“Gary! It’s time! Don’t ruin MY perfect day by stinking up this place! Come on back in here NOW!” He stops, looks at her for a moment and back at the figures only 20 feet or so anyway and thinks to himself.
“Her perfect day?” Gary darts to the figures not noticing Brenda’s shrilling voice, her mom screaming;
“What the hell is that?” or the military helicopter zooming by overhead. He reaches the two figures. Gary looks at the two bodies standing before him, now knowing who they are, he smiles the most enormous smile and says
“Mom. Donovan. This is the happiest day of my life.”