Paulie and I walked out into the foyer area and waited for the little girls to walk down the aisle. While I fussed trying to get the veil up over my face without pulling all the pins and combs out of my hair that had been used to park it in place I heard Faith tell my bridesmaids, “Just pretend you are on a runway and you are all models. You are all just soooo pretty. Everyone is going to just love you to pieces.”
I shook my head as Faith snuck into the sanctuary to sit down. I knew her words had been a mistake as soon as they came out of her mouth. I really knew it was a mistake when I saw all the little girls look at each other and grin. Oh Lord did that look have mischief written all over it. Then as they started walking and I had a hard time not busting out laughing. Finally I was finding something funny about the day. They were mimicking what they must have seen on tv or in a magazine at some point but I don’t think they hit the mark they were aiming for; they looked more like marionettes whose strings were being pulled too hard. They were really wiggling their behinds as they walked and trying to look grown up and sophisticated. I had to cover my mouth with my hand when I saw Faith looking on with horror. “That’s not what I told them to do,” she gasped.
I looked up the aisle at people’s faces and I had to hold onto Paulie to keep from sinking to my knees with the giggles. Tiffany, as the oldest, was the last one out. She turned around and looked at me doubtfully before saying, “I ain’t doing that. I’ll just walk normal. OK?” Tears were streaming down my eyes and all I could do was nod.
Then Paulie and I were standing at the door and I got a look at Jude who was watching the little girls take their places. He was scratching his head and looking confused. Brother Shirley looked like he was going to have to duck behind the pulpit to pull himself together. I heard lots of chuckles in the congregation and then heard Aunt Frankie mutter, “Oh for Heaven’s sake. I’m sure I said walk, not strut. They look like waddling ducklings.”
I glanced at Bobby, Lonnie, and even Corey and had to control another fit of laugher. They were looking at the girls like they had some strange disease and had backed away from them up into the legs of the grown men who were standing up with Jude.
I was wondering why all the men in the family were up there when suddenly Uncle Roe stepped forward and walked up there too and from behind the half wall that separate the choir loft from the rest of the stage the men all took shotguns. Uncle Roe looked at the organist and gave a nod and then the wedding march started up in earnest.
I looked over at Paulie and asked, “Were you in on this?”
“Uh uh. No way,” he said over a gulp. “I told ‘em you were liable to get upset but Uncle Roe just laughed and said that he’d take care of it.”
“Oh he did did he?”
“C’mon Dovie, don’t blow up now. Jude looks desperate and kinda puke-y.”
I looked up the aisle and indeed Jude was looking pretty worried and more than a little green. For him I’d put up with Uncle Roe’s lark but there’d be payback just as soon as I could come up with something good. I told him I didn’t want people thinking it was a shotgun wedding and what does he do? All but make sure that everyone absolutely will.
I nearly dragged Paulie down the aisle. I mounted the steps and you could hear the crack of my heels on each wooden riser. The look I gave Uncle Roe nearly melted holes in my veil and would have roasted him medium well done if he had been a goose. As it was even he figured out that he’d maybe taken his joke a little too far.
I looked at Jude and asked quietly. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah. I swear Dovie, I didn’t hear about this stuff until they marched me out here. I wouldn’t have let anyone spring it on your like this.”
I shrugged, trying to make out like it was no big deal. “Oh, they’ll get theirs one of these days. I just don’t want you upset.”
Still gulping air Jude answered, “I … er … well, I’m not upset if you’re not.”
“Oh no, I’m fine as frog’s hair.” Only my tone must have alerted him that a nuclear blast was eminent.
“Uh … ok … yeah … uh …” He turned a panicked eye to Brother Shirley and said, “Maybe we oughta get started.”
Brother Shirley took one look at me and blotted the sweat building on his forehead and upper lip despite the snow on the ground outside. He cleared his throat and said, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in the Lord’s House and in the presence of these witnesses, to join this man Jude Killarney, and this woman Dovie Doherty, in matrimony, which is commended to be honorable among all men; and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly.” He arched an eyebrow and gave Uncle Roe a what for look.
Then he continued, “Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”
At that there was a huge crash and a large group of men ran in with guns drawn. “Don’t anyone move!”
I looked over at Uncle Roe and nearly threw my bouquet at him. “I just cannot believe you! Wasn’t the shotguns enough?!”
Uncle Roe had quite a look on his face as he said, “Little Sister, I have no idee who these men are.”