The Palmers’ Kiss

it’s been a while since i’ve written a new book, but i’d like to lift the censorship and start over.  i’d like your help.  would you look at this?  and tell me if you’d like to see chapter two.




Multiple Choice:

  1. The bride was beautiful.
  2. The bride was hideous looking to me and I could barely suffer to see her


The easy answer, of course, is a) the bride was beautiful.  To be sure, every bride is but without any prejudice or bias I can say that there had never been a bride as beautiful as Evelyn.

She entered the church with sunlight as her halo, with a veil covering the bright red hair that she had chosen to leave undone.  I could not tell you anything about her dress except that it was white and long and seemed to be constructed of nothing sturdier than cotton candy.  She wore a necklace that held great meaning for us both—a rose gold rosary.  The nuns had taught us both that rosaries were not to be worn as adornment.

I blinked away a hundred futures that I had once believed would be mine.  Because yes, I had tears.  She was that beautiful.

She processed on the arm of my father who took his responsibility with grim resignation.

Evelyn looked at me only once, when she was but a few steps away.   I willed myself to smile and she returned the same.  And then she looked to the man standing next to me, my best friend Gunther.  He was, of course, the groom.

“Grateful,” she mouthed.

He took her hand and there were only two happy men in the church—Gunther and the minister who looked like he could deliver a funeral with a smile.

The service contained the usual elements.   No doubt a reading, a prayer, an exchange of vows.  And that awkward moment.

“Is there any here among us who has just cause that this union should not be, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

I felt at my back the stares of every guest—most notably my parents–and I tried very hard to breathe.

And then they were joined in holy matrimony and my agony was complete.

The reception was held in the basement of the church.  Because Gunther and his family were old school Methodist there was an assortment of finger foods—dainty sandwiches and whatnot—and nothing stiffer than a punch that had been constructed out of sherbet, ginger ale and a jar of maraschino cherries.  I slipped out to the parking lot with a cup of that concoction and remedied everything with a splash from a flask I had put in my glove compartment.  I’m Irish, as you can guess from my name Sean Cusack, and we don’t do these sort of things without a bracer.

I returned to the gathering and in just the time it had taken me to run my errand, Evelyn had tired.  She sat at the head table with Gunther hovering nearby.  It was clear to me that many of the guests were reminded of the circumstances of the wedding and no amount of balloons and flowers and piano music was going to make a difference.  Methodists at that time didn’t drink, play cards or dance and maybe they even had an aversion to hot looking bridesmaids so I settled in for the duties of a best man with a grim focus.

The third reason for the solemnity of the proceedings had nothing to do with alcohol or Evelyn’s condition.  It was Gunther himself.  As his father and grandfather before him, Gunther was commissioned as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers.  One would have thought that having a four star general as a father would afford some protection against a deployment to Vietnam.  It had not.  Gunther was scheduled to leave the next week for Saigon.

I made three more trips to the car in the course of the excruciating three hour affair.  Then the liquor ran out.

When the couple left for their honeymoon in a car that I had festooned myself, Evelyn said the only words to me for that day.

“We have to find a girl for you.  We can’t keep all of the happiness to ourselves.”

I smiled, or at least I think, hope I did.

I helped with the tear down of the reception, sending home guests with centerpieces and plates of food for their dinners.  I squired several old ladies to their cars.  My father and I put away the folding chairs and tables.  We had taken separate cars and as he said goodbye to me he asked me if I was good.

“Yes,” I said but I meant no.

Multiple Choice:

  1. The bride was beautiful.
  2. The bride was hideous looking to me and I could barely suffer to see her

It’s possible that b) might have been the correct answer.

5 responses to “The Palmers’ Kiss

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