"I now pronounce you, man and wife. You may kiss your bride. Well, if you can get around that gear shift with the commemorative NASCAR shifter there."
The gal in the hand me down wedding dress squealed and lunged across the front bench seats in her new husband's "chariot", knocking it out of gear. They lurched forward, narrowly avoiding rolling into traffic. The kid in the ill-fitting tuxedo with the stain on the shirt swore, pushed her off him, and threw the shifter into reverse. He stopped an inch shy of the bumper on the car pulling in to take their place at the drive through window. His answer to the resulting honk was a defiant middle finger out the driver's side window.
After he engaged the brake and took the shambling car out of gear, he smoothed his vest and put a little more brylcreem on his comb to hold down his slicked back hair. His new wife shot back across the seats to give his tonsils a tongue bath, messily smearing her lipstick across his teeth. She had the back of his head in her hands, holding on as if he was the last source of oxygen on the planet.
That's when the officiant noticed her wedding band. Or, what passed as one as it was a nail twisted into a crude circle.
"That's, um. Quite the wedding ring you've got there. Real conversation piece, I'm sure."
Perhaps it was just his subconscious adding it in for effect, but he swore he heard an audible pop when their mouths disengaged.
Grinning her incomplete smile, she beamed at him. "Thank yew. It was mah baby's idea."
From her perch on her husband's lap, she leaned back and switched her gaze to his face.
"Me an Jessup here have been in love since we was chillins. I knew he was right for me since he first asked me to watch the submarine races down at the pond one night. He sat real close, grabbed my hand and put it in his pocket. I giggled and told him I didn't need no salami, I et dinner before we left."
"We never did see no submarines, and he felt real bad like. He offered to take me home, but his daddy's car ended up dyin' over on that hill south of town. I was so afraid we was gonna be stranded since it was so late and nobody was gonna be by for hours. But, my baby's such a gentleman. He got under the hood, and tried to fix it all manly like. But, something hot musta jumped right outta that car and fell right down his pants! He hadda pull 'em off right then and there in the middle of the road! And whatever that is, it musta been hotter n the jewelry my cousin gave mah sister for their anniversary since the cops done come and taken it away from her. But bless this man, he was already all swelled up under his pants, poor dear. He was hoppin around, outta his mind in pain. He jumped right in the back seat, screamin' like the fox Willie shot in the ass, tryin' to scare it away from the henhouse last year, 'It hurts! It hurts!'"
Brandi, the bride, turned to her embarrassed husband, and played with a lock of his hair that had fallen in his eyes. She looked at him with clueless devotion as she said"
"My Jessup was sufferin' so I jumped right back there with him, wantin to make him feel better. He's pullin on his draws and got 'em about round his knees by the time I get in and shut the door. Whatever had burned him made his privates swell up like baby vern's toe that time he tripped over the cinder block under the truck in the front yard. I knew I had to do somethin', so I did what mama always did to me when I had a tumble; I kissed it to make it better. That seemed to help, because he quit screamin and started cooin' like the pigeons that roost up on city hall. I figured if that was helpin' a little lick could only make it better faster."
Before I knew it, I was helping him get that pesky ole infection out a little more. See, he told me that he was all swoll up because whatever burned him made a blister, and the swellin' was the infection. We needed to get that out, and the only way we could do that was if I sat on top of him and helped him pop it like we do when Pa's chopped too much wood and comes in with his hands all a mess."
"It took a long time too. I think I heard three whole songs on the radio before the bad stuff water come out. It didn't take long to see that I'd helped him feel better, because the bump was covered in sticky stuff, and it shrank before my eyes. He musta been feelin' better since he got right up, put on his pants, and told me he thought the car would start now. And what do ya know, it did! He took me right home, no dilly dallyin' or nothin. Cause he's a gentleman like that. He even told me I could have a beer if I didn't tell no one about what happened. He's so manly, didn't want nobody knowin' he was hurt, even if he was all better now."
I was so tired, I just went inside and passed right out on the bed. Didn't even change my clothes or nothin’. I didn't see him again fer a while, it wasn't till my clothes started gettin' small that I did. He came around and took me out to dinner a couple times. He musta known I was sad none of my shorty shorts was fittin' no more. But he took me out for hot dogs at the little league field. You can get 'em real cheap in the last inning, so we each got two! But, I knowed he was serious when he took me out to the Taco Bell. I mean, that's so nice, you can sit inside and everything!"
Visibly uncomfortable, Jessup reached for the ignition, but the keys slipped out of his hand and fell into the footwell of the passenger seat. Out of reach, he was forced to let his wife continue with her story.
"So, I wore my pretty dress, the one with only one hole in it. And you can barely see it since it's in the armpit. He hung his head, which was kinda like getting down on one knee. He said we had been doin' the in and out for a while. You know, he put the baby in me, so he took me out a couple a times. But, my daddy liked him so much, he wanted him to be his son in law. I guess he took him and gave him a real big hug, but my baby here was too small, because all he could do was get his hands around his neck. It wasn't a proper hug. And my daddy's so strong too, so he hugged him tight up against the wall of the double wide. Told him he'd nail him to the tree in the front yard ifn' he didn't make an honest woman out of me. My daddy's so silly. I go church every week and don't tell no lies. I'm already honest."
A look of feigned interest was painted on the face of the officiant as he wondered how long his shirt could avoid a sweat stain in the heat of the day. The driver next in line at the drive up chapel honked and yelled for them to get moving. Oblivious to it all, she continued.
"But, he done gave me a ring! It's much prettier than the cigar band Ellie-Mae got. But she tells me it's valuable 'cause it's from a Cuban cigar. When he gave me my ring, he said "Well, I suppose I outta give you somthin'. I mean, I nailed you, and then you went and nailed me right back." Ain't he sweet? We gon' be together foEVER."
Jessup cleared his throat and reached over to grab the keys he'd dropped earlier. Brandi was caught unaware and slid clumsily off his lap into a pile of wedding dress and mussed hair on the passenger seat.
"Alright, let's stop keepin' the man from his business, uh, sweetie. We've got the honeymoon stall at the KOA waiting for us. It's got electricity and everything! So, why don't we get going and I'll pick you up a nice meal at the Taco Bell we saw two exits down?" He turned towards the officiant to catch him eyeballing the line of cars stacked up, waiting for their turn at wedded bliss.
"Ahem. I'm sorry we've taken up so much of your time. Here." he said as he passed him a wad of crumpled bills. "Take this. Keep the change as a token of our appreciation."
It wasn't until after they'd turned into traffic that it became apparent that the bills were stained and covered in glitter. Not to mention, about $5 short.
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