From the Author
A tomblike silence descended in what Rex could only describe as a pregnant pause, ending at length when the reverend asked the couple if either of them knew of a reason why they could not lawfully marry. A buzz-like mumbling arose among the guests on both sides of the aisle. Rex glanced quizzically at Helen, who shrugged in surprise.
When neither bride nor groom spoke, Reverend Snood inquired of Timmy if he would take Polly to be his wife, love her, comfort her, honour and protect her, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as they both should live. He received a timorous "I will." Polly, asked the same question regarding Timmy, responded in kind.
Lambs to the slaughter, Rex mused, wondering about the future in store for these two. They seemed so young to be getting wed--about the same age as his son, now attending college in Florida. Rex's own marriage had been curtailed when his wife Fiona died of breast cancer six years previously. A raw lump formed in his throat.
By the time he came to from his reminiscences, it was time to sing "Morning Has Broken," a hymn he particularly liked and rendered with great gusto in his bass-baritone. The reverend invited the couple facing him to join hands and make their vows. Rex surreptitiously glanced at his watch. He was getting hungry, and his earlier longing for beer had quadrupled in intensity.
"Who is the best man?" he asked Helen as the individual in the dove-gray morning suit swaggered forward to give the groom the ring, while Polly accepted hers from the maid of honor.
"That's Dudley, Timmy's twin."
"Twin?" Rex echoed in astonishment. The two men could not have appeared more different. Though not as tall as his brother, Dudley was broader across the shoulders and more muscular. He exuded vigor and virility, and there could be no denying that his features, while coarser than Timmy's, held a certain handsomeness that, along with his confident demeanor, could not fail to appeal to women.
"Attractive, isn't he?" Helen said, confirming Rex's assessment. "I wonder where his wife is." Craning her neck, she scanned the opposite side of the aisle. "Don't see her, or the kids. Oh, look, there's Clive. Ooh, he brought a date."
Rex discerned a trace of surprise--disappointment?--in Helen's voice and followed her gaze to where a couple sat close together in the right-hand pews. They were several rows forward, and he could only make out the back of Clive's head and, beside him, a pair of bare shoulders loosely draped with a silk shawl. The poor lass must be freezing, he reflected. Jet-black hair snaked down her back. The effect of hair, skin and shimmering silk was nothing short of exotic. A silver hoop dangling from a pixie ear sparkled in the dim lamp light as she leaned in to address her companion.
"Looks like Clive did all right for himself," Rex murmured to Helen, who continued to gaze across at them in bemusement.
Their attention was driven back toward the altar when the vicar warbled into his microphone, "I now proclaim that they are husband and wife." Joining the right hands of the newlywed couple, he declared, "Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder!"
Amen, thought Rex.