Gerald Forbes, Gerry for short, looked at his wife Sylvia with anger filled eyes. On a TV tray before him lay his dinner, burned black. The acrid smell of its cooking filled the air.
"Holy smokes," he chided loudly, "Can't you do anything right?"
"Yes it is going to be a cool night." Answered Sylvia as she dropped another burned plate of food on the tray she intended to use herself.
In the corner a television blared.
Gerry noted with satisfaction Sylvia's scrunching up her nose at the odor of her own dinner.
"What?" he called out.
Sylvia sat down beside her husband and smiled a big toothless grin. "I love fish!" she exclaimed trying to smooth over the situation.
"Is that what this is?" Gerry said quietly knowing his wife could not hear him and thus would not become upset with him. Gerry shook his head and pushed his tray away and yelled, "So much for supper!" He then stood, walked over to the back door to let their bulldog, Bruiser off his chain and into the house from the back yard. In Bruisers mouth he held a baseball. It wasn't the first ball he had brought into the house and Gerry knew its source. Opening the door wider he spied a young boy climbing the privacy fence belonging to the Forbes. "Hey!" Gerry boomed loudly as possible, "Get down from there!"
The boy stopped at the top of the fence. "Your dog's got our ball again Mister!" the lad yelled out knowing, as did the rest of the neighborhood, that the old couple was nearly deaf.
"If it falls in my yard it's my ball!" he called then looking down at Bruiser he yelled, "Sic 'em boy!"
Bruiser immediately ran out the door barking madly. The youth quickly disappeared to the other side of the fence.
"Kids!" sulked Gerry to himself.
On turning around toward the living room he saw someone on the front porch. "What now?" he growled. Hurriedly he strode to the front door and yanked it open rudely. "Whose there?" he screamed.
"Dad? It's Tom!" a man dressed in a business suit yelled back.
"Well, if it isn't the big Senator Forbes of the great state of Tennessee come from Washington DC to see his parents!" Yelled Gerry.
Tom held out his hand to shake that of his father who grudgingly accepted it.
"Dad! I want to you to meet somebody." Announced Tom.
Gerry looked behind his son and saw a woman standing proudly.
"Well," yelled Gerry, "Who are 'ya?"
The woman who, noted Gerry, was taller than him stated, "My name is
Anne and I'm going to marry your Senator son." Having said that she brazenly bent over and gave Gerry a peck on the cheek.
Gerry was taken aback by her brashness but secretly he liked it and maybe he liked her as well. "Well don't just stand there, come in!" He stated.
The first thing Anne noticed was the blaring television and she walked decidedly over and turned it off.
"Hey, I was watching that!" stated Sylvia who noticed Anne for the first time. "Who are you?" She said with a surprised look still playing on her face.
Anne let out the most delightful lilting laugh as she found her soon to be in-laws hilarious. Tom had warned her his parents were hard of hearing and hard headed but she found them delightfully refreshing after all the phoniness of Washington. Striding over to Sylvia she sat down on a footstool in front of her then she offered her hand. "My name is Anne. I'm Tommy's fiancé."
Sylvia smiled widely but said nothing obviously not having heard a word Anne had said.
Tom went to Anne and urged her to talk to his father instead.
"Tom," she began, "I love them!"
After Anne had fixed a little unburned supper for the four of them and the dishes were washed and put away they all sat around the living room just looking at one another. For the first time since arriving Anne felt uncomfortable. Just as Anne was about to fake a yawn and suggest they all go to bed Bruiser lumbered into the room, sauntered right over to Anne lifted his leg and peed on her leg.
"Hey!" she called out causing Bruiser to bark in fright as though he didn't know why she had yelled.
Across the room Gerry and Sylvia laughed loud belly laughs.
Tom was mortified.
Deliberately Anne stood and began to remove her slacks.
Tom went quickly to her and tried to pull her pants back up. "Anne, you're embarrassing me!"
"Tom," said Anne with a wicked look on her face, "Let go of me!" she did not try to hide he menace in her voice.
Gerry and Sylvia stared disbelieving as Anne completed her task ultimately wearing only her black panties from the waist down. Both suddenly burst out laughing again and this time Anne joined in glad to have broken the ice at last.
Tom was still standing beside Anne and retrieving her pants from the floor finally found his voice. "Okay folks. Enough fun for one night. Anne, come on, I'll show you where you can clean up. I'm tired and I think we should all turn in."
It was still daylight outside and Gerry, Sylvia and Anne shot Tom dirty looks however Tom stood his ground. Anne wasn’t about to admit she had had the same thought just moments before.
"Party pooper!" growled Gerry as they all went to their respective bedrooms.
Midnight found Anne sitting alone on the front porch swing drinking warm milk to help her sleep. Her wedding day was keeping her awake. Where would they have the ceremony? Her family was all deceased so she had no home to go home to. Briefly she thought of Gerry and Sylvia's big colonial style house and what had to be a half-acre lot out back. Perhaps? "No" she thought, "I'm sure they would never go for it." As she swung she was not aware that the swing could be heard by anyone until the porch light came on and then went out again. Soon the screen door opened and to Anne's surprise the pudgy form of Gerry appeared to melt from the dark.
"May I sit down?" he asked
It took Anne a moment, but she suddenly realized he hadn't yelled his request.
Reading the young woman's mind Gerry chuckled quietly as he sat down beside her. "I only yell when I need to you know.” he said innocently.
Anne giggled with delight at Gerry's confession. "Why the put on? She asked fondly.
"People leave me and my wife alone when they think we both can't hear. It's worked for many years."
Anne looked at Gerry through new eyes. "I'm flattered you have told me your secret, but why share it with me?"
Once again Gerry chuckled. "If you're gonna marry Tommy I think you'll need a friend. I mean, look at his parents!"
Anne reached out and took Gerry's hand, her heart growing fonder of him by the minute.
"What ails you tonight Anne?"
Anne was astounded by his insight. Yes, there was much more to this man than he let on. "How did you know?"
Gerry patted Anne's hand, "I got married once." He said impishly. "I mulled it over and over in my head until the moment I saw Sylvia coming down he aisle. Then I knew she was the love of my life. That was fifty one years ago." For a moment Gerry was silent as he remembered the sight of his Sylvia in her white gown walking towards him, arm in arm with her father. "She was so beautiful.” he said recovering from his revelry.
In the dark Anne could not clearly see Gerry's face but she knew he was smiling.
“I’m concerned as to where to have the wedding. I have no where to call home.” She paused, then continued, “Gerry, I’ve always wanted a big fairy-tale wedding complete with a lovely gown and a big luscious wedding cake.” tears slid down her cheeks.
Gerry was moved. He could see that this woman he had barely known a few short hours was quickly becoming the daughter he never had. Standing to his feet he stated decidedly, “You’ll have your fairy-tale wedding here!”
A few weeks later found the Gerry and Sylvia watching as their backyard was being transformed into a wedding chapel. Florists, caterers, musicians, it was almost too much for them. Gerry had promised to keep Bruiser under lock and key until after the reception and he had grudgingly agreed placing his precious pooch in a bedroom. The dog could still be heard barking out the partially opened window angered from being left out of the activity he could only hear. Gerry knew Bruiser wanted to pee on someone and this knowledge caused him to giggle.
The cake was the last delivery. It was a four tier monstrosity or so thought Gerry, who never was one for fancy things. It was huge, it's white icing covered in little white cherubs with the happy couple standing atop not knowing their fate of being put in the freezer until the first anniversary.
Finally the transformation was complete and the guests began to arrive. Gerry and Sylvia stared as Senators and other less 'important' folk piled out of limousines and BMW's.
Anne looked out a window and spied the couple that was obviously overwhelmed, and although she was putting on the finishing touches of her makeup, she could not resist going to them.
"Gerry, Sylvia!" she shouted loudly as she approached them from behind.
Gerry was so enthralled by the spectacle he had been watching of men and women dressed up like they were walking the red carpet of a television awards show he startled and swung about wildly. When he did he accidentally hit Anne in the eye and nose causing her nose to bleed. Quickly Gerry, Sylvia and Anne ran for the house holding Anne's nose to prevent blood from spilling out onto the beautiful wedding gown.
"Here," said Sylvia trying to speak quietly. "Put this ice on the bridge of your nose."
All seemed well when the blood stopped and Anne's gown had gone unsoiled until Anne, who had been applying the rest of her makeup, made a terrible discovery, she had a shiner. Not just any shiner either, but what Gerry labeled, "a butte!"
It was obvious that Gerry felt horrible for what he had done as he began to pout just like a small child.
Anne reassured him that she could hide the growing bruise with her makeup prowess and her rather dense veil.
Soon it was time for Anne's big moment, her trip down the white carpet, which had been laid out for her between two well-attended rows of well-wishers. Anne hesitated a moment. Had she hidden the big boo-boo on her eye or would all see it. Taking a deep breath she began her walk toward her future as a Senator's wife.
It soon became painfully apparent to Anne that her attempt at deception had failed as quiet gasps and a low rumble of voices could be heard as she proceeded down the aisle. Upon reaching her place beside Tom she turned to face him lifted her veil and was not surprised to see a look of horror on his face.
"What happened?" he whispered very quietly.
Anne ignored him and smiled at the preacher who understood she wanted to proceed.
The wedding party was stunned but the rest of the ceremony went well. The new couple proceeded to the tent where the reception was to be held.
Once there, seeing they were alone for a moment Tom insisted upon knowing what had happened. Anne gave a quick run down of the events leading up to her disfigurement Tom then turned, looking for his father. He soon discovered him on the other side of the tent among the growing group of people a glass of wine in his hand.
Upon noting he was being looked at by Tom Gerry mouthed the words "Cheers" at his son then drank down his wine with one gulp.
Anne asked if they might just go ahead and cut the cake and both the wedding planner and Tom agreed. Perhaps the taste of the luscious
confection they now stood in front of would keep guests eyes off Anne and her shiner.
Bruiser could be heard barking as the stringed quartet began to play.
Unknown to all a neighborhood cat had decided to check out why Bruiser was barking. Often the cat had goaded the dog into chasing it only to have Bruiser come to the end of his chain with a head-jerking thud. Now as the cat approached the bedroom window where Bruiser was imprisoned it got close to the screen and meowed loudly. Bruiser reacted violently, jumped through the window screen, and began to give chase. The cat headed straight for the wedding tent and it's occupants.
Bruiser, already worked up from being incarcerated, ran as fast as his pudgy legs would allow. He was happily aware that he was not chained. This was his chance to kill finally catch that cat.
Tom and Anne stood behind the cake, Anne once again wearing her veil to conceal the damage to her face and allowing people to take pictures of happy couple. Suddenly the crowd began to jump and yell as they tried to get away from the melee of Bruiser chasing the cat. Tom looked at Anne, a horrified look on his face just as the cat jumped up into his arms propelling him forward onto the cake, his tuxedo becoming covered with sweet white icing. Cake splattered everyone nearby including Anne and her beautiful gown.
Silence lay over the crowd like the eerie calm before a tornado.
Anne surveyed what was left of her fairy-tale wedding and after blinking a few times she began to laugh loudly.
The crowd at first was mortified. Had she lost her senses? First the black eye then the cake and now this?
All around the tent cameras flashed as the press recorded what they would be posting that afternoon on the Internet and publishing in dozens of newspapers around the country.
Anne continued to laugh and picking up a piece of now ruined cake hurled it at Gerry and Sylvia who, totally out of character, stood speechlessly nearby. The cake found its mark and Gerry licked cake icing from his face. He then also began to laugh.
The tension in the tent suddenly snapped and all began to guffaw loudly at the wedding of the year.
Not to be forgotten or upstaged Bruiser appeared from underneath the table, strolled over to the preacher and lifted his leg.
Tom, who had been silent this whole time turned, picked up Anne, carried her and loaded her into their waiting convertible. After a few waves and quick goodbyes to the crowd they drove off dragging a placard attached to their bumper that read,