Solent Writers Circle

A Quiet Wedding

The Lavinia Hammond Competition 2012

The white Rolls-Royce glided to a stop outside the church. Outside the street was quiet, most shops were empty and boarded up but an old couple queuing outside the bank next door to use the cashpoint peered at the beribboned car and smiled.

Inside Tash squeezed her father’s hand. “It’ll be OK Dad. I do love him.” John smiled at his daughter and kissed her cheek. “I know, sweetheart, and Kyle is a good lad…” He stopped himself finishing the sentence just in time, unconsciously tapping his empty pockets. It felt odd to be without wallet, phone or car keys but Mavis had thought it best. “Think of all that hand- shaking and hugging! With that bunch of villains you’d have lost your watch and credit cards within the first ten minutes.”

Although Mavis had eventually warmed to her only daughter’s fiancé, she still mistrusted any other member of his family, especially after Kyle’s father had insisted on paying for and organising the wedding. It had led to a distraught Mavis wildly instructing John to “write however large a cheque” to pay their share. However, as John had gently pointed out, their savings had all been eaten up after he’d been laid off and, like it or not, they’d have to accept Kyle’s family’s offer. It was true that they were a bit of a rough lot but Kyle had proved himself well-mannered and respectful and, most importantly, he clearly adored Tash.

“Come on Princess, time for your show.” Squeezing her hand again, John opened the door and helped his daughter out of the car.

Inside the church, the noise was approaching the pain threshold with children screaming and chasing each other down the aisle, and a fight breaking out at the back between two well-muscled terriers.

“Oi! Shut yer gobs, bride’s arrived!” The shout came from Darren, one of Kyle’s brothers and chief usher and the noise level dropped slightly. “ Mornin’ Johnny!” grinned Darren, giving a thumbs-up as the bride and her father began to walk down the aisle.

Ushers Darren and Terry had separated the guests ruthlessly according to tradition, giving the congregation a marked lop-sided appearance with Kyle’s side full to overflowing but Tash’s side boasted just six people: her mother Mavis, three work colleagues, a cousin and Auntie Edna who invited herself to every occasion just for the food.

As Tash and her father arrived at the altar, the vicar pulled his sleeves down over his tattooed arms and intoned “Dearly beloved….”

Kyle leaned over and whispered in Tash’s ear. “You look so beautiful.” Tash smiled back and Kyle’s best man, Trev aka Mad Dog, nudged Kyle and whispered loudly “Wa-hay!” complete with a gesture not often seen in church. “Right, who gives this woman to this man?” The vicar industriously wiped his nose on his sleeve as most of the congregation started chanting “Johnny! Johnny!”

Rather flustered by this, John passed his daughter’s hand to Mad Dog instead of the vicar. Mad Dog raised it to his lips before Kyle pushed him away and gently gave her hand to the vicar.

“Would you pack of animals please be quiet?” A furious voice from Tash’s side of the church cut through the hubbub causing a momentary hush before the catcalls began. Edna, scarlet in the face and clashing wildly with her cerise two-piece, rose to her feet and stormed out. Apparently not even the lure of free food could entice her to stay. A loud cheer followed her out.

Kyle looked despairingly at Tash and her father. “I’m so sorry…” then, turning to the baying guests behind him bellowed, “Will you shut the hell up!” A stunned silence fell broken only by the rumble of drilling coming from somewhere close by.

Just then the doors burst open and a mass of police officers, some with dogs, spilled into the church. “Nobody move, you are all under arrest,” howled a loud-hailer as half the congregation tried to sneak out surreptitiously.

Kyle spun round to his father seated in the front pew. “Dad, what’s going on?” but his father just spread his hands and smiled in a way that made the young man’s heart sink.

“Sorry, son. Taking over a disused church next to a bank was an opportunity too good to miss. Nash and Scarface ‘ave been drillin’ through the crypt to the vaults next door.” Holding out his wrists to a burly policeman, Kyle’s father winked at his son as he was led away. Desparingly, Kyle turned to the vicar. “Father, can’t you do something?”

Another policeman chuckled as he clicked the handcuffs round the vicar’s wrists. “Father? Ha! That’s a good one! This here is Pimlico Pete, son. Wanted for burglary and fraud throughout West London!”

Finally Kyle turned to Tash, hardly daring to meet her eyes. “Darling, I am so sorry. I really had no idea, I swear.”

Tash looked deep into his eyes for a long moment then, satisfied he was telling her the truth, kissed his wretched face and smiled.

“I thought we agreed on a quiet wedding…?”

By Mandy Shearing

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