The Bridesmaids were Conrad Nelson's wife, Jill, Corabeth Hamilton, Clerow's wife, her sisters, Anita Jenkins and Mabel Jenkins, Cock Robbins's wife, Vanessa , Chance's girlfriend, Cherish and a very shapely college room-mate of Sheila's from D.C. named Frenchette Waters.
I heard Sheila say to Kevin after rehearsal was over-
"Hey Kevin.....I hope you don't get involved in one of your cases in the next two weeks....because Sean and I will be honeymooning in the Bahamas...and you won't have him...He'll be all mine." she said laughing...
"Sheila...to tell you the truth...Sepia and I are going to try and get out of town for the next few weeks before summer is over....I aint lookin for no case." he said, returning her laugh... And while I should have been joining in the reverie..All I could think about was a week before when Rita Gordon, the woman I had come to love, the woman who I had asked to be my wife and I were sitting in "Bottom of The C" seafood bar and grill enjoying one of chef Ralph Scallion's delicious meals....
I first noticed the guy from a distance....Sometimes you develop radar when you're out with a pretty woman.. a radar about guys staring..... He was tall, well built...a muscular athletic build with a goatee and a short well trimmed haircut...He was carmel brown skinned and had a dimple in his cheeks.....He had a cocky arrogant way about him.... He was openly staring at Rita and despite the fact that I was sitting with her , He walked over to our table anyway.
"Rita...It has been awhile hasn't it?" he said smiling from ear to ear
"Hello Thomas..." she said dryly....
"My...My..Myyyy, you sure loook goood baby...but then again, you always did...ummmph..umph...ummph." he said.
"Oh John...excuse me...This is my ex-husband...Thomas...Thomas , this is my friend...John Struthers." said Rita.
And there it was...that word..."Friend"....Friend? We had made passionate love just the night before...Had been at least two or three times a week since we met a few months ago...I had asked her to marry me...She said that she would consider it...I thought of myself as more than just a" friend"
"Oohh, Pastor of your church huh? Pleased to meet you Pastor." he said and extended his hand. I shook his hand.
"I am her boyfriend actually." I said and cut Rita a look that was like daggers...She looked very uncomfortable.
"Who you?, Come on ,don't make me laugh." he said and did laugh.
"What do you want Thomas?" she asked.
"Want...I would like to finish the conversation we were having.?" he said.
"Conversation you were having....Rita what is this about?" I asked.
"It's about none of your business Pastor....I've been calling Rita and talking about getting back together with her...After all she was my wife." he said.
"The operative word here fella is was...She aint your wife now." I said.
"Hah...hah...ha....you are somethin Pastor...Look aint you got some souls to save?...hahahahahaha...Hey listen...sorry to disturb your dinner....Hey Reets, call me later okay?" He said.
He acted as if I didn't matter at all....Arrogant little twerp......I was steaming mad.. I looked at Rita..
"Oh John...He's nobody...There is a reason he and I are divorced...He was more in love with himself than me..." she said.
"But you've been talking to him!" I said "Yeah, kinda sorta...He's worth a good laugh." she said.
''Why didn't you tell him that we are engaged?" I said.
"Because we're not!...You haven't given me a ring or anything...you said that in the heat of passion." she exclaimed.
"I meant it." I said.
"Are you serious?" she said.
"No Rita...Like you said...I said it in the heat of passion." I said.
I paid for our meal and I drove her home...When we got there, I declined to come in....I drove home....That was a week ago...She's called about five times...I haven't answered..
"Rev...you alright?" it was Deacon Larry Weatherford....the head deacon at the church...now married to my ex-wife...Victoria Jenkins Weatherford...(older sister of Mabel, Corabeth and Anita) Strange we were still the best of friends, despite the fact that he is married to my ex-wife.
"I'm fine Deacon...Get those boys down here to clean up....We've got a wedding to prepare for in a few days." I said.
"Okay Rev." he said
It was a warm night....close to 80 degrees.....I got a Coke out of the vending machine and sat on the steps of the church. I sat quietly and watched as the cars carrying everyone taking part in Sean's wedding pulled off... I heard the Deacon and the boys cleaning up....I felt someone sitting down next to me....It was Victoria...my ex wife.
"Hey John...how you?" she said.
"Hey girl...I'm doin okay....You waitin for Deac...I'll call him...Those boys can finish cleaning up."I said.
"That's okay...I'm in no rush." she said.
"Victoria?" I said.
"I just wanted to tell you that you were a good wife...the best wife a man could ever have and I'm sorry for all of my foolishness, all my womanizing, all my midnight ramblin...Deacon is a good man and he's lucky to have you." I said.
"Why thank you John.....What brought this on?" she asked.
"I'm just trying to change...Trying to be a real christian..trying to stop being a mockery...I've stopped all the skirt chasin."I said.
"I know, a lot of the women in the choir are upset that you're not pinching their butts or making lewd comments to them...I think they enjoyed that." she said with a laugh.
"Well ,those days are over...for me anyway." I said.
"Where is your girlfriend?" she asked. I had forgot that she had seen us together a few times..
I just shrugged.
"You two have a fight?" she asked.
"I wouldn't call it a fight...a misunderstanding....She doesn't believe I'm sincere..that I've changed...and why should she...She knows about my past." I said.
" She must be special....She got you to stop looking at other women...I couldn't do that." she said.
"I guess I deserve that." I said.
"Just playin with you John...I know you've changed...I've seen it..I've heard it in your sermons..." she said.
"Maybe God is punishing me...for all that I did before." I said.
"John...stop talking crazy...you of all people know better than that." she said.
Just then, Deacon Weatherford came out of the church...
"Sorry I'm late...you ready dear?" he said.
"I've been ready....Get in the car......Be easy John" she said as they got in their car...
The boys left and I locked the church up.....It was just me now... All alone!!!
I walked down the steps and just as I was about to get in my car a hand touched my arm!
"Glad to know you're still alive John." came the voice....It was Rita!
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"I called you several times and you never answered and I texted you and I remembered that you don't know how to use that function of your smart phone yet...I was supposed to teach you."she said.
"Is that why you came here?" I asked.
"No.......I had that conversation with Thomas..my ex... and..I'm betting he's very upset right now, got a horrible case of blueballs and is in need of therapy to sooth his bruised ego...It's the same old thing with him...Nothing changed...He thought he was going to sail in here, talk about the possibility of us getting back together and then get me in the bed a few times and then sail back out......I turned him down cold....I also told him that he'd better tighten his bedroom game up because that Pastor he laughed at was ten times the man in bed he was....He didn't believe me...then I told him...I'd never turn you down ever if you wanted to have sex with me...He was so mad , he stormed out of my house...I think he's in Josie's cussing up a storm." she said.
"Wow...you told him all of that huh?" I said.
"Yes John....and now I'm going to tell you something." she said.
"What?" I asked.
"If you can possibly get me a ring.....and find someone to marry us...I'll marry you!" she said.
"WHAT? YOU SERIOUS?" I screamed...
"Shhhhhh...it's 11:30....yes John...yes...I'll marry you...." she said.
I felt like jumping for joy....
"Reverend Leroy Lonnie Love is a good friend of mine....He just happens to be flyin in from Detroit tomorrow. He can marry us...I can get the ring...not a problem...." I said.
"Reverend Love is here John...I saw him in Josie's last night." she said.
"That's even better...Let's go to Josie's...and celebrate!" I said.
"John!!!!!" she exclaimed...
"Ohh...I'm sorry...that's right....Well the Ice Cream parlor is open. let's go there...." I said.
Rita laughed like a school girl...I loved that laugh..
"Okay...it's a deal...and I'll pay." she said.
"YES!!!!" I exclaimed.
"Nobody and I mean nobody makes me feel as special and as giddy as you do John." she laughed.
And nobody made me feel as light headed and as happy as she had made me feel tonight.