Versace was what she insisted on. A nine-hundred-dollar suit for a three-hour event. And he had to get three of them; One for his best man; one for himself, and the other for his father. It was to be a small wedding, but the price tag was already way over his budget. Construction workers didn’t make a lot of money, raising three kids meant he had to be working eighteen-hour days for the last six months, just to ensure that the Mrs. Jason Pemberton in waiting, had her dream wedding. His head still hurt from the night before that didn’t really end until a few hours earlier. His best man, and childhood friend Alistair, had dragged him across the county on a strip club, whore-house-finding bender, that culminated with the two of them parked on a neighbor’s lawn, three houses down from his driveway. They had drunk too much. He was saying farewell to the single life, but this was the third time he was saying that farewell and he was not even thirty.
“I think I’d have to give this marriage thing a few more attempts before I get it right.” He nudged Alistair in the side.
The two of them had showered and dressed hastily before making their way to the location for the wedding. Alistair didn’t respond. His eyes were closed as he was nursing a headache.
“In another hour, I’d be a shackled again buddy.” He nudged him harder this time.
“You’re shackled to yourself bro. You seem to enjoy the punishment.” Alistair spoke with his eyes closed and through gritted teeth.
The two friends had always been in and out of trouble since they met at twelve years of age. Their parents had become close friends because of frequent visits to the principal’s office and Alistair’s mother was like a surrogate to Jason. She watched the two of them with such a proud look in her eyes.
“When will you take the plunge Ali?”
“Are you crazy? I have watched you move from one cock-up to another. I’ve been your best man three times now. I don’t even know what to say this time around.” He finally opened his eyes.
Jason laughed hard. A belly full sort of laugh that caused those sitting nearby to laugh as well at the unknown joke shared between two friends.
“Don’t mess this up, ok?” he leaned his head back and slouched into the chair.
Truth is, he didn’t want to be here. He was a sucker for love. He saw his two eldest boys sitting with grandma Pembie as they called her, and his youngest had already made friends with the daughter of a guest, her name was Georgina. His youngest son was to be the page, and his fiancé had insisted that her two-year-old accompany his son down the aisle. Both her and Georgina were in animated conversations. Children made friends so easily.
Two more outfits that he had to pay for. Three boys from two previous marriages and now he was inheriting a daughter. What more could a man want right? Jason had married too young the first time. But it was the ‘Christian thing to do’ as Ma Pembie had insisted. ‘You can’t have a baby outside of wedlock’ she had gone on and on for days until he had finally caved in. At eighteen, he was getting married to Suzette… whatever her last name was. God bless the crazy, boozy, money grabbing-whore. Within months she had left him with his son and moved back to her parents. She lived somewhere in Idaho now. Jason doubted that her parents even knew she was once married and that they had a grandchild. He loved his eldest boy. The spitting reflection of his father, but foul mouthed and ill-tempered like his mother. Junior was going on twelve and was already in and out of Juvie several times. He would barely finish paying the lawyer before having to get another loan to go through the process again.
His phone buzzed in his pocket. His fiancé was stuck in traffic. Couldn’t have a bride early for her own bleeding weeding; she had to be fashionably late. He shook his head before responding with a smiley face emoji. His last wedding was a disaster. His bride got there too early and started drinking even before the ceremony began. The in-laws got drunk and started fighting. The police had to break that one up, and the priest pressed charges against his uncle for assault. Thankfully a justice of the peace he knew, performed the necessary and he still had a wedding, albeit in the parking lot of a Denny’s across the street from the church. The local papers thought it was cute and so romantic… if they only knew.
“Emily Gutierrez… she was a hottie.” He nudged Alistair again.
“Yeeaah.” Alistair’s face lit up as he channeled a very vivid memory.