July 6, 2018

Fiction by Christopher Hivner: "Nothing to It"

Christopher Hivner writes from a small town in Pennsylvania surrounded by books and the echoes of music. He has recently been published in Illumen, Dead Snakes and Jitter. A collection of short stories, “The Spaces Between Your Screams” was published by eTreasures Publishing. website: www.chrishivner.com, Facebook: Christopher Hivner - Author, Twitter: @Your_screams

Nothing to It

“Why does the rain ruin everything?” Daria said.
“Come on, sweetheart,” her father tried to console her, brushing a hair away from her eyes.
“Daddy! It rained at my graduation, prom, Grandma’s funeral, and now it’s raining at my wedding.”
“Just coincidences.”
“I’m going to find Mother,” Daria harumphed. “She’ll understand.”
“Yes she will,” Rand said under his breath as his daughter stomped away. “And she’ll make it worse.”
He watched Daria run down the hallway, trip on her dress, get back up, and turn the corner. Daria looked, walked, and complained like her mother. Rand wondered if, outside of the conception, he played any part in his daughter’s life.
A man of 60 with a developing paunch made of porterhouse steaks and German lager, Rand Hester sighed while pondering if he could make it to his truck to sneak a cigarette his wife didn’t know he’d bought. A non-smoker for several years, his daughter’s third wedding since college had reawakened the urge along with the gurgle of a burgeoning ulcer.
“Rand,” he heard his wife’s voice call to him, and he knew it was too late. His veins, so desirous of the sweet nicotine, cursed him as he turned to see Corinne striding toward him with the purpose of a mother rhino.
“What’s wrong with you?” she began. “All Daria wants is the perfect wedding, which is being ruined, and she can’t get some comfort from her father.”
“This is her third perfect wedding, Corinne. The last one she wanted on a catamaran in the middle of Lake Erie.”
“Yes, and what did she get instead? The VFW hall married by Ed Muffin.”
“Lieutenant Colonel Edward Biscuit, and it was a nice service.”
“It wasn’t what Daria wanted. And what about today?”
“What about it?” Rand swept his hand toward the window. “It’s pouring outside, so we have the ceremony inside.”
Corinne’s patrician face stared back at Rand as she crossed her arms. Seven inches shorter then Rand’s six feet, she tilted her head back and wrapped his gaze in barbed wire.
“What?” Rand asked, his voice raising an octave. “You want me to stop the rain?” Corinne tightened her grip with her eyes.
“You do,” Rand shrieked, his voice reaching pre-teen girl levels. “Corinne, you are out of your mind.” She started to speak, but Rand cut her off.
“No, no. You’ve made your directive clear.”
Rand walked to the nearest door, pulled it open with a flourish and walked outside into the downpour, striding twenty yards through the swampy grass before turning around to look at his shocked wife standing in the doorway.
“I’ll just do a reverse rain dance, dear, and the sun will come out and bring with it rainbows and leprechauns and pixies.”
“Rand, for God’s sake . . .”
“Don’t interrupt the medicine man, Corinne.” Rand raised his hands to the sky, long, pendulous raindrops pelting his face. “I call on the spirits of Crazy Horse, Geronimo . . . and world wrestling champion Chief Jay Strongbow to make this rain stop!” Then Rand Hester, retired postal clerk, and Rotary Club treasurer, began high stepping over the lawn, a palm held to his mouth.
“Woo woo woo woo! Woo woo woo woo!” Rand rhythmically chanted as he kicked his arthritic knees in the air. Quickly running out of breath, his exasperated gesture toward his wife came to an abrupt end. Bent at the waist, searching for oxygen, it took Rand a moment to realize the rain had stopped as well. He looked up at the sky with clouds that seemed to wink at him as they split apart to reveal the sun.
Rand Hester smiled to himself. Then he stood up straight, ran a hand through his wet hair, and walked to the doorway where his wife waited, mouth agape.
“Ok, Mrs. Hester,” he said to her while rubbing his hands together. “Let’s get our daughter married. Again.”
Rand moved through the building gathering up stray guests and herding them out the back door to the garden. Corinne hustled nieces and nephews to dry off the seats. It was taking shape nicely when Rand realized he was missing two important people. He found the pastor asleep on a bench, gently woke him, and told him it was show time. That left the groom.
Danny the part time house painter was nowhere to be found. When he had exhausted the rooms of the church, Rand stalked the grounds outside trying to think like his daft future son-in-law. Then he heard the sound of an ancient car engine struggling to start. He trotted over to the side parking lot and saw Danny sitting in his twenty-year-old car furiously pumping the gas pedal while hugging the steering wheel.
Rand walked up, tapped on the window and heard Danny say, “He’s not there, there’s still time.” Rand opened the car door.
“Come on out, son.”
Unfolding his lanky 6’3” body out of the car, Danny wiped away a nervous tear. “Hey, Dad,” he said with a sad wave of his hand. Rand winced.
“What are you doing, Danny?”
“Leaving, sir.”
“I’m sorry to say this, sir, but your daughter is kind of crazy, and that’s why I fell in love with her, sort of, but now, we’re getting married you know, and . . . I don’t know.”
“You don’t know what?”
“I mean, what if this is a mistake?”
“Danny, Daria is 32 years old, you will be her third husband, and you’re an idiot. Of course this is a mistake. But that’s what life is all about. You make mistakes and you learn from them.”
“That’s all you have for me?” Danny asked.
“No, there’s one more thing. I’ve dropped $3200 on this wedding and if you don’t march your bony butt out back and say ‘I do’, I’ll tell my wife you tried to ditch her daughter at the altar.”
“Why are we standing here talking, Mr. Hester?” Danny asked. “I’ve got to get married.” Danny turned and ran toward the rear of the church, arms and legs lurching like a newborn fawn. Rand shook his head and began to sing under his breath as he walked after him.
“Going to the chapel to see my daughter make mistake number three, going to the chapel of disaster.”
Rand had just turned the corner and entered the garden when Corinne stopped him.
“The pastor is asleep.”
“What? I just woke him up fifteen minutes ago.”
“Something he neglected to mention when we hired him: he’s narcoleptic.”
“Where is he?” Rand sighed. Corinne pointed to the altar where Pastor Dayshire had collapsed, sound asleep and snoring. Rand ran up and pulled the slight man to a sitting position. He slapped him lightly on the cheeks until he woke up, groggy and confused.
“Ashes to ashes,” he started.
“Wrong service, padre,” Rand said, slapping him a few more times.
“Bow your heads.”
“Wake up!” Rand was now shaking the discomfited man.
“What? Oh it’s you.”
“Stand up. The wedding is starting.”
“Wedding? Right, the wedding. Dearly Beloved . . .”
“Not yet,” Rand slapped him one more time out of frustration. He pulled Pastor Dayshire to his feet and walked him to his position. Then Rand whispered something to his wife, sending her scurrying into the church. Rand nodded to a few guests as he walked back the aisle.
Corinne handed Rand what he had asked for as she trotted briskly to her seat. Rand took his place next to Daria who entwined her arm through his.
Rand looked into his daughter’s pale blue eyes.
“Thank you for everything,” Daria said, choking back tears. “Today is perfect.”
Rand shrugged. “Nothing to it, sweetheart.” Daria kissed him on the cheek.
For the third time, Rand Hester walked his daughter down the aisle to a waiting groom. He left Daria standing next to Danny and the pastor yawning through the opening words of the ceremony. Rand kept watching him, and when during the first scripture reading his eyes closed, Rand lifted the spray bottle Corinne had found for him and doused the good reverend with water.
Three more sprays over the next twenty minutes kept Dayshire awake enough to pronounce Daria and Danny man and wife. After a long kiss, the couple ran back down the aisle laughing like children. Rand stood back, allowing Corinne to accept congratulations from friends and relatives. Again. When the guests started to disperse, Corinne walked over and leaned into her husband, resting her head comfortably against his chest.
“We did it, Rand,” she said. “It’s never easy with Daria, but we pulled it off.”
“Yes we did.”
“Although, you made a mistake with that Pastor Dayshire, you should have gotten that Major Muffin again.”
Rand raised his eyebrows and started to speak but thought better of it. Instead he lifted the spray bottle that was still in his right hand.
“Corinne, could you turn around please?”

~Christopher Hivner

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