Charlie stood in front of the church, waiting for his bride to walk down the aisle toward him. Spread out before him in the sanctuary of House of Grace Church in downtown Vancouver was a small crowd of well-wishers who came to witness the union of Charlie and Carolyn Hamer. Charlie looked out over the crowd and marveled at the number of people who he now called friends, and with whom he shared life on a level of intimacy that he could never have imagined for the first forty five years of his life.
He could see Maureen and Carl seated to his right, in the groom’s half of the room. Maureen was radiant, and now wore Carl’s engagement ring. Jack was preparing himself to play the bride’s procession at the piano that sat on the right hand side of the stage. He smiled and nodded at his father, who beamed back at him.
LuAnn, Jason and Tank were in the back row. Jason still wasn’t coming any closer to a church service than that, so the others sat with him. Rachael and her fiancé, Manny Baca and his small herd, Lester and Frank from the construction crew and others were there. Billy and Dom and Father Krempke were seated in the front row.
And then there was Carolyn. She wore a gown of soft yellow with a white veil, and to Charlie it looked like the sun had come out in the back of the church. She looked at Charlie as Jack began to play, and beamed toward him pure love and joy. He could hardly believe that he deserved this, and beamed the same back to her.
Carolyn walked slowly forward, mounted the steps and took her place next to him. They faced Pastor Saunders, who began the ceremony. Charlie held her hands, repeated his vows and accepted hers. Then, as the pastor asked for the ring with which Charlie would seal his end of the bargain, he heard a fart that had to register at least eight on the Richter Scale. Pastor Saunders looked shocked, but Charlie and Carolyn had to suppress a laugh. He leaned toward Carolyn’s ear and whispered “looks like Walt finally made it.”