The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 20, 2010

Chapter 16 As the Small Town Turns


CNHI

— By Karen Bethea

Guest writer

It had been a beautiful spring day when the wedding had taken place at First Methodist Church. They had decided on a double wedding –– Raquel and Buck, Maggie and Bobby Tom.

The girls had chosen to wear identical wedding gowns, carrying bouquets of pink sweetheart roses and Buck and Bobby Tom had been dressed in their Army Dress Blue uniforms decorated with many medals. The Maid of Honor had been little Roxanne, dressed in a handmade pink embroidered long dress, carrying her Raggedy Ann and the wedding rings on a pink silken mattress of woven ribbons and dragging her little brother behind her.

There had been one best man, Jake Green, of Tupelo, who had bawled like a baby throughout the entire ceremony, much to the amusement of everyone. Buck had kept his promise. He had made the trip back to Branson and found Corncob, who was now called by his real name, Jake. Buck had gotten the local Veteran’s Affairs office involved with Jake’s medical problems and within a month he had a new leg fitted at the VA hospital in Birmingham. Jake was hired by one of the local plants that liked to hire veterans, and he had moved into Buck’s old apartment over the hardware store and was becoming a favorite around town. He was an excellent classical guitarist and played every weekend at the pizza restaurant on the square.

Rock and Twyla were biding their time in Sheriff Blinky’s “hotel” since they had been extradited from Arkansas. The sheriff was trying to keep them from being charged with kidnapping so he called in some favors and they would be his guests for quite awhile before any trial would take place.

Twyla was in the women’s section of the jail that was managed by a prior Marine female Drill Sergeant who loved to teach physical fitness. She had taken one look at Twyla and had grinned. Rock was unfortunate enough to have as the “commander” of his section, an old “buddy” who he had gotten into a fistfight with at the Booby Bungalow on an “Elvis Impersonator” night, and the other guy had won both the fight and the contest. Big Ed had also grinned when he saw Rock walking jauntily down the cellblock. “Howdy Rock, reckon you’ll be lonesome tonight?” he asked.

After the beautiful wedding ceremony, when the church doors had opened for the couples to leave, both Buck and Bobby Tom had let out a gasp because there, in front of them, lining the church steps, were the men from their platoon in Iraq, in their Dress Blues, sabers drawn, forming an arch for the two couples to walk under. And at the bottom of the stairs were helmets lined up to represent the guys who couldn’t hold a saber because they had given all for their country.

Jake had made it his mission to find all of the guys and had asked them to come to the wedding as a surprise for Buck and Bobby Tom. The members of The Veteran’s Museum had helped raise money for their travel and had provided rooms in their homes for the entire platoon. As pictures were taken and hugs were given, there was not a dry eye to be seen and then a parade of people made its way to the reception that had been held at the Veteran’s Museum where this had all started.

The reception had been attended by every member of the museum as well as everyone who had been at the wedding –– and probably a few wedding crashers –– but nobody cared. There was a big party in Athens that day and the dancing part was going to be just across the street at the new Event Center.

The wives of the members of the local VFW had gotten together and made the wedding cakes, punch and every Southern goodie one could want at a wedding.

During the reception, Buck stood in the doorway, looking across the room and saw a beautiful young woman with a glowing face dressed in a lovely antique styled wedding gown. Their eyes met and he winked and mouthed,” I love you” and as an author so long ago said, “All’s well that ends well.”