The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 20, 2010

Epilogue: As the Small Town Turns


CNHI

— By Karen Bethea

Guest writer

No one had planned for a honeymoon as the brides and grooms had needed to get back to their jobs. During the reception at the Event Center, the head to the Veterans Museum had whispered something in one of musician’s ears and the “The Flashbacks” had stopped singing.

Taking the microphone, the president of the Veteran’s Museum said, “We have one more surprise for the couples as well as our new friend, Jake. “ And he made his announcement and then invited Sheriff Blinky up to the microphone to make his.

Later, the party was in full force at the Florabama. All of the guys that were at the wedding were dancing to “Sweet Home Alabama” and getting the names and phone numbers of the college girls. It was spring break for both Auburn and Alabama.

Raquel and Buck were slow dancing to every song, Maggie was laughing at Bobby Tom, who, good naturedly, was making every attempt at dancing, although he had zero rhythm. Jake was sitting at a table in a corner maintaining an avid conversation with a beautiful Auburn sorority girl on one side and an Alabama sorority girl on the other.

The platoon members were still kids. Most of them had done two tours in Iraq and still were only in their early twenties. So young, yet so wise.

Jake had gotten the shock of his life. When Raquel had been taken by Rock, the governor of Alabama had offered a $25,000 reward for anyone with information. Jake had, for once, been at the right place at the right time in that alley in Branson. He was treating everyone to a party at the Florabama and enjoying paying back some of the good times others had shown him.

The newly married couples had been given a surprise for the honeymoon. Buck and Bobby Tom’s platoon had also been included in the surprise announced at the reception. It had just so happened that seven of the Museum Board members owned condos on the same floor of one of the new condominiums in Gulf Shores. The couples each received the use of a condo for a week and the other five condos were large enough to accommodate the rest of the entourage.

The trip to Gulf Shores had been hilarious. All of the cars, even the cars that had been loaned to all of their buddies, were decorated with all sorts of wedding paraphernalia. Buck and Raquel brought up the rear; Bobby Tom and Maggie were leading the caravan. Written in huge white letters on the back windshield of Buck and Raquel’s car was, ”I’m Falling In Love Tonight.”