I tried to pounce on the ringing phone before it woke my cousin, Mandy, sleeping beside me. I whispered, “Pastor Maude Henderson.” I used my title because I didn’t expect people to call me at one-thirty in the morning unless it was business.
“Pastor Henderson? Detective Blakely, Kitsap County Sheriff’s office, here. Can you come around to seven-twenty South Oak Lake Drive? We’ve found a body, and well, someone suggested we call you.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
This story isn’t going to make any sense unless I explain the events of the previous day. The short story is that I officiated at a wedding. The short story won’t suffice to describe the chaotic, near-brawl that we called Fay’s Wedding.
First of all, Mandy, my cousin, is as close to me as a sister. She and her daughter Fay had been living with me because Harvey, Mandy’s husband, had been calling Mandy and Fay whores and sluts while jumping up and down on their possessions. He opened their mail, demanded to see receipts for everything they bought and generally scared the two women into hiding. My house on Oak Lake in the backwoods of Kitsap County made about as good a hiding place as any, so they moved in with me.
Fay called her paternal grandparents and invited them to the wedding, explaining, “Dad isn’t invited because he said I couldn’t marry Jeremy, and he called me names. I’d like Grandpa to walk me down the aisle if he will. Don’t even tell Dad where I am or that I’m getting married because I’m afraid he’ll come and yell at me or try to stop the service.”
Friday night we had the rehearsal. All went well. Fay danced down the aisle on her grandfather’s arm. We laughed off mistakes about who stood where and went out for pizza in Silverdale after the rehearsal.
On the morning of the wedding, I drove into the church and finished printing copies of the Order of Worship for the wedding. I put them on the usher’s table and left to run home for a quick shower before my bathroom became too busy.
As I locked the church building, I saw a group of men standing in a tight circle on the church lawn. Seeing my fiancé, Ralph’s, bald head in the huddle with the others, I figured the huddle was innocent until I recognized one voice as belonging to Harvey, Fay’s uninvited father.
He screamed, “Put me down. I have a right to be here.”
I couldn’t quite make out the man-growl that came from the rest of the men, so I crept closer.
What a mess. Perhaps some identification of my other guests is necessary. The Mother of the Groom (MOG) has a sister married to a foreign president who our state department…, well, she had more than invited them to the wedding. She invited them to come for the week. The president, his wife, married children, and bodyguards came early along with the groom, and his whole family from Victoria BC. Fortunately, they rented a couple B&B’s a few miles away on Hood Canal.
From my vantage point near the church’s side door, I could see the foreign president who couldn’t be over five-foot-six had lifted Harvey off his feet and was glaring and snarling at him something about daughters. Ralph nodded his head occasionally, so I decided to leave Harvey to the men and go get my shower. Besides, I didn’t know what I could do since Mandy never got a restraining order.