I never met "THE SILVER ROCKETEER"
None of us did. He may have been there however, and of course we all had our own theories.The party was to start at eight, giving Emma and her bridesmaids a few hours to compose themselves for the evening.
It was the hottest wedding I had ever been to, and the open church doors drew in the breathless summer air to be gently thrashed around by flocks of shuddering paper fans. Emma's wheelchaired mother grasped my hand briefly as she was escorted to her seat. I'll be right as rain in a few months, I recall her saying.
Surveying the scene from a personally typical point of view next to those huge doors, the vaulting space seemed to encase a liquid, three dimensional quilt of hats, corrugated hair and faces.
I smiled to myself. There was the commitment, at the other end of the church...and I was by the doors. As if reading my thoughts, Charlotte turned her attention from the altar and beamed a smile.
I was surprised to feel my face flush and smiled backed timidly.She always did that to me. Her spirit lay just a micron below that porcelain skin and would break out and abash you with it's purity. Every time was a reminder that the world was indeed a wonderful place. If you couldn't hold onto that idea for yourself, she would become an addiction.
It was a fool who believed or mistook that innocence for love, and advances to her were always taken with bemusement. My vanity knew I alone recognised where her heart belonged.
Was he here today?
In the crowd perhaps? Just another face?
I turned to the door and stepped outside a few feet. The brief movement of air was a treat for my tie strangled neck. A deep growling disturbed the hay and petal swept heat and a ginger cat looked up from the shade of a drooping yew.
A condensation trail appeared above the tree line and shook in the earth haze.
Could just have been a crop sprayer I supposed, but a sudden glitter that momentarily blinded me, convinced me otherwise.
The crop spray pilots, we called them hedge-hoppers, didn't have the time or the money to either own or polish their planes to a mirror shine.The trail preceded through the blue, creating a dead horizontal line.
I was about to turn and re-enter the preceedings when the line lost speed and abruptly rose up at 45 degrees. A second later it took a sharp downward turn then continued horizontally again.
The beat of life, the bleep on the machine. I peered away from the glare of the sky and into the church.
Emma's mother. Heart attack 8 days ago. Who rushed her to hospital?
Nobody knows, of course.She was in the garden, tending the fruit trees. That's all she remembers before waking up in hospital.
I went to the garden the very next day. Among the lines of raspberries lay a scorched patch of earth.
Emma took her Mother's gardening dress home, but she never managed to remove long streaks of what appeared to be oil stains.
TO BE CONTINUED