Thursday, 23 February 2012

LaTurf's Wedding

When LaTurf won the lottery her mammy threw her hands up in the air and despaired to everyone who would listen that the girl would now never do a day's work in her life.  Around her, the women in their colourful headscarves and long, flowing dresses that kept the summer heat out nodded their heads wisely and chorused that LaTurf's mammy was just so right, and all of them had the sense to keep the opinion to themselves that LaTurf hadn't done a stick of work so far in her short life either.  They clustered around LaTurf's mammy clucking like broody hens, offering sympathy and kindness, small gifts by which big thoughts might be engendered when, later on, LaTurf remembered her family and chose to share her wealth with them.  They huddled and cuddled, listened to her mammy bleating like a lost lamb as night approaches, and generally showed all the milk of human kindness that the prospect of money could buy.
Then LaTurf announced that she was getting married and now the wise and kindly women gathered in their own little clusters to whisper and worry, and to a woman they all forbade their sons to go out to the clubs that LaTurf liked, none of them were to go to the dance lessons that LaTurf attended in the church hall, and most of all, none of them were to be seen with LaTurf without at least two other friends with them, or four if any of those friends were women.  The sons were puzzled, and initially a little rebellious until they realised everything that their mothers did for them, and then they obliged them with a grudging ill-humour.
LaTurf didn't notice at first, and then she realised that the Banco da Leita looked like a lesbian joint and told her girlfriends that she just didn't feel comfortable going their anymore.  Then she found that there was no-one to dance with at the church hall, partly because she preferred a male partner and partly because the other girls there also went to the Banco da Leita and didn't like being called lesbians, not least by LaTurf.  And when she couldn't find a single male friend to confide in who didn't immediately find his best friend and half a dozen others, she began to wonder what she'd done to people, and quickly concluded that it was the money she now had, making everyone jealous.
So she hurried the wedding up.
The wedding was held on a Sunday morning and everyone came; the women to see who she was marrying (and there wasn't a one of them who didn't ready themselves to stand up and stop the wedding if LaTurf looked like she'd be about to try and marry their son); the sons came because their mothers ordered them to, so that they could have them there, safely at their side; the husbands came because it was an excuse not to have to go evening service, and LaTurf's mammy came because she was paid to.  LaTurf's daddy came too, to give her away, and later on the Sheriff admitted that LaTurf had come down to the gaol and paid him to escort her daddy up to the church, let him walk her down the aisle, and then take him away again.  The Sheriff told everyone that LaTurf's daddy cried all the way back and wouldn't tell him why.
The wedding was Tolkeinesque – it dragged on and on, the priest used long words that no-one knew or wanted to remember and talked about things that didn't make any sense to anyone.  The hymns were neuralgic, and LaTurf's cousin, who was tone deaf and had an unreconstructed cleft palate sang three solos that brought tears to people's eyes and blood from their ears, and all the while LaTurf knelt at the altar, the veil covering her face and a man that no-one recognised was kneeling next to her smiling the smile of a man who knows his bride won eight-hundred and forty-two thousand dollars three weeks earlier.
Finally the twin towers fell and the priest produced the One Ring to bind them and muttered the sacred words of the marriage ceremony like a blasphemous oath and LaTurf was married.  She stood up, threw back her veil, and almost devoured her husband in her hunger to have him.  To give the man his due, as everyone said afterwards, he stood there for a very long time while she almost negated the need for a honeymoon.  The crueller of the women whispered, but only well away from LaTurf's mammy, that he'd earned his money that day.
With LaTurf now safely married the women relaxed their strictures and their sons could go back out to the clubs and the dance lessons in the church hall, and to their surprise they found that LaTurf was back there as well, her husband apparently staying at home and looking after the house.  The house was very big, and a half-hour drive away, and paid for with her lottery money, so there was no doubt that it was a lovely house to look after, but the sons mentioned it to their mothers, and the women wondered about a husband who was negligent of his wife.
Four weeks later it seemed that the husband had left again, with LaTurf unable to decide if his secret agent job required him abroad, his accountancy skills were needed in Washington in a particularly cream-coloured home or if his acting career had taken him to Hollywood where she'd be joining him later.  The women nodded knowledgably and considered that there were some things that even money can't buy, and LaTurf was surely too much woman for just one man to handle.  And then they quietly took their sons aside and told them that all the money was gone with the husband, knowing that that would be enough to keep them away from her once more.

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