From the ditch - luckily dry - and behind the hedge I had a good view of the road, the arriving of the cars, and the dressed-in-their-best folk emerging from them, smiling and commenting on the sunshine, welcome, and surprising, after the week of rain we’d had, the women’s hats, turning back and forth in over-animated conversation, a parade of long-stemmed flowers.
Then, for a while, after the slamming of doors and tap-tapping of heels on the stone pathway ceased there was a lull in the proceedings, and only the meandering organ music from within the church to be heard, spiced by the buzzing of bees amongst the dog-roses.
I’d seen him go in, early, earlier than he should have, than the accompanying best man thought wise, looking nervous, unaccustomed to the harshness of the collar and tie around his neck, and I knew that he’d’ve liked to take a tot or two from the hip flask he usually carried but could not today since it would have spoiled the line of his hired suit.
Then the big, black, smooth-engined car arrived, pulled into the space in front of the lych gate that had been saved for it, and the blonde head of the driver could be seen, going to open the passenger doors. Her father first, smug pomposity in every gleaming inch of him, then her, The Bride, looking somehow plastic and unreal, as if captured and sprayed. Made stiff and plastic, a model of a soon-to-be-the-perfect-wife.
I waited until the organ began that creaking, doom-laden tune before making my move. Opened silently (my earlier, pre-greasing preparations paying off) the little door and crept to another narrow door from where, while remaining hidden, I had a good view of those standing therein.
Waited until after “Who giveth this woman” for her father to sit down in the front pew.
Waited for the “If any man knows...” words from the officiating vicar.
Waited for the sudden swirl of stiff-skirted dress, the tap-tapping of a single pair of feet.
Heard (or thought I did) the falling of the flowers from her hand.
Only heard the beginnings of the gasp of questioning shock as I opened the inner door, making sure to stay out of sight. Shut it and wedged the already-held chair behind it. Took her hand and ran with her through and out the small back door, reminding her to duck. Through the hedge, leapt the ditch and to the pick-up truck beyond.
Climbed in and sped away.
The groom himself had been impediment enough.