Edward O’Dwyer is from Limerick, Ireland, and writes poetry and fiction. His most recent book, Cheat Sheets, was published by Truth Serum Press (2018) and features on The Lonely Crowd journal’s ‘Best Books of 2018’ list. His third collection of poems from Salmon Poetry is due in 2020, entitled Exquisite Prisons. The collection The Rain on Cruise’s Street (2014) was Highly Commended by the Forward Prizes, while the poem ‘The Whole History of Dancing’, from Bad News, Good News, Bad News (2017), won the Eigse Michael Hartnett Festival 2018 ‘Best Original Poem’ Prize. His story ‘The Man Who Became Poems’ was recently a Finalist in the London Independent Story Prize. He is on Twitter at @EdwardODwyer2.
My fiancée had insisted upon his Cocker Spaniel being the ring-bearer on our wedding day.
“After all, he did introduce us, in a manner of speaking,” he reasoned.
“That’s true, if he hadn’t humped my leg that day in the street, you might never have had the opportunity to apologise and ask me out to dinner to make up for it.”
I thought it was a stupid idea, being truthful, but since I’d called the shots on most of the preparations, I figured I could make this one concession. Unfortunately, the dog swallowed one of them at the last moment.
We had to wait there at the altar for hours, hoping to retrieve it, feeding the dog treats to try to speed things up. Eventually he got into a hunched position and an oozy turd began winding out of his backside and onto the marble.
I watched as my fiancée was snapping on a pair of disposable gloves, and that’s when I felt it, a twinge of sadness and bitterness and resentment that would fester over a lifetime.
“I’ve got it,” he called out triumphantly, removing his handkerchief to give the ring a wipe. “But somebody’s a very bad boy, yes he is, and he can forget about sleeping on the bed tonight.”
Somehow, and for a reason I couldn’t fathom, this absolutely splendid woman had agreed to become my wife. I’d gotten through the eighteen months of engagement and managed, against the odds, to keep it this way.
She was in her dress, her hair and make-up done. She was at the church, and she was coming down the aisle to the altar, where I was waiting. I stole a glance her way. She was a miracle, a vision, while her father, next to her, appeared devastated, and making no effort to appear otherwise.
I felt like Vincenzo Peruggia, the guy who walked into the Louvre on a Monday and walked out with the Mona Lisa under his arm. It should never have been possible, and yet here we were once more, about to repeat the impossible union of unconscionable thief and work of art. In fact, I was outdoing Peruggia’s feat, because you don’t have to convince a painting of a woman to come with you back to your apartment in Florence, do you?
The priest was dutifully making his way through the ceremony. She was smiling radiantly, a smile which announced it was the happiest day of her life.
He got to the part about inviting interferences. “If somebody present knows of any reason why this couple should not be joined together in matrimony, make it clear now or forever hold your peace,” he was saying, or something to that effect.
I looked around to see hands being raised in the air. They were going up in ones and twos among our guests.
It didn’t take long before everyone’s hand seemed to be raised. I Couldn’t see one that wasn’t. I looked at my own parents in the front row, their hands raised. I saw my mother shrug her shoulders at me. My father looked down at the floor.
I looked back at my bride-to-be to see what she was making of it all. The smile was gone from her face and her hand was raised up high.
I looked next to the priest and saw that he, too, had a hand raised in the air.
I took another look around the church. Nobody was taking any pleasure in it, at least. They were all just good people pointing out what was plainly obvious. They were simply reporting a terrible crime in progress, and so I raised my guilty hand, gave myself up.
“I nearly did it,” I said to her. “I nearly pulled it off.”
“You nearly did,” she replied, and the radiant smile returned to her face. “You very nearly did.”
We met at a convention of samurai sword enthusiasts, and so it made sense to give our wedding somewhat of a samurai theme. We were both trained, skilled users of samurai swords, and thought it would be a good idea to cut the cake with a demonstration of the skills we had honed.
She began by cutting the top layer with a venomous horizontal swipe, technically perfect. I was filled with pride. I was also aroused. It was indescribably beautiful, seeing her do that in her wedding gown. The photographer’s camera clicked furiously next to me.
There was only one way to explain the decapitated woman wearing only nipple tassels inside it, whose neck, a moment later, started spraying blood on our guests. At some parties, erotic dancers emerge out of cakes doing sexy routines, and there must have been a very big mix-up at the bakery that day.