The Worst Day In Your Life
It was a swift, painless wedding. The fat judge cheerfully admitted that this was the fourth time she had read the civil vows. Required documents were signed, copies delivered into appropriate hands, and once a complacent bureaucracy was satisfied, the new wife offered her husband a smooth cheek, accepting his light kiss and the touch of a hand against her silk sleeve,
Vinnie was the happiest participant. One arm and then the other possessively clung to Persian shoulders. Vinnie’s mother had donated her living room to the cause, but in dramatic contrast to her daughter, she stood as far from the event as possible, wearing gray clothes and a loving yet dour expression. She obviously disapproved of this contrived event. Yet Vinnie wanted this foreign woman, and what was a mother’s love if it couldn’t occasionally surrender the pillars of reason and good sense?
The groom’s duties done, he joined the suffering mother.
“Madam Trent,” he said, offering a deep bow.
“You dressed up for the show.”
“Well, that was one mistake.”
There was a teasing quality to the voice, but not much of one. The hostess was taller than her daughter—taller than Quentin by two easy inches—and with her androgynous clothes and the ruby-infused steel rings, she made no secret of her love for women. Vinnie claimed her father was an expensive pipette filled with anonymous, high-quality juice. And also according to her, this towering lady was wickedly promiscuous—a beauty in youth, and as her looks faded, wealthy enough to buy a brigade of young tongues.
Despite wrinkles and sunspots, Madam Trent remained an attractive, confident soul. Insatiable? Or was her spoiled, worshipful daughter jealous of the occasional girlfriend,
“It was good of you, Quentin. Agreeing to this, donating time.”
A simple yellow envelope appeared in her hand. With casual efficiency, Madam Trent passed it to him.
Nothing seemed worth saying. He folded the envelope once, pushing it into a trousers’ pocket.
Some part of this scene made the woman laugh. Then with a deeper, much older voice, she said, “You shouldn’t worry.”
Until then, the day was remarkably free of worries. “I shouldn’t?”
“Most likely not.”
He wanted more conviction in the voice.
Madam Trent smiled slyly. “Perhaps there’ll be an annulment.”
Wives had two weeks to declare their marriage nonexistent.
“Do you think Farah will?”
“Probably not,” the woman remarked. “No, I think the future is obvious enough. In a few months, this precious relationship collapses. My daughter realizes the truth and feels devastated and exceptionally angry, and needing a reasonable target, I’ll suffer her anger. Famous old wounds revisited, that sort of shit.”
Daughter and lover were across the room, talking politely to the judge.
“Farah doesn’t love Vinnie,” Quentin guessed.
“That too,” said Madam Trent.
He waited for more enlightenment.
Then she touched his forearm—a gesture identical to one often used by Vinnie—and with a careful, serious tone, she said, “Mr. Maurus. I promise you. This won’t be the worst day in your life.”