VIII. THE SHADOW FALLS
Cain entered the church, followed by Lucifer. Angered at not being invited, they’d decided to crash the ceremony…even though it was in a church, and all Ushers of import shunned these shrines to a god they’d forsaken centuries ago. The event seemed to be one that rivaled any in known Usher history. Never had an Usher, save Calvin and Lazarus, ever married outside their family. They seemed to choose their own sisters, daughters, or nieces. Yet, here was one of their own marrying an outsider.
Worse still, she was holding her nuptials in a church! And Lucretia! Lucertia was dancing and kissing an outsider! This was outlandish! The family’s dishonor was at stake!
“Stop this madness!” Lucifer shrieked, “this is sacrilege to the family’s memory! Desecration! Desecrators! I will not stand for this!”
The crowd went silent and turned to face the intruders. Lazarus, Maggie, Lucretia, and Todd stepped to the forefront of the crowd. Behind them, those who’d escaped the brothers’ massacre in Oklahoma formed a line that ran horizontally behind the four.
“Hail, uncles,” Maggie stated, “welcome to the end of your power. We are no longer afraid of you. United we stand against you, divided you shall fall.”
“Away from us, Oh Satan,” Todd spoke, authoritatively, “be gone and plague us no more. Your power is useless here. Your line has been broken and your curse brought to an end….” the rest was muttered in Latin and Greek. But it reached a crescendo as the crowd, behind those who stood as a united front before the evil twins, joined in. It was so perfectly timed and beautifully orchestrated that it took the two flame-haired murderers by total surprise.
“The evil that has defined the Ushers,” Lucretia began, unafraid, “no longer stands to define us. Our sins have been washed away and a new hope fills our hearts. Your era has been wiped away with the filth that defined it. You no longer hold sway here. The past has died. Go and die with it, you Godless lechers. Go and die so that your shame dies with you.”
“Your end,” Lazarus interjected, with an air of authority, “has already been set into motion. We all have had a hand in seeing to that. May God have more mercy upon you than you have ever shown anyone else. Just remember…you shall be judged according to your deeds. Do you have even one ounce of goodness in you? Have you ever done anything that was not born from a selfish and evil heart? I think not.”
IX. THE SHADOW IS LIFTED
A gunshot interrupted Cain as he began to object to this effrontery forced upon him and his evil twin. Lucifer fell to his knees, his back arched and a grimace of pain upon his face. Two more shots slammed his face into the floor, where he lay writhing in pain…unable to open his vile mouth. All knew that he was not dead, but he soon would be…just not from his current wounds.
Two more shots spun Cain around and knocked him to his knees. The mini “Lucifer”, that evil little midget, could only open his mouth and gasp in shock as he beheld his attacker. All eyes raised from the two wounded men on the steps to who was standing in the door.
“Daddy?” Maggie inquired, still not sure if she could trust her eyes, “is that you? But, how? You’ve been dead all these years!”
“Dead, Indeed,” came the ghostly reply, “but I needed to witness their end. I wanted to come and watch you marry the man who deserves you the most. My dearest Magdalena, you have ever been my greatest joy and greatest sorrow. Now, I come to aid you in your darkest and finest hour. I have repaid my brothers for their treachery, now there remains only one more thing to do.”
Conrad brushed past the specter and grabbed hold onto the two wounded monsters. Without a word, he hauled their bleeding bodies out of the church. When he returned, he looked over at the ghostly presence and smiled. Had he not been a bit late, it would’ve been he who shot the two devils. But he had, in his usual fashion, been a few minutes behind schedule. Thus, Cal had done his own brothers in.
“Aright, People,” he said, nonchalantly, “let’s get this party started.”
Todd smiled and went up the steps to the altar. He stood behind it, right where the priest was supposed to stand. Lazarus and the ghostly image of Maggie’s father took their place at each side of her. Conrad and his best men took their places at the altar, and as the WEDDING MARCH began, Maggie and her two escorts made their way toward the group at the altar. Soon, it
would be over and a new life would begin. Soon…
X. BUT THE DAY IS NOT DONE…
“I need your attention, please,” Todd called over the din, shortly after Maggie and Conrad took their vows, “there are two more couples who wish to make this day an even brighter day. Do they wish to step forward and take their places upon the altar dais with me?”
Lazarus and Hellena stepped forward. So did Lucretia and Cozy.
“Though I believe that neither couple has rings to exchange at this moment,” Todd stated, smiling proudly, “I do believe that I witnessed the beginnings of their betrothals in this very church this day as we awaited for the first marriage to take place. Is this not true?”
Lazarus nodded, as did Hellena. Their affirmation was followed by that of Lucretia and Cozy. Todd grinned with uncontainable excitement. He’d never before had a triple-play. Never had he done three weddings in one day.
“Then,” he continued, “let us seal the last two pacts of marriage. No need to wait any longer.” He placed Lucretia and Cozy to his right, and Lazarus and Hellena to his left. “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife…?” “Yes,” came both men’s answer.
“And do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband…?”
“Yes,” the women answered in unison.
“Then,” Todd concluded, “according to the powers invested in me by the state of Illinois and by God, I now pronounce you husbands and wives. You may kiss the brides.”
XI. A FITTING END TO A BEAUTIFUL DAY
The reception had become a celebration for three couples. Still, it had been the best day of anyone’s life who’d been present. They’d watched as a ghost had wrought vengeance upon those who’d killed him. They’d watched what had truly become the wedding of the century. It had been a triple play! Three couples, not just one, had gotten married.
Maggie even shared the cake that had been meant for her and Conrad! It was a sight to see three couples cutting into the cake at the same time. The video would be fodder for many laughs for years to come, even among those who were in it as the happy couples. It was an affair to remember. All who were present would never forget it.