This is Part 4 of a series. Click here for Part 1
White chairs stood at attention as they faced the arbor and waited patiently to welcome the guests.
A simple elegant wedding adorned with lilies, birds of paradise, and other tropical flowers befitting the lush surroundings of the Hemingway estate.
Morgan was taking in the surroundings but none of it mattered to him. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. Every time she spoke or made a move he took mental notes of everything he liked about her. How her eyes squinted when she smiled. The slight upward turn of her nose from a Scandinavian heritage. And her rich full lips that were a bittersweet reminder of the first girl that broke his heart back in high school.
But more than anything was how Otis wouldn’t leave her side. He had already made her part of the family.
Morgan watched as Otis sat on his haunches breathing calmly in the summer heat. Sigrid’s hand rested on his collar, giving a hint of authenticity to the ruse.
Sigrid had positioned him so when guests shot them odd looks for bringing a dot to a wedding, Sigrid would smile a warming smile then mouth the words “s-e-r-v-i-c-e d-o-g”. Disarmed by her beauty or bluntness or both, guests gave a wary but affirming nod as they found their chairs.
“I can’t recall ever crashing a wedding before.”
Looking at Morgan with a bright smile “it’s a first for me too.”
Catching her soft green eyes, Morgan lingered for a moment. The warmth of her smile drew him in again. Even thought they’d only just met it was like she could see through him. No hiding. No trying to be something he was’t. All he had to do was just be. Be right here right now. It was a relaxed, peaceful feeling he’d lost long ago as he sought to please his parents, his friends, his colleagues, without ever taking time for himself. So for now, he was going to soak it in for as long as he could.
Looking over Morgan’s left shoulder toward the center aisle, Sigrid’s face light up as her eyes grew wide. Turning around Morgan saw a stunning bride and what was presumably her father. Guests stood as the cello began to play.
Sigrid and Morgan looked at each other with a playful grin as they carried on as dutiful wedding guests for couple they’d never met.
As the ceremony continued, the two stole playful looks. Without saying a word the conversation went like this.
I can’t believe were doing this.
Crazy isn’t it.
Yeah, but exhilarating.
Otis watched the whole exchange. And Morgan could see the level of delight rise over his four legged friend. He knew time was short. At any moment, Otis could make this as bad as chasing the cats around the estate. But as he took another look at Sigrid as she watched the bride walk down the aisle, he thought how the whole chasing cats thing hadn’t turned out so bad.
As the wedding guests sat and the nuptials began, Morgan could see Otis was getting restless. He tried staring him down, but Otis just looked at Sigrid and got a confirming pat on the head.
Looking back at Morgan, Otis let him know it was time. Morgan knew him too well and he could sense exactly what Otis was saying. We go now or this is going to get ugly.
Leaning into Sigrid’s ear, “I think were going to need to go in a minute.”
Sigrid turned to Morgan with a puzzled look until she turned and looked at Otis.
And now that he had both of their attention, he let out a massive “Bark!” An I’ve been cooped up in the house, stand near the door and make my master move kinda bark.
The entire wedding came to a halt as all eyes were on the disrupters in the back left corner. Red faced, the pair feigned innocent shrugs as Morgan expressed his regret with a semi-audible claim to keep the ruse in play “so sorry … service dog.”
Family members and guests looked at each other shaking heads with a clear looks of “whew, there not with me.” Once the nuptials started again, the trio made their break. Backing away from the chairs toward the rear of the clearing Morgan grabbed Sigrid’s hand and tucked through the lush tropical foliage and quickly gained ground.
Once out of earshot, Sigrid and Morgan let out a burst of laughter as they jogged toward the open gate while Otis ran circles around the pair.
But before they could congratulate themselves on keeping the embarrassment to a minimum, Otis spotted the old tabby laying on top of the waist high brick wall near the gate. On instinct and adrenalin, Otis took off as Morgan and Sigrid gave chase.
This time the tabby was ready. After the last scare, it was clear that the old cat was a bit more vigilant. With his head on a swivel the old cat saw Otis coming. Springing up it ran along the top of the wall as Otis bolted out the gate and tore down the sidewall. As the cat neared the corner, it took a dive on the opposite side of the wall leaving Otis flat footed and full bark.
Morgan made it to Otis first hollering with his alpha dog voice, “Otis! Stop!” Looking at Morgan Otis let out a few more barks until Sigrid showed up.
The trio stood their panting. Otis looked for signs of the cat. Megan and Sigrid looked around for scowls. Once in the clear. Morgan and Sigrid looked at each other and laughed.
“What now?” Sigrid asked. Hinting at more adventure.
“Why don’t we figure that out over lunch.”
“Ok. Sounds good. Where to?”
“Captain Tony’s. It’s just a few blocks up the road. About a half-a-block from Sloppy Joe’s. The owners claim its the original Sloppy Joe’s where Hemingway drank and wrote.
“Ahh I see. So if the Hemingway house doesn’t give you any inspiration, you head for the bar.”
“Man’s gotta do, what a man’s…”
“Save it. You have plenty of inspiration. You just don’t trust yourself yet.”
There she goes again. Morgan thought. Right for the jugular.
“Oh is that so?”
“Yup.” Sigrid shot a furtive smile. “But you will. I can tell.”
“Because you haven’t left. You took to today’s adventure without missing a beat. Inspiration is right around the corner.”
“Yeah at the bar.”
“No. I mean it’s…”
“I know what you meant. I was kidding. I’m already inspired.”
Sigrid looked down at Otis trying to hide an acceptant smile and the light pink tinge that started to flow across her porcelain cheeks.
He knew he’d struck a cord. It was clear his inspiration had come. His mind was flooded with new ideas. No more writing about robots or world war three. Hollow stories he tried to force into a voice he hadn’t discovered yet. A voice he hadn’t found until now. All he wanted now was to be present and savor every moment. The words were already starting to come.
“There you go. I can see it in your face.”
“Your starting to trust yourself.”
Morgan smiled a confident smile as he led the trio to Captain Tony’s. One more step in the journey of a thousand miles.
This is Part 4 of a series. Click here for Part 5
This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Me …
An article on Newser regarding “a story out of Germany is sure to spur lots of lines about our future overlords: A robot killed a worker inside a Volkswagen plant, reports the Financial Times.”
These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.