Best Man Billy Episode 3
Across the street and two doors down from Billy, lived Freddie Lattice. Freddie lived with his widowed mother in a tiny and dilapidated weatherboard cottage that was cowering behind the randomly spread pickets of a tilting fence. It was many years since the once turquoise and yellow paints of the house had been applied by Freddie’s father during one of his frequent periods of unemployment. He had never gotten around to doing the window frames.
Freddie father, who was a heavy ‘roll your own’ smoker, had his final coughing fit about five years ago. It was rumoured that his wife Marge threw a tin of Log Cabin and a couple of packets of Tally Ho’s into his coffin before they nailed down the lid. “He thought more of them than he did of me,” she was heard to mutter.
Freddie and Billy were of the same age; they were both enjoying their thirty-third year and had known of each other all their lives. Their relationship had seen various degrees of intensity ranging from mild indifference to brief periods of cautious familiarity. Freddie had occasionally spent a night at Billy’s house when they were kids and they would play with Billy’s donkey engine that was driven by steam. About twice a year Billy would succumb to his mother’s badgering and would build up enough courage to reciprocate.
Sally was Billy’s oldest sister and she too had spasmodic exposure to Freddie. He always said hello when passing and he had invited her to go to the movies on a few occasions. After one such venture to see the film “Tarzan Goes To New York”, Freddie had attempted to massage Sally’s left breast as he gave her a goodnight peck under the lemon scented gum. She had, ever since, often thought about it and regretted her own robust rebuttal of his advances.
But it was a gargantuan surprise when Freddie came over one afternoon dressed in his new T-shirt with “Jesus is Coming…Look Busy” printed on the front and knocked on the door to ask Sally to marry him. He explained that since his mother was now in palliative care because of her lung cancer, he would soon be the sole owner and occupant of the family home. Sally said yes and a week later, when Marge left this “veil of tears”, the wedding date was set.
Freddie was full of surprises. He approached Billy and asked him to be his best man. After his mother had explained the function of the best man, and after she had made dire threats about his future welfare, Billy agreed to attend Freddie in the church that was only a block from where they lived.
So the big day arrived and Billy looked resplendent. To save his best man money, Freddie had loaned him his father’s double breasted suit, his frilly fronted shirt and a colourful painted tie; the one with nude ladies doing the limbo. Although the suit was a bit small for Billy, it was in good condition because its reeking smell of tobacco had kept the moths and silverfish well away.
Sally looked beautiful in her rented satin off- the-shoulder dress although she did have a bit of trouble keeping everything intact as she made her way down the aisle on the arm of her mother. She wasn’t as fit as she would like to be for the occasion but things could have been worse if she hadn’t cut back her beer intake and hadn’t taken to running around the block every second afternoon.
Billy had been to a rehearsal so he had a rough idea of what he was supposed to do. He was sure that his main role would be to give the bride’s wedding ring to the reverend so it could be blessed prior to it being installed on Sally’s finger by Freddie. But unfortunately, as the service droned on, Billy suffered an inevitable loss of concentration and when he was asked for the ring to be placed on the bible, he suffered a mild panic attack and dropped it on the floor.
Horrified, both Billy and Freddie sprang forward to recover the jewel and in their haste, suffered a terrible collision. Billy flattened Freddie’s nose with a classic head-butt and blood pumped out of the proboscis like a Yellowstone National Park geyser. As Freddie lunged around in a state of semi-consciousness Billy desperately resumed searching amongst the gore for the missing ring. Sally was in shock and screaming “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”
Billie’s tenacity paid off and clutching the ring in a bloodied hand he rushed towards his sister in an attempt to console her in her anguish. He might have been successful had he not slipped in a puddle of blood and plummeted forward. In trying to save himself, he grabbed at Sally’s bodice which, because of its dubious design and doubtful engineering, gave way in turn to reveal that her feminism had been inadequately supported by her bra. And Billy’s attempt to soothe his troubled sister by cuddling her, only left the remains of her dress looking like the red and white table cloth she had given her mum for Christmas.
After Sally’s frenetic exit from the church and her frantic cries as she sprinted back to her house, Freddie decided it would be the thing to do to ask those few remaining guests, back to his place where the wedding reception was going to be held. Initially only four people were brave enough to accept the invitation. Billy was one of the guests and later on the reverend, having gone home to change and soak his church clothes in cold water, turned up in a pair of shorts and thongs, accepting the offer of a few grogs and a couple of party pies. He thought he’d earned it.