Episode 2 in a flash fiction series. Episode 1 appeared in the summer newsletter. It is available here.
Bart gazed at the steam rising from his paper coffee cup, his thoughts drifting to the night before. Mom had smiled with delight when he told her his plan to marry Claire. But her eyes grew wide when he shared the date. A clap of thunder broke his reverie and he turned to the window. A man ran through the steady rain toward the door. Bart stood as the bell on the door tinkled and the man entered. He waved at his college buddy, Shawn.
Shawn hurried over and offered his hand. “Bart, thanks for meeting me here. I know it’s quite a way from your work.”
Bart shook his hand and both sat. “Hey, I figured I might as well come here, since I’m asking for a favor.”
“Well, sorry to say this, but I hope you can ask quick. Things are crazy at work and I can’t be gone long.”
“Then it’s a good thing I ordered you a cup before you came.” He slid a cup of coffee covered with a plastic lid across the table.
Shawn looked at his watch. “So, what’s the favor?”
Bart’s stomach fluttered. Could his friend help? He took a big breath. “Shawn, I need a minister.”
Shawn’s coffee cup stopped halfway to his mouth. “A minister?” A bemused smile appeared below winkled eyebrows.
Bart swallowed. “Yes, I’m marrying Claire.”
Shawn’s face brightened like the sun appearing from behind a cloud. “Congratulations. When’s the date?” He lifted the cup to his lips.
Shawn sputtered, spilling a small amount of coffee on the table. “Saturday? Man, that’s quick. Why the rush?” He leaned over the table and lowered his voice. “She not pregnant, is she?”
Bart shook his head. “No, she has cancer.” He swallowed the ache in his throat. “It doesn’t look good.”
“Cancer?” Shawn set his cup on the table and concern lined his face. “Man, I’m so sorry to hear.”
“She starts treatment next week. So, we want to get married Saturday. But you know me.” He shrugged. “I don’t do the church thing. Could you refer me to the preacher that did your wedding?”
Shawn sat back and slumped in the chair. “I don’t know if our minister will be much help. When we got married, we had to schedule weeks in advance and attend four educational sessions.”
Bart’s face fell and his chest tightened. His hand trembled, shaking the coffee cup. He sat it on the table. Shawn leaned across the table and patted his arm. “Hey, I’ll talk to him. Maybe he can work you in. I’ll put in a good word for you.”
Bart’s eyes closed. “Thanks.” His voice breathed relief.
“Are you ok?”
Bart looked at Shawn, sighed and shrugged. “We were cruising along enjoying life and now this. I suddenly realized I might lose her.” He looked out at the rain. “It was quite a wakeup call.”
“I bet.” Shawn sipped his coffee. “I’ll pray for you guys.”
Bart met his gaze with a wry smile. “Thanks. We need it.”
“I could pray right now, if you like.”
The smile vanished from Bart’s face and his eyes narrowed. “Uh . . . well . . .”
Shawn grinned. “I’ll keep it brief.”
Shawn reach across and took his hand. Bart blushed as they bowed their heads. Shawn’s prayer was only a couple of sentences. When Shawn released his hand, both sat back in their chairs.
Bart said, “I know you’re busy. I have one other request. Would you be my best man?”
“Absolutely.” His eyes brightened over a smile. “It’d be an honor.”
“Thanks for coming.” Bart drew a breath and sighed heavily, looking at his watch.
Shawn said, “Forget work. I’m here as long as you want to talk.” He smiled. “You know God’s got this, right?”
Bart nodded, but wished he had the faith of his friend.
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