Veronica and Husband
How They Met
Ten years earlier, when Veronica had gone back to Birmingham for the first time,
the day she arrived she went for lunch at the mall restaurant where she used
to waitress. She wanted to sit and have a mug of beer and decide who, if
anyone, she was going to contact while she was there.
Dylan and his parents were in a booth by the front door. He saw her and
half-stood, pausing like he was making sure it was her. “You used
to work here.” He put his index finger on his temple.
“Yes, I did,” she said and looked at his parents. “Hi. It’s
been a long time.”
“Last we heard you disappeared after the funeral,” his mother said.
Veronica felt anger for the first time in years but didn’t let it show. “You
didn’t come. Any of you.” She smiled and looked at Dylan. “You
were one of my best friends.”
“To the funeral of a whore and her poor husband? No, we didn’t,” Dylan’s
Dylan’s father said, “Stop it,” and stood up, took Veronica’s
forearm in his hand, and walked with her outside. I’m sorry
dear. This is my fault. Your mother was precious to me. She’d
be so proud of you.”
Veronica left, went to the airport, arranged for the next flight. She found
the airport bar and sat down next to a man she would marry six months later. He
was reading Gone with the Wind. He said he was from Phoenix. She
later found out he’d never read the book, just carried it around.
They married alone, at the resort in Jamaica. Veronica’s mother would
have had the wedding at their historic Birmingham church, reception at the country
club, guests invited on 100-percent-cotton rag.
Her husband was the only child of an only child. The parents and the grandparents
lived together in a huge modern Phoenix home. He called Veronica from his
parents’ house one evening to tell her about the little blonde mutt he’d
found, and when the conversation ended he didn’t replace the receiver properly,
and Veronica heard his mother scream obscenities at him, calling him a no-good
cocksucker, worthless son of a bitch, and so on. She listened for almost
five minutes. Veronica didn’t hear her husband respond. When
the mother-in-law finally stopped, Veronica heard a steady snap that sounded
like someone beating out a carpet.
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