By CL Bledsoe
The preacher turned to the congregation.
“If anyone here has a reason why these two should not be lawfully wed, let him speak now or forever hold your peace.”
All eyes turned — most of them not obvious, but still they turned — toward Jesus. He sat about six rows back on the bride’s side, but at the edge by the aisle. He smiled broadly and shook His head quickly, as if to say, ‘No worries.’
The preacher smiled. “Then, by the power — “
“Better watch out, though,” a voice interrupted. “Soon as you get going, he’s liable to send an asteroid.” The people sitting closest stared straight ahead — many of them had been staring straight ahead for a while. Those sitting farther away were much more open about staring. What they saw was a dinosaur sitting about three rows from the back on the groom’s side. It was a T-rex, wearing a still mostly black tux, open at the collar with a bowtie hanging untied. He held a beer can in his right claw with a long straw, which he moved up to his mouth so he could sip.
Some of those sitting farther out mumbled. Jesus held up a hand, still smiling, to silence them, and then motioned for the preacher to continue.
“By the power, vested — “
“You’ll be lying in bed, watching Knight Rider, and Bam!” The T-rex sloshed beer on himself as he gesticulated. “Flaming ball of fire from the sky.”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” an old man sitting near the dinosaur said.
“I can never have enough,” the T-rex replied. “It’s that guy.” He pointed at Jesus. “He can’t have enough. When’s it gonna be enough for you, Jesus? Huh?”
Jesus was still smiling, His hands up in a supplicating gesture.
“Think you’re the only guy with daddy issues? I never even knew my dad. My mom fucking abandoned my whole nest. All I had was my brothers and sisters. But they’re all gone now. ’Cause of you.” He rose in his chair.
“This you know, my beloved brethren,” Jesus said. “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Several folks murmured their agreement.
“That’s easy for you to say,” the T-rex said. “You didn’t have to watch your entire family starve to death.”
“A gentle answer turns away wrath,” Jesus said, “But a harsh word stirs up anger.”
The T-rex was in the aisle, now. A few of the other attendees made half-hearted attempts to curtail him.
“This son-of-a-bitch right here,” the T-rex said. “This son-of-a-bitch killed everyone I’ve ever loved.” Tears streamed down his face as he spoke. He took another pull from his beer straw. “I was going to have children. I was going to be better than my parents were. But I never got the chance.”
Jesus lowered His arms. “Don’t talk about my mother,” He said.
“Your fucking whore mother?” The T-rex said. “She’s a fucking bitch.”
Jesus eye twitched, but He held up His hands again. “Brothers and sisters,” He began.
“Some more of this bullshit,” the T-rex said. “Fucking pathetic. These assholes nailed you to a tree, and you’re worried about how you look in front of them? Don’t be a pussy.”
“But I tell you not to resist a wicked man, but if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well,” Jesus said.
The T-rex pushed through the pews to Jesus and slapped Him across the cheek. Its claws drew blood. Jesus put a hand to the wound.
A collective gasp went up from the onlookers.
“Motherfucker,” Jesus said and launched himself at the t-rex.
“People, please!” The preacher said from the wedding altar.
The room was in chaos. Jesus and the T-rex slapped at each other while several members of the audience tried to keep them apart. They struggled to get at each other.
“I told you not to invite him,” the bride said. “He didn’t even bring a gift.”
“He’s my oldest friend,” the groom said.
Eventually, they were able to calm Jesus and the T-rex down and pull them apart. They pushed the T-rex to the back of the room where it promptly threw up. Jesus, red-faced, eyes flaming, was close to the front. People offered to get him water or a bandage for his face, but He angrily refused.
The bride was crying, and the preacher seemed completely at a loss as to how to proceed.
“I’m leaving,” the T-rex said. “Brian! Brian, I’m sorry. Man, I’m sorry. Okay? Just, look, I’m an asshole. Okay, Jen? I’m a dick. It’s all my fault. It’s not Brian’s fault, okay? Okay?”
Jen — the bride — nodded and motioned for the T-rex to leave.
“Shit,” the T-rex said. “Shit.” He pushed the doors open and left. Everyone watched him go. Silence settled over the room.
“Forgive him, Jesus, for he knows not what he does,” a voice said.
Jesus shook his head.
“Oh, Jimmy!” Brian said from the altar. “Come on, man. Too soon.”
Jesus put His hands up and walked to the back.
“No, no, hey! Come on, Jesus!” Brian said.
“It was a joke,” Jimmy called, but Jesus was already through the doors.
Brian realized that Jen was glaring at him with a look of intense hatred.
“Yeah,” he said. He motioned toward the door. Jen went after Jesus.
The preacher looked at Brian, who had his head down, and then at the audience, who were looking in all different directions. Eventually, they began to leave, in small groups, until it was only the preacher and Brian left. Jimmy was the last to leave. He came up.
Brian waved it away, so Jimmy left. The church was quiet.
“Um,” the preacher said. “I know this isn’t an easy time for you, but we have another wedding coming in at five.” He smiled as kindly as he could.