An excerpt from Asunder, baby, now available from Amazon.
The crowd — the audience? horde? — has to noodle around the big fans, has to pay attention to each step. The women lift the hems of their dresses over thick extension cords, the gents elongate their stride like horses. Harry’s mother is already seated, of course, arms folded, three rows back, a half-opened rose.
“I didn’t want it to be like this,” Harry says to no one, and somehow she hears him and shrugs. He suddenly wants the bloodiest mary he can find. Gil keeps a big Thermos in the back of his Valiant, but he isn’t here yet, none of his friends are, not even the stray cousins. Maybe this is the wrong church, the wrong day. But no. Other than his mother and the two stooges at the door, there is no one here he recognizes.
She watches him pace, a compulsive half-race, watches him reach for his cigarettes, but they’re in his other jacket, the old leather that she calls tobacco brown, Jesus, he looks like he’s ready to be smoked, she says — anxious, heart pounding — my god, is he having a heart attack?
No.He will walk outside. Harry will walk outside and his mother will watch him, will study him, follow him if she chooses to, but that isn’t her way, not yet, not until it’s time to reveal her inner Norma Desmond. Harry will walk outside, nod at the passersby, Hey, how are ya, yeah, great day for a wedding, you bet, and then Harry will walk across the street and lay on the grass in the traffic circle, among the milky dandelion stalks and stubble grass, the pigweed, the creeping charlie, the clover, all the green inconsistencies. And there she is, a spasm of red tulle, firing up a Pall Mall on the top step of the church, barely outside the door, cigarette snug between two fingers, lighter in one clenched and gloved hand, purseless — she left her purse where she plans to sit because who’s going to tell the mother of the groom she can’t? Is that a thing, an actual title? Mother of the Groom, all Proper Nouned and to be held in highest regard? Who really cares about the groom, it’s all about the Bride, the beautiful Virgin Bride. And Birdie really is a virgin bride, mostly, sure, but she knows things, and she always stops him before things go too far, cuts him off, presses her fingers flat against his face, scrubs his whiskers with the heel of her hand, rubs hard against the jawbone and he can see the tips of her long nails, lacquered red, chipped from her work at the bar, and she presses his bottom lip with one finger, and he can taste a dot of her sweat and the sticky residue from the hairspray she uses, Miss Breck or Hidden Magic, something from the beauty aisle of Eckerd’s, a metallic lemony taste that puzzles him, is this the taste of desire, is this what this is?