This story is by John N. King and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Kyle adjusted his tie, his heart slamming against his chest? Everyone was there: her friends, his family. The pastor, Gabriel Winters, was adjusting his tie next to him, all dressed nicely for a wedding. The church was ready. But there was one person missing: the bride.
“Kyle,” Gabriel said, “We begin in fifteen minutes. Are you sure Valerie will be here on time?
“Just be patient, Gabe,” Kyle said. He looked out the window at her still absent car. “She’ll be here.”
Tires screeched down the highway. The police siren wailed. Valerie Fawkes kept her high heeled foot floored on the gas pedal. Her wedding dress took up most of the tight space and made her look like she was wrapped in cotton.
“Stupid tailor,” she muttered. “Why do women have to have these big puffy dresses? A battle skirt would be so much easier to walk around in.”
The police scanner suddenly crackled to life. Valerie sighed.
“Someone’s getting tased for this, I swear.” Valerie turned up the volume on the scanner.
“Silent alarm triggered; robbery in progress,” the voice on the radio said.
Valerie’s knuckles turned white on the wheel.
“Southwest Boulevard, Craven District. The Sonna a Formato Restaurant.”
Valerie’s GPS blinked. The purple route to the church turned right at the next intersection. Craven District was labeled on the map as well. To the left of the intersection.
Valerie looked back and forth before flooring the gas even harder.
“I’ll be there, Kyle,” she said as her car took off. “I promise. I’ll make time.”
Kyle stood outside the church. The parking lot still lacked a certain police car.
Gabriel walked out next to him. “Ten minutes, Kyle,” he said.
“Come on, Val,” Kyle whispered as he walked in. “Don’t do this.”
The Sonna a Formato restaurant was one of those Italian places that try a little too hard to show off their nationality. A young man with a pantyhose on his head twirled a revolver and played with the hanging pantyhose leg with his other hand. Meanwhile, the cashier stuffed money from a cash register and several cartons of cooked chicken sandwiches into a bag, glancing at the gun warily.
“Alright, I’ve got what I came here for,” the young man said as he tossed a chicken sandwich to the cashier. “Now listen, if you run into trouble with the higher ups for any of this,” – he started writing something on a napkin – “you call this number. We’ll set you up with…”
The roar of a siren became audible, along with a voice.
“I hate cars!”
The robber swore as Valerie’ police car smashed into the restaurant, shattering the windows as the car dented the side of the restaurant.
Valerie climbed out of her seat, wobbling on her high heels. For a moment, time froze as the robber and the clerk looked at the bride in disbelief.
Valerie then raised her gun and her badge. “Hands up.”
The robber’s jaw dropped before he cracked up laughing. “Now I’ve seen everything,” the robber cackled.
“Shut up,” Valerie snarled. “Now drop the gun.”
“Nah, I’ll hold onto it, thanks.” The robber raced to the opposite side of the building.
“Hey!” Valerie fired at him. She missed, her heels wobbling under her.
“Well, that’s unprofessional,” he said. “Look, why don’t you go to the church, and worry about me tomorrow, eh?”
Valerie shot at him again.
“I’ll take that as a no,” he commented and raced out of the building.
Valerie rushed after him, but the cashier called out.
“Wait. What do I do about the car?”
Valerie poked her head back in. “Give it to a hobo.” The door slammed. A moment later, it opened again. “And put the damages on my tab,” she added in a small voice. She closed the door. “C’mon, Kyle; don’t give up on me yet.”
Back at the church, the guests were seating themselves.
“Five minutes,” Gabriel called.
Kyle had taken to sitting next to Gabriel, staring out the window.
“Valerie,” Kyle whispered. “Where are you?”
The robber ran through an alleyway. Bullets pinged off the wall behind him.
“Stupid high heels,” Valerie screamed. She yanked her shoes off and threw them at the robber.
“For a cop about to be married, you’re pretty unprofessional,” he called as he leaped over a chain link fence. What she said to that made him turn back to her with a mock look of shock. “Such language! What will your children think?”
Valerie jumped up after him as he cleared the chain link fence. Her dress snagged and tore as she flipped and landed hard on her back. Scrambling back to her feet only caused her to step on a broken bottle. She yowled like an angry cat as blood seeped from her foot and what felt like electricity shot up her foot.
“Aw,” he cooed, “Now how are you gonna walk down the aisle?”
“When I rip your legs off, and use em as a cane?” Valerie snarled, limping after him.
“Cops do that? Pretty sick, man.”
Valerie’ face turned beet red as she limped after the guy. He was casually strolling at that point, the bag hanging limply from his hand as he smirked at her.
Valerie aimed her gun again, but this time, she was looking up. An old air conditioner sat on the building the robber was ambling towards. His focus was on her.
“Careful, now,” he said. “You don’t want to get gunpowder all over your pretty white dress.”
She glared at him, and aimed. But then she smirked as she tilted the gun up.
She fired, but his eyes had followed the gun, and he saw the air conditioner start to fall.
While he was distracted, Valerie forced herself forward. Her foot screamed in pain, her dress tangled around her legs, she launched herself right at the robber. He turned around just in time to see a pissed off bride smash into him.
However, they both forgot about the air conditioner. It landed with a smash, broken pieces flying everywhere.
The orchestra was starting. The guests all stood. And Kyle stood alongside Gabriel at the altar. The door to the church was opened by the bride’s father. But he stood alone.
Kyle and Gabriel glanced at each other. Valerie’s absence could no longer be denied.
“Val?” Kyle whispered, hoping against hope that she’d somehow still show up.
“Give me your damn shoes!” Valerie snarled, yanking the sneakers from his moaning body and fitting them over her feet. Pulling the laces from the shoes, she bound the robber’s hands, sitting on him so he couldn’t run.
Right as she tied the final knot, she heard church bells ringing, off in the distance. Her face fell.
The robber blinked, looking up at the sound. “Was that… for you?”
Valerie glared at him, and then at the passing cars on the street. “It’s still for me,” she said. She pulled him to his feet, and marched into the road. Holding her badge high, she stared down the car driving right for her.
“I’ll get there, Kyle,” she muttered. “I promised.”
The guests had started to walk out. Kyle had sat on the altar, his hands fiddled with his lapel. Gabriel sat next to him.
“Do you… still think she’s coming?” he asked.
Kyle started to respond, but shook his head instead. A car engine sounded outside, but Kyle ignored it. There was no police siren.
Gabriel put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, son,” he said.
A side door slammed open, and a familiar angry voice sounded. A voice that brought Kyle to his feet.
“What the heck are you people doing? I’m late by a few minutes, and you decide to just leave? Don’t touch him, I’m late enough already!”
As the guests all stumbled backward, Valerie finally appeared at the doors of the church. Her once white dress was ragged and torn, she wore red sneakers instead of high heels, and she hauled a partially conscious kid alongside her. But the smile she gave Kyle as she stumbled down the hallway would’ve lit up the moon.
“Sorry, Hun,” she commented breathlessly, panting as she shoved the boy into the front pew. “Had some… well…” As she looked up at him, her grin faded, and she looked around at the church with a mournful air. “I…”
“Val,” he said, running to hug her.
Valerie accepted his hug, though she mumbled, “I look like shit.”
Kyle looked her battered form up and down. “You look beautiful,” Kyle said.
Valerie smiled. “I… get the feeling you’re supposed to say that.”
“Well, I mean it,” he said. As her grin returned, Kyle turned to Gabriel. “Shall we?”
Gabriel nodded, smiling. And Valerie, with her torn up dress and battered features, followed her clean-cut fiancée onto the altar.