To my complete surprise I received several requests for a sequel to 'A Small Matter of Respect', pairing Turnbull with Susan Harris. Well, here it is, although I don't think it's exactly what everyone expected...
Disclaimer: A whole lot of people I don't know own these characters, or at least they think they do. I promise to return them when I'm done. I'm just not sure when (or if) that will be. No profit is made or expected from this story.
Only Happy Thoughts
By Shirley Russell
His taxi arrived at 1340 Madison St at exactly 10:50am. "If that thing starts at 11:00, you'd better get a move on. Unless yer the guest of honor, then yer already late." The driver laughed at his wittiness as his passenger frowned. He was paid, and his passenger picked up his parcel and exited the cab. The passenger, now standing alone on the sidewalk, hesitated as he looked up at the building.
An elderly woman passing on the street thought that he looked like a nice, clean cut young man. He was a tall, well built, with short cropped sandy hair. She liked to see a man dressed in a suit. Didn't see hardly enough of well dressed young men these days. This man's suit, though obviously not of the expensive Italian variety, fit him nicely. Her eyes weren't as good as they once were, but she could tell the navy blue enhanced his dark blue eyes. But his eyes looked a little sad.
"Good morning, young man. Are you on your way inside?"
"Yes, ma'am." He smiled slightly.
"Beautiful day for it, don't you think? Well, I hope you enjoy yourself."
"Yes, ma'am. Thank you kindly."
As the elderly woman walked on, she glanced back, just briefly. She noticed the young man wince slightly as he started up the steps. *Hmm, too young for arthritis,* She rubbed her hip absent mindedly, *must have been in an accident*
The man in the navy blue suit limped slightly as he entered the building and deposited the gift he was carrying on a table in the entryway. He entered from the back and took a seat as close to the entrance as possible. He knew many people here, but really did not wish to be noticed. From his vantage point, he could see many of the people he knew. He smiled as he spotted several children and their parents. Mrs. Atkins, the Harris family, and of course, Constable Fraser and Ray, were also in attendance. Pastel colored clothing, like a ode to springtime, abounded in the crowd, which made the red of Constable Fraser's tunic draw the eye, even more so than usual.
He smiled slightly as he looked down at his own clothing. That was precisely why he was wearing a dark suit, he didn't want to draw any undue attention to himself. This was her day, after all. He would never, could never, dream of doing anything that might detract from her...he swallowed in an attempt to open his constricted throat...detract from her wedding day.
He knew, of course, that Susan was to be married, so when the invitation arrived in the mail, he shouldn't have been surprised. But he was. After his accident he'd received so many surprises, wonderful surprises. But this surprise wasn't...yes, it was...it was... wonderful.
He had considered staying away, but she had told him how very disappointed she would be, if he were unable to attend. He could not disappoint her, he would never do anything that might cause her to be unhappy.
All he wanted in his life now was for his friends to be happy. They had all done so much for him, he would never stop trying to repay their kindness. If marrying Douglas West made Susan happy, then so be it! He would do anything in the world for her, and he would not allow himself to feel anything...anything, but happiness for her.
He had so many things in life to be grateful for, to be happy about, just being alive, for goodness sakes. Seeing the woman he...loved...he swallowed again...marry...marry someone else, was...well, it was just one of the many things he would have to live with.
He had intentionally planned his arrival at the church for the last minute. He knew sitting here lost in thought was not something he could afford to do. He'd spent years perfecting the art of keeping busy with mindless activity, thinking only surface thoughts. Act and react, that was his motto. Allow no time for contemplation. Deeper thoughts were just...well, enough of that! So, now he occupied his mind by identifying by name, one by one, the people he recognized, and wondering what they might have had for breakfast.
When the organist began playing the wedding march, he stood, with the rest of the congregation, and turned to watch Susan walk down the aisle. She was a vision in her wedding dress and veil. She was so beautiful and...what was the word he had heard used to describe brides...radiant. He felt desperately like crying. Instead, he grinned at her as she looked his way. Susan looked so completely contented, he was happy for her. He was.
He gave his undivided attention to the ceremony, not allowing himself to think about anything else. But, when West turned to kiss Susan, he had to wipe a tear from his cheek. When the minister introduced the 'new' Mr and Mrs Douglas West, he could no longer contain his emotions. He slipped silently out of the church.
As he walked toward his home, the same elderly woman passed him. She was saddened to see the nice looking young man with tears in his eyes. Apparently, she wasn't the only one who cried at weddings. She smiled sweetly at him, but was aware that he didn't notice.
He walked on alone. The longer he walked, the more he banished his sadness, and settled into his comfortable, surface thoughts. He wiped away the few lingering tears with the back of his hand, and began to smile. He was alive, he had friends who cared about him, and he had a career he loved. There was nothing else was worth thinking about. There wasn't.
By the time he reached his home, Renfield Turnbull was once again his old self.