Chapter 4

Copyright© 2015 by Bill Offutt

"Married!" Jeanne said loudly, "You mean us, you and me?"

"Sure," Seth said, kissing her gently once more, touching her tongue tip with his, "why not. We can get a head start on a family."

"Lord, Bud, I like you and all, and we've known each other since we were knee high but married, my goodness." Jeanne pulled herself loose from the boy's grasp and moved to the far side of the bench seat of her mother's 1938 Chevrolet Master Deluxe. "What made you think of this, I mean right now?"

"Well, gee, I got a job and all, and you know I love you so I thought, well, why wait." Bud's groin ached, but he knew he was not going to say anything about his balls or what color they might be.

"Holy cow, Bud, married, golly, I don't know. Do you think we could, I mean neither one of us is old enough are we?"

"Old enough for what?" Bud asked, grasping her hand and yanking her toward him.

After she pulled her mouth from his, she said, "I'll ask; I'll see what my mother thinks. I mean I know we talked about getting married some day, but I thought, well; I don't know what I thought."

"We could rent an apartment," Bud said, enjoying the feel of her nubby sweater under his big hand.

"We'd have to do it in church," the girl said. "St. Mary's, and they have rules, I mean about marrying a non-Catholic."

"Rules?" Bud asked, pulling her closer, hoping her lips would part again, his hand now under her sweater.

"Sure," she said, wiggling free, "you have make promises and, well, I don't know, rules."

"Will your folks let you?" Bud asked, his fingers on her cheek.

"I suppose," she said, "they got married when she was seventeen I think."

"My mother was about that," Bud said. "Let's do it."

They kissed some more, and Bud's hand slid back under her sweater and across her cool slip.

Bud and Jeanne sat in the priest's small office in the old rectory of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Rockville. The place, Bud thought, smelled funny, like too much floor wax and furniture polish. The priest, Father James, was droning on about the obligations of married people, his deeply lined face half in shadow when he leaned back from his desk lamp. "Do you agree to all that?" he asked Bud, raising his bushy eyebrows.

"Sir?" Bud answered.

"Will you agree for your children to be raised as good Catholics?" the minister asked, waving the blue covered manual. "Even if your wife should die."

"Yeah, sure, yes sir, of course, yes father," Bud said, and he smiled at Jeanne.

"I want you to think about converting, you know, Seth; I told you that the first time we met, that would make everything easier. Sign here." The priest pointed to the bottom of the printed page. "Both of you sign."

"Isn't there some way we could have a Mass?" Jeanne asked after his wrote her name.

The priest shook his head. "The pastor didn't even want you to use the church," he said. "I convinced him since your family has been such long-time communicants. Most mixed marriages are done right here in the rectory."

Jeanne nodded. "My grandmother was baptized here, I mean over in the old church."

After the priest blew on the signatures he put the paper into a folder and said, "Now, there is one more thing and this is a bit delicate. You both understand the Church's rules about birth control, don't you, artificial birth control?"

Bud and his girl looked at each other. It was one of the few serious subjects they had ever discussed, and one on which they had failed to understand each other. "Yes sir," Jeanne said. "We do."

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