My thanks go to SH for doing what she can to find all of my cock-ups.
I really hadn't wanted to be there in the first place; but Bill was my oldest friend, even if we had drifted apart somewhat since he'd taken up with Stephanie. So when he contacted me and made it clear he was about to ask me to be his "best man", I really hadn't been able to come up with a reasonable sounding excuse to turn him down.
Without making it too obvious I tried just about everyway I could think of to put him off asking, even making it clear that if he did, then my escort for the big day would be Brenda.
That did lead to the phone line going quiet for a few seconds, whilst I believe Bill contemplated what kind of atmosphere Brenda's presence might bring to the proceedings. But then -- after some thought -- Bill stopped beating around the bush and upped and put it to me.
"Look mate, I don't really understand what happened with us. But I can't think of anyone else who would fit the bill. You were always my best mate, there's no one else that I'd want to be my best man." Bill eventually stated.
What could I do? I glanced across at Brenda who, sitting beside me, had I'm sure heard every word Bill said. She smiled, shrugged, and then nodded, before silently mouthing back at me.
"I'm game. It's up to you!"
"Yeah all right mate, whatever you want!" I'd replied, somewhat cautiously I should imagine. My memory of that phone conversation is a little confused.
"Thanks mate, I'll give you a ring in a couple of days so we can get together to sort out the details." Bill had replied and then the call came to an abrupt end.
"I should imagine he wanted to get off the line before you changed your mind." Brenda said with a grin, as I sat there staring at the now silent handset.
Yeah well, if I'm forced to, I'll admit to you that Stephanie was probably the biggest reason that I hadn't wanted to volunteer to do my duty that day. Or as they say, stand up for my oldest and one time best mate! And I'll add, that I hadn't been at all sure how Brenda was going to be able to handle things either. But if you don't mind, I'll get back to where Brenda fits into the equation a little later. My real problem was Stephanie!
We had all been aware that Bill had found the girl of his dreams, whilst he'd been away at university and most of us guys had had a good laugh about it behind his back. Yeah well, our little crowd had always been a group of confirmed bachelors. Or at that age, rather guys out for fun and looking to sow a few of the ubiquitous wild oats, not on the lookout for life partners. Bill had maybe grown up a little whilst he'd been away and was looking more to the future.
But the first time he'd brought Stephanie back to town, I stopped laughing in a hurry. And what's more, I'd instantly known that my close friendship with Bill was well and truly over.
I didn't have to take a second glance at Stephanie to know that I was in love with her as well. Not that I could fall in love with her, mind you; I knew that I was completely taken, hook, line and bleeding sinker, with my best mate's new fiancée.
Christ the woman was a walking wet dream, perfect in every detail. Stephanie had an unbelievably beautiful face, and an indescribably alluring figure, that her apparently natural dress sense showed off immaculately. Honestly the woman was everyman's dream life partner and should really have been on the stage or a catwalk somewhere.
Actually I had always had the impression that there was something vaguely familiar about her, which I put down to her looking so much like everyone's -- in this particular case read "my" -- ideal woman. I figured that I saw in Stephanie elements of just about every model and actress I'd ever drooled over, all rolled into one.
Not that I actually liked Stephanie. Now, you have a go at getting your head around that one? I know that I had a hell of a lot of trouble understanding it myself for a long time. I'm telling you, I'd been in love with the woman from the moment I clapped eyes on her but, at the same time, I'm also assuring you that I couldn't stand to be in the woman's presence.
My reasons for not liking her were manyfold. Most obvious I suppose, because her presence in his life had caused the rift between Bill and myself. And yeah well, I suppose that there was the possibility that the fact she'd chosen Bill over myself, has to be added into the calculations as well.
Mind you, there was also the point that, right from the moment I had first been introduced to Stephanie -- before I'd had the chance to decide whether I did or didn't like her -- I knew she was engaged to Bill. I couldn't very well have gone walking up to the girl and her told how I felt about her could I? Well shit, she was Bill's fiancée already, wasn't she?
And what's more, ever since Bill had brought her to our town, there had always been something about the way the woman looked at me that I couldn't get my head around either.
At that first meeting, there had been -- what I've always interpreted as -- an expression of horror in Stephanie's eyes when she looked at me. And, at our few subsequent meetings, Stephanie had always had an inexplicable air about her of being uncomfortable in my presence. And well, she appeared to avoid actually looking at, or speaking directly to me.
Yeah well, in a way that was to my advantage, because I wanted to avoid speaking to her anyway; so I can't say that it bothered me all that much.
I very soon came to the conclusion that she was not only actively avoiding me, but trying to keep Bill out of my company as well. But I supposed, that that was pretty standard procedure when a couple get engaged. Stephanie wanted Bill to herself, not gallivanting around with all his old boozy mates; it was only natural really.
Almost all of the rest of our old gang appeared to love Stephanie, not that I could blame the guys. The one exception and -- I had it figured for a long time -- my only ally, in the "can't bear to be in the woman's company" stakes, was Brenda Morris.
Brenda had her own reasons for disliking Stephanie of course. For a long time before Bill went off to University, Brenda had been his semi-regular squeeze. Nothing serious, mind you, but I do believe -- like the rest of us -- Brenda had had it figured that that would change when Bill got back from Uni.
Brenda was right in one respect, things did change; Bill didn't call her anymore!
But in a strange way that fact kinda worked to my advantage. Brenda was a nice person and a damned fine piece of real estate (as the yanks say), definitely nothing to be sneezed at (that's the English description fella's). I'm not sure how or why now, but shortly after Bill returned from Uni, Brenda and I kinda teamed up together -- mutual disappointment possibly -- but somewhere along the line we did.
The rest of our circle of friends appeared to want to stay close to Bill and his dream girl, and it must have soon became pretty obvious to everyone, that Brenda and I both preferred to be anywhere that the loving couple weren't. Actually people, who had chosen my line of work, often find themselves changing their circle of close friends when they join the job.
Now look, I even changed my bank, because Stephanie got a job as a cashier at the one I had been using.
As the months passed, Brenda and I discovered that we got on extremely well together, all things considered.
I'd moved out of my parents place and bought myself a little flat earlier that year ... and well, as Brenda's and my relationship progressed, very soon becoming an extremely physically, if not an emotionally entanglement. Whatever Brenda wishing to spread her own wings she had very soon moved into my spare bedroom and shared occupancy with me. Yeah well that's what she told her parents anyway.
In fact, we almost exclusively shared the master bedroom; I'll leave the rest to your imagination. As I said, a close relationship did develop between us, but not to the extent that either of us would even contemplate the idea of getting married. Although we didn't let that stop us enjoying ourselves, if you understand me?
Whether Brenda intrinsically understood where I was coming from, I'm not sure. But I knew where her heart was and the pain she was trying to hide, no matter how energetic she would become in bed. Whether by accident or design, on Brenda's part, we had kinda consoled each other.
Actually, sometimes -- when we'd maybe imbibed a little more than was good for us -- we'd have a good laugh about that.
I'm not sure how now, but it had become common knowledge that Stephanie intended to get married in white; with all that that is supposed to imply! i.e. when the announcement appeared in the local church magazine, the words "virgin of this parish" could be taken literally; unlike the case with the vast majority of brides in this day and age.
Ah, for those unaware of English church law. By the time the wedding came up, Stephanie -- a regular churchgoer, along with Bill and his family since she'd moved into our town -- had been resident in the parish for more than the requisite six months, required by the C or E. Technically she was correctly described as a virgin of the parish in the literal sense, if only just.
You know, at the time I had to wonder whether Bill had hurried the wedding along, because he was missing out on what he'd once enjoyed, with Brenda. Later, I kinda discovered that most, if not all of the haste had come from the couple's parents.
Bill's parents because they probably wanted the bugger out of the house. Bill's folks were somewhat well off, in comparison to most of our friends' families. They had a bloody great house with a heated swimming pool in the back garden. Pool parties had always been regularly on the menu, and by that time Bill's folks were probably getting tired of the noise and collecting all the beer cans the following day.
Stephanie's parents were probably at the hurry up, because they had two other girls at home and they wanted to get the expense of her wedding out of the way. Everything gets more expensive as time goes by don't it?
Anyway so there we were that day, Bill and I -- looking like a couple of complete numpties, dressed as we were in black ties and tails -- sitting in a pew at the end of the nave waiting for his bride to show up.
I'd dutifully acted as chaperone and minder on Bill's stag night a few days before and had returned him home in one piece, even if totally legless and out of his mind. And what's more, I had stopped things getting out of hand with the slag of a stripper that some of the comedians had dragged out of the gutter somewhere.
I am aware that at a later date, at least two of the guys enjoying the Stage Night celebrations were extremely sorry that they took advantage of the extra's the stripper so cheaply offered to throw in.
Still that was their problem, not mine. Brenda would have castrated me if I'd brought her any little gifts back from that evening. And Min would have killed me if Bill had picked up a dose of anything as well. Consequently, I'd had to play chief spoilsport that night.
Ah Min, or Gretchen, you have no idea who she is, do you? Well Gretchen (universally known as Min) is Bill's younger sister.
By that time a rather a tasty young woman actually. Who, had she not been Bill's younger sibling, I'd have been after her like a bullet out of a gun.
However, when we were younger Min had always been my best mate's little sister and therefore a sort of surrogate little sister to myself. Consequently I had never had been able to let the lecherous side of my nature come to the fore, where Min was concerned.
I must admit that Gretchen had blossomed into an extremely elegant young woman, and by that time she was savvy enough to make sensible choices for herself. But even then, I couldn't chance my arm because ... well, Bill was with Stephanie, and that kinda put the kybosh on any relationship between Min and me developing. And of course, I'd kinda teamed up with Brenda pretty smartly when Bill got back home.
Theoretically Min should have been away at university herself at that time. She'd taken a week or so off from her studies to come home for her big brothers wedding.
It was Min who came out of the house to help me extract an almost comatose Bill, from the back of the taxi and all-but carry the bugger up to his room. Then she began helping me undress the bugger so we could put him to bed.
That was fine until we got down to Bill's underpants, that I had been intending to leave him wearing. Min had different ideas and began to remove them.
"Hold up girl, you can't take them off?" I said in panic.
"Why not, he ain't got anything I haven't seen before."
"Hey yeah, when you were kids maybe. But you're both adults now!"
"Ooh aah, don't go getting all prim and proper on us in your old age Barry? What Bill's got to offer ain't going to frighten me. Now if it was yours on the other hand, I might have second thoughts; I might not be able to control myself!"
I'm sure you've had the feeling yourself at one time or another. The thought comes into your mind that you surely must have misheard or misunderstood what someone had just said. I stood there staring at the grinning Min who was by that time removing her brother's underpants from his feet. Then she demanded, by gesture rather than words, that I assisted her in getting Bill into his pyjamas. I'm pretty sure that I never uttered a word as we undertook the operation.
"You've gone quiet Barry, didn't you realise that that little spy hole you and Bill made in the pool charging room wall, so that you could sneak a furtive peek at us girls changing and showering could work both ways?"
This was what one might call a gobsmacking revelation. Bill and I had made that spy hole years ago when we were young prepubescent boys and I'd almost forgotten about its existence.
"Min, we never spied on you, when you were in there!" I found myself blurting out.
"Barry, that's pretty obvious because my friends and I wouldn't have been able to spy on my big brother's friends if you did, would we? All we would have seen would have been a lecherous eye looking back at us." Min giggled, "God, it was so funny watching you and Bill tell the other guys they couldn't look through the hole, because I was in the girl's side changing. I thought it very chivalrous of you actually, under the circumstances."
"Min, I ... er!"
"Oh don't worry your little head about it Barry." Min giggled again, possibly about her apt choice of words. "Most of the girls know about the hole in the wall you know? Didn't it ever strike you as odd, that some of them would put a chair up against that particular section of wall?"
"Never mind Barry, most of my friends think you've got the best tackle around. My, it gets really big when you get ... excited. No wonder Brenda was so quick to move in with you. You do realise that Brenda is trying to make Bill jealous don't you?"
"I'm not exactly daft Min. Brenda is very upset about the recent turn of events. She needs someone to cling onto at the moment and we were both at a loose end. There's nothing serious between us."
"Yeah I know; you're fuck buddies. I have to complement Brenda on her choice of bed partner though. Having studied all the available talent, I have to admit that she picked the best-equipped candidate. If not the most ... observant one!"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Never mind Barry. That will do, let's just cover him over in case mother comes in to check on him. Mother can be quite conservative and she might not like some of those little notes the boys have written all over his body; he can wash those off himself in the morning. Shit what did they do, strip him as well as the...
"Yeah well, but I had to put a damper on things. Some of the guys wanted to dump him on the outside of town naked."
"Was that supposed to be before, or after he'd shagged the stripper?"
"Min, you should have seen the tart. There was no way I was going to allow anything like that to happen."
"What, not even a blow job?"
"Min, the guys who turned her up, said that she came very cheap. I suspect she is a crack addict or something. Those silly tarts are so desperate for the cash, they don't take any kind of precautions."
"A gentleman to the end, aren't you Barry."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well Barry, if my brother picked up a dose of the clap, there is no way in hell that little miss goody two shoes would go through with the marriage. Although there is a faint chance that my dad's cash might sway her mind. And well, that would leave the door open for you to get in there a bit quick like, wouldn't it? You know, while Stephanie's on the rebound."
"Do I take it that you don't like your prospective sister-in-law Gretchen?"
"Barry, whatever happens, do yourself a favour and don't get involved with her yourself!"
Min had a very strange expression on her face, one that I couldn't recall seeing before and I could not understand.
"Min, Bill and Stephanie are getting married next Saturday."
"But today is Sunday so that's almost a week away Barry. And as Winston Churchill once said "A week is a long time in politics."
"Alright in love as well. Lets just wait and see what the morrow brings shall we?"
"Min, tell me are you studying philosophy at university?"
"Okay, I kinda suspected as much. If I don't see you before, I'll see you at the wedding rehearsal." I said as I stepped out of the front door.
"No you won't, I'm not supposed to be part of the ceremony. But I'll definitely be there for the service. Goodnight Barry!"
As I strolled slowly back to my flat in the early hours of that Sunday morning, those closing words of Min's kinda kept going around in my mind. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why she wasn't going to show for the rehearsal. I'd have thought she'd have been roped in as a bridesmaid at least. But then again, she had said that she wasn't too enamoured with her brother's choice of a bride and Min had been away at university for months as well.
I was somewhat surprised to find Brenda still waiting up for me when I got home. What's more she was down to the bare essentials, a very short low-slung skirt that showed her navel and a cut-off t-shirt that only just came down far enough to cover those breasts of hers, and that was all! Shit, did Brenda know how to turn me on when she wanted to!
"Hi lover. God, you've taken your time getting back here, are you ready for a little light relief?" She asked.
"I decided to walk Bren, I doubt I'd have found a taxi anyway. I'd have thought you'd be in bed hours ago."
"Hey no lover, I'm been sitting here dutifully waiting to help you release all those pent up frustrations of yours."
"Well watching the guys shag that stripper ... Hey, did any of them double team the bitch?"
"Oh come on, I'll bet some of them, tried to get her going at both ends, if nothing else. I'm not dumb you know. I know what kind of sick thought's go around in you guys heads."
"Brenda I never touched the bird."
"Did I say you did? I have it on good authority that neither you nor Bill, got within ten feet of the bitch. If you had, I certainly wouldn't be doing this, now would I?"
I thing I should point out that Brenda had sunk to her knees by this point in the conversation and had extracted my rather rampant member. Whether I had been excited by the view of the stripper metamorphosing into spit roast, or not, was immaterial. The way Brenda had been dressed had achieved what she'd intended it to achieve.
"What good authority is this?" I asked.
"Later Barry, can't you feel that I'm a little busy at the moment!"
It was with more than a small quantity of self-control that I pushed Brenda away from her ministrations and pulled her to her feet.
"Brenda, you just told me that a little birdie told you what has transpired this evening. Now, which of the guys is ringing round and letting the cat out of the bag. Some of the guys were well out of order tonight and if their significant others get to hear about it, there will be hell to pay!"
"Oh don't be so bloody silly Barry. I doubt any of the other guys will say a word."
The word "other" was the one word I picked up on as Brenda was speaking, but she went on.
"The little birdie who told me. Was the same little birdie who called to inform me that you were on your way home, a bloody hour ago!"
"You've lost me now Bren!"
"Okay, the same little birdie who showed us girls your little spy-hole in the pool changing rooms wall at Bill's parents place. Oh, and the same little birdie we had to have in there with us, before us girls could use it to spy on you guys. Such a gentleman weren't you? Not spying on your best mate's little sister in the nude.
"Yeah er, all right! You informed Min, what went down at the stag do this evening and she called me and told me what you told her. So you are the guy whose been letting the cat out of the bag."
"I'm sort of lost here Brenda. How do you know that I told Min the truth, I could have been spinning her a line of shit for all you know?"
A strange expression came over Brenda's face, then she lent forwards and kissed me gently on the lips.
"Barry Fuller. I swear that if I weren't in love with Bill, I'd fall hopelessly in love with you. You have one great failing in life Barry; you are the perfect gentleman. I know that if you told Gretchen that you kept Bill away from that slut because you feared he might catch something nasty; then you kept him away from her. And besides you ain't quite daft enough to risk losing what you got here, just yet. In a week or so's time maybe, but at the moment you aren't likely to do anything that stupid. Now can I get back to work please, I'm in need of a little satisfaction myself."
"Bitch, I'll show you satisfaction!" I said pushing Brenda gently backwards until the back of her legs hit the arm of the sofa. She of course tumbled onto the seat with her butt resting on the arm, then I dropped to my knees and got on with it.
Brenda laid there and whispered encouragement as she usually did when I gave her oral pleasure. But then she suddenly said.
"Oh my god, what am I going to do when I haven't got you to do this for me anymore?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked stopping my ministrations for a moment.
But Brenda didn't answer; she somehow launched herself up form the sofa and we ended up in a tangled heap on the floor with her lips firmly affixed around my very rampant member.
I tried to repeat the question but I didn't get it all out because with a deft move of her body she quite literally stuffed her clit into my mouth. Yeah well, I kinda lost the plot after that.
God alone knows when and how we got to the bedroom and into bed. You know I believe we managed it without ever rising to our feet. We kind of just kept changing positions until I found that my head was bashing against the bed frame. Then I hoisted Brenda up and dropped her into the middle of the bed.
Needless to say it was well into Sunday afternoon before I awoke.
What followed was one of the oddest weeks of my life. I'll be honest I worked out that something was going down, but I had no idea what.
Several times I found, or rather caught, Brenda having clandestine telephone conversations with someone.
Look you'll often read about husbands becoming suspicious of what their wives are getting up to when he notices her quickly ending telephone calls when he enters the room. Those to my mind, are clandestine telephone conversations.
What's more when I asked who'd been on the phone, Brenda would say something stupid like "Wrong number!" and then set about trying to shag me to death again. Something wasn't kosher, that was for sure. But I really didn't think I was in a position to complain.
Well, Brenda and I knew exactly where we stood in our relationship. When either wanted out all they had to do was tell the other.
Then one day as I got home after my shift -- Brenda was nearly always home before me -- I caught sight of Bill's mother's car pulling out of the car park. For a moment I was surprised but then I realised that it was Gretchen behind the steering wheel.
Min drives like a bleeding maniac at the best of times, when she spotted my car coming down the road ... shit, she took off like a bloody drag racer, leaving a cloud of smoke behind.
Of course I challenged Brenda about Min being at the flat, but in a casual way.
You know, for an instant I thought Brenda was going to deny Min had even been there. But then she suddenly changed her tack and came out with some crap about Min just happening to be passing and wondering whether I'd got home all right on the previous Sunday morning.
Brenda neglected to explain how Min knew where my flat was. I had moved into it after she'd gone off to university.
I knew Brenda well enough by then to know that she was making it up as she went along. I kinda let it slide after that though, because almost before she'd finished speaking, Brenda resplendent in that short skirt and cut off t-shirt again, couldn't answer any more questions, her mouth was full.
The wedding rehearsal went off fine on the Friday evening. Brenda hadn't come with me for obvious reasons. Actually, I really did wonder how she was going to make it through the Saturday.
Oddly Bill had asked me where she was. I kinda fluffed around the question and didn't really answer it. "Surely you can't be that fucking thick Bill!" was how I had been tempted at answer him.
Stephanie did say hello to me later, but I was constantly aware of her eyes boring into my back all the time it was turned towards her. Was I pleased that I'd chosen not to join them all for the meal they were going onto after the rehearsal.
Instead I went back to the flat, with the intentions of taking Brenda out for a meal, but she wasn't there. Eventually I found Gretchen and her in the pub on the corner. I bought both girls a drink and went over to join them, they'd been so into their conversation that they hadn't noticed my arrival in the bar.
"Hi girls, and pray tell me, what are you two little minxes quietly cooking up between you?" I asked as I put their drinks on the table.
I know that the description a rabbit caught in a car's headlights is an oft over used one. But staring up at me with shocked expressions on their faces I had myself two rabbits with eyes as big as saucers.
"How long have you been standing there?" Demanded Brenda.
"Just arrived sexy, why, what have I missed?" I replied then returned to the bar to collect my own drink.
When I got back, both girls were completely relaxed again and they gave me a line of crap about keeping each other company because they thought I was going for a meal with the rest of the wedding party.
Gretchen kept giving me strange looks though, and she would blush profusely when I stared at her. Which I did a lot, even with Brenda kicking my leg under the table. Mind you, that was a game I'd been played with Gretchen many times over the years. Min had always been a shy kid, and I'd discovered that I could embarrass her very easily by staring at her when we'd been very young.
Min only had that one drink (that I bought) with us and then she made her excuses and left. Brenda and I had another then she suggested I got a bottle of wine from the bar and we took the evening somewhere a little more relaxing.
Yeah well, the wine didn't get drunk and I definitely never got much in the way of relaxing done.
So there you have it. I was sitting in the first pew with Bill, his parents and Gretchen. Brenda was off down the other end of the pew and I would join her after my sad duty was done.
God knows how long we sat there until the organ struck up the wedding march, it seemed like an absolute age to me. Made worse I think, by the way Bill kept on fidgeting. "Christ Bill" I was thinking, "I know that you're getting married, but it ain't the end of the bleeding world." He didn't look as happy as I thought a groom should look either.
We had stood and stepped into position as the first bars of the wedding march rang out.