Time and Tide
It was Saturday afternoon and all of Lonnie and Monica's friends had gathered together for their very quick and much anticipated wedding. The invited guest list was small. It included Parker, Bubba, Luann, Gerard and Faye Darnelle, Virgil, Harriet, Sweet, and Miss Etta. Althea was standing as Monica's matron of honor, and Bill was standing as Lonnie's best man. Will was in charge of holding the rings.
The uninvited guest list, however, was much, much larger. Lonnie and Monica had decided to exchange their vows at the place that first knew of their love, the front porch of her house in the Bottoms. And every resident of the tired and broken community had turned out on their own front porches to see this wedding with their own eyes.
Even though the wedding was in the Bottoms, Lonnie and Monica had dressed for the occasion. Lonnie was donning a new pair of jeans, a black T-shirt, a black jacket, and a new hair cut. Monica had chosen a pair of black jeans and a brand new white T-shirt that read 'I'm the Bride!' She did comb her hair for the occasion, but by the time the ceremony started, it had started its usual haywire behavior.
The minister finished his prayer and turned to Lonnie. "Lonnie? Do you have the ring?"
The guests gasped in anticipation. Since the two did not have an official engagement, Monica did not have an engagement ring. And the crowd expected Lonnie to place something spectacular on her hand. He turned to Will who handed him a long box instead. When Monica saw what Lonnie intended to give her, she broke down into tears.
Lonnie took her left hand and placed her silver charm bracelet back on her wrist. She had given it back to him when he left her to marry Lana. The bracelet still had the original charms; the heart for their love, the sun for their summer meeting place, the teddy bear for the child they thought they were going to have, and a tiny ring for the first time Lonnie proposed. But over the years, even while they were apart, Lonnie had continued to add to the bracelet. Monica looked down and saw a diploma for her graduation from college, a briefcase to represent her new business, a sunflower for the good they had seen in Lana, and an O for the blood she had donated for Will.
The minister was utterly confused, but when he saw that there was no traditional ring coming, he just shook his head and asked Monica for hers.
Monica looked at Lonnie and through her tears, she began to laugh. She gestured to Will, who brought a box to her. Lonnie recognized it immediately and all he could do was smile as he realized just how perfect he and Monica were for each other. Monica opened the box and pulled out the silver hair comb that Lonnie had left in her car the day that Will was born. She leaned her head over, wrapped her hair around her head, and placed the comb in her hair. Lonnie could barely breathe when she raised her head. He'd never seen her with her hair completely out of her face; and she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. She then reached into her pocket and handed Lonnie a silver necklace with a charm that read 'Monica Jamison', her way of responding to Lonnie's old joke about her hyphenating her name when they got married. Lonnie grinned and placed it around her neck. Next, Monica reached into her other jean pocket and hand Lonnie a new keychain. It was the same as the black corvette keychain she had given him seven years ago, only this time the back was engraved with 'Mr. Monica Jamison'. Lonnie and Monica began to giggle. And when Miss Etta was overheard saying, "This ain't fittin'! This just ain't fittin'!" they both laughed so loud and so long, that they stopped the ceremony for a full five minutes!
Finally, the minister had passed confusion and had entered frustration with this so-called wedding. He looked from Monica to Lonnie, and then from Lonnie to Monica, both of whom were still trying to stifle giggles. After he heard a few laughs from the guests, he finally just gave up. "Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Jamison. And may the Lord bless them through their marriage. They'll need it!"
While everyone in attendance gave their applause, Lonnie grabbed Monica and closed his eyes while he held her. He still couldn't believe that he had finally made her his wife. When he finally opened his eyes, he got a glimpse of Jimmy Dawes standing in the street. Jimmy hadn't spoken to Lonnie since the day Lonnie told him he was going to marry Lana. But today seemed to be a day for forgiveness. Jimmy stayed in Lonnie's view long enough to nod his head in approval and for Lonnie to see one single tear glistening in the man's eye. Then he was gone.
Lonnie turned his eye back to Monica. "You know you've got to take shooting lessons, right?"
Monica was stunned. "Why?"
"'Cause you're a 'Jamison' now. I ain't about to let you go skipping through Sparta wearing my name without knowing how to fire a gun!"
None of the guests had been told where Lonnie and Monica were headed for their honeymoon. Of course, during the small wedding, Miss Etta had made it clear that there was no need for a honeymoon. But where the couple had snuck off too was a huge mystery.
Meanwhile, Lonnie and Monica were at the only place they could imagine spending their first night as husband and wife. They were at their summer place, on the front porch of the trailer, wrapped in each other's arms.
"So how does it feel to be Mrs. Jamison?" Lonnie asked as he kissed her neck, paying extra attention to the necklace that bore his name.
"Almost as good as you kissing my neck!"
Lonnie stopped and eyed her suspiciously. "'Almost', huh?"
Monica smiled. "Well, I could be wrong. Do it again so I'll know for sure!"
Lonnie laughed, but was more than willing to comply. Suddenly, he stopped. "I've got a wedding present for you. Be right back."
Monica waited patiently on the porch. When Lonnie returned, he handed her a small silver frame. In the frame was a worn and faded piece of paper. Monica had to squint to see it, but she finally recognized it. It was the note she had left for Lonnie when she first left for North Carolina. She could still see the words she had written, 'I'll love you always'.
She gave Lonnie a long and intense kiss and then said, "I have a wedding gift for you." She took Lonnie's hand and gently placed it on her slightly swollen belly. "Say 'hello' to Will's little sister."
A full six months had passed since the wedding. And once again, Lonnie was at the hospital. Monica was having a horrible delivery and he was seeing a side of her that he hadn't seen since she was 16.
"If you say 'push' one more time, I swear to God I'm going to kill you!" Monica was dripping with sweat and gasping for air as Lonnie and Dr. Lowenstein were trying to coach her.
Lonnie had no idea what to do. Lana had been fairly calm due to the medication. But Monica's system hadn't responded to the epidural. She was still in a lot of pain and Lonnie was trying his best not to lose his patience.
"Honey, come on now. Remember what we learned in birthing class. You gotta breathe."
Monica sank her fingernails deep into the skin of Lonnie's hand as another contraction gripped her body. "Oh, shut up!
Lonnie was trying to be supportive, but if this baby didn't hurry up and get here, he was going to kill his wife. "Babe, I need you to push. Come on, honey."
Monica whipped her sweated drenched face around and glared at Lonnie. She gritted her teeth and yelled, "And I need you to go to hell! You breathe! I'll scream!"
And scream she did. Lonnie had been hoping for another boy until this moment. Now he was praying for a girl so they wouldn't have to go through this again!
"I know it hurts, Mrs. Jamison. Just one more good, strong push…just one more and we'll be there." Dr. Lowenstein was used to first time mothers, but this one was really wearing her out.
Monica pushed one last time. After a few moments, she felt her body relax, but she didn't hear the sound of a baby crying. "Is everything okay? I don't hear anything!"
"Everything's fine, Mrs. Jamison. Congratulations, Captain! You've got yourself a track star!" Dr. Lowenstein said.
Lonnie was just glad it was finally over. "So it's a boy?" He asked.
"Hell no!" Dr. Lowenstein responded with a laugh. "It's a girl!"
"Lonnie! Something's wrong!" Lonnie and the doctor turned there attention back to Monica. Dr. Lowenstein looked under Monica's gown and said. "Oh my God! How did we miss that?"
The next morning, Monica's room was filled with friends and family. Luann, Virgil and Althea had arrived early bearing gifts. And Harriet and Bill had stayed all night.
Lonnie had just handed his daughter to her god-mother, Luann. He and Monica had named her Lauren Cordelia. Lauren for both Lonnie and Luann, and Cordelia for Lonnie's great-aunt. She was a beautiful baby with caramel colored skin, dark brown eyes, and a head full of curly black hair, the spitting image of her mother but with her father's disposition. Lauren had been fairly quiet since her birth, had only cried once, and spent her time awake looking around and observing.
Virgil, after quite a bit of protest from Luann, finally had Lauren in his arms. "Well, it looks like all that time you spent living with us paid off!"
Monica laughed and looked down at her son that she had just finished nursing. Somehow or another, all of the ultrasounds had missed the tiny baby boy that was hiding behind his sister. "I knew I'd inherent something from you all, but this is more than I expected!"
Lonnie and Monica's son was the exact opposite of his sister. He was fair skinned, almost white, with light eyes and a few sprigs of light brown hair. And while he looked like his father, this one screamed from the moment he came out. The only time he wasn't crying was when he was nursing or asleep. He was definitely his mother's child.
Harriet laughed. "Now, Monica. You and Lonnie did have a lot of lost territory to make up for."
Bill was now holding the little boy, and was trying to calm him down. "I still can't believe you two haven't come up with a name for this boy, yet."
"Let's name him Will Jr.!" Will said. At five years old, he was ecstatic to have both a baby sister and a baby brother to boss around. Naming his brother after him made perfect sense.
Monica laughed as Will climbed up on the bed to be near his step-mother. "Will, honey. Sons are named after their daddy's, not their brothers."
"So what's the hold-up? Hurry up and name that boy before he grows up with a complex." Everyone looked up to identify the male voice that had spoken. Monica smiled when she saw it belonged to Jimmy Dawes.
"Uncle Jimmy! I can't believe you left work to come see me."
Jimmy smiled. "Don't flatter yourself. One of my colleagues is in here with a gunshot wound. Your husband knows him."
Lonnie said nothing, but smiled back. He was the officer who had fired the shot.
"Anyway, I just came down to let the man know not to worry about his family while he in here. I'm taking care of them, so all he got to do is rest."
"Yeah." Lonnie responded with a grin. "And answer all of our questions about the drug bust from the Jimmy Dawes Approved Answer list, right?"
Jimmy gave a fake genuflect. "But, of course! So, who is this?" Jimmy was looking at the baby girl that Virgil was holding.
"Lauren Cordelia." Lonnie answered.
Jimmy played with her for a second and then walked over to Bill and eyed the baby boy. "Well, just name this one Lonnie, Jr. 'Lauren and Lonnie' sound like some twins."
Monica shook her head. "Super Cop over there has issues with naming sons after their fathers. He's afraid our son will grow up with self-esteem issues. And I have an issue with matching twin names. I want them to be individuals. Besides…I finally picked a name."
Lonnie was surprised. "Really? What?"
Monica looked straight into Jimmy's eyes. "I was thinking of Dawson. Dawson Elliot Jamison."
Jimmy didn't say a single word. And for a moment, he and Monica just stared at each other. Lonnie didn't speak either, but he had always had a feeling that Monica knew that Jimmy was her father. The other visitors were starting to feel the tension, so Jimmy spoke.
"Elliot. That's for your mama, Elise. Right? "Jimmy asked.
Monica smiled. "Yeah. For my mama."
At that moment, Dawson began to scream again and Lonnie stood up to relieve Bill. Lonnie cradled the child in one arm, and Jimmy looked at the baby one last time before he left. Before he exited, Jimmy shook Lonnie's hand. "You did alright, man. You did alright." And then, he was gone.
Luann looked at everyone in the room. They seemed to be just as confused as she was. She finally let her eyes settle on Lonnie and Monica. "What was that?" she asked.
Lonnie held his wife's hand and smiled. "Just the tides changing, is all. Just the tides changing."