Wedding Party.

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I found this photograph the other day when I was going through my bottom drawer.

That’s the drawer I keep my important stuff in.

A lot of time has gone by since this shot was taken and it’s strange looking at us all back together again.

The first thing that strikes you is the uneven numbers.

Three men and four women.

Even before this shot was taken things had begun to unravel.

Bill didn’t make it to the ceremony because he was on the run, which was funny in a way because he was the least bent of all of us, but that’s how it goes sometimes. It’s more about luck than anything else, and Bill never had much of that. He ended up doing a fifteen stretch for taking a pot-shot at the copper who was trying to arrest him, which wasn’t too bright; they take a dim view of shooting at coppers.

He was out in nine and a half and drifted away.

None of us knew where he went.

The bloke on my right is Samuel or Sam to his mates.

He’s the one in the photo who isn’t looking in the same direction as the rest of us.

That’s Sam all over.

Always did his own thing.

I don’t remember what he was looking at; it was so long ago, but I’ll bet it was a pretty girl. The bridesmaid in front of him had already let him know that she wasn’t interested.

As you can see, Sam was a big bloke, but he pushed his luck once too often, and the farmer and his brother beat him almost to death when they caught him in bed, in the middle of the day, with the farmer’s wife. He gave a pretty good account of himself and put the farmer’s brother in a hospital for a week, but two on one was just a bit too much, especially since he was defending himself without the benefit of pants.

Apparently, the farmer grew cabbages and peas, and he just popped back to the house to show his brother the new carburetor he had bought for the tractor.

I stopped eating cabbage and peas for a while out of respect for Sam but eventually I went back to eating them.

Sam lingered on for a long time but after about eighteen months he succumbed to his injuries. Apparently he made love to one of the nurses on the night he died, which only increased his legendary status.

Personally, I’d rather be alive than legendary, but that’s me.

The bloke on my left was my best man, and he was, and is, a boring fucker.

There is absolutely nothing interesting about this guy, so I’ll bet you are wondering why he is my best man. It’s because my best mate dipped out at the last moment. His wife wouldn’t let him travel up from Bendigo. Can you believe that? I picked Chris because I knew I would not survive the bachelor party if Sam was organising it and I planned to make it to this wedding. My best man’s name was Nigel, and he went on to be something huge in the Public Service. He’s the bloke who suggested that all old age pensioners should have to eat stale biscuits. I don’t know why he suggested that but apparently it came down to one vote. The biscuit lobby probably had something to do with it. In those days, they had as much power as Big Tobacco.

I must say that I liked all of Lorraine’s bridesmaids, but a more diverse group would be difficult to imagine.

The lady down the front was not very popular at school, and Lorraine took her under a wing. Lorraine is like that; it’s only one of the things I love about her.

Her name is Betty, and she’s a hell of a cook, sings like a bird and plays a mean game of tennis.

Even though she is not a strong swimmer she once saved Lorraine from drowning.

This girl’s got guts.

The lady to the right is Jenny, and she is a little bit older than the others. Sadly, she was washed overboard during a storm while traveling on the Liner Fair Star on a voyage to London a few months after this shot was taken. No one knew she was missing until the next morning, and they never found her body.

They didn’t even turn around and look for her.

The authorities said at the time that it was pointless.

I imagine her clinging to a piece of flotsam waiting for the ship to come back.

There was never any hint of suicide.

On our far left is Susan.

She had style and then some, as you can see, and I can guarantee that my white-bread best man never got anywhere with her.

She was top drawer.

She was going somewhere, and her slightly exotic look was more help than a hindrance. She started her fashion label after moving to London.

She never married but instead took a large collection of lovers. Many of the men associated with her were the handsome and powerful of their day.

It is rumoured that she shot a man who was attempting to blackmail her.

It seems that her lovers came from both camps, and this poor fool thought he could extract some cash from her. Instead, he found that a 45 calibre round needed to be removed from him. He survived but refused to say who shot him.

Finally, the last two people in this photo are Lorraine and me.

We were married for a very long time, and happiness was a constant companion. We had our ups and downs, as all couples do, but we loved our two boys, and we watched them grow and successfully make families of their own. We rejoiced together in our grandchildren, and we looked forward to a quiet, peaceful retirement.

One morning my wonderful wife set off to ‘do a little shopping’ and never returned.

That was five years ago, and there has been no trace of her in that time, so I’m just sitting here surrounded by photos that map out our life together.

The most important photo is the one that started it all — our wedding photograph.

It’s boring to say it, let alone type it, but you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and photos only make it worse; all that you have lost in a passing parade of silver nitrate.