Public Service…Chapter Five…unedited…

Lilly and I parked down the block from the courthouse. As usual, people filled the building looking to purchase new license plates for their vehicles, or offering excuses for their various traffic violations. The office of the Justice of the Peace sat in the dank basement of the courthouse.

The door was open, and the light of the office briefly illuminated the dreary hallway. I clutched the marriage license, and Lilly held my free hand tightly. As if I would dare try to escape from the shackles of matrimony. Behind the counter, the receptionist for The Honorable Willa T. Matthews, gave us a small smile. 

“Hello, detectives. What can I do to help you today?”

Lilly leaned forward and said, “Hi. Can Judge Matthews marry us?”

The receptionist giggled and Lilly grinned. The receptionist looked at me and giggled again. “He appears excited,” she said, as she lifted her chin in my direction. “He’s excited,” Lilly replied. “Aren’t you, Konan?”

“Oh yeah, I’m excited.”

Willa Matthews, an older woman with grey hair, a thin nose, and old-school librarian glasses, came and stood at the counter. She favored us with a small smile and said, “Shall we begin?”

“Yes,” Lilly and I said at the same time.

Willa smiled and said, “Does anyone take issue with this marriage?”

Silence filled the room. Rankin and Manson grinned at each other. Janko dabbed at his eyes. Willa continued, “Lilly, do you agree to take Thermopolis Konan in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, as your lawfully wedded husband?”

“I do.”

“Thermopolis, do you agree to take Lilly in sickness and health, in good times or bad, as your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.”

“Then, in the sight of Almighty God and in view of these witnesses, I pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

I pulled Lilly close and kissed my bride. Oohs and aahs came from Rankin and Manson. Janko wiped more tears away, and I felt a warmth in my soul that informed me I was now complete. As we parted, our friends crowded in close and hugged us, slapped our backs, and congratulated us on our crowning achievement. 

Then, my phone rang.

Lilly stared at me, as did the rest of our friends, and I stepped into the hallway to answer the phone. It was Tammy Bowen.

“Hey, Tammy. What’s up?”

“Are you busy?”

“Um, not especially. What have you got?”

“I need you and Lilly to come over. It’s murder, but I need to explain to you both how it’s happening.”

“Okay, we’ll head your way.”

I hung up and went and joined my wife and friends in the office. They all looked at me with bated breath, Janko shook his head, and his mustache seemed to bristle with disappointment. Manson guffawed, and Rankin rolled his eyes.

“Konan,” Rankin snorted. “Relax for five minutes and enjoy your nuptial bliss. The case can wait.”

“What? Married? How did that happen?”

Lilly giggled and slipped her arms around my neck. I gave her a peck on her neck and whispered the words she longed to hear in her ear.

“Tammy said it’s a murder.”

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