A White Wedding and a White Dove



Ralph Reportedly Engaged -- The Inside Scoop [tabloid headline]

Oxner Set to Wed -- Hot Topics [tabloid headline]

Wedding Bells for The Ox -- The Grapevine [tabloid headline]


        The Sea Gypsy rambled on atop the crystal clear, blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  The sky outside was getting dark, but inside the yacht, the people were light and chirpy.  And the vast auditorium was full of them.  Ralph and Angel had gone the entire grueling day without laying their eyes upon one another.  The White Light Liberators adhered to that prevailing universal custom for a bride and groom on their wedding day.  However, a W.L.L. wedding ceremony was unconventional in many other ways.  The Leader created all the rules and rituals that endowed it with a style and character all its own.  Currently, it was he whom was the center of attention.  On stage to his right sat a pretty organ player contributing to the auditory mood of the wedding.  Slightly left of The Leader, toward the rear of the stage, a pianist with temporarily idle fingers, and multifarious instrumental tastes, appreciated the preliminary organ music.  After The Leader observed that the tuxedo-clad ushers had finished their job seating people, he flashed a 'halt' hand-sign to the organist and spoke his introductory remarks into the microphone he was holding with his other hand.

        "Welcome, dearly beloved Liberators.  We are assembled here today to have a symbolic coalescing of a man and a woman.  In their hearts they are already united as one.  Therefore, it is a holy commitment of everlasting love and faithfulness which ye shall witness and commemorate.  However, the blessing is not theirs alone.  For the law of affinity operates in everybody.  It is a spiritual force and a dynamic attraction.  Simply stated, 'For everyone there is someone!'  So, for those of you with a lonely heart, please remember that!"

        Piano music commenced.  An usher standing behind the last row of seats opened the door.  All the guests in attendance stood up and turned around to eye the processional.  First, there came the bridesmaids, followed by the maid of honor.  Then, a lovely ten-year-old girl entered the auditorium and ambled down the aisle, tossing rose pedals from a white basket.  Her pink dress and the crown of flowers on her blonde head befitted the role of "flower-girl."  After she had her moment in the spotlight, it was time for the groom to make his grand entrance.

        The usher held the door open for him as he crossed the threshold with his Best Man, five-year-old Roger Freeder, walking by his side.  They both wore white robes with gold fringe, and stylized "W.L.L." lettering was stitched in red on the chest over their hearts.  Their feet were bare.  An elastic, white headband clung to Ralph's forehead.  Right after the duo stepped up on the stage, the piano music ceased.



        Through the white curtains from backstage appeared the breathtaking bride.  Gasps resounded.  Angel's beauty was striking!  She was alongside a distinguished 'Liberator Elder' of Cuban descent, both of them smiling broadly, standing still for a few seconds, allowing all to behold and admire what they had been eagerly awaiting to see.  She sported a traditional white wedding dress, and a loose-fitting white glove was on her left hand.  Ralph looked at Angel from the stage.  Angel looked at Ralph from the far end of the aisle.  They felt the intoxicating effects of true love and saw it reflected in each others' eyes, even from afar.  She began walking down the red carpet aisle, in tow with the Liberator Elder.

        Angel had mad her way, with slow, short, deliberate steps, down the full stretch of the aisle.  The Leader announced in an aristocratic tone of formality: "All of the ravishing people have taken the stage.  Now the vows are in order.  Please be seated."  In his black, three-piece suit, he stood on the center-stage platform between the wedding participants.  The bride and her entourage were to his right, and the groom's gang was across from them on the other side of The Leader.  The smiling, suave, red-headed genius in the middle heartily said, "Mr. Ralph Oxner, have you fully contemplated, and comprehensively grasped, your duty as a husband and a Liberator to the lady you have chosen to be your wife?"

        The groom responded, "Yes, sir, I have done so."

        The Leader then turned toward Angel and asked, "Miss Angel Sting, have you fully contemplated, and comprehensively grasped, your duty as a wife and a Liberator to the gentleman you have chosen to be your husband?"

        The bride replied, "Yes, sir, I have done so."

        "Have both of you unequivocally agreed upon your marital roles and obligations?"

        "Yes, sir, we have done so," they stated simultaneously.

        "Are both of you in love?"

        "Yes, sir.  Our hearts are drenched in the sea of love."  They spoke together again, nearly in perfect synchronicity this time, with broad smiles forming on their young faces.

        "Will the two of you now merge?" the Leader requested.

        They stepped toward each other and met in front of the podium.  Standing face-to-face, hands-in-hands, they gazed into one another's eyes, transfixed.

        The Leader proceeded with the second round of questioning: "Miss Angel Sting, do you promise to hold fast your avowed love; never letting it waiver, even through challenging times, trials, and tribulations?"

        Bride: "I do."

        The Leader: "Do you swear to remain faithful to your husband throughout the course of your sacred marriage?"

        Bride: "I do."

        The Leader turned a little bit and faced the groom.  "Mr. Ralph Oxner, do you promise to hold fast your avowed love; never waiver, even through challenging times, trials, and tribulations?"

        Groom: "I do."

        The Leader: "Do you swear to remain faithful to your wife throughout the course of your sacred marriage?"

        Groom: "I do."

        The Leader: "Who gives Angel Sting to be yoked in matrimony to Ralph Oxner?"

        The bride's Cuban escort walked forward and said, "I do."  Then, The Leader presented the bride with an opportunity to profess her devotion to the groom.

        "Ralph," she said, "I know deep within my heart that we are destined to be together forever.  We are inseparable because our souls are intertwined.  The essence and strength of the love I feel for you surpasses infatuation, and its longevity is infinite.  Mystical and inexplicable it is in nature -- so much so that it's seemingly the effect of a spell.  I have made my commitment to you with the certitude of a sleepwalker and the awareness of an Eastern sage.  Mr. Ralph Oxner, I take you as you are: to love, cherish, and honor from this day forward until death do us part."



        Now it was Ralph's turn to express his adoration to Angel: "First, I get saved by The White Light Liberators, which is the greatest organization in existence.  Then, I befriend The Leader, who is the smartest man in the world.  And now I'm marrying the prettiest woman on Earth.  Life couldn't get any better!!!  It's just like a fairy tale!  Providence must have intervened in my life for it to be this perfect.  Angel, my love, sometimes I feel such a profound sense of equanimity when I'm in your presence that it's as if your first name is a literal identification of you.  My life without you in it would be incomplete.  It would be like a candle without a wick.  You are my divine flame.  You light my fire and warm my soul.  Miss Angel Sting, I gladly take you as you are, and I proclaim to love, cherish, and honor you from this day forward until death do us part."

        "The bride and groom are ready for the 'creative exchange' feature of every Liberator wedding ceremony," announced The Leader.  Angel released both of her hands from Ralph's clasp, and she used one of them to take off the silk glove.

        "Ralph, I have given you my hand in marriage.  Let this glove represent that symbolic offering," said Angel.  Then she handed it to her man and he slipped it on his big right hand.

        "Angel, you consume my thoughts, even my dreams.  This headband--he pointed at it--symbolizes my thoughts of you.  Ralph took off his headband and then he wrapped it around Angel's forehead and tied it to the back of her head.  That concluded the creative exchange portion of the ceremony.  The ring exchange part followed, along with the interchangeable recitation: "This ring I give to you with love in my heart.  I recognize it as a material object which signifies our everlasting spiritual bond.  Wear it on your finger always; think of it as a constant companion; and apply it for emotional comfort during times we are apart."

        "Now, please stand side-by-side facing the guests, the Leader instructed the impending newlyweds.  "If anyone in attendance has any valid reason why Angel Sting and Ralph Oxner should abstain from marital union, I strongly advise you to express your objection at this moment, lest you neglect the opportunity and suppress your opinion."  Jason Brown simulated a cough, and smirked.  Miss Angel Sting naturally assumed that the high-volume, long-lasting, fake-sounding "cough" came from the master of annoyance and mischief.  She pressed her lips tightly in anger.  He'd managed to get-to-her on her special day!  It was the only blemish on the, otherwise, impeccably glorious ceremony.

        Seven seconds of ensuing silence elapsed.  The Leader wanted to give everyone time to vocalize a possible objection, as was the case during every wedding he presided over.

        "The allotted time for protests has expired... and coughs don't count," the Leader joked, knowing full well that it was Mr. Brown's [intentional] doing.  (The Leader often lightheartedly complained that 'Denace the Menace' was a Liberator he had to tolerate.)  "I now pronounce you husband and wife.  You may kiss the bride," the Leader allowed with approval in his voice and a smile on his face.  Mrs. Angel Oxner totally forgot Jason's throaty intimation after the lingering smooch caused fireworks to go off inside her head.


        In only four days, Frances Queen Prescott had read all 314 pages of the New Age/Relationships/Self-Help book which her friend, and guru, Gayle Rosedale lent.  Now, How to Attract your Soul Mate through Psychic Intuition was closed, along with Fran's eyes.  She was sitting in a basic yoga position on the carpet, meditating deeply.  Never before had her thoughts been so clear, still, and calm.  She felt in touch with a blissfully tranquil higher level of awareness.  That exalted level of thought was far beyond the mundane worldly concerns she was accustomed to entertaining.  Somehow, she knew that it was the pristine mental faculty extant in primordial times, yet lost to modern man.  A vivid vision of a dove suddenly emerged, occupying space within a previously blank mind.



Then the phone rang, thus snapping her out of her self-induced altered state of consciousness.  She opened her big eyes, un-crossed her legs, got off her little behind, stood on her bare feet, and walked to the ringing cord phone in the kitchen.


        "Hey, Frances.  This is your friend, Olivia."

        "Oh, hi Olivia."

        "Whatcha been up to?"

        "Meditating," replied Frances.

        "I didn't know you were into that," Olivia commented, a bit surprised.

        "I wasn't... until recently.  I picked it up from reading a great book," informed Frances.

        "So, Fran, how about us getting together and having some fun.  What are you doing Saturday night?"

        "Sleeping.  I'll need to get my rest for church on Sunday morning."

        " 'Church??!!'  Did I hear you correctly??  I thought you were dead-set against any type of organized religion!"

        "I am... but my spiritual advisor said that church is the best way to meet a good man."

        "Your 'spiritual advisor'??  Fran, have you gone off the deep end?!"

        "Ha!  That's just the tip of the iceberg!  You wouldn't BELIEVE what I've gotten myself into lately!" she responded, in mental reference to her crystal ball delving, taking heed not to state it directly, fearing Olivia would think she's "too weird."

        "I don't think I want to know.  You're starting to freak me out, hon."

        That's good, Olivia; I'd rather freak you out than bore you to death."

        "Well, I think a preacher would bore YOU to death!"

        "Yeah, probably so.  But, like I said, I'm just going there to look for 'Mr. Right!'  Sitting through an entire sermon is something I'll just have to tolerate."

        "Yeah, I guess that that's the price you'll have to pay to find that special guy.  So, which church are you going to attend?"

        "I don't know yet.  I guess I'll have to look in the yellow pages and select one close to home."

        "Well, I have a girlfriend that goes to Morning Dove Baptist Church.  She and her family really like it.  It's in Durham, but it'd probably be worth the extra drive."

        "Yes!!" exclaimed Frances excitedly.  "Yes, Olivia, I think it would be, indeed!  That's 'dove' as in a bird, right?!"

        "That's the only kind of dove I know of, honey.  Fran, are you all right??"

        "Yes!!!  As a matter of fact, I've never been better!  I'm so glad you called, Olivia... and I never thought I'd say that."

        "Well, Frances, you take it easy, all right."

        "Bye, Olivia."

        The meditation visualization of a dove--right before Olivia suggested Morning Dove--was uncanny.  It couldn't have been a coincidence!  Frances hung up the telephone with a big smile upon her pretty face.  For she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that destiny was sown in her future, and God's hidden hand was molding her earthly affairs.


       Sunday morning rolled around and Frances headed off to church dressed to impress.  She was on a mission to attract the man of her dreams... and fashion mattered!  However, the psychic skills she cultivated from reading the indispensable book were much more valuable than the finest apparel money could buy.  She depended on her priceless intuition to guide her to love and happiness.  Frances had arrived early, so she got to watch the church-goers shuffle in.  No lone men so far; most were there with their families, she observed, still feeling extremely optimistic.  She'd expected it would be that way, although she didn't doubt for one second that the perfect matchmaker on high would send her her designated mate straight through that big, front door.  Even if it didn't happen on her first day of church, she would keep coming each week until it did, she promised herself.  Equipped with the knowledge that God and fate were on her side, she was now even more determined to unite with her highly anticipated soul mate!



        Frances spotted a young, ebullient-looking couple walk in with their son.  They came up and sat beside her on the pew.  The woman was next to Frances, adjoined by her son on her other side, and the gentleman was farthest away.  The ladies glanced at each other and exchanged cordial smiles.

        "You have a cute boy," Frances complimented.

        "Why, thank you," the mother said sprightly.

        "How old is he?" asked Frances.

        "He's three," she answered, and rubbed his reddish-blonde head adoringly.  "His name is Mathew.  I'm Sarah, and this is my husband, Neal."

        "It's nice to meet all of you.  I'm Frances."

        "I don't think I've seen you here before, Frances.  Are you new to this church," Sarah inquired.

        "Yes," Frances affirmed.  "This is my first day here.  My friend, Olivia, recommended it to me after I had a... dream. (Frances nearly let the word 'vision' leak out of her mouth, but she caught herself in time.)  A beautiful white dove was in the dream.  And, of course, this church has the word 'dove' in its name.  Isn't that weird?!"

        "Sarah nodded her head and said, "It's definitely a sign!  God communicates with us in mysterious ways.  By the way, would that be Olivia McCants, by any chance?"

        "Yes!  Do you know her?"

        "I sure do!  She's my galpal."

        "Oh, okay, now I remember that she mentioned her friend went here.  She must have been referring to you!" Frances presumed.

        "Yes!  I guess it was meant to be that we meet.  I mean, out of all the people here, what are the chances that we'd end up sitting beside one another?!  God sure does know what he's doing, doesn't he?!"

        "I'll say!" Frances wholeheartedly agreed.  The indications of a higher power directing the course of her life were too pronounced to disagree!

        Frances and Sarah talked about religious and family issues while the capacious, yet quaint, chapel filled up with people.  Then, Pastor Nathaniel Halloway--a tall, middle-aged gentleman with a full head of thick, black hair and a gregarious countenance--stepped up on the pulpit.  He announced that the subject of the day's sermon was 'Wolves in Sheep's Clothes.'  During the course of the lecture, Pastor Halloway continually warned his congregation to be very careful whom they invite into their lives, and, especially, their children's lives.  "Remember that Lucifer comes disguised as an angel of light," he said, referring to a Bible verse.  Pastor Halloway asked everyone to take a moment to bow their heads and pray for the children that the seminary students sexually abused.  "These seminary predators are Satan's children masquerading as God's people.  Don't be naive; those that have been caught are NOT the only culprits!  There are more clean-cut campus pedophiles out there... much more!  Beware of them!!!"

        After the church service ended and everyone began filing out, Frances, Sarah, Neil and Mathew remained seated.  "Whew!  That sermon kicked 'you know what.'  He really tells it like it is and doesn't pull any punches!" Frances stated.  She was very impressed.

        "Yes, most definitely!" Sarah concurred.  "I wouldn't let one of those seminary boys alone with MY son!" she emphatically added.  Her hitherto silent husband inserted himself into the conversation: "Pastor Halloway is a great preacher and an even better person.  He's very brave and straightforward.  All he cares about is speaking the truth and standing up for righteousness.  That's rare nowadays, even on the pulpit... or should I say 'especially on the pulpit?!' "

        Frances nodded in agreement.  "Well, I really enjoyed the sermon, and I look forward to seeing you guys here again next week!" she said.  She was pleasantly surprised that a preacher managed to hold her interest for a full hour.  And the fact that she made some new friends was an added plus.  She had no doubt that she was at the right church!  But what about right man?!  For her, it had to be 'love at first sight.'  A few handsome, solitary men caught her eye, but none of them affected her heart.  However, Frances realized that it was just a matter of time before she'd set eyes on 'The One.'




        No clients remaining, Walter Krouse spent another 9 to 5 hour day at the office on the computer searching for employment options and typing up his resume.  He was also planning to legally change his name and get plastic surgery due to his worldwide infamy.  But he doubted it would help much.  Somehow, the public would always figure out his identity.  He just had a gut feeling that there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

        Upon returning home, he drove his Jaguar into the garage and just sat behind the wheel of the parked car for seven minutes -- contemplating what to do, where to go, and how to cope.  His career and home were as good as gone, but he still had his family!  With that one positive thought in mind, he got out of the Jag and went into the kitchen.  He'd expected to see his wife, and a meal prepared for him on the table, as usual.  But he saw neither.  A sheet of paper was on the table instead.  He assumed that Victoria had gone out to shop, or was getting her hair done, and left the note to inform him of her whereabouts.  He picked it up and read the following:

Dear Walter,

It's terrible being married to the most notorious man on the planet!  I've lost most of my friends because I'm your wife.  Everyone in the neighborhood shuns me, and some give me dirty looks.  Last week, something very upsetting happened while I was walking to the mailbox: a motorist driving by honked his horn, screamed an obscenity at me, and gave me the finger.  And the daily supply of hate mail is too abundant to fit in the box.  I didn't tell you about this, but I wrote a letter to the postmaster asking him to grant the mail carrier authority to filter out all dubious envelopes and discard them.  He agreed to my request.  And all this time, you thought we weren't being sent any more letters!  There are many other things I haven't told you, as well; some of which I'll reveal in the proceeding content of this letter.  By the way, it's just a matter of time before someone tries shipping you a mail bomb.  That's why I've never opened any packages, but secretely hoped you would... if you know what I mean!  If the infamy wasn't bad enough, you've been talking about selling the house and moving us into a middle-class neighborhood.  'Middle-class'... Uugh!!!  I can't live like that!

Now, I don't know if what Aaron Hughes said about you on national television is true.  In fact, I'm not sure I even (want) to know!  That's precisely why I've never come out and asked you about it.  All I know is that his accusations have ruined your life and, as a consequence, our marriage.

I'll be honest with you: for the past year-and-a-half, I've been cheating on you with my cosmetic surgeon, Steve Horowitz.  If it wasn't for the Celebrity Interview episode, our relationship would probably still be merely a sexual liaison; but he's given me a lot of emotional support throughout the ordeal, and we've bonded.  Steve's been great to me!  Last week he proposed, and I accepted.  By the time you read this letter, I'll be sitting pretty in Steve's mansion with Colon and Reig.  They've been taunted and ridiculed on a daily basis at school because (you're) their father.  They're freaking mentally ill now!  I'm planning to home-school them and place them in W.L.L. administered counseling.  Don't even think about going for visitation rights, let alone custody!  The courts would laugh at you for trying!

Yours No More,


P.S. Guess what... I've begun writing a tell-all book about my life with you!  I'm sure it'll be a best seller!  So, it looks like I'll be able to take advantage of this situation, and FOR ME some good will come out of all this!



        Standing by the table, Walter relinquished his grasp of the sheet.  The words on it hit him harder than anything The Caller and Aaron Hughes had thrown at him.  It was a crushing psychological blow!  His knees buckled.  He descended to the floor, and his face dropped into his hands.  Loud, uncontrollable sobbing followed.  Walter Elmore Krouse felt utterly deflated, defeated, and devastated.  He was, indeed, a broken man!  While Ralph was flourishing, his former psychiatrist was rapidly deteriorating.  That was the sweet irony!