FATHER WALLIS GROANED. The night before Dave and Linda's wedding, and he had fewer than 30 words written for their sermon. All the prayers and all his years of experience as a pastor, a leader of men through the worldly murk and spiritual light, might as well have been spent learning about field hockey for all the good they were doing him. He pushed his hands through his thinning silver hair and looked at the sheet of paper before him.

"I have known Dave since I came here to Saint Belinda's seven years ago, and have always found him to be — hmmm."

This was a wedding, a beautiful event, thousands of years of tradition, hundreds of guests, much money and time spent. It didn't matter that he personally thought they were both repulsive people with less than half a redeeming quality between them.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God to bear unbearable witness to the repellent union of Dave and Linda —

"No!

"Linda and Dave must have found each other through what must be Satanic provenance, for no other force in the universe would take credit for this —

"No!

At their last meeting, he'd asked the unnaturally happy couple to name their hobbies and interests, and they'd been enthusiastic with their response. But eight pages of notebook paper, front and back, and the best he could find was Linda's stuffed-animals-in-leather collection and Dave's predilection for photographing children with mullets. Not exactly attention-grabbing.

"Marriage is a sacred institution, and the world can thank Dave and Linda for agreeing to take each other out of the marriage pool — "

"Oh my."

He stood, stretched, felt the satisfying pop in his legs and back. He couldn't believe it had come to this. He rolled his sleeves and prayed for Divine Inspiration. After some time, he began again.

"Marriage is . . . is a reaffirmation of everything our society and our God hold dear. And when a pit bull of a woman finds a man with a face like a slab of meat —

"Oh!"

These two! There was just no way around it. They were both rotten people. Rotten! Then he hit upon it: He would write the sermon he wanted to write.

"When a man finds his perfect match," he began, "and takes her to his side for all eternity, and they become one, much like in horror movies when toxic sludge combines with a spider that grows in size and speed and hatred for humanity deep in his underground dwelling, to say nothing of its soul, to bring forth terror and a reign of destruction so that all humanity weeps at the error of having allowed such elements to exist in the first place, let alone meet and marry! They shall be as one, deciding, debating, delousing! We gather to celebrate the union of these two horridly crude individuals who, I am not entirely certain, have not murdered anyone. Yet."

There. He had gotten it out of his system.

He tapped his pen against the paper, pressing his lips together and began again. "Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today in the sight of God to bear witness to the union of Dave and Linda."

A good start. Classic.

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