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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

“Are we engaged now?”

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 36

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remainscan be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 36

I felt a warm hand on my shoulder, Bobby’s hand, and I breathed in deeply, yawning and rolling my head against the seat back, stretching my legs in the footwell.

“Are we almost there?”

Bobby nodded, the sky still barely light behind him, black mountains in the distance.

“Look,” Bobby pointed out the windshield.

The sky glowed, just past the curve, a yellow glow fading out into the twilight blue above.

“Wow. Is that it?”

“Yep. You slept right through Arizona.”

I rolled down the window and leaned my head on the sill, opening my mouth to drink in the air.

“It tastes like Nevada,” I said. “Did you know I’m from here? This is home, I was born here, well, not here – over there somewhere, I think.” I pointed out the window.

“Really? Where were you born?”

“Pahrump. No kidding. Pahrump, Nevada.”

“Well, maybe we’ll have to visit your old home town on our honeymoon.”

“Honeymoon,” I said, curling my feet up onto the seat. “Wife. I’m going to be your wife.” I liked the way the word felt in my mouth, like chocolate ice cream, I wanted to hold it on my tongue. Wife. Husband.

Bobby reached for my hand over the parking brake and squeezed it tightly.

“Hey, I don’t have a wedding dress. I don’t know if I want to get married in shorts.”

Bobby smiled.

“They have stores in Las Vegas. Let’s find you something more wedding-like.”

I liked the way that sounded. A white dress, maybe. Okay, maybe off-white. Nobody could be offended at that. This was the first step. I didn’t think it would be easy. After we were married, Bobby would have to get re-baptized, and I knew that could take a long time. But after we’d been married for a year, and once Bobby was back in good standing, we could get married in the temple, for Time and All Eternity. We’d be sealed, so when we died, Bobby could call me across the Veil and into Heaven, into the Celestial Kingdom, and we’d be together forever, just like the lesson the missionaries taught us, back in our trailer in Pahrump, Together Forever, they said, and now I got it, now I knew what it was all about.

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,

That song, our song, was in my head. The glow from Vegas shone for miles across empty desert, lighting up the bottoms of the clouds, and it just got brighter and brighter the closer we got, the sun sliding further down toward China, the sky dark above, until we were rolling down the streets themselves, I was hanging out the window, gaping at all the blinking lights, the neon, the people and cars on the street, one hotel a solid wall of glass rising from the desert, the lights shining in the mirrored windows, tinted gold, sheets of light hanging and shimmering in the air. It was beautiful.

a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.

We saw wedding chapels, too, with their own lights, neon church bells, and doves, and flowers and hearts, they were all melting together, how would we ever choose? but then I saw it.

It was just a circle, a simple circle of light. And the sign, Eternity Wedding Chapel.

“There,” I said, pointing, “Let’s get married there.”

“Let’s go see if we need to make an appointment, and then we’ll go shopping, okay?”

The door swung shut heavily behind us, and the noise from outside stopped. Air-conditioning, and deep carpets. I sunk in with every step.

There was a woman behind the desk, blond, hair in a ponytail, a deep tan that wore lines in around her mouth. Big gold hoop earrings, and a simple white dress. She smiled, crinkling the skin around her eyes.

“How can I help you?”

“Hi,” said Bobby, “We’d like to get married.”

“Okay!” she said brightly, “Do you have your marriage license?”

“Uh, no.”

“Okay! So what you have to do is go to the county clerk’s office and get that taken care of. Don’t worry, they’re open 24 hours on weekends.”

She pulled a map and a red pen out from behind her desk.

“Okay, so, we’re here, right? You just pull out of the parking lot and make a left…”

She traced the route for Bobby with her red pen while I looked around. The ceiling was painted blue, with clouds, and lit up from below, hidden lights, so it looked like the sky overhead. This was it, this was the place where my life was going to start over.

The line at the clerk’s office wound all the way out the door and into the parking lot. Happy couples about to get married, a woman in a full-length white lace dress and big poufy sleeves, a couple in black leather, matching mohawks, people in jeans and shorts, like me, a girl in a mini-skirt with a cow print holding hands with a guy in a cowboy hat, where was the man that went with the bride in lace, she was all alone. It didn’t look right.

Bobby stood behind me, his arms wrapped around me.

“Are we engaged now?”

Bobby kissed my neck, just below my earlobe. “Yep,” he said into my ear.

“Hello, Fiancé.”

I felt Bobby smile, his lips against my neck. He took in a breath.

“Jeanette,” he said.


“My ex-wife. Her name is Jeanette. You’re right, you should know. We’re going to be married. You should know everything.”

I kept my eyes open to keep the blond woman from the principal’s office from crowding into my head, growing vicious teeth and nails. She was just a regular person, with a name. This was a good thing. We were going to be a normal married couple, and she would just be the ex-wife.

It didn’t seem possible. A few words on a street corner in Salt Lake City, and in just a few hours I would be a married lady on her honeymoon.

“We’ll get a room here for our wedding night. How does that sound?”

I was electrified. It sounded terrifying and thrilling, like skydiving.

“I can hardly wait,” Bobby whispered into my ear, “to make babies with you.”

He moved his hands down to my belly.

“I was thinking Jessica, for a girl.”

“No, wait,” I pulled away and turned to look at him. “You know I can’t. Not until, not until I’m settled, you know. In a company.”

It seemed to take a minute before he heard me. “No, of course not. Not right away.”

He pulled me back into his arms. Not for a long time, I thought. Not until my career was almost over, like when I was thirty maybe. We were almost inside the clerk’s office now, the door propped open. Bobby’s face reflected in the glass of the door looked strangely blank. He got it, didn’t he? In a few minutes we’d have our marriage license, but I felt the skin prickling up the back of my neck. This was what I wanted, wasn’t it?

The guy behind the counter must have been about a hundred and fifty years old, his white short-sleever so thin I could see the seams in his undershirt. He took forever to get the paperwork out, shuffling and re-shuffling the papers on the counter. I was sure he’d be able to hear my heart clonking around inside my ribs.

“Driver’s licenses,” the clerk said.

Bobby pulled out his wallet, slipping his ID from the pocket, then looked at me.

I dug around in my purse and pulled out my learner’s permit. The clerk squinted at it.

“Got your consent letter?”

Bobby looked back at the clerk. The fluorescent light just above buzzed, a high drone. The clerk cleared his throat, the two folds of skin hanging from his neck jiggled.

“Letter of consent, from the girl’s parents, you got that?”

Bobby had opened his mouth to argue, then closed it, opened it again. “What do you mean? She’s old enough to get married, here.”

“Age of consent,” the words came out of me sounding broken, unconvincing, “Sixteen is the age of consent here.”

“Sure, you can get married, but you still need parental consent for under eighteen,” he nodded at me, his blue eyes almost white, looking at me for the first time, right into me. I shook my head at him, slowly.


The old man yelled it out with his upper lip curled, looking at me out of the corner of his eye, something else flashing at me out of those old man eyes, like he knew everything about us, like he was picturing all sorts of nasty things in his head. He was smirking, the whole tabloid story right there at his counter.

I turned around to the sound of his hacking laugh, heading for the door, I had to get outside, back out into the air.

My head was empty. Not a thought, not a word, nothing. I was outside, heading for the parking lot, Bobby’s voice behind me, and I was running.

“Alice, wait.”

I shook my head, the old man’s white-blue eyes still burning into me, stepped off the curb, Bobby grabbed for my hand, pulling me back, and I missed my footing, I stepped wrong and my foot twisted and I went down, I felt a pop, a snap in my foot, I could swear I almost heard it, and then I was sitting on the asphalt, in the parking lot of the county clerk’s office.


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle. 

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