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An Awkward Reception

A Tale of Misplaced Jealousy

By Kenny PennPublished 9 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - August 2023
Midjourney AI + Kenny Penn

Terry knows he’s going to brain Mr. Perfect soon.

He watches, head throbbing, as the groom slow dances with his new wife, Mrs. Bethany Graylock, to Elvis Presley’s, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. Bethany, Terry’s childhood friend. The woman I love, he thinks. That should be me with her.

Reaching into his pocket, Terry clutches the hard metal wrench he brought from his truck. It soothes him somewhat. He runs his thumb along the raised letters engraved onto the shaft, presses hard against the curved edge of its slightly greased head.

It’ll be thrilling to strike that asshole’s face with it. He almost sees the spot where the wrench will make contact, in the center of the bastard’s nose. His heart skips a beat as he pictures Mr. Perfect’s confident smile splintering into an agonized ‘O’ of pain and shock.

Won’t be so pretty then, he thinks, sipping on a rum and coke. Once he tells Beth what Mr. Perfect has been up to, she won’t think he’s pretty on the inside either. The thought makes him smile.

Beth gazes up into Mr. Perfect’s eyes as he leans in for a kiss. Terry removes the wrench from his pocket. All eyes are on the couple, so no one notices his approach until he’s within a few feet.

Someone shouts a warning, and things begin happening much too fast. Before he reaches the groom, he’s shoved sideways and sent stumbling to the polished wooden floor. The wrench comes free from his grip and drops to the ground with a loud clatter, followed by startled screams. A pair of black dress shoes kick it out of his reach.

Terry stands, intending to clobber whoever it is that dared interfere in his business. Beth’s voice, loud and angry, cracks across the sudden commotion like a whip and captures his attention.

“What the fuck are you doing, Terry?”

Her tone is accusatory and pained. He wants to assure her of his good intentions but sees Mr. Perfect wrap a protective arm around her waist, and all sense of logic leaves.

He points a trembling finger at the groom. “Do you know the man you just married, Beth?”

Her face is a mix of anger, bewilderment, and hurt, but it’s the anger that comes through in her voice. “Yes, I think I know Sean very well! It’s you I don’t know right now, Terry. What were you going to do with that wrench?”

Terry feels the weight of staring eyes and shifts his feet. He shrugs, trying to collect himself. “Come with me for a few minutes. I promise I’ll make everything clear.”

Mr. Perfect’s grip tightens on Beth’s waist, and he glares daggers at Terry. “I have a better idea,” he says, his voice menacing. “Why don’t you get the hell out of here.”

Terry’s temper flares up like hot coals. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Sean? Don’t want me telling Beth your dirty little secret?”

“What are you talking about, Terry?” Beth says, her voice shrill. “You’ve been drinking too much. You’re ruining my wedding!”

Terry glances at Beth and sees tears welling in her eyes. The sight of them sends a cold spike into his chest, but it’s too late to stop. “Your new husband isn’t the man he seems, Beth! I saw him last weekend at the movie theater, but he didn’t see me.”

The red-faced look on Mr. Perfect’s face fades, becoming almost pale. He begins looking around and rubbing the back of his neck, a fact which gives Terry no small amount of pleasure.

He then points to one of Beth’s bridesmaids, an attractive woman of about thirty years wearing a pink dress matching the other bridesmaids. Her face is also pale, her eyes wide and brimming with tears.

“Your husband and your friend there,” he says. His hand still trembles but he is feeling better now. Truth is on his side. “I saw them standing in the snack line. They were kissing, and I don’t mean a peck on the mouth, but a real kiss! Had a handful of her ass, too, just squeezing away like he’d been doing it all his life.”

People around them look at each other with shocked faces, but Beth only continues staring at him. The anger drains from her face, but now she appears hurt and embarrassed.

She shakes her head and addresses him in a soft voice. “Terry, why didn’t you come to me and tell me what you saw before today?”

“You’ve been busy making plans and what not, there wasn’t time.”

Her eyes close. She takes a deep, calming breath, opens her eyes and shocks him with a simple denial. “You’re wrong, Terry. You didn’t see what you thought you saw.”

His jaw drops. “What? Are you fucking kidding me, Beth? I know what I saw! Don’t let your feelings for - “

“Enough, Terry!” Beth cuts him off, gesturing sharply. “You should have come to me, but you wanted to embarrass Sean, don’t deny it! Instead, you’ve embarrassed me. Now I have to tell everyone here. On my wedding day, Terry, God damn you!”

Suddenly unsure, he runs a hand through his hair. He no longer wants to be here. He doesn’t want to hear what she’s about to say.

“I knew about Sean and Linda,” Beth continues, her voice cracking with emotion. “In fact, I set it up. It’s not your business, Terry, but Sean and I are polygamists. Linda is one of our mutual friends. Usually, we go out together but that night I asked Sean to take Linda alone because I was tired from all the wedding planning. Thank you for ruining an otherwise perfect night, Terry. I hope you’re fucking happy.”

Terry realizes his mouth is hanging open and snaps it closed. Without another word, he turns and walks away, head hanging and cheeks flushed. It’s the last time he ever speaks to his childhood friend again.

**This story was submitted to NYC Midnight for their 2023 Flash Fiction Challenge. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!**

Short Story

About the Creator

Kenny Penn

Thanks for reading! I enjoy writing in various genres, my favorites being horror/thriller and dark/epic fantasies. I'll also occasionally drop a poem or two.

For a list of all my work, and to connect with me, go to

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (9)

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  • Jazzy 2 months ago

    I loved this so much. What a twist. But also why did this guy have to resort to wanting to knock the shit out of the groom at the wedding, talk about being unhinged.

  • Mackenzie Davis6 months ago

    Wow. Wow. That twist. Oh my goodness, the horror. And, like, can I just say that I feel like everyone sucks in this story? lol. But I sympathize most with Terry. Oh, and Linda, weirdly, but I put that down to your description of her tear-stricken face -- brief, but so memorable. Fantastic writing, Kenny. This felt so goddamn real.

  • Tina D'Angelo8 months ago

    You made the reader attend the reception and feel the anger, humiliation, and shock. Incredible. Congratulations!

  • Nitu Gupta9 months ago

    Wow, this is good. Congratulation on top story. Please share my story 🙏

  • Test9 months ago

    Very creative and different. I got really drawn in. Well done

  • J. Scott Tanner9 months ago

    It’s a common faux pas. Etiquette dictates that one must wait until after the first dance to bludgeon the groom with a wrench. One should also prefer a classic pipe wrench over any substandard combination wrench, which are known to have less gripping handles than their modest counterparts. Had proper rules of etiquette been followed, I’m quite sure Terry would have been successful in his endeavor and spared from that particular spot of embarrassment.

  • Ahamed Thousif9 months ago

    This is amazing! Nice work.

  • SC Wells9 months ago

    Dammit, Terry! I did not see that coming

  • Kendall Defoe 9 months ago

    This works for me. You never know what other couples and people can accept and not accept. Good work!

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