[This was supposed to be the beginning of a longer story, which didn't work out as planned. In fact, the ending refuses to happen. I'll try to find out what happened by next Friday. ^^ ]
By the time bride and groom were ready to meet at the altar, the bets went through the roof. Everybody was on their feet, hoping to get a good look at the couple before one of them bit the dust. Which one – well, that was what the bets were all about.
Gold digging had always been a perfectly acceptable pass-time in these parts of the country. In fact, it was why the first settlers had come here, after all. But then, after a few decades of “yellow stone madness”, as the locals called it, there had been no more riches in the ground, and thus gold diggers had turned to other sources for wealth and adventures.
Some families were better at it than others, and the two that were about to join in temporary matrimonial bliss were said to be among the best. The groom was local, a well-liked fellow with good looks, whom the other men had great trouble keeping their sisters away from. He had that certain smile, the one that said, “This time it is all going to be different, because of you”. Of course that smile was a lie, as was evident from the graves in the family cemetery, showing of names and engraved pictures of his first three wives – “beloved and never to be forgotten”. He was preparing for his fourth marriage at the age of thirty-nine.
The bride, on the other hand, was a mystery. She was from a town not too far away, but no one had seen her. It had been determined she would arrive today, all set and ready, right before the ceremony. She obviously had a sense for drama, and from the fact that she, too, had already buried a couple of husbands, it seemed likely that this would not be the usual “kiss her, kill her” episode of everyday life in gold digger country. There had been rumors about her appearance, but not even the newspaper guys had gotten hold of a decent picture. The only thing in the newspaper, a few weeks back, when the preparations for the celebration had just begun, had been a clipping from her high school yearbook, in which she looked bewildered and fragile and very, very blond. She was thirty-two, wealthy and said to be a good golf player and hunter.
The streets had been sprinkled with water to keep away the clouds of dust, and volunteers had taken it upon themselves to water the plants along the main road every day for the last two weeks, so everything would look green and fresh. “We should welcome the new lady as best we can”, Bill Thrumps said. “Who knows, maybe she will inherit his share of the town.”
“No way”, Ava spat, “he’ll come out of this as handsome and relaxed as ever. We should start collecting money for her funeral flowers already.”
“Wanna bet?” Bill dug his wallet out of his pocket. “Thirty bucks says he’ll be a grieving widower in less than a month.”
They shook hands and smiled at each other with grim determination.