A million years ago, I was as a newspaper reporter in a small town in western North Carolina, a region of the state known for its lush rolling hills that ripple on for miles if you’re standing in the right spot. I covered cops and courts, which meant I often wrote about the bad things that happened to people.
One day I covered a spectacular house fire in which no one was hurt but the house burned to ashes. A few days later, I went to the sheriff’s office looking for incident reports, trying to scare up another interesting story. I walked in to find the receptionist, a young man who liked to show me pictures of gory things to see if I’d flinch, gone to lunch, gone done the street, gone somewhere. As I waited for him to return I scanned his desk for something interesting. I didn’t find anything worth asking about so I stood around, waiting.
After a few minutes, a couple came in looking for the sheriff. They needed to get married, they said. Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, the bride wore flip-flops and the groom, dressed the same, wore a ball cap. They were jittery, nervous and giddy. When the sheriff finally extracted himself from his big leather chair and came out to greet them, he said they needed a witness. And there I stood. [Read more]