This was an interesting one to take on, since it didn't seem to fit anywhere. With a little thought, I could see how it could fit into the Grissom timeline, since pickled frog legs seemed rather Cajun, and Admiral Chaffee's second wife was Cajun.
A Housewarming Gift
The incense still tickled Roger's nose. At least now that the wedding was over, he could sneeze if he needed to. But the odor clung, tugging at old memories.
Both he and Cindy were remarrying after having lost their first spouses. They'd each had the big shinding the first time around, and that had been enough. If they'd had their druthers, they would've run down to the Harris County Courthouse and exchanged their vows before a justice of the peace. A quick, private ceremony with a few close friends and family members. Although he'd been raised Methodist, he'd drifted away from formal religious observance as he'd grown older.
But Cindy had been raised Catholic, and one of her aunts was devout. So much so that if they didn't get married in the Catholic Church, that woman would regard them as unmarried. Given what one of Cindy's cousins had gone through, it had been enough to motivate him to go through all the necessary processes.
The meetings with the priest had been interesting, especially after Japan's space agency had made a gift of a traditional kimono for Cindy's wedding dress. For some reason the priest had it in his head that a kimono was inherently Shinto, and would be idolatrous to wear to a Catholic nuptial Mass. With much explanation of the significance in Japanese culture of this gift to America's liaison officer to JAXA, Roger had managed to convince the priest that Cindy not wearing it would risk an international incident.
But that had been only one of many hurdles, close calls and minor embarrassments. At least now they'd managed to get through the ceremony without any of the wedding party or the guests making asses of themselves. Now they just had to get through the reception.
They'd kept the guest list at the wedding small, but for the reception it was hard to keep from extending invitations to a good chunk of NASA, including the entire astronaut corps, active and retired, not to mention Cindy's huge Cajun family from Louisiana. At least they'd been able to rent a big meeting hall, so it wasn't that hard to fit all these people in without becoming overly crowded.
Given that a lot of his own Methodist family still disapproved of alcohol, but Cindy's family would expect wine for the toasts, they'd found ways to arrange things so that no one would be directly confronted by what they found offensive. They could only hope that no one would deliberately seek to be offended.
However, he'd completely failed to anticipate that there could be other ways to cause difficulty. About midway through the reception, while people were visiting but before the formal toasts and the opening of presents, an older woman came up to them. Cindy whispered into Roger's ear that this individual was a relation of hers, albeit somewhat distant.
The woman held out a small basket. "I just wanted to catch you before you got too busy to talk."
"Um, thank you." Cindy was trying to sound grateful, but Roger could tell her voice sounded forced.
Better to step into the awkward conversation. "May I ask what it is?"
That got a smile. "It's a housewarming present. Pickled frog legs. My favorite."
Roger was able to turn the gulp of astonishment into a bit of laughter, make some amused comment about how they had decided to keep his house, given that it was closer to Johnson Space Center and had some custom features he was loath to give up. He'd had frog legs a few times, and while they could be quite tasty fresh-caught after a long day's tramping through the woods, he'd always found them rather bland. Not to mention you had to gig a lot of frogs to get enough to make a satisfying meal.
At least the older woman seemed to take some interest in his story about how the astronaut community had developed, and didn't seem to have taken any offense.
I don't know what I'd ever do with it -- maybe expand it to be a bonus item for readers of one or another of my Grissom Timeline novels. Or maybe it's just one of those neat little out-takes that it's fun to write to explore the characters a little more, but never actually gets used.
I also got a story written for this week's Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Writing Challenge. My effort deals with Anastasia Burinskaya, somewhat earlier than her previous appearance.
As usual, if you want to participate in Odd Prompts, send your prompt to email@example.com to get assigned a prompt. Or you can just check out one of the spare prompts, since there are always plenty.