30th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return


As the weeks went by things did not go smoothly with Mom either.  She complained about having to cook big meals every night and she didn’t like all the beer drinking with the loud men taking up her kitchen several nights a week.  Dad seemed happy enough or maybe he was just unaware of the all the controversy swirling around him.  He went off to his job at the defense plant where he was on the night shift now and did not run into Kate very often.

Meanwhile Kate and Jenny were hatching a plan to sow a little more discord into his and Mom’s relationship.  Kate’s Sweet Sixteen birthday was coming up and they had cajoled and sweet talked Mom into letting them have a party and invite a bunch of their friends.  The party was to be downstairs in the now vacant shop, which was just big enough to fit a fairly large crowd of their mutual friends.  Kate and Jenny were only two years apart in high school and knew a lot of the same people or their brothers and sisters.  There was enough room for dancing and someone had promised to bring a record player with Tommy Dorsey and Harry James’ Records.  Everyone was supposed to bring a snack food and Kate and Jenny would provide the sandwiches and cokes.

And since Kate was popular and had a lot of friends, the party promised to be well attended.  Saturday at nine pm was the designated day and time for the party since it didn’t get dark until nine pm.    Mom was on board and was even going to make the sandwiches.  Dad would be at work so he wouldn’t be there to throw a wet blanket on everything.  Jenny had taken the night off from work to help with setting up everything for the party.

When nine o’clock rolled around, the party goers started arriving and everything was set up and waiting. The balloons and crepe paper decorations made the room look festive and the table was loaded with goodies to eat and drink.  Mom was the chaperone and managed to peek in every now and then but not enough to be intrusive.  The dancing had started and before long everyone was having a fun time.  Between the dancing and the eating, drinking and laughing, time flew by and it seemed no time before it was 11 pm.  With only an hour to go, everyone seemed to get louder.

All of a sudden Dad appeared at the top of the stairs and glared at all the happy teens, his face was red as a beet.  He looked at Jenny as though to say, “How could you?”  For some reason Jenny felt guilty about that look.  Then he turned on his heel and went back to the kitchen where soon there was the sound of loud voices raised in anger.  Kate said to everyone, “Oh that’s just my Dad, don’t worry about him, Mom will handle him.  Let’s continue with the party!”  She grabbed the nearest guy and started dancing again and soon everyone joined in.  Jenny still felt guilty but she didn’t want to miss out on any of the fun so she joined the dancers.  No more was heard from Dad that night.

The next morning when Jenny came down to breakfast she noticed Dad was missing from his usual chair.  He was always up early and never missed breakfast, especially his morning coffee.

“Mom where’s Dad, how come he’s not up yet,” she asked?

“Oh, he’s up alright.  Up and gone.”

“What do you mean, gone?”  Jenny was taken aback.

“I mean he’s left again, couldn’t get his own way, so he left!”

“You mean he’s not coming back?”  Jenny was really feeling guilty now.

“That’s what I mean alright.  He didn’t want your sister having a party and he thought I would call it off.  Imagine his surprise when he got home from work to find the party in full swing.”  Mom had a strange lilt in her voice.  “He said your sister was too snippy and didn’t show him the proper respect.  Well I told him if he didn’t like it, he could just leave.”

“And he left, just like that?  He didn’t even say goodby to us?”

“Well you know how men are.  If you don’t, Lord knows it’s not my fault.”

Jenny didn’t know why she had expected anything more from Dad.  After all, Mom was right about men.  You certainly couldn’t trust any of them.”


29th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return


At first when Dad moved in things were strained and this lasted for several weeks before the thaw began at least between Jenny and Dad.  He seemed to be making a real effort to win her over.  She still didn’t trust him by any stretch of the imagination but at least she was civil to him and even downright friendly sometimes.  Kate began noticing this and called Jenny on it.  They actually quarreled about it a few times.  Kate was very independent and did not want to quit her job and go back to school.  She had more independence this way working and bringing in money to help out.  If she went back to school she would have no leverage in the situation and Dad would be in charge.  Mom sure was being nice to him, letting him make all the decisions about pretty much everything.  It wasn’t like Mom.  She was pretty independent and no one told her what to do but with Dad here things changed dramatically.

Usually after dinner was over now and the dishes were cleared away, Dad would open a beer, and settle down to tell his war stories to anyone willing to listen.  Mom was not interested after the first few times so he would invite his brother Joe over with the promise of a few beers and regale him with the stories.  Jenny had taken to sitting with them and listening to the stories, some of which she found fascinating.  Once in a while Dad would even offer her a small glass of beer.  She of course never refused it and even began to like it.  And as time went on she became “one of the boys.”

Jenny found herself liking him in spite of herself but she could see that Kate was not happy about the situation.  She had her own friends and a boyfriend who didn’t come around so much now that Dad was here.  Dad started inviting a few more friends over and they even started playing cards.  This was one or two nights a week now and even Mom seemed to be bothered by having the “boys” over so much.  Jenny it seemed was the only one who liked sitting in and being considered one of the gang.

One night when Kate came home from work, she worked until 10 pm, she stayed out in front of the house and was talking and laughing with her friends.  She was out there about 30 minutes when Dad told Jenny to go out and tell Kate that it was time to come into the house now as it was late and to send her friends home.  So Jenny thinking nothing about it went out and said to Kate, “Dad said that you were to come in now as it is late and tell your friends to leave.”

“Well you can tell him I will do whatever I want and will come in whenever I want.  I don’t have to listen to him!” Kate turned and motioned to her friends to follow as they started walking away from the house.

Of course Jenny went back into the house and told Dad exactly what Kate had said.   As she was telling him she noticed the vein in his temple was pulsating.   He went to get Mom and she could hear them arguing in the other room.

To be continued

28 th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return


Her Mother kept calling her so Jenny finally decided she had better go downstairs and get it over with.  She slowly walked downstairs and into the living room and there was a strange man bending down and kissing her sisters.  He was wearing an Army uniform  and for a moment she didn’t know who he was.  His voice seemed familiar and he was bald and Jenny remembered him being taller, but of course she was younger then and much shorter.  When he straightened up and saw Jenny standing there he said, “Well who do we have here?  Don’t tell me this is Jenny and so tall and pretty?”  He bent down to kiss her and Jenny sidestepped so that she missed the kiss.  Dad was a little flustered at this and didn’t know quite how to take it.

“This is your Father aren’t you going to say anything?”  Her Mother’s voice sounded very strange.

Jenny hadn’t seen her Dad in a long time and the emotions welling up in her were almost too much, so she gave way to the most compelling one.  Anger.  She wiped away his kiss with a haughty gesture, hoping to pay him back for leaving them.  He noticed the gesture and yet he kept smiling.  Mom pretended not to notice.  And Jenny turned and ran back upstairs to the safety of her bedroom.  She stayed upstairs and brooded while the laughter downstairs only served to made her angrier.

Uncle Mike had come with Dad, and Mom had prepared a lunch for them and Jenny wondered why they were even there.  And why was everyone so friendly?  Last she heard her Father was not  exactly popular around the house.  Now Mom was happy and going out of her way to be nice to Dad.  Jenny didn’t want him back under any circumstances.  Didn’t her opinion count for anything anymore?

After Dad and Uncle Mike left Mom called them all together and announced that Dad would be coming back to live with them now that he was out of the Army.  He had a good job in town with one of the defense plants and things would be just fine.  Kate had arrived in time for this announcement, and she and Jenny expressed their dismay at the prospect of Dad coming back.  But Mom it seemed would have none of it and told them it was her decision to make and she had made it.

Less than a week later Dad came with his belongings while Jenny was at work and he and Mom had taken a bedroom and so all four girls would have to sleep in the same room.  ‘Well that does it.’ Jenny thought.  ‘I really don’t want him here, all of us sleeping in the same room, no privacy and a man telling us what to do.  It’s horrible.  What’s come over Mom?  Why is she doing this?’

She slept fitfully that night and upon awakening felt no better.  At breakfast she asked Mom why Dad was coming back after all this time?  Mom smiled and said things would be just fine.  “He’s changed, he has a job now and we certainly need the money.  We will all be happier, you won’t have to work now and maybe Kate can go back and graduate from High School and both of you can even go to college.  You’d like that wouldn’t you?” Jenny agreed that she would like to go to college but she liked her job and didn’t want to quit.  She enjoyed being there.  So as time went on she and Kate continued to grumble to each other about “himself” being there and how much they hated it, and wondered to each other what they could do to make him leave.

To be continued.

27th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return


Jenny flopped back on the bed and started daydreaming again.  Mom worked hard trying to support the family.  She did housework for several people and was usually exhausted when she got home after traveling on the bus and then walking several blocks.  She put Jenny in charge of watching the kids and cleaning the house.  Jenny liked being in charge because she could then boss her younger sisters around whenever she felt like it.  They rebelled of course and there was many an argument.  Jane was eleven and Mary was nine years old and they clashed loudly with Jenny over who was in charge.  Their older sister Kate was mostly out, either at work or on a date.   She and Jenny got along fine as long as Kate did not have to do any of the housework.

The house they rented was a two bedroom over a shoemaker shop so Jenny and Kate shared a bedroom and Mary and Jane shared the other room.  Mom had to sleep on the couch but claimed she didn’t mind because she had to keep an eye on the coal stoves to make sure they didn’t go out.  If that happened in the Winter, they would freeze.  Kate had to quit high school to work and help support the family and as a result of bringing money in she assumed no duties at home and paid little attention to Mom.    The younger girls really didn’t remember their Father or if they did, it was just a fuzzy memory.  Their lives consisted of going to school and playing with their friends.

Jenny had a part time job at a local soda fountain not far from home.  It was for the Summer and when school started, she would work a few hours after school each day.  So it didn’t interfere with her school work.  The owner was a friend of Mom’s so that way Mom could keep an eye on Jenny and she usually came and walked Jenny home after work.  Between the job and going to school Jenny was kept quite busy.  She even managed to do the cooking and some cleaning at home because if she didn’t then Mom would have to do it.

She did love the job though, because all the school kids gathered there after school and the basketball games.  It was a gathering place for all the teens in town from different schools.  So Jenny got to meet more kids her own age and older whom she otherwise wouldn’t have met.  And she got to drink all the cokes and eat all the ice cream she wanted, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing because she was beginning to gain weight.

Her reverie was interrupted suddenly when she heard her Mom’s voice coming from the bottom of the steps.

“Come on down girls, there’s someone here to see you.”  Mom’s voice sounded strange.

Jane and Mary bolted down the stairs but for some reason Jenny was hesitant about going down and joining them.

To be continued.

26th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return


When Jenny came home that day the family was all a twitter about something.  Mom, who was usually in an old house dress, was wearing her Sunday best.  It was a black rayon dress with big pink flowers splashed all over it.  It was one of Jenny’s favorites.  It was one of the two dresses that Mom had for special occasions like going to church or to weddings.  Her Mother was a good looking woman and she had just started dating recently.

“Jenny, go upstairs and make the beds, we are having company.”  Her Mother’s voice was shrill.

“What’s all the commotion about Mom,” she asked?

“It’s a surprise, will you please do what I asked?”

“Okay, okay, but I don’t know what the big deal is?  We have had company before and the beds did not have to be made.  And what’s with the mystery?  Is the Pope coming or what?”

With that Jenny ran upstairs before her Mother would get mad and give her a slap.  Her two younger sisters were in the bathroom giggling.  She hoped maybe they could shed a little light on what was going on.  But when she asked them, they just ignored her and kept giggling.  ‘What can you expect from kids,’ she thought?  Jenny was all of fourteen and as second oldest in the family was very much in control of things.  She was blonde and blue eyed and rather scrawny looking yet the boys were beginning to notice her.  Her Mother encouraged her in her independence because she needed Jenny to help at home while she was working.  Since Dad left, she needed every penny she could get to raise her four girls.  He never willingly sent any money home from his allotment while in the Army.  But the Army took money out of his allotment and sent it to us in spite of him.  He was a real winner!

Jenny finished making the beds and as she entered her own room, the smells of Summer drifted in through the open window.  The watering of lawns and the wet grass smell, coupled with the aroma of the lilac bushes outside made Jenny feel lazy and she flopped on the bed and soon was snoozing.  Only a few moments later, the noise of the front door slamming jolted her awake.

She still daydreamed not wanting to leave the bed, which was happening more and more lately.  It was a way to close out the real world.  Her Dad had deserted them when she was seven and Mom said that fate had caught up with him when he was drafted into the Army.  It was 1943 and they were taking anybody and everybody.  As long as you were a warm body and male of course.  He never expected that to happen and he finally had to get off his duff and do something.  At least that’s what Mom said.

Whenever Mom spoke of him,  her voice was bitter so Jenny learned to despise his memory even though she didn’t remember all that much about him.  Mom filled in the blanks of her memory with all the rotten things he had done.  As if just refusing to send money home to his family wasn’t enough.

Jenny often wondered if her father would come back and how she would feel if he ever did.  She knew however, with her Mom’s attitude there was slim chance of that happening.  As she stubbed out the cigarette she had stolen from Mom’s purse, a train whistle blew in the distance and she wondered what it would be like to be on that train going to New York and maybe studying to be an artist or a dancer.

She was drawn out of her daydream by her Mother’s voice, “Are you finished yet, if so I want you to come down here.”

“I am all done and I will be right down.”  She wondered what all the fuss was about.

To be continued.

25th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Laundromat cont.


When John awoke his tongue felt thick and fuzzy and smelled like a small animal had taken a dump in there.  His head was throbbing to beat the band and it dawned on him that he was not at home in his own bed.  The walls here were a stark white and a large woman was standing by the bed frowning down on him.  “Do I know you, he croaked?”

“”Not yet you don’t but will you will soon learn to to not only know me but to love me as much as you love your own Mother.”

John doubted this very much but wasn’t about to argue with this large, formidable looking woman .

“Hmm, he mumbled, can I possible get something for this God awful pain,”he asked?

“This is where the love comes in.”  This woman had a sense of humor but you could not tell that by her facial expression.

“It was touch and go whether you were going to wake up today,” she was smiling now for some reason.

“Really,” he croaked.  ‘Can’t seem to get my voice under control,’ he mused to himself.

“What exactly happened, I know I was driving  last I remembered and now here I am.”

“The doctor will be in shortly to talk to you.  So in the meantime, why don’t you try to get a little more sleep and then I will wake you for breakfast.”  Sounded like an order to him even though she was being pleasant now.

“But I can tell you that you were in an accident and the other fellow is just fine, a few cuts and bruises is all.”

“Of course,” he muttered under his breadth.

John tried to remember the accident but everything was a blur and his head throbbed when he tried to recall things.  He did remember that he was thinking of Alice right before the  crash. ‘I wonder if she’s been notified,’ he thought. Oh of course not, how would they even know her name or number to call her, he had not listed it anywhere in his address book and he was out of it up until now.  He had better call and let her know as soon as possible.  She would be wondering what happened to him.

John fell asleep after getting something for the pain and when he woke, the doctor was there.   After John’s questions about his broken and fractured bones the doctor explained what was broken and how long it would take to heal.  He would be out of commission for some time so the doctor gave him some referrals of people who were caregivers until he could get back on his feet, literally.  He would be needing someone to live in clean and cook his meals and drive him to doctor’s appointments also.  ‘God what a mess,’ John thought.  ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’

After a few days he felt good enough to call Alice and let her know what was going on.  She was very concerned and wanted to come to see him right away but he made her promise to wait until he was in a little better shape and wasn’t just a moaning blob of flesh crying for pain medication.  So when she did come he had just found out he would be released in a few days but that he needed someone at home when he got there to make sure everything was running smoothly and could take care of him properly.  So while his arm was in a cast and he had a few ribs taped, he still had one good arm and he could walk.  So he wasn’t completely disabled and he knew he would recover quickly.  Alice was making a fuss over him and seemed very concerned that he was comfortable.

“Now John I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but I would like to come over and take care of you while you are recuperating.  I checked at work and they are willing to work around me if I am off for awhile and I can do some phone work from your house but I will be there whenever you need me.  What do you think?”

“Well Alice, it’s a great offer, but I don’t want you putting yourself through that.  You have your own life and I don’t want to interfere with that.”

“You would not be interfering with anything.  I would be more than happy to take care of you during this time at least until you are back on your feet and can do everything for yourself.”

So two days later when John was released from the hospital, Alice was there to pick him up.  She drove him home and got him settled on the couch with pillows and a blanket and then set about making him some lunch.  She had gone to the grocery store and got in some provisions the day before.  Within minutes it seemed, she had a bowl of hot vegetable soup and a turkey sandwich on a tray in front of him.

“You know Alice I could get used to this real fast.  Better not pamper me too much or you’ll create a monster.”

“Is there anything else I can do for you John,” her voice was deep and there was a tear rolling down her cheek.

“As a matter of fact there is,”  He motioned for her to sit next to him on the couch.  With his good arm, he pulled her closer and kissed her.

“Well you are certainly feeling pretty frisky Mister, for someone who is just out of the hospital.  You know I think I will charge you for nursing you back to health but I’ll throw in the kisses for nothing,” she smiled seductively.

John thought to himself, ‘maybe having that accident wasn’t so bad after all.’



24th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Laundromat


The decor was elegant and her love of art apparent in the many seascapes and still lifes adorning Alice’s walls.  They sat on the couch and sipped coffee to which Alice had added a little brandy and the conversation turned to Gloria’s Father.  John had wondered about him and Alice seemed anxious to tell John  that she was divorced and not on very friendly terms with her ex-husband.  Alice told him that she had been divorced for five years and was doing just fine with her job as a Real Estate agent.  The ex lived in another state and neither she nor Gloria had seen the “bastard” in several years.  And what’s more they liked it that way.  Seems he was a big drinker and when he was drunk he became violent and abusive towards both Alice and Gloria.

“Sounds like you’ve had a difficult life with him,” John said.”You might say that,” Gloria replied.  “For the first few years alone, it was extremely difficult.  Chuck was never an easy man to live with and he made it as hard on me as he could.  Gloria was only a teenager then so it was doubly hard.”  “You seem so self assured and together now Alice.”

“Thank you, it took me quite awhile to get this far but I am doing great now.  Real Estate has been good to me and I am considered one of the best Agents in the office.  I have been able to buy this house and provide Gloria with a good education.  With practically no help from her Father.  Of course therapy did help me more than I can say.”

John was getting a little uncomfortable with the conversation and tried to change the subject.  “An attractive woman like you must have a lot of men friends,” he said.

“Not as many as you may think.”

“Really, I find that surprising.”

“Well I am very particular about who I go out with and when you get to my age the pickings get very slim,” she joked.

“You certainly don’t look that old Alice.  What are you, about forty?”

Alice laughed and said, “try adding another ten years to that and you would be closer to the truth.”

“You are joking,” he asked?

“Not a bit,” Gloria said.

John was strongly attracted to Alice and learning that she was closer to his age, calculated that he may have a chance with her after all.  So he jumped in and asked her if she would go out with him to dinner sometime.

“I’d like that John,” she said and kissed him impulsively.

John was a little startled but not so much that he didn’t respond and he kissed her back lingeringly.

On the drive back home John’s thoughts were filled with Alice and how soon he would see her again.  He seemed to be in a rosy glow.  So as he rounded the corner near his house, he didn’t notice the oncoming car until it was too late.  As he lay bleeding on the side of the road, with the red lights swirling around,  the thought dawned on him that he wouldn’t be able to keep that date with Alice.

23rd Day of NaBloPoMo/ The Laundromat


As the ceremony began, John felt a lump in his throat as he watched Gloria take her vows.  She was radiant!  Paul looked happy but very nervous, which was apparent from the perspiration shinning on his face.  The lace and chiffon dress Gloria wore clung gently to her slim figure.   For some reason she  seemed very vulnerable to John.  He noticed tears in Alice’s eyes and could hardly hold them back himself.

At the reception Alice introduced him to everyone as Gloria barely had time to kiss him on the cheek and greet her other guests.  If it wasn’t for Alice, he would have been completely lost.  When he was getting ready to leave Alice came up to him, clasped his hands and told him how happy she was that he came.  She even suggested having lunch together at a future date.  He didn’t know what to think of that.

A few weeks later John was just settling in to life without Gloria.  Oh he’d probably see her now and again in passing but it would never be the same.  The phone ringing startled him out of his musing.   He picked it up and said, “Hi this is John, it’s your nickel.”

“Hi John, this is Alice, remember me?”

“Of course how are you doing Alice,” he tried to keep the surprise out of his voice.

“I’m fine John, I was just wondering if you would like to go to lunch next week?”

“Why um, well, I, that is yes that would be great!?  Where would you like to go?”

“There’s a little Italian place not too far from where I live, called Giovanni’s.  The food is great if you like Italian.”

“That sounds good Gloria, I love Italian, what day and time shall we meet up?”

They set the date for the next Wednesday about one o’clock, and they would meet at the restaurant.   John was flushed with excitement over the thought of meeting Alice for lunch. He couldn’t fathom why he was so excited.   ‘I must be getting old,’ he thought, ‘it’s only a lunch with Gloria’s Mother.  I don’t even know if she has a husband or she is just trying to be friendly to a friend of her daughter.’

Still, Alice was an attractive woman and still young and she seemed to like him.  When Wednesday rolled around, John was still trying to calm himself down.   He told himself Gloria either had a husband or a boyfriend. ‘Attractive woman like her wouldn’t be just out there.  Would she? Here I go again’, he thought.  ‘I got all excited about Gloria and where did that get me?’  So as he was driving to the restaurant, he had himself under control and just said to himself that he would have a nice lunch and that was it.

Giovanni’s proved to be an ideal meeting place for Alice and John’s first date.  It was very informal, with red and white checkered tablecloths and candles burning on each table.  Even sawdust on the floor to make it more authentic.  John ordered the best red wine they had and Alice was impressed.  The food proved to be delicious and since they both were good eaters  they ordered  more than they enough food.  So they each had doggie bags when they left.  They had chatted about mundane things during lunch since they really didn’t know each other well.  And the afternoon passed pleasantly with no glitches by John due to nervousness.  Alice invited John back to her house for coffee and dessert.  And of course he accepted.  He wasn’t ready for what happened next though.

To be continued.

22nd Day of NaBloPoMo/The Laundromat


As the weeks went by, John helped Gloria fix leaky faucets, squeaky doors and other odds and ends.  They met for breakfast frequently and he looked forward to their time together.  On one of their breakfast get togethers, Gloria seemed more animated than usual.  “John I have the best news, wait until you hear,” she blurted out.

“Out with it, you look like you are going to burst if you don’t tell me soon.”

“Well, I didn’t tell you but I met someone a few months ago, his name is Paul.  We’ve been dating pretty frequently lately and he asked me to marry him.”

John put his coffee down slowly.  His heart was hammering in his chest.  He understood now why people used that expression.  He tried to stay calm as he answered her.  “Why that is wonderful Gloria,” he said.  “From the look on your face I’d say that you said yes.”

“I certainly did,  he’s a wonderful guy John and I know you are going to like him when you two meet.  I want you both to be friends, just like we are.”

“I’d like that also, when is the big day going to be Gloria?”  John’s heart was still hammering but not quite as much.  He might be able to pull this off and not say anything foolish like, “I thought you and I might be thinking of doing the same thing, like getting married Gloria, what do you think of that?”  He managed to keep his thoughts to himself.

John’s appetite had strangely diminished and after Gloria left, he sat there sipping his coffee and gazing into space.

Gloria and Paul decided to get married right away and John found himself wishing he hadn’t agreed to attend the wedding.  He had met Paul and liked him well enough but considered him an interloper.  He knew it was silly to feel this way but couldn’t seem to help himself.  He rarely saw Gloria anymore except occasionally at the laundromat and then she usually rushed off afterwards not wanting to go for coffee as they usually had done.

After arriving at the church, he paced nervously in the vestibule while waiting for the ceremony to begin.  Just then, a pretty blonde woman came up to him and asked if he were John, Gloria’s friend?  “Why yes,” he was a bit startled.

“I’m Gloria’s Mother, Alice, why don’t you sit with our family?”

“That would be nice.”  John was struck by her resemblance to Gloria.

“Gloria’s told me so much about you and all the help you’ve given her.”

“I was glad to help, she is such a great person.”

“Well, I hope she’ll be happy with Paul, they haven’t known each other very long.”  She sounded anxious.

‘Funny I was thinking the exact same thing’, John kept these thoughts to himself.

John wondered where Gloria’s Father was but hesitated to ask.  Gloria never talked about her family much in all their time together.  And as other relatives and friends started arriving Alice was swept away in a maze of chiffon and chatter.

To be continued.

20th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Laundromat


After they had finished their laundry and since Gloria had no car, John drove her to Marino’s Market.  He then drove her home and insisted on helping carry in the bags of groceries.

“Come in John and have a drink.  It’s the least I can do after all you have done for me today.  Unless of course your wife is waiting dinner for you at home?”

“No, I am a widower Gloria.  My wife passed away.  I usually cook my own dinner now” he said.

“Oh, I am sorry John, I didn’t know, please excuse me.”

“No way you could have known now is there?”

“I guess not, I just feel embarrassed, shooting my mouth off like that.”

“Let’s just start out all over again and yes I would like that drink.  I am a bit thirsty.”

“Okay, would you like a beer or some coffee?”

A beer sounds fine right about now.  That grocery shopping is thirsty work, don’t you agree?”

Gloria opened two beers and after putting her groceries away, they settled down on the couch to drink their beers.  By the time they had finished two glasses each, dusk had settled in.  John was feeling warm and mellow.  He hadn’t felt this good in a long time.

They talked for a long time.  John about his wife and their hopes and dreams, now cut short.  Gloria listened sympathetically.

When he was leaving, Gloria gave him a peck on the cheek.  He didn’t even remember driving home, he was in a rosy glow from being with a pretty woman and sharing intimate things.  And then, the kiss or peck, was enough to put him in this rosy glow.   Meeting Gloria had brightened his life and he hoped they would be friends.  She was young, in her mid thirties, he guessed, but who says an older man and a young woman can’t be friends?

The next morning John rose at his usual 5 a.m. and walked two miles, then breakfasted at Martha’s Breakfast House, as usual.  Upon arriving there this morning, who was sitting in his usual booth but Gloria!    She called him over and asked him to join her for breakfast.

“This is a surprise,” he said.

“I just started coming here since I get up early and do a run and go out looking for work.”

“Well, my lucky day,” he was beaming. “What looks good?”

“”Well I’m having hotcakes.  What do you like?”

The waitress moved in and filled their coffee cups and took John’s order of two eggs, over easy with the works.  He had a big appetite after walking for two  miles.

“You have a very hearty appetite John,” Gloria said.

‘Yes and I better cut it down as I am gaining a few pounds here and there.”

“Oh you have nothing to worry about, you still have your boyish figure, were you an athlete?” Gloria sounded interested.

“Well I did play a little baseball in high school and then again in college, so I manage to stay in shape, even if I only walk now.”

They ate their breakfast and chatted away and time was passing.  Gloria jumped up and said that she had to get home and get dressed to go on her job hunt.

“Anything I can help you with Gloria?”

“Oh no thanks John, but it was nice having breakfast here with you.  We will have to do it again sometime.”

“I would love that,” he said.

John continued his walk home in a very good mood indeed.  He really liked Gloria and he hoped more than ever that they could continue to see each other.  He would enjoy having someone to eat breakfast with, even if only at a diner, and maybe go other places with.  One never knew.  He wasn’t all that old.