Sugar Daddy


By Andreas Bohnenstengel [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andreas Bohnenstengel  CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A woman I haven’t seen before walks up to me at the circulation desk of the public library where I work. I don’t recognize her, but she calls me by name.

“Hi, Sophie.”

My surprise must show on my face.

“I’m Delores, Charlie’s daughter.”

“Of course.” I smile. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you. It’s a blessing the tornado took only him—someone who’d had a chance to live.”

I can see through her brave façade but find it admirable. Her words ring true—the World War II veteran had lived a full life before being crushed by a pile of rubble.

“We found this at the house.” Delores hands me an envelope with my name scrawled across the front. “Dad talked about you incessantly. I wanted to deliver this in person.” She leaves. I stand, mouth gaping, and stare at the object in my hand.

“Boyfriend put you in his will?” My boss, Steve, has returned from lunch—an hour late—and is ribbing me about Charlie.

I give him a look and retrieve my purse from a cubby. “I’m going to catch a late lunch.” I raise my eyebrows for emphasis before escaping to the employee lounge. On the way, my mind wanders back to the previous fall.

***

Charlie had been a regular library patron since before I landed my job here. When his wife passed away, he started spending more time socializing at the checkout counter. He was old enough to be my grandfather, so it never dawned on me that he might be interested in romance when he asked if I’d like to have dinner. We scheduled two weeks later, and the ribbing from my boss started. I ignored it.

When Charlie showed up at the library in his dress blues from half a century ago, I realized Steve was right for once. Before we departed, he offered his commentary, “If Charlie tries any funny business, my money’s on you.”

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford, 2014

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford, 2014

We had dinner at a local Chinese place popular with the geriatric crowd.  Over moo goo gai pan, we exchanged pleasantries. Then Charlie began reminiscing. He told how he lied about his age to get into the navy during World War II. As he talked, it dawned on me that he must have fought in the same platoon as my grandfather. That became almost too much when he paused and said, “Golly, sweetheart, we better get going if we want to catch that movie tonight.”

Things became more awkward at the movies. Charlie tried to hold my hand as we approached the box office. He misunderstood what I wanted to see and bought tickets to a western that I couldn’t possibly have found less interesting. Fortunately, he bought me a Coke at the concession stand, so I had an excuse to keep the armrest between us throughout the show.

Like every western I’ve ever seen, the movie lasted an hour longer than necessary. Then Charlie returned me to the library where my car waited in the deserted lot. After I thanked him for the evening, a pair of wizened lips closed in on mine. At the last moment, I managed to turn my head so the kiss landed on my cheek. We were alone beneath a single street lamp. His frail body was too close for comfort. I backed away. He straightened himself in his now-rumpled uniform, politely opened my car door and closed it behind me.

For a few weeks, I avoided Charlie. I busied myself with returns when he came to checkout his books or excused myself to the restroom when I saw him entering the library. Eventually things returned to normal. I smiled at him occasionally, then ventured a conversation. He began to act less like a nervous adolescent when we spoke. Then the tornado came.

***

My mind snaps back to the present. I take a long draught of bottled water and dig into my salad before opening the envelope.

I draw out a piece of notebook paper and a type-written page of legal stationery. At a single glance, I note that the notebook paper contains a love letter and the stationery contains a copy of a final will and testament. Both bear my name. It dawns on me that Steve’s good-natured ribbing isn’t my biggest problem anymore.

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7 thoughts on “Sugar Daddy

  1. Sandra says:

    I was quite caught up in the moment here, with mixed emotions. Nicely done Marie Gail.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Sandra. This is a fictionalized telling of an experience I had several years ago. David Stewart of The Green Walled Tower inspired me to compose it with a recent short story of his. It seems other writers around here often help to get my creative juices flowing.

      Thanks for reading.

      Marie Gail

  2. Dear Marie Gail,

    Quite engaging. I was drawn in from start to finish. My only crit in the take it or leave it category would be that things seemed to ‘dawn on’ her frequently.
    I cringed when Charlie tried to kiss her. Overall, very well done. Glad I clicked the link and came by for a read.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Rochelle. This is still in the “early draft” stages, so I’ll happily take the crits. (Yeah, I cringed when that happened in real life too. LOL)

      Marie Gail

      • Eeeeeew. Had you told me about this before? It sounds kind of familiar.

        • storydivamg says:

          I probably either told you about this or about the octogenarian who kept coming into the library and asking me to marry him. I’m not sure what it was about me in my 20s that attracted the geriatric crowd, but it’s making for some great creative fodder these days. 🙂

          • Life experiences are grist for the mill. Someday I’ll try to write about you-know-what and you-know-whom. Just can’t put that experience into words. 😉

            Good job of turning it into fiction.

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