The interrogation

18 May

 

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The interrogation

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

Thank you so much for having me over.

My pleasure, Dear. I know your father’s a hand-full right now, with the accident and all.

And thanks for watching over him while he was at the hospital.

No problem. Cream?

Please.

Sugar?

No, thank you.

(Pause)

(Both together at the same time) Well, I . . .

(They laugh nervously)

Sorry!

No, please . . . you wanted to say?

This is all new to Dad. New place to live. Different area of the country. I think the stress was a little much for him. And you stepped in and I do — really — I do appreciate it.

It’s a big adjustment. He tells me that he and your mother were married forty-five years.

Would have been. She died before that happened. We were planning to have a celebration when her health suddenly turned.

I’m sorry.

Don’t be. She lived a good life. She and Dad were like this. I know he misses her, you know.

He does.

Soooo . . . how did you and Dad meet?

We met in the dining room here. He would come in and sit by himself, you know. Not too outgoing at the time. Still trying to adjust and everything.

Yeah. It was a hard decision for us.

You and your dad?

Well, yeah. And my brothers.

I see.

Well, he wasn’t doing well by himself. And the house was full of memories — and way to big for him to keep up anymore.

Right.

And then — well, he had another incident — similar to this one.

Really?

Last October. Mom died in September, and we all thought Dad was doing fine. It turns out he wasn’t.

What happened?

Near as we can tell, he went out driving and got lost. He ended up in the next county and pulled over. A state trooper found him and took him to an emergency department at a hospital there. That’s when they called us. We were worried sick! It was pretty late and was dark. You know you hear about these older people wandering off and all . . . oh, I’m sorry! I don’t mean to offend you!

What, for being one of those older people? Sure beats the hell out of the alternative, I always say. You did not offend me, Dear.

So my brothers and I decided he would be better off in a safer environment — where he didn’t have so many responsibilities and all.

Yes. Responsibilities definitely speed up the aging process.

You don’t think so?

What I think is probably worth the cost of that cup of coffee you’re drinking.

I’m sorry, I got off track. You were going to tell me how you met my dad.

I accosted him, really.

What?

Like I said, every time I saw him he was alone. At dinner, or walking around The Glens. He looked so lonely! I couldn’t stand it. And the men out here are not the kind who accept strangers very well. They tell you it’s a friendly place and all — (whispers) but it’s not.

Yes, they told us that. Introduced us to several who lived here and I thought them quite friendly.

It’s a set up.

What?

They promise those geezers seconds on desert.

No they don’t!

I’m just saying. Anyway, your pop hadn’t made any friends by the second week here, and I took it upon myself to introduce myself.

I’m glad you did. Thank you.

Well, he didn’t respond too well at first. I guess he’d never met someone as old and as forward as I am.

You’re not old!

Honey, I was there when the pyramids were still on paper!

(They laugh)

Want me to warm that up for you?

No thanks. So then what happened?

We sat at lunch together a couple of times. I would invite him to sit by me, and he really had no choice ’cause all the other geezers were watching.

Ha!

Then, one evening he arrived earlier than me, and when he saw me he grinned from ear to ear and pulled out a chair for me — right next to himself.

Aw.

So that went on for a while. Finally, your dad asked me out on a date. Well, not a date. An outing. He took me to a baseball game, of all things.

Dad loves baseball. He and Mom, well . . .

I don’t love baseball. Or even like it. Had never been to a game in my life and never watched it on TV. None of my husbands were fans.

Husbands? More than one?

Honey, I collected husbands like charms on a bracelet!

How many?

Three. After the third I figured I’d give ’em up and enjoy life. Too much trouble, men are. So I moved down here and started growing cobwebs, if you know what I mean?

I’m not sure.

You’re young. You’ll find out. So we go to this game and start to talk, and your dad starts hitting on me like crazy!

He did?

And we left the game early. But we played our own version of baseball when we got back here.

What?

You know . . . he taught me what first and second base meant.

Um, I — Why are you telling me this?

You asked.

Not for details, for goodness sakes.

Honey, you’ve been wanting the details ever since you got here. I’ve been on the earth long enough to know how other women think.

I came to make sure Dad was okay after the accident.

You came after the manager told you that your father had a girlfriend.

That’s not true!

Isn’t it? A few stitches and you fly all the way from New York? I told you he was fine, and that I was taking care of him. But that’s what worried you. Another woman, taking care of your father. Someone you knew nothing about.

He mentioned you in one of his letters.

Really?

Said you were ogling him in the dining room.

He said “ogling?”

Well, something like that. Making eyes, I believe.

He wasn’t exactly turning away, my dear.

So, just what kind of relationship do you have with my dad?

Well, it’s become quite intimate?

Intimate?

As intimate as too old people like ourselves can be.

What do you mean by intimate?

Well, what do you mean by it?

Um, you know.

Sexual? It’s okay. We can use the word sexual in this day and age.

Yes.

How old are you, Honey?

I’ll be forty-two.

How long you been married?

Fourteen years.

Children?

Three.

How would you describe your relationship with your husband after fourteen years and three kids? Hot? Romantic? Still the love-of-your-life stuff?

Well, I — we love each other and are very — committed.

Ah, committed. Your dad likes that word. Are you still intimate?

I’m not sure what you mean by that.

Intimate. Pillow talk. Hand holding. Walks together. Trying new things together — and I don’t mean sex. I mean, your dad took me to a baseball game. I’d never been to one before. And did he tell you about the skydiving?

Skydiving? Dad?

And me! We went skydiving! Guess whose idea that was? Your dad’s! And guess what I have just bought?

What?

Two tickets for Game Four of the World Series!

You’re kidding!

I’m too old to kid, Kiddo!

He calls me that.

I know. I know a lot of things. And I know that right now your dad and me got a pretty good thing going. The sex sucks, but him and me are very intimate.

What are your . . .

Intentions? If I left it up to your dad we’d hop the bus down to city hall and get hitched. But he’s too mixed up right now. That’s why he got lost again. He’s so in love with your mother, and misses her too much to let go. I’m not really sure what I am to him, but I’ll tell you this, it must be good, because he tells me that he sleeps so well these days, and it’s not because I’m exhausting him in the sack.

My brothers are worried that you might be a — a —

Gold digger? God no! My first husband actually had me in his will when he died. He had a lot of money. My second husband was a gold digger, but I found out quick and got rid of him. And my third husband? Well, I got him by the balls, and I’m squeezing out everything I can — which isn’t chopped liver, if you know what I mean.

So you’re not after Dad’s money, then.

If anything, he should be after my money. But, no — we enjoy each other. Is that so hard to believe?

It is in a way. Forty-five years of marriage. And Mom’s not been gone that long.

I know. That’s why I say no every time your dad brings up marriage. That commitment thing you mentioned. He’s really stuck on that.

Look, I’m sorry. You’re right that I came down here to check you out. You hear all these stories.

I know. And I don’t blame you one bit. It shows you care. Your dad thinks you kids are worried about the money.

My brothers are. I’m worried that Dad is safe, and that someone won’t take advantage of him and hurt him more than he’s already hurting.

Me too. And believe me, there are a lot of blue hairs and pink hairs out here have him in their sights. They were too slow. I got him first. In the best way, of course.

Do you love him?

Honey, love is a word I’ve found too easy to use over my lifetime. The word is not magic to me. What is more important between your dad and me is that we are intimate. Remember, not the sex — but the being. If love means would I hurt if he dumped me — then — yes, maybe I do love him. But I also know that hurts heal over time.

Yeah. You’re right.

You been hurt?

Once or twice.

You look okay to me.

Yeah.

More coffee?

Sure. I’d like that.

So, tell me about those once or twice hurts . . .

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 18 May, 2014

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