The well-dressed couple entered the
mall. She was perhaps in her 60s; he was probably five or six
years older. She was petite with a round face; he was
tall, a little over six feet, and broad, with a white Van Dyke
beard. He held the door open, then, after they were inside,
held out his arm for her to take. She looked up at him and
smiled. Several other people, observing them, also smiled; they
were so obviously a devoted couple.
Are you sure youll be all
right? she asked.
Ill be fine. Ill sit
in one of these chairs here. They put them out for husbands to sit on
while their wives go shopping.
I wont be long.
Take your time. Ill read the
Ill be back in less than half an
Good. Happy shopping.
He sat down in an armchair that wasnt
quite as comfortable as it looked. Maybe the mall people
didnt want people. to sit too long. He looked at the front
page of his paper, then observed the people passing by. He noticed
a high school girl with long brown hair walking across the lobby area.
Why wasnt she in school? She was a good-looking girl, even in those
ugly clothes she was wearing. And those ugly shoes. Why
would anyone want to wear them?
Who did she remind him of? Betty
Mazurky. Hed had a crush on her all through high
school. Hed never once spoken to her. What would have
happened if he did? Probably nothing. Then
there was that German girl hed met when he was over there in the
Army. What was her name? Greta, that was it. Hed
thought he was in love with her, had even made plans to bring her back to the
States. But her parents, not to mention his, had objected,
luckily. How young hed been then.
What had started him thinking about
this? The women in his life. Not many, but there was
one. Carolyn Ross. Hed met her in his first job,
at the advertising agency. She was a copywriter, could have been a
model. She was smart, beautiful, unobtainable, out of his
reach. But theyd been thrown together on a campaign and for some
reason she seemed to like him. And he was in love with her, at
least so hed thought at the time. When, as was inevitable,
she told him, gently, she was involved, that was the word
shed used, hed been crushed. Was that why hed
gone out to California? Maybe, although hed never told that
to anyone. Then hed met his wife, had children,
grandchildren. Was it all because he hadnt been able to win
Are you all right? His
wife was standing in front of him, holding a shopping bag.
Yes. Im fine.
You had such a funny look.
As if you were miles away.
No, Im right here. Did
you find what you wanted?
Yes, and it was on sale.
Good. He rose and they
left the mall, she holding his arm, a petite lady in her sixties, he a tall,
broad gentleman with a white Van Dyke beard, a couple obviously meant to be