The Old Charmer
by Gary Opas – Long Island, NY

“The sea was angry that day. Angry like an old lady who…

“Mildred cleared her throat in a particularly loud manner. “You’d better choose your next words very carefully.”

Jack gave her his most charming look, which over the sixty years they had been married, had diffused many of the milder bouts of annoyance that she had with him. “But sweetie-pie… You’re not old. You’re as young and beautiful to me as the day I married you. In fact… “

Mildred held up her hands, palms facing her husband. Her hands shook on their own accord. “All right Prince Charming. Get on with reading your story.”

Jack looked down at the small stack of papers in his hand through narrow glasses that sat so far down his nose that they appeared on the verge of falling off. “The sea was angry that day. Angry like an old lady who is handed back a stack of coupons after being told by the cashier that they were all expired after she had waited on a particularly long checkout line. The waves… “ He stopped reading after hearing another impatient throat clear from his wife. “Yes?”

“I wasn’t angry! I was disappointed. That’s all.”

Jack’s eyebrows raised as he tried to placate her with his sweet, patient voice along with a calming gesture. “Sweetie-pie… I wasn’t referencing what happened to you at the Shop Rite the other day. I had a completely different old la… uh… person in mind.” His brain had tried to slam on the brakes, but like with a very old car, the brakes didn’t tend to stop you on a dime. He silently cursed himself for what he knew was to come as Mildred’s face clouded over.

She folded her thick arms across the section of her blue, flowered housecoat that covered her ponderous breasts. “Old lady, eh?”
Jack only hesitated for a moment, then he rallied. “Sweetie-pie. The thing that really matters is that if we’re old, then we got there together.” Jack’s charming smile returned. “Remember when we met at the Harvest Moon Dance? When I saw you in that blue dress, I knew right there and then that we’d grow old together.”

Mildred melted, as she always did when she thought of the night they met. “You looked so dapper in your uniform that all of the women there wanted to dance with you. But you walked straight over to me, offered me your arm, and walked me right to the middle of the dance floor.”

“That’s right, sweetie-pie. I only have eyes for you.”

Mildred smiled as she inhaled deeply and let it out slowly. “That was the first song we danced to that night. I’m still glad we made it our first dance at our wedding, too.”

Jack put his writing down on the table, then took his wife’s hand, led her to the center of the living room, and started singing their song.
They looked into each other’s eyes and danced as he continued to serenade her.

When Jack got to the end of the song, he pretended that he was going to dip Mildred, as he had done so many times over the years until their backs would no longer allow it. “I love you, sweetie-pie.”

She got a coy look on her face. “You know… we could go upstairs…”

Jack beamed. “You read my mind.”

Millie slowly climbed the stairs with Jack close behind her. She entered the bedroom first. Jack closed the door behind them.
A not-so-short time later, Millie said, “Jack?”

“Yes, sweetie-pie?”

“Don’t forget to put your charming smile into the glass before you fall asleep.”

OpasGary Opas retired from 28-year career in Hell (insurance) and rediscovered his passion for writing. His SF short story, Dear Survivor, appeared in Literally Stories on 9/23/22. His light verse, Discount Store, will be appearing in the upcoming edition of Rhymes and PUNishment. He lives with his wife, daughter, stepsons, and a waggy-tailed stomach with legs that the AKC has classified as an English Black Lab. He enjoys camping, hiking, biking, and exploring Long Island’s many wineries and breweries. This self-imagined master of self-deprecating humor has been known to create almost edible food with his BBQ, smoker, and chili pot.

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