The Time Machine
The coffee shop at Ponce De Leon and Coral Way in Coral Gables, Florida commands the corner of the intersection that honors the man famed with the discovery of the Fountain of Youth and the shopping magnet known as Miracle Mile. August of 1960 had just turned seventeen days old. A businessman sat alone in his booth admiring the cover of Life Magazine showing an orgasmic expression of Marilyn Monroe in the arms of some French guy. French was in vogue that year with the most popular movie Les Vieux De La Vielle or translated to The Old Guard about three old guys playing practical jokes on everyone in a retirement home.
Richard, past the threshold of three score and ten, toasted his bride of nearly fifty years with an unsweetened ice tea. Mary sported her blonde hair in a short bob that had become popular in their demographic. His long silver hair nearly caught the sun streaming as back light to their favorite table for two pushed into the window of the small cafe. They could sip and snack for some time watching people walk up and down Coral Way. Couples strolled by in long quiet sentences punctuated by abrupt businessmen in suits hurrying past. Important tasks of the day pulled at them to push past those with nothing to do other than to be together.
Some days they would make up stories about them, “What do you think? Do they look happy?” Mary would say to Richard. He would let his imagination go and come up with some story that the guy has inherited a huge trust fund, and he was escorting his wife to the travel agency to book a world cruise. Some couples invited criticism the way some old fat guy with no hair would walk just a bare step behind a woman several decades younger. Petite ladies with companions over six feet tall with size fourteen something shoes would always cause curiosity for Mary, “How do they do it?”
“Carefully,” Richard would chuckle back.
Then, there were days for more serious conversations, “I hope I go first,” said Richard.
“Well thanks for that,” she’d respond.
“No, what I mean," Richard would explain, “I can not stand the thought of being alone. If you are not here, I’d be lost.”
“You think I would be any better off alone?”
“You’re better looking.”
“Please, we’re old.”
“Shoot, some hunky fifty year old would be all over you.”
Mary would just stare, “Right. That’s just what I want. Become the only cougar in a senior citizen home.”
She sipped her tea and gazed out the window. Late afternoon August sun made her squint; just slightly. Richard dabbed his napkin over his lips and made the familiar scratching sound of facial hair barely grown since his last shave. He looked at his watch, “It’s just about movie time.”
He kept staring at the time piece, “Why are you looking at your watch?” Mary asked.
“Remember when we had all the time in the world? Now, the damn thing reminds me of a stopwatch counting down the hours and minutes we have left.”
Their server broke the spell, “Can I get you two lovebirds something else?”
“No thanks, we need to get over to the movie theater.”
“You plan on seeing that new one? I hear it stars Rod Taylor. He is so handsome. Wouldn’t mind seeing that one myself.”
“There’s a good looking young blonde also, I hear,” said Richard. “Yvette something. Saw a picture of her. I think this will be the first movie she stars in.”
“Well,” the lady said as she laid the check on the table, “You have a pretty good looking blonde right here.”
“That I do.”
They headed out the door and down Coral Way. Oak trees stretched out long branches pointing the way down the street to the stretch of grassy median parting the pavement where stately palm trees stood attention in a row as far as one could see along the divide. They glanced in the window of Jae’s Jewelers to take in all that glitters. Richard took Mary’s hand as they moved down toward the theater, “Yep,” he said. “I don’t know what I’d ever do without you here.”
Across the way, a young couple could be seen filling the spaces between the palm trees as they moved up Coral Way in the opposite direction. The young couple was teen age getting ready to head back to school after the long hot summer break. They stopped at Snow’s Jewelers across the way, “So, glad you are back,” the boy said. “When you were away for summer break up in the mountains, I didn’t think I’d ever make it without you here with me.”
Richard and Mary could not hear the sentiment, although they knew it well. Their step slowed as they reached the line waiting to get into the movie theater. Richard nodded a pleasantry at the couple last in line until he and Mary took their place. He pointed up to the marquee and drew attention to the star’s names; Rod Taylor, and the new star Yvette Mimieux. There in large Arial font lettering, he read the title of the movie; H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.