Charlie and Gail

Charlie was sitting at the counter at his favorite restaurant reflecting on the comment his fifteen-year-old granddaughter made to him earlier that afternoon. “Grampa,” Molly said. “You don’t look a day over forty-nine. He smiled considering that he turned sixty-one some three weeks ago.

 

Lost in his memory of the moment, he hardly noticed the woman who took the seat next to him. She was very attractive. Charlie would have admitted she was familiar to him. The server behind the counter greeted her. Before the server had a chance to ask, the lady ordered a cup of coffee and a couple minutes to decide what she wanted to eat.

Charlie studied her face for something less than a minute and looked away before getting caught staring at her. “Forty-nine, huh,” he thought to himself. “Why the hell not?”

The server came back and took her order. When Charlie figured they had their privacy, he said, “Do you mind if we talk while waiting and eating?”

The lady’s brows flinched and she turned her head. “I guess not.”

The gentleman held out his hand. “Hi. I’m Charlie.”

The lady took his hand and said,”I’m Gail.” Charlie was hoping for more of a conversation than that because he really wanted to talk to her. There was just something about her.

“What do you do, Gail?”

“I’m in the insurance business.” Again Charlie felt cut off. He tried sizing her up on what he saw in her attitude.

“The people who live here are usually friendly. You aren’t from Texas, are you?”

Gail frowned almost scolding Charlie. “No, as a matter of fact I’m not.”

“I thought so. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet you are from the Northeast part of the country.”

Gail’s face softened. She wondered how he could have figured that out. She looked at him and studied his face. She was looking for something she wasn’t sure of finding herself. “As a matter of fact, I’m from Connecticut. How did you know?”

“I used to have somewhat of the same attitude you have. Distant, hard, people are bothersome.” She seemed amused. “I’m from New York. Not far from Buffalo. Where in Connecticut are you from?”

“Ever hear of Bethel? Quaint little town of a few thousand people.”  A look of surprise was slapped on Charlie’s face. He swallowed and smiled. “So you’re Gail from Connecticut. And you are familiar with Lake Chautauqua in New York, aren’t you?” Gail’s face lit up. Memories of a particular summer went through her head.

She smiled and said, “How could you possibly know that?” Charlie wanted to remind her of an earlier summer when she was about ten and a clumsy kid showed up and scared the chickens at her aunt’s house. Gail was angry that the chickens wouldn’t lay eggs for a week. He decided against it.

“Do you remember the boy who cried when it was time for him to go home after spending a day with you at the lake?” Gail thought back as she smiled. She almost burst out a loud, “Oh my God! I forgot all about that,” she said in a muffled voice. She turned and looked at Charlie. “That boy’s name was…” Her eyes almost bugged out of her head. “Charlie?”

“Hello, Gail. How’ve you been? It’s good to see you after all these decades.”

 

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