Every Tuesday, Sam and Edna meet Mitch and Betty for lunch at the food court at the local mall. They’ve been best friends for many years and now that all four of them are retired, they make it a weekly event because that’s what seniors do. They have the time – lots of time to just sit around and shoot the shit, seeing who can outdo the other with interesting or startling conversation. But for the most part, these weekly lunch meetings break the boredom of their otherwise very routine days. They wave wildly at each other from opposite ends of the seating area as they manoeuver their way to their favour table at the center.
“Oh Betty, don’t you look nice,” Edna said as she closes in. “Is that a new coat you’re wearing?”
“Yes, I just couldn’t pass on it. The Bay has this huge sale,” Betty emphasized the word “huge” as she holds out her arms to proudly display her most recent purchase. “Have you checked it out yet?”
“There they go again, Mitch,” Sam says shaking his head at their wives. “Our fashion floozies are going to bankrupt us.”
“Bankrupt us,” Mitch looked worried and confused. “What you mean by that Sam?”
“Mitch honey, Sam’s just kidding,” Betty said patting him on the shoulder. “Come on Edna, let’s get us some coffees.”
“Good idea Betty; Mitch and I will get us the best table in the house,” Sam said with a wink knowing that they always sit at the same table in the middle of the food court.
“All right fellas! What you really mean is that you’ll sit and look fetching while checking out those young ladies over there, making out like you’re a couple of handsome available bachelors,” Edna and Betty roll their eyes and chuckle as they head away to wait in line at the Tim Horton’s booth. They knew that their husbands fancied themselves to be quite the lady’s man.
Several minutes later, the girls return with a tray containing four large coffees and a generous heap of cream and sugar packets, enough to turn their coffees into syrup. They sit down with the men interrupting their flirtations with two young women a couple of tables over and prepare to start their gab fest.
“Have the two of you seen anything of Bob and MaryAnn lately?” Sam asked.
“No, have you? How are they doing?” Betty questioned.
“Well let me tell you! They’ve gone and bought themselves one of those luxury condos at that Revera Residence that’s advertised on the TV all the time,” Sam said nodding his head pleased that he had astounding news to pass on to the group.
“Sam, you didn’t tell me about that,” Edna said.
“It’s some nice place. I saw Bob the other day and let me tell you, they blew the wad.” Same takes a slug of his coffee before he starts to talk again. “Bob said that MaryAnn insisted on all sorts of upgrades.” Sam blew out a snort and shook his head. “But I guess that’s why he married her. She’s the one with all the dough in that relationship.”
“Stop it Sam,” Edna said. “Don’t be an old poop. Bob married MaryAnn because she’s a beautiful and charming woman. It wasn’t her money. Any man would have married her. Bob just got lucky.”
Sam and Mitch roared with laughter as they picture Bob and MaryAnn in intimate exchange. “You got that right – lucky bastard!” Sam winks at Mitch as he elbows his arm to make sure he caught the drift of the joke.
“Mitch honey, did you take your heart medicine? Doctor says you’re supposed to take it at lunch time,” Betty said.
“I can’t remember. Did I bring it with me?”
“Look in your shirt pocket honey. That’s where you usually put it.”
Mitch checks his pocket and pulls out a small pink tablet. “I don’t have any water to take it with”. Betty hands Mitch an already opened bottle of water and watches until his pill is swallowed.
“I checked it out on the internet and it comes fully furnished with one of those large flat screen TV’s with cable included. And, let me tell you – the kitchen is so monstrous – – – and has granite counters and a dishwasher. But you know what? Bob says they never cook! So what’s the use of it?” Sam criticised as his voice gets louder with irritation. “He tried to talk me into buying one but I didn’t really like them. I like our house – where we live. Don’t you Edna?” Sam looked over to Edna for approval hoping she’d answer without an intensive interrogation of his secret investigation.
“And, when did you do all this?” Edna said. ”You never let on.”
“Come on Edna,” Sam said. “I just wanted to see what they’re like. You know they start at $245,000? That’s for the smaller units and I guarantee Bob and MaryAnn didn’t go for the smallest. How the hell do they have that kind of money? They’re retired just like us.” Sam blew out another long breath as he threw both arms in the air to emphasize his bewilderment.
“You know what else? Bob bought himself a brand spanking new BMW, black with all the bells and whistles. He took me for a drive in it and let me tell you, it rides like glass and sure is fast.” Sam eyes glared with agitation. “But I didn’t like it,” Sam lied.” What’s an old boy like him doing with a car like that anyway?”
Betty abruptly hushed Sam’s tirade. “Shhhh, speak of the devil.” Spotting Bob and MaryAnn she waved them over to their table to say hello. A nano second later, Bob and MaryAnn are standing in front of their table. The foursome looked up at them in surprise. How did they move so fast?
“Well, fancy meeting you guys here,” Bob said in a warm and friendly greeting.
“Oh MaryAnn, I swear you get younger looking every time I see you girl!” Edna sincerely compliments her with a wide admiring smile and grabs her hand to pull her in for a hug. “And you too Bob. How the Lardy do you manage it? My goodness girl! You feel cold as ice. What’s going on with you?
“Good genes I guess and a better plastic surgeon too.” MaryAnn giggled. “I can give you his name if you want.”
“Sorry guys; we have a lot of shopping to do for the new condo. We’ll catch up with you later. OK? Bob cut the conversation short and they walked off before more could be said about their youthful appearance – and MaryAnn’s cold hands.
“Let me tell you, Bob and MaryAnn are older than us and they look twenty – maybe thirty years younger. I’m telling you – there’s something unnatural about that.” Sam doesn’t know whether to laugh or cringe, a peculiar expression of unease forms on his face, as he looks at the retreating pair.
“Good spa treatments and the odd nip and tuck will do wonders. And why not if you can afford it?” Edna reasoned.
“I’m telling you Edna,” Sam said. “It’s not natural!”
“Shut up Sam.” Edna admonishes her husband. “You’re talking like an old fart. If you keep that up, I’ll take you to the doctor and I’ll have him put you on pills so to keep you calm,” Edna threatens intentionally adding to the distress that Sam is already feeling.
A flustered Mitch fumbles at his pocket. “Betty – Betty, did I take my medicine? I can’t remember,” Mitch panics.
“Yes Mitch honey, I saw you take it. Maybe we should go home. Are you ready to go home now?” Betty said her voice soft and assuring.
“Well, if you think we should,” Mitch agrees.
The couples agree to call it a day and get up from their table and make their way to the exit doors and exchange friendly good byes. Mitch and Betty walk off to their car.
Suddenly Sam gets another weird sensation. A blur or gust of wind catches his notice like a ghost flying past. A brief whiff of MaryAnn’s strong sweet smelling perfume is detected in the cold air. Just as Sam and Edna go to enter their late model Toyota, a speeding shiny black BMW passes with Bob and MaryAnn gazing menacingly out their window at Sam.