So the fact that there was something foreign in
the back yard was no big surprise to Edgar on this warm spring morning, but it did arouse his curiosity. It wasn’t moving,
so most likely it was not a living thing (at least not any more), and it didn’t stink, so if it had been living at one
time it hadn’t been dead too long. The closer he looked at the greenish mound, the more foreign it appeared. These
damnable cataracts, he muttered, as he got up out of his chair to inspect this newest gift. And sure enough, there was
Fritz, bounding up to the patio door, tail wagging like the checkered flag at the Indy 500, all but smiling over his latest
donation to the cause of disorder at #3o3 Pitt Street. It’s hard to scold a dog when he’s so proud of himself.
old boy, what have you got for me this time?" Bending down for a closer look, Edgar reached out tentatively to touch
the brown and green pile, thinking of too many nasty things it might be. As his fingers made contact with the matter in question,
he recognized the softness of worn fabric against his hand. He picked up a green plaid jacket and held it up for a closer
inspection. Now that his master had the prize in hand, Fritz’s joy was obvious – he had done a good thing! Edgar
reached down and patted his faithful friend on the head, murmuring his thanks for yet another useless addition to the backyard
disorder. No wonder the neighbors shake their heads and mutter to themselves; Edgar isn’t exactly the kind of person
you hope will live next door. But then, he was there before any of them were; so they really didn’t have much to complain
about, did they?
The jacket was in pretty good condition, considering that Fritz wasn’t any too careful
about how he picked up and delivered things. It was made of heavy cotton, with a polyester lining and leather buttons up the
front. The plaid was a soft green and earthy brown on a creamy beige background, which was a little soiled in places, but
there were no apparent stains or rips in the cloth. The two pockets and a worn collar were trimmed in a muted green corduroy.
It had probably been someone’s favorite coat. Damn it, Fritz, now I’ve got to canvas the neighborhood again
and try to find out who you stole this from! Somebody’s gonna be mighty unhappy with us.
Edgar tried to remember
if he had seen anyone in the neighborhood wearing such a coat recently, or ever. It wasn’t very big, so it definitely
wouldn’t fit most of the people he could think of. Maybe it had been tossed in the trash and Fritz had simply saved
it from extinction. Well, he’d have to see what he could find out about it. Maybe there’s something in one
of the pockets. Edgar pawed his big hands through both the little side pockets without results. Then he opened the jacket
wide to take a look at the inside. No holes or tears. Maybe a little dog slobber. No identifying name written or sewn in anywhere.
No tag to show what brand it was or where it had been bought. Nothing. Oh, wait. There appeared to be a small tear in the
fabric after all. As Edgar ran his hand along the bottom band of the jacket, his fingers felt a roughness in the lining. He
pulled up the old lawn chair with the frayed strapping and grunted his way into it. This needed a closer look.
wanted to look too. It was, after all, his discovery. He should be able to put his cold, wet nose against the soft, cool fabric
if he wanted to. Edgar roughly pushed the dog’s head to one side and laid the coat open on his lap, sliding his hand
along the seam again. Yup, there’s definitely something there. As he passed his fingers over that spot once
more, he retrieved a slip of paper, folded against itself several times, from what appeared now to be a secret pocket. For
sure this was one of Fritz’s more interesting finds.
Unfolding the worn and yellowed piece of paper, the aging
man with his hair still uncombed this morning, smoothed out the wrinkled page against his bony knees. Blue ink coursed its
way across the face of the newly discovered note in a bold, clear hand. A fragrant breeze ruffled his hair. Something stirred
deep within him as he struggled to focus his eyes on the words in front of him. Without his glasses it was hard for him to
read, but this was something so familiar that he didn’t need his glasses to recognize the quotation jumping up off the
page and into his belly. His stomach did a flip-flop and his throat tightened. His breath came rapidly and he alternately
opened his eyes wide and squeezed them shut. He was suddenly aware that his heart was beating too fast as his mind raced with
the implications of this scrap of paper. Edgar jumped up out of the rickety chair, turning it on its side, and stepped into
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust from the brightness outside to the shadows of his house. Where
are those darn glasses now? I’ve got to get one of those cords to hang those blasted things around my neck so I’m
not always losing them. I know I had them earlier this morning when I was reading the paper. Let’s see. Maybe I left
them in the bathroom. It took a few minutes of frantic searching before the glasses were discovered on the bookshelf
where Edgar had picked up an old copy of Tuesdays With Morrie and thumbed through it while nursing his second cup of
coffee. Grabbing the glasses, he headed back to the kitchen to spread the folded paper out full on the table and determine
what faint recognitions had caused this internal somersault. There was something struggling to penetrate the surface of
his consciousness, yet it remained just beneath his ability to identify.
With his glasses on, the words became
legible to Edgar. There was an old familiarity to them indeed. Such a familiarity, in fact, that as he read those few words,
neatly written on this piece of lined paper, tears formed against his lower lids and spilled over onto his whiskery cheeks.
The ache was visible in the way he held his head to one side, slowly placing a hand to his heart. God, am I having a heart
attack? Am I dreaming? Through his tears, this burdened soul looked around his kitchen and wondered why it looked so
familiar and so foreign at the same time. His eyes rested on the page of words on the table. "Out of the welter of life,
a few people are selected for us by the accident of temporary confinement in the same circle." It was a quote from Gift
From the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It had always been one of Carrie’s favorites, and one she laughingly recited
to Edgar every time he complained about someone difficult. How many times in their life together had he heard her repeat those
words? So many that he often thought he would just have to choke her if she said them again! But it was always with such good
humor that he ended up smiling along with her, appreciating the truth of Lindbergh’s observation, and wondering what
that certain someone had been selected to accomplish in his life besides driving him crazy! Carrie believed there was something
to be learned from everyone who crossed her path. Edgar wasn’t so sure. But now, after all these years without her,
here was Carrie’s favorite quotation, reminding him of so many things about her.
the piece of paper in his right hand, Edgar wiped the wetness from his cheeks with his free hand and saw the glint of his
wedding band in the persistent rays of sunshine filtering onto his favorite thinking spot. Breakfast had always been a time
for him and Carrie to share their expectations for the day, talk about their ups and downs, and plan their evening time together.
At least that’s how it was when they were younger and had careers and a family to take care of. He would go off to his
job in Bedford, a good-sized town 30 miles down the road, and Carrie would chauffeur their children to the school where she
taught high school math; that is until Janelle and Robbie had drivers’ licenses of their own and wouldn’t be caught
dead anywhere on earth with one of their parents. Even then, the four of them almost always ate breakfast together, arguing
about curfews, allowances, who was going where on Friday night, and all the other once-important topics of discussion with
growing children. Life was good then. They were happy, all of them. Weren’t they?
It sure doesn’t do
any good to sit around and mope about the past, Edgar thought to himself. There’s no going back. I can’t revisit
my choices and decisions of a lifetime and change them into something else. It is what it is, and I’ve got to live with
what I’ve got, not what I wish it might have been. How many times can I say I’m sorry? But the glumness remained,
along with the years of regret for everything he had lost.
A chill ran over him as he remembered the paper in front
of him that had initiated all this reverie. Gift From the Sea had been one of his wife’s most treasured books,
and finding this particular quote – one Carrie had memorized and repeated often – was nothing short of mind-boggling
to Edgar. "Out of the welter of life, a few people are selected for us by the accident of temporary confinement in the
same circle." He read it again. Yup, that’s it for sure. That’s it word for word. If I’ve heard
it once I’ve heard Carrie say it a million times. He remembered Quince Henders, an employee with an over-inflated
ego who drove Edgar mad at their Monday morning sales meetings. He thought of Ida Romans on the church board, always finding
something negative about somebody, anybody, everybody. Then there was Mickey Therral, a good friend for so many years, but
a traitor in the end. Other faces came to mind as Edgar thought about so many circumstances that elicited from Carrie her
best reminder about life, "Out of the welter of life, a few people are selected for us by the accident of temporary confinement
in the same circle." And it was true, just like she always said, that each and every one of those people, no matter how
crazy they made you, no matter how disappointed you might be in them, no matter how aggravating or negative or threatening
or pitiful they were, they were all in your circle for a purpose. If life was a series of lessons, then they were your best
teachers. All the good people in the world couldn’t teach you as much in a lifetime as one rude, hateful, sarcastic,
treacherous enemy. Carrie was so right about that.
The distraction of remembering melted away as Edgar brought his full
attention back to the table and the scrap of paper that lay there so innocently. What are the chances of this being a
coincidence? he wondered. But how could it be anything else? Why would anyone bother to go to all the trouble of
leaving an old jacket on his patio with this obscure quotation tucked inside a secret pocket? And for what reason? To taunt
me? To push me once again to the brink of insanity? To dredge up old hurts and pains that ought to be left alone? Why? Why?
Damn you, Fritz! Next time forget the intrigue and just bring me another dead rabbit!
Hammett spent the next few hours going door to door in his familiar neighborhood, asking if the green plaid jacket belonged
to anyone. He didn’t bother to knock on Addie Long’s door, as she was off visiting her grandchildren in Milwaukee
for a few weeks and, besides, this didn’t look like something Addie would wear. He skipped the Thornton’s house
too, since they were both rather large people who couldn’t possibly own such a small sized jacket. He smiled to himself
as he thought of the Thorntons riding off down the road on their Honda 350, with two sets of cheeks hanging off on both sides
of the seat. No, the green plaid jacket did not belong to either one of them. To everyone who opened their door, he presented
the item in question with the inquiry, "You ever seen this before?" Some would wrinkle their foreheads, reach out
to touch the plaid fabric, then shake their heads from side to side. Others knew without hesitation that it wasn’t anything
they recognized. Lettie Hamford, the teenager on the other corner of the block, looked at it longingly, thought she might
have had one similar to this awesome retro jacket, but couldn’t quite convince herself or Edgar that it was true. So
she ended up confessing that she would like to have it, but, no, it really wasn’t hers. Another strike-out.
longer Edgar held the jacket in this hands, feeling its rough yet soft texture, the more amazed he was that this incredible
thing had happened. He stopped to just stare at it from time to time, dumbfounded by the whole experience. Maybe I oughta
just keep the dang thing. But what would he do with a green plaid jacket made to fit an average size woman? It would
be silly to have it hanging around, wouldn’t it? Really, the only reason he would even think about keeping it around
was that dadgum note tucked in the secret pocket. Was this ever Carrie’s jacket? Could she have worn it and purposely
tucked that piece of paper away for him to find after her death? Dozens of questions filled his mind and caused him to
shake his head in wonderment. He never really had paid much attention to what Carrie, or anyone else for that matter, wore.
He probably couldn’t remember three things that she wore in all their married years. So the jacket could easily have
been Carrie’s – it must have been to have that quotation, written in her own handwriting. Then how in the
name of thunder did it get on the back patio? And where’s it been all this time? Edgar closed his eyes and sighed
loudly. There just weren’t any answers to all his questions.
It was a couple days
later when Edgar finally decided what to do with the jacket that was raising so many questions, not to mention all those memories,
in his mind. He would donate it to the resale shop in town and let someone who really needed it enjoy wearing the softly faded
fabric that seemed to have a life of its own. The secret pocket was still so intriguing to him, that he was actually toying
with the idea of hiding something there himself before taking it to the store. If this really had been Carrie’s coat
at some point, and she had intentionally hidden that quotation in the pocket (and he had every reason to believe all that
could be true), then he would play along and continue the intrigue. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll find out what
this little mystery is all about. Edgar Hammett removed the slip of paper from the secret pocket in the lining of the
back of the jacket for the last time, pressed it flat with his big, rough hands, and read it once again.
the welter of life, a few people are selected for us by the accident of temporary confinement in the same circle." How
many times had he heard Carrie’s soft, teasing voice say these very words to him? And now, all these years later, here
they were again, coming back to him in a most extraordinary way, at a most unusual time in his life. His wife had been dead
now for over 20 years. Dead from what he still wasn’t sure, but dead all the same. If only I had ….
So many thoughts started with those words. And it never took him anywhere but right back into the pain of losing his
beautiful, funny wife; his closest, sometimes only, friend; the mother of his two precious babies who didn’t even speak
to him anymore. I should have authorized the autopsy. I should have listened to Janelle and Robbie when they begged me
to let them do an autopsy. Why was I so damned bullheaded? I thought I knew. Cutting her open wouldn’t bring her back,
and I couldn’t bear that on top of her death. What difference would it make? – that’s what I asked myself
then. That’s what I kept telling Janelle and Robbie: "It won’t make any difference, she’ll still be
dead." I guess that was pretty cruel, but at the time I was so scared and mad and insulted that Carrie would just die
like that. Maybe she did purposely take too many pills, but what good would it have done for the kids to know that? I know
they even suspected for a while that I’d had a hand in her death; maybe they still do, I don’t know. But I could
never have done anything like that, as many times as she asked me to, which is more than I can count. Maybe it was just a
plain old heart attack – the doctor in the emergency room said it could have been just exactly that. But he didn’t
see the empty pill bottle I found under the bed that night. Shit. Why do I have to go over all this again now, after all these
The old familiar tightness in his throat burned like a flame making its way down into his chest. Tears threatened
to erupt into a tropical storm. It took every ounce of strength Edgar had to fight them back and erect the barriers that kept
them from immobilizing him with a force that terrified him still. He remembered too well those first days after losing Carrie,
when he thought he’d go crazy. He wanted to turn his back on everyone who kept offering him those useless platitudes
about death. He wanted to just scream when his sister told him that God must have needed Carrie more than Edgar did, taking
her at such a young age like that. Without thinking friends and neighbors tried to comfort him with words that just plain
pissed him off. How could he see the silver lining? Did they really think he’d get over it and find someone else? Were
they stupid enough to believe he thought Carrie was simply waiting for him in the next room? Why didn’t they just shut
up and forget about making him feel better, when there was no way in hell anything that came out of their mouths was going
to make him feel one bit better, ever.
His eyes were burning with unreleased tears and his whole body felt like he was
wired with dynamite. Twenty years, and still the feelings were so real, so intense. It was enough to make him want to jump
out of his skin and run screaming down the street, waking all the neighbors and giving them one more thing to whisper about
behind his back. Okay, old man. Take a deep breath and get it back under control. Nothing you can do about any of this
now, so just shut the door on all those old wounds and turn the key. Forget about it and get back to business here. You’ve
got a green plaid jacket here to figure out what to do with. Come on now, breathe. Just breathe.
Slowly Edgar felt
the tightness in his body drain away, leaving him with an incredible tension headache. Squinting his eyes, he rubbed the back
of his neck and headed for the medicine cabinet where he kept his prescription for migraines. He was beginning to see sparks
of white light shooting in the periphery of his vision, and he was only too well aware of what that meant. Before long he
would be blinded by the pain and forced to take himself into his darkened bedroom where the light was forbidden to enter through
the heavy drapes that hung at the windows. His queasy stomach would settle down once he felt the comfort of his firm mattress
under him and the coolness of the sheets against his skin. Lying absolutely still, with all the light blocked out, the nexoprin
hard at work in his system, was the only treatment that gave any hope of keeping his searing migraines from worsening. Most
of the time that worked. Sometimes not. This felt like one of those stubborn ones that would leave him weak and sweating in
his lightless cave. So much for creativity and cleverly building on Carrie’s secret pocket intrigue. That would have
The medication was working as Edgar fell into a fitful sleep in
the room he and Carrie had once shared intimately. Not much about the room had changed since her death, except of course that
her closet had been emptied and was now home to mostly unused hunting equipment and supplies, a few old bowling trophies,
and everything Edgar couldn’t find a place for anywhere else. The carpet was clean but well worn. The curtains, heavy
and dark green, served their purpose and were seldom opened. A bedroom is a very private place after all.
of the room and of the migraine itself allowed the patient to be drawn into himself, feeling less and less connected to the
sights and sounds of the room and more aware of his own breath and body. At the first sign of release, Edgar dropped into
a medicated state of semi-consciousness, where nothing made any sense to him at all. Fritz was there, wagging an extravagantly
large tail, apparently happy in spite of the additional weight of this ridiculous appendage and the effort required to wag
it. His lopsided grin was positively human. It looked like he was trying to say something, and in his dream, Edgar strained
to hear what Fritz was saying, but it was all garbled, likely a dialect of some unknown dog language, and impossible
to understand. Then suddenly Fritz was sitting at the kitchen table with his master, drinking coffee and eating dog food
with a fork. As clear as you please, Edgar heard Fritz say, "Put the key in the secret pocket", and without
even asking, Edgar knew what Fritz meant. At once, Fritz was no longer Fritz but had morphed into Robbie, sitting
sullenly at the empty table, staring a hole through his father. "I want that key. Give it to me or I’ll call the
cops." In the distance Edgar could hear the faint rise of a siren, and his heart beat faster. Getting up to look out
the window, he noticed that Robbie was barefoot and there were muddy footprints across the floor. When his gaze returned to
Robbie’s face, it wasn’t Robbie anymore, but an old army buddy smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. As dreams
go, this one led from one improbable scenario into another in rapid succession, making perfect sense only to the dreamer.
At last, Carrie was there, holding out a clenched hand to her husband, smiling that unforgettable smile of hers. "The
key", she said, and as Edgar reached out to take it from her, he awoke.
Not yet aware of the exact state of his
migraine, he lay in the darkness, reveling in Carrie’s mystical presence, remembering her reddish brown hair curling
around her sweet face and those incredible golden brown eyes flecked with honey. Those eyes could look right through you and
into your heart. There was no hiding anything from those eyes. He never could tell a lie to his wife when she forced him to
meet her gaze; never could keep a secret or stay mad for long when those penetrating eyes demanded an answer or roused his
desire for her. Theirs had always been a fiery pairing, especially in the bedroom, or the kitchen, or the garage, or under
the magnolia tree in their secluded back yard before the kids came along. My God, Carrie, how can I still be missing you
like this after all this time? Why did you leave me like you did? We had so much going for us; so much to look forward to;
so much more life to live. How could one little word change all that for all of us? How could you hear the doctor say "Alzheimer’s"
and decide to give up on everything? Oh, Carrie. I wish I knew.
Ever so slowly the memory of his dream began creeping
back into his consciousness and Edgar was struck with the humor of Fritz's tail and his genteel dinner habits. Then he remembered
what he’d heard Fritz say so clearly: "Put the key in the secret pocket." What the hell does that
mean? The clarity of his understanding in the dream was lost to him for the moment and he couldn’t imagine what
key Fritz could have been referring to. Well, it was, after all, a dream. It probably had no meaning at all. Then he
remembered the scene changing to Robbie’s sullen threat, again about a key. What was it he had said? The exact words
momentarily eluded Edgar, but he recognized the familiar feelings of guilt and remorse where Robbie was concerned. Always
a feeling of failure, of lost time and unspoken angers, when he thought of his only son. The boy --now a man of, what, 30
years old – had been such a joy to his parents when he was young. How they had rejoiced when they found out Carrie was
pregnant with him and celebrated when their perfect male child was delivered into their waiting arms. With a big sister to
welcome him home, their little family seemed complete, and they never would have guessed that the coming years would change
it so drastically. No wonder he felt like he was drowning in the disappointment of those early hopes.
The face of Robbie
as a newborn infant came clearly into his mind, and then it became a slide show of those first years as his little boy grew
and laughed and entertained his doting parents and sister. He’d had an uncanny sense of humor for such a little guy.
Edgar and Carrie had often commented that Robbie would probably grow up to be a stand-up comic and entertain the world on
national television. Then all that changed with Carrie’s untimely death, and the once jolly boy lost all the laughter
in his life and became the sullen teenager whose face now floated before Edgar’s moist eyes. The hatred was palpable
as he heard the words from his dream repeated. "Give me the key or I’ll call the cops." His heart sank to
hear the pain in his son’s voice and see the heat of his anger towards his father as he spit the words into the air.
His pulse raced and his breath was jagged as he tried to dissect the words and their meaning, if there truly was any meaning
at all to the dream. Maybe it was just a random collection of thoughts and worries from his subconscious, sent in his state
of prescribed medication, to haunt and punish him. That’s what most people thought about dreams and dreamlike visions;
but Edgar and Carrie had always put more stock in altered consciousness than that. They had had many discussions over the
years about specific dreams and dreaming in general, and they seemed to agree that dreams were symbolic, and that if you spent
a little time thinking about it you could discover an underlying meaning to the thoughts that filled your head while you slept,
even if they were disjointed and in some foreign dog language. This dream seemed to present an obvious message for Edgar,
and it was worth looking into.What key? I can’t even remember a key, except the ones on my key ring – to the
house, the car, the garage. Would any of those keys evoke that sneer and threat from Robbie? He couldn’t imagine
that the key Robbie referred to was any of those – car, garage, or house. Robbie had used the family car until he bought
his own on his 17th birthday, which only added to his absence from the place he seemed to hate after his mother
was gone from it. The garage, there was nothing out there worth fussing over -- just a bunch of junk and a few tools that
rarely got used anymore. Robbie never was interested in any of that. Robbie had always been welcome in their home, although
he had made it clear when he turned 18 that he’d never be back. He kept his promise for nearly a decade until the year
he turned 27 and showed up unannounced on Christmas Day with his arms full of presents and a simple apology that was enough.
He was beginning to grow up and realize that life isn’t always so black and white, and it’s definitely too short
to remain estranged from family. So what key could this be about? Use your head, man. Figure this out. There must be a
key ….. and then it suddenly came to him. Even as he lay in his darkened bedroom, he was reminded of the bright
sunshine streaming across the desk that day he found Carrie sitting in this very room, head bent into the rays of light that
got caught in her hair, writing in her journal. He had startled her, and she had looked up at him with those incredible shining
eyes, laughing at the question marks in his own eyes. He remembered wondering how long she had been writing in this journal
that was totally unfamiliar to him. The pages were turned far to the back of the book, and the edge of the cover was slightly
worn. Carrie was always journaling; it was her therapy and a natural outlet for her creative side. So her husband was well
used to seeing her with pen in hand, writing in her daily journal. But this was not her daily journal. This was one he had
never seen before. He remembered the conversation that followed:
"Looks like somebody has a secret to keep,"
he had said to her wide-eyed, smiling face.
"Secret? I have no idea what you mean, Sir," she had coyly responded,
batting her eyelashes and melting him with her velvet voice.
He had let himself be drawn in by her beguiling tone, and
it became a game they played often – a dance of intimacy that led to his complete seduction. As she teased him with
her sensual movements and her sweet words he always felt himself being captivated, bound in her spell, effortlessly floating
into her body, mind, and soul. What sweetness to be with her so completely, to be absorbed into her flesh and bones, into
her heart, into the deep, deep well of her love for him. Just the memory of it left him a bit weak in the knees even now.
How Edgar wished those memories could materialize Carrie into his arms right this moment. His body ached for hers, even after
all this time.
That day so long ago, when he had teased her about her secret diary, swam back into his awareness and
the rest of that brief scene played itself out once again. Carrie had casually closed the page she’d been writing on,
as if indeed there was nothing secret about it, and deftly placed it in an open box on her desk. Without really even looking
at what she was doing, eyes still flirting with her lover, she pulled a tiny key from her pocket and silently locked the silver
box without another word. Edgar remembered wondering at the time what that was all about. He and Carrie rarely held anything
back from each other, but he certainly respected her right to her own kind of privacy where her writing was concerned. He
suspected they would talk about it later, when the heat of the moment had subsided and they were both capable of thinking
straight again. Actually, it was months later when the subject came up one night while they were getting ready for bed. The
beautiful silver box, ornately engraved with antique scrolling, stood open on her desk, inviting his questions.
box – it looks like an antique, Carrie." Not a question really, but begging a response.
"I think it
is, Darling. I picked this up at an estate sale last year when Joanna was here visiting."
Joanna was Carrie’s
only sibling, and they were especially close. They saw each other infrequently, as Joanna’s husband, Walt, was a paraplegic
whose needs outstripped her own at every level, or at least she had convinced herself of that. The amazing thing about it
was that Joanna had absolutely no resentment or bitterness about the situation, but seemed truly happy to be on hand to give
Walt everything he needed, day or night. Carrie and Edgar had often talked about the sacrifice Joanna was making for her husband,
and each wondered secretly if they would be as willing to do the same for each other. In theory, it’s easy to believe
there are no boundaries to our self-sacrificing, but the reality of living it out day by day might be a very different thing.
So deep in their hearts, these two admired Joanna’s good humor and deep commitment to her demanding husband, and tried
to find a way to give her a break as often as they could, or as often as she would allow. Overall, Walt was a good guy who
appreciated everything his wife did for him, and he always encouraged Joanna to get away when the opportunity arose.
who died?" he asked, bringing their thoughts back to the silver box and the estate sale. Simstown wasn’t that big,
so it was quite likely he knew whose estate it had come from.
"Addie Friar. You remember that old couple that we
used to see at the country club – the ones that danced together like they were part of the same body? I remember thinking
it was almost like watching them make love, so rhythmic and sensuous. And the sheer pleasure in their faces just emanated
into their bodies. Wheeeww! It just gives me shivers to remember how beautiful it was watching them together."
Edgar remembered very well the elderly couple and how everyone stopped in the middle of a bite of food to watch them walk
out onto the dance floor, hand in hand. Their love for each other was nowhere more visible than when they turned to face each
other and then each took a step toward the other, beginning the intrigue that fascinated all who observed their coming together.
There was nothing improper about their encounter. In fact, the very propriety of it made it all the more seductive and sensuous
for those who sat at their tables wishing in their deepest hearts that they too could find a love like that. The Friars celebrated
their 70th wedding anniversary before Henry died peacefully in his sleep one night. After that, nothing was the
same for Addie, and she soon took to her bed in an effort to follow her lifemate as soon as possible. No amount of pleading
or cajoling by friends or children or the priest or her loving grandchildren could dissuade her from her purpose. She’d
had enough of living in her 91 years; and without Henry, it wasn’t really living anymore. Within the month Addie was
reunited with her adoring husband and the house was empty of its human occupants. The estate sale followed, and then the auction,
and before long the Friars were replaced by a couple of young retirees who didn’t dance at all. But the silver box with
the exquisite etching found a new home with the Hammetts, and the treasures it now contained were yet to be revealed.
do you keep in your lovely estate sale box, Carrie Dear?"
The jocular tone of his question assured Carrie that
Edgar was not prying, only curious about her latest find. They were always looking for a good bargain at flea markets and
little antique malls that hadn’t quite discovered the inflated market for their unique items. Over the years they had
come away with some great deals, or at least they thought so. And what did it really matter who got the better end of the
bargain, if they were happy with these small purchases that added beauty to their lives and provided good conversation at
dinner parties? This silver box was simply another treasure to add to their collection.
Glimpsing over her shoulder,
pretending to sneak a peek at what might be hidden in the box, Edgar asked, "Anything in there for me?"
a matter of fact, yes – dancing lessons at the Arthur Murray studio!"
They both broke into rich laughter,
imagining themselves trying to fill the shoes of the Friars on the dance floor. Edgar held out his left hand with a bow, and
Carrie answered his silent invitation by placing her right hand in his. He pulled her up out of her chair and circled her
waist with his other arm. How well they fit together. Her so willing, him so eager. Maybe they weren’t the best dancers,
but they knew how to embrace each other and move their bodies to music only they could hear. Their feet never left the floor,
barely moving with their swaying bodies. Their cheeks rested comfortably against the other’s, and the fronts of their
bodies melted into one rhythmic pulsation of energy. Even as his blood ran wild in his veins, he was reminded of an old joke.
why the Baptists won’t let their teenagers have sex?" he whispered in Carrie’s ear.
She snorted, pulled
her head back to look him full in the face, and guessed, "Because it might lead to dancing?"
their own silliness, and the wonderful sound of their laughter only added to the beautiful intimacy of the moment. They ended
up twirling over to the bed and falling onto its welcoming down comforter, where the dance continued.