He waited out in the parking lot for her. She was looking for milk, eggs, bread, maybe some ice cream; wasn’t sure. The middle aged man sat in his pick-up truck, an old Ford, and played with the radio dial, going back and forth ‘cross the FM stations. Picked up frequencies from Iowa City, Des Moines, some small Illinois towns, farming communities.
She ran into Peg inside and they began to talk; the boys were growing up fast, prom was coming up, and graduation was just ’round the corner. The two blondes giggled at the thought of their boys getting a high school diploma. Peg said, I remember changing his diaper, she laughed. And now he does his own laundry, Peg smiled.
Benny lit a cigarette and settled on a country station. It was Johnny Paycheck singing, Take This Job and Shove It. Benny sang along. He wondered what was taking her so long. Probably ran into somebody, he said under his breath, Always does. Emmylou Harris came on next. He wished he was married to Emmylou. Good looking woman like that. His wife was attractive, but, she was no Emmylou. He thought about that. Going down to Nashville and sweeping Ms. Harris off her feet. Daydreamed about it. He knew the difference between reality and daydreams. He used to not. He’d get stuck on a notion and couldn’t shake it. Drove her nuts. Like the time he thought he could drive in the Indy 500. He pestered her with that for weeks. Finally gave up on the idea. Finally.
As Peg walked away, she noticed a tattoo on Peg’s right calf; a small heart with her daughter’s name in it. It was red with blue cursive. Mindy, it read. That was her name. Died when she was real young, some sorta cancer. She remembered feeling real bad for her when it happened. She brought over a cake. They sat there eating it on the front porch. Well, she ate. Peg couldn’t take a bite. She watched her walk away down the bread aisle. Shook her head. Eight years old. She was eight years old, the house wife thought. I am so blessed.
He saw her coming out of the store and he turned the ignition. She put the items in the back seat. They smiled at each other. They smiled. The radio was playing an old Porter Wagner song. He hummed along. She sat back and was nice and quiet. It was time to go home.