They held each other tight, before her train departed.
They could’ve been mother and son but they weren’t.
“What a foolish old woman, I was…romancing the past, thinking it could be like old times.”
He smiled shyly, looked to the sunbeam shining on the floor and chuckled. She held the homebound ticket he had purchased her with his own money.
“Guess, we’ll always have piano lessons on hot summer
afternoons with lemonade and a bit of bourbon.” She laughed.
He embraced her again, gazing at the passing faces of strangers and thought about his mother, because everyone probably thought this was parting mother and son.
Her brown eyes swallowed him whole, isolating them from all the rest.
“I was young, you really… just a boy but, God, how I loved you Henry…and that’s my biggest regret, I didn’t take you away from your parents. Now you’re grown and I’m a crone.”
“You’ll never be a crone, Gwen.”
“Henry, you’ve made a doddering old lady happy for one night in imaginary Paris. Don’t ruin it.”
Gwen put her head down. He lifted her chin.
“We can still…”
“Henry, I don’t like deception. You’re married.” She removed his hand and continued “…even if you don’t wear the ring and don’t act like it, you need do…maybe being a traveling salesman isn’t good for you, piano sure wasn’t.”
He thought of his mother, whom she reminded him of.
The Driftwood Bar the night before, Frank was looking for his next mark. It’s what he did. Scam old war widows into bed and dig as much as he could into their pockets before moving onto the next. She came up to with bright smile and shining eyes.
“Henry, you got my letter.”
He didn’t know her but she talked and talked like his own mother who couldn’t even remember her own name like alone who he even was. Frank soon came to find out this guy Henry was kind of like him only probably more successful.
Frank played shock, told her how he remembered Moonlight Sonata, then felt pity knowing Henry would never show. He bought a bottle of “their bourbon” from behind the bar, knowing he’d make thrice the amount come morning, only to find a bit of loose change and small bills at the bottom of her purse, as he laid in his underwear relaxed as she went into the powder room to prepare.
She came out looking a fright in lacy moth eaten black pajamas, overly made-up face like a terrifying clown…he took a hard slug of the bottle, with a squeeze of lemon and spoonful of sugar.
He didn’t have the heart to tell her.
He wasn’t the man she was looking for.
Mike Zone resides beyond the pines…the author of Void Beneath the Skin and A Farewell to Big Ideas, a frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl, his work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, Cajun Mutt Press,Outlaw Poetry, Piker Press, Synchronized Chaos, The Whiskey Rye Review and Cult Culture magazine.