I’d just picked up my prescription when Gerry took off down the road.
Our town isn’t that small geographically, but it is–was–a one industry town, and when the factory closed, people moved out. It’s not a new story, and it’s one that’s been repeated all across the country, ever since manufacturing moved to Asia. I don’t resent it, unlike a lot of people. We had our turn, and now it’s over. It’s easier for me than for young people. I retired before the factory closed, and I got my pension out. I don’t have a lot of expenses. My children are middle aged and they went to university when a working man could afford to send his children. They’re all professionals, and they live in cities that aren’t shrinking like our town and my spine.
It’s not as bad here as some places. We still have an operating drugstore, a grocery store, and a constable. It was the constable who was chasing Gerry down the street. You’d think a constable would easily catch an eighty year old on foot, but the constable’s gout had flared and he was hobbling with a cane. Gerry was running. For an eighty year old, he can run pretty good.
“I’ll get you at home!” Frank, the constable, shouted.
Gerry looked over his shoulder to yell back. That was his mistake and he tumbled. I hurried to catch up with them, thinking that if Gerry broke his hip that would be the end of him, and if he broke his ankle that would be the end of me because he’d expect me to take care of him, and I would expire from a heart attack.
I adjusted my bra to give me maximum support, and I ran as fast as I could, which, to be honest, is more of a waddle than a run. “Gerry! Gerry!”
Gerry has been my best friend since third grade when he, a big fifth grader, defended me from the class bully and saved my lunch. He married someone else, and I married someone else. We were good friends but terrible lovers. It was adequate when we tried it, but when afterward you want to yawn, and not from physical exertion, it’s a bad sign. I’ll give him this–he’s a good cuddler.
“I just fell on the grass, Adele,” he said.
By that point I was blubbering as I gave him a hand.
“You’re under…” Frank gasped. He weighs about four hundred pounds and he gasps a lot. “Arrest. For…” We all waited for him to catch his breath. “Shoplifting.”
“Not again, Gerry,” I said.
He hung his head. “I’m sorry, Adele. I know I promised. But I was so bored.”
“You were supposed to drive me. You know how much I’ve been looking forward to seeing that play. And now I’m going to miss it.” I turned to Frank. “Can you give him a break this time?” I said.
“Now, Adele. You know I can’t. He was caught on the security camera. What would Joe say if I did?” Joe is the druggist. He and Frank have a running feud. It keeps them both alive but it’s damn inconvenient sometimes.
“When is the magistrate coming around?”
“Wednesday,” Frank said.
“I’ll have a good rest in the clink,” Gerry said. He likes words like “clink.” He also likes the jail’s cook. I’m not sure if he likes her cooking or just having her serve it to him. She has the biggest breasts I’ve ever seen. And though I know Gerry hasn’t done it for a while, and I doubt he could even if he had the opportunity, that doesn’t mean his nerve endings can’t be tickled.
“You didn’t want to go to that play!” I accused him.
“No, that’s not right,” he said. “I like getting out of town.”
“As long as you don’t have to pay for it. You are so cheap.”
Gerry looked from me to Frank as if thinking over that one. “Can she stay with me? In the clink?” he asked.
“It’s not a hotel,” he said.
“I’ll bring food.”
“With dessert?” Frank asked.
“Double chocolate,” I said. “It’ll save the town money.” And Gerry the cook’s bosom. Let’s see how he likes that, I thought.
By the way he was looking at me, it seemed just fine.