Just in case…

Bob’s Rexall was across the street on the corner from Timmons but she jaywalked anyway, traffic being nearly non-existent before 10:00 downtown.  She knew she’d only taken the thirty minutes she had allowed with Marsha.  That left her at least fifteen for her errand at Bob’s.  She felt a strange lightness walking across the brick street, as if she were floating above the uneven, slightly jarring bricks that had been Main Street for as long as she could remember.  The bell tinkled cheerfully as she entered.

Walking quickly and directly to the back she met Bob at the pickup window.

“Oh, hi, Nancy, how are you?”

Bob was always so cheerful, probably had to be in his line of work.

“Good, Bob, you?  Pick up two prescriptions for me.”

“Sure thing, Nancy.”

He reached back to the small set of shelves behind him.

“Looks like one new one for you, Somnamulin.  Any questions on that one?  There’s some big contraindications with particular conditions.”

“No, Bob.  Doctor Murphy and I discussed those in depth.  I’m good.”

“Okay, the total comes to $3.89, then.”

She fished a five out of her wallet she had retrieved from her purse.

“Okay, out of five.  Change would be $1.11.  You have a great day, Nancy.”

“You too, Bob.”

She stuffed the small white sack into her purse and turned toward the front of the store realizing she had at least 10 minutes to kill before Bill might be back to pick her up.  The man was rarely where he said he was going to be when he said he was going be there.  She absentmindedly picked up a small glass and filled it at the soda fountain.  Two Diet Cokes in one morning; she’d be wired until supper.  She settled into one of the three small booths up front after paying the cashier and surveyed the inside of the drugstore.

It had been an anchor, a landmark since before she was a little girl and some of the fixtures were testament to that fact.  Some appeared to pre-date the stone age and yet these were intermixed with some of the newest marketing material for everything from iPhones to drugs.  The bright yellow flyer for Somnamulin caught her eye.  It touted its benefits to help you sleep without grogginess the next morning, its non-addictive nature and of course the lightly-presented advice to consult your doctor before taking it.  The small, illegible print (at least to her old eyes) no doubt carried the warnings which included the strong wording to not take the drug if you had heart disease or had experienced a heart attack.  She and Doc Murphy had discussed that in detail when she had asked for it at her last visit.  He was very clear about the risks in that regard.  At the time she had paused as if mulling the risks for her personally but in the end it hadn’t stopped her from insisting on it.

Murphy was Bill’s doctor too but she knew the laws prohibited him from discussing his conditions or history with her.  She weighed his words as he spoke to see if he was in effect trying to imply a greater level of caution be exercised in her household in general.  He needn’t have done so.  She had Shirley Tate to thank for her information.  Shirley had been a nurse in the E.R. in their little hospital almost since it had been built in the late 70’s.  Out of town or not, she knew what went on in their little ‘burg.

It was nearly time for Bill to arrive so she grabbed her cup and headed toward the door.

“Have a good day, ma’am.”

“You too, young lady” she replied to the clerk behind the counter.

As her gaze swung toward the street she noticed a loud, blue and red poster advertising a Sporting Clays Competition touting its co-ed division.  “Bring our wife or girlfriend!!” it fairly shouted.  There was some faintly familiar logo at the bottom for a charity she couldn’t place.  It was quickly forgotten as she trundled across the intersection back to Timmons.  She could see Bill in the distance coming down the street at her in his well-worn pickup.  She marveled mildly at his punctuality.  She hadn’t checked her watch but he had to be just about right on time; an outlier to be sure.  She crawled into the pickup when he stopped at the light.

“Didn’t find anything at Timmons?

“No, there’s not much that’s made for women my age any more I’m afraid.  You find what you were needing at the hardware store?”

He patted the plastic bag next to him with several square boxes in it.

“Sure did, and it’s a little surprise for you.”


“Yeah, I entered us in the “married” division of the clays competition next Saturday at the club.”

She frowned and looked at him sharply, “What?  You did what?  I don’t shoot!”

“Oh, come on Nan, you still have that little 410 I got you a few years back and if I remember right you were a pretty fair shot and it’s for a good cause, cancer or lupus or something.”

“Bill, I don’t have any interest…why I haven’t shot that gun in years, I’m nearly certain to get knocked on my can if I do and I’m sure I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn!”

“Now, don’t get all worked up, that’s why I bought these extra shells I thought we could go out this afternoon and we’ll just give you a little practice.  I’ll dig up our old thrower and if you think you’ll be embarrassed I’ll see if I can find Linda Edwards or someone else that shoots out there regularly to take your place.”

She pressed her lips tightly together.  She wasn’t sure if it galled her more that he had signed her up for something she had so little interest in that he would immediately mention Linda as her potential ‘replacement’.  He knew how she felt about that woman and she cast a sideways glance at him to see if he was trying to get her goat.  He stared straight ahead as he drove.  He was either playing poker or just as oblivious to her feelings as always.  Either way she felt trapped.

“All right but I wish you would have asked first.”

“Well, Nan, I just thought this would be something we could do together, for a good cause and all, not to win necessarily but to have a little fun like we used to.”

His wistfulness almost made her suspicious.  He was never this way, bordering on some sort of twisted romanticism.  He cast a quick glance her way.  Seemed genuine.  Still, she couldn’t be sure.  She studied the gravel road ahead as they bounced over the country roads toward home.  Near the turn-in for their long driveway as she grabbed the mail from the mailbox he patted the boxes of shells at his side again like a reliable confidant.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek at a few hours in the lives of a couple of older, married folks.  While I’m certainly not pessimistic about marriage, nor getting old with your spouse, I know people will make all kinds of plans and arrangements as a result of years of disharmony.  Sometimes it’s all in the name of being prepared, boy scout or not.

Every week I write about things we deal with and encounter in life.  This is a the fourth installment in the ‘Arrangements’ series.  Look the other three up and other writing at my home page by clicking this.  I hope you’ll get something out of all my writing and decide to subscribe for free.  Subscribing means you’ll get an email on Sundays with a link to the week’s writing, nothing more or less as I never sell or share emails.  Subscribe at the blog or here by clicking this.