Bob took the offered bottle back from Andie and chuckled to himself. They had had the best day that either of them had had in a long time. She amazed herself that she took the chance to visit her idol at the hospice for her spring break. She certainly hadn’t expected to run away with him and spend the whole day bumming around Los Angeles.
“Those were good times,” he said quietly.
“I have a pretty good buzz,” Andie commented. She sighed and leaned her head on Bob’s shoulder. He drank from the bottle and she listened as the liquor swirled down his throat. That throat, his throat, the source of all those sweet sounds. The music she listened to day and night. Over and over again wishing they were written just for her. She watched the heave of his chest as he breathed. Andie tilted her head up and felt the breath on her face. He was looking off somewhere into the night. To another time. He drank again and licked his lips as he was lost in contemplation.
Oh, his lips! Andie thought. She raised her hand and delicately traced the collar of his jacket. Her finger crept further and ran along the stubble of his jaw line. His chin lowered under her touch and she leaned forward. Very lightly, she kissed his jaw, then his cheek as she searched for his lips.
Bob clasped the hand on his chin and pressed his thumb into her palm.
“Stop, sweetheart,” he said. Andie ignored him.
“Stop,” he said softly again, taking her hand away.
“No,” she moaned, still nibbling his cheek, “I love you.”
Bob grabbed her chin lightly and gazed into her eyes.
“I know, but you have to stop.”
Andie’s eyes began to well up.
“Sweetheart,” he stroked her hair. “I’m an old man. You love the man I was. You might even love the man I was so much that you would care for my old ass until I’m in my grave, but I’m not what you need. You have your whole life to live yet.”
Andie pulled away. She folded her arms and rested them on her knees. She sniffled.
“What life? No one understands me anyway. The only thing that has made sense to me is you, your words, your music.”
“Hush now, sweetheart, come here,” Bob whispered. Andie scooted back towards him and he wrapped his arms around her. She leaned her head against his chest and tried to wipe her tears away with her fingers.
“Life doesn’t make sense,” Bob went on in his quiet, thoughtful way. “And I don’t think it’s supposed to. Take it from me, I’m old, oh I am so old. On some days it feels like I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure things out.” He continued to cradle her gently as he talked. “But you know what I can’t figure out?”
“What?” she squeaked.
“Why were you born so many decades late?” he chuckled. Andie giggled too and sniffed.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out too.” Bob pulled her back onto the grass. They lay looking at the stars in silence wrapped in each other’s arms.
“See,” Bob whispered, “This is what I’ve missed all those years on the road. Soaking up the love of a good, honest woman. Isn’t this night perfect just the way it is?”
“Uh-huh,” Andie replied. They lay silent, listening to the night and the crickets. Bob brushed the hair out of Andie’s face.
“I love you,” he said, and he kissed her.
The next morning Bob and Andie sat in a diner over breakfast. Bob was still wearing his sunglasses even without the threat of sun.
“There’s somewhere I need to go,” he said, “I don’t know if you’ll be upset by it.”
Andie stopped eating her pancakes, “You don’t want me to take you back to the hospice, do you?”
“No,” Bob laughed, it broke down into a ragged cough. He cleared his throat and continued. “God, no… I have a son. We’re not on speaking terms, but I need to see him.” He paused. “I want to make sure I didn’t screw him up too bad.”
“I see,” Andie replied tentatively, “Why did you think that would upset me?”
Bob thought about it, “Well, it’s been my experience that women don’t like to know I already have had a family. I’ve had enough ex-wives completely pissed at the wives before them…or after them for that matter.”
“I guess I missed the headline in the paper that said we got married.”