The old man opened the trunk, and hauled out what looked like a lawn mower chassis. He set it on the ground, reached into the trunk again, and pulled out a padded seat. He attached it to the chassis and one of those powered chair scooter things began to take shape.
He was dressed in a starched white shirt and knife-creased grey slacks, head crowned with a black fedora, not exactly mechanic’s wear. But he fiddled for awhile putting the scooter together, then hooked on a steering column and pulled the chair around to the passenger’s side of the bright red Buick.
As he did, the door swung wide and an enormous old lady swung one foot out of the car. He positioned the scooter, just so, dropped the steering column to the ground, and stood back, carefully facing away from her.
The woman grabbed the roof of the car with both hands and heaved. Nothing. She tried again, and the car bounced, but she couldn’t get out of the car. She made another thrust that nearly sent the car to the ground, and had me debating whether to offer assistance (or call an ambulance). But she finally, shakily, stood on her feet.
“Okay,” she said, to no one in particular, and the old man turned around. She took his arm, and together they made their way to the scooter.
He held out his arms, straight and stiff. She grabbed them, hung on for dear life, and lowered herself into the seat. Then he gathered her things from the car, arranged them around her lap to her liking, and closed the car door.
Right then, the woman looked up, into his face, and smiled. He smiled back and reached out a hand to stroke her cheek. They stood there, smiling into each other’s eyes, not saying a word, but the love between them was nearly a tangible thing. Those two were alone together in a crowded parking lot, and when she touched his hand you could that the years and infirmities meant nothing.
He turned and she put the scooter in gear. Slowly, holding hands, they made their way to the old lady hair salon.
I wasn’t sure why I was crying. Sometimes, I guess, the romance just hits you right in the throat.