At eighty-three Geoff Weetman was still active, admittedly not as spry as in his youth and with a lot of curses for the stiffness of his joints, but active nevertheless. Although a member of a number of social clubs and groups, he was lonely and had been for the past fifteen years following the death of his wife, he smiled at the memory of her. Their time together had sped by, it had been a shock when she had been found to have cancer, she'd died within a year of the diagnosis and right up to the end she had taken great pleasure in the act of sex with him. Shaking his head, Geoff turned his attention back to the old biddy murmuring away beside him, just as quickly he blocked out her voice again and wondered why he came along to the Monday Senior Citizen's club every week, virtually all the folk that came here had one foot in the grave, and their heads wholly in the clouds. Maud, the old dear he'd blocked out, had spent the last half an hour talking about her granddaughter and looked like continuing for the next half hour. About all he'd taken in was that the granddaughter was named Patricia, she was nineteen and was coming to visit, the rest had been, and still was, about the girl's life history.
"Excuse me." Geoff said as he stood up.
He had to get away from the table before Maud drove him potty with her wittering, bored he wandered around the room listening to snatches of conversation at other tables as he passed, all the conversations seemed the same, children and grandchildren. He and Clara had never been blessed with children, not for the want of trying mind, but it was not to be, he wondered whether, if they had been blessed, he would now be like these old folk here, nothing to live for except to relate tales of the 'kids'.
"Excuse me?" a melodious voice said from behind him.
Turning Geoff found himself facing an attractive and very well proportioned young woman, eighty three though he was Geoff could still enjoy the sight of beauty and took a couple of seconds to gaze upon this young lady.
"Yes, can I help you?" he asked.
"I hope so," the young woman smiled, "I'm looking for my grandmother."
"Your grandmother?" Geoff repeated, "Your name wouldn't happen to be Patricia by any chance?"
"Yes it would." she replied grimacing.
Geoff deduced that she did not like the name 'Patricia' and wondered what she had shortened it to while he pointed out the table where Maud was still jabbering away, he was very aware of the scent the girl was wearing as she leant over to look where he was pointing. Thanking him with a warm smile the young woman trotted over to her grandmother, Geoff watched her for a moment then walked outside into the centre's garden.
Patricia hadn't been able to spot grandma Maud when she walked in, she'd noticed a rather distinguished old guy standing nearby, he'd looked bored, she felt bored already and she'd only just walked in the door. She'd asked him for help and had been surprised when he had looked at her with a twinkle in his eye before answering, she'd needed no second guesses as to how he'd known her name, grandma was no doubt telling anyone who'd listen, but had shuddered at the full form of her name, she preferred to be called Trish. When he had spoken she had been astonished at how strongly masculine his voice was, he couldn't have been a day under seventy after all. He had pointed out the table at which sat grandma; thanking him she walked in that direction composing herself for the meeting. It had not been her idea to come and see grandma Maud, her parents had made that decision for her, Trish dreaded her meetings with her grandmother, the old woman would embarrass her with tales, in front of all and sundry, of what she did as a baby, cackling and pawing at her as she did so. However, Trish knew that her parents doted on the old dear and she loved her parents, so when asked to visit grandma Trish had gritted her teeth and said 'okay', what she hadn't expected was that it was to be a two week visit, with Trish booked into an hotel, grandma living in a home as she did, for the entire stay.
Geoff sat down just outside the centre and looked at the garden, small birds were hopping in and out of the plants, enjoying life in their own way. Looking over his shoulder he found he'd placed himself near one of the large windows, in the hall he could see Maud still wittering away and beside her sat the granddaughter, her face fixed in polite smile. Geoff grinned at the sight, he wasn't the only one that was bored by Maud and he wondered if the visit was entirely 'voluntary', it looked as though the girl was there more as a duty than anything else. The young woman's head turned and her eyes met his; he smiled at her, but didn't turn away.
Trish set her face in a fixed smile and let grandma waffle on, the old woman's tales of Trish's first steps and so on drifting off as her attention wandered. She looked out the window at the freedom the outside world offered and found her eyes meeting those of the old man she talked to earlier, he was grinning wryly, then he smiled broadly at Trish and nodded. It seemed he understood what Trish was going through; in fact he was probably sitting alone in the garden to escape the boredom inside. When he turned away Trish looked back at her grandmother and waited for her to stop talking long enough to get a word in edgewise.
"Granny," Trish said ten minutes later, "who's that man out in the garden?"
Peering through the window her grandmother pulled a disapproving face.
"That is Geoff Weetman," she finally answered, "he's not really part of our club, but comes along every week, though I don't know why, he spends most of his time in the garden instead of in here with us."
Trish could understand how Mr. Weetman felt, she wished she could escape just as easily, but she was stuck for the duration.
"I am so glad you came today my dear," granny was saying, "as I am going away for a few weeks,"
"Really gran? Where are you off to?" Trish asked politely.
Trish was annoyed, she was stuck in this place for two weeks, the hotel having been paid up in advance and her parents having gone away for the same period, at the invitation of granny and the gaga old fool had forgotten to mention she wouldn't be there most of the time. She looked out into the garden again, but Mr. Weetman was gone.
Geoff had sat thinking for some time after catching the young woman's eye, the poor thing had looked as though she were trapped, which, if truth be known, she probably was. Deciding that enough was enough Geoff rose, cursing his stiff joints, and walked away towards his little bungalow and a decent evening meal.
The following day Geoff walked the half mile to the town shopping centre, it was a fine day and for a change none of his joints felt stiff, the shopping didn't take long, the few bits and pieces he'd needed had been an excuse to get out among people. As he walked out of the greengrocer a body cannoned into him almost knocking him over, startled he looked at the culprit expecting to find one of the local lads on one of those skateboard things. Instead he found himself looking into the concerned and apologetic eyes of Maud's granddaughter, the poor girl looked red with embarrassment and was reaching out as though to catch him.
"I'm so dreadfully sorry." she was saying, "I was miles away."
"As much my fault as yours dear," he grinned, "anyway no harm done. At least not to me."
He looked at her from head to toe, taking in her shape in one quick and pleasing glance.
"It seems you have a little damage though." he finished.
"Pardon?" she replied looking puzzled.
"My bag appears to have caught your stocking." Geoff grinned, "I'm afraid it is quite ruined."
"Oh," she responded, "I see, oh well they're only an old pair of tights."
Trish looked down at the run that had appeared in her tights, why, he wasn't sure, but Geoff gained the impression that the young woman was unhappy about something other than ruined hosiery; he fell back on what had always cheered Clara up.
"Old pair or not my dear," Geoff smiled, "I feel somewhat responsible, therefore, come along with me and we will replace the damaged article."
Trish protested, but finally gave way after the old man calmly stated that he would buy a replacement anyway and guess at the size and promised to deliver it via granny. She was extremely embarrassed about the whole thing, she'd been fuming at being stuck out in the sticks and had not been paying attention to her surroundings. The force of the impact had winded her and she hoped that the old man hadn't been hurt, although he had not done more than stagger when she'd hit him and had seemed unaffected by the impact. Thinking about it now she realised that she had virtually bounced off him and she wondered what he had been like in his prime.
Geoff escorted the young woman along the street to the ladies wear shop, many had been the time that he and Clara had come here to select a new frilly or fancy. He realised that this young woman reminded him a little of his late wife, the same sort of build, the same attitude and strangely enough the same way of holding herself.
'The same bounce.' he thought with a smile.
Inside the shop Geoff let his eyes roam around the wares, he hadn't been in here since Clara had died, he'd had no reason to, but apart from the new fashions on display the place seemed not to have changed in fifteen years. An assistant wandered over to them, she seemed bored and disinterested, however, that seemed to be the attitude these days to customers in any shop.
"Now my dear," he said to Trish, "let's start with size."
She told him and he in turn instructed the assistant to bring a selection of silk stockings in that size.
"But," Trish said as the assistant trotted off, "it was only a pair of cheap tights."
"Now my dear," Geoff said, "hmm, this is no good I can't keep calling you 'my dear', most folk call me Geoff. What would you like me to call you?"
"I prefer Trish." she smiled.
"A nice choice," he responded, "anyway, as I was about to say, a young lady should only wear silks. You'll see the difference when you meet your boyfriend wearing them and you will feel the difference yourself."
"I'll have a long wait," Trish answered, "but thank you anyway."
Geoff had been about to speak, but the assistant returned at that moment with the selection of stockings, as Trish tried to choose a pair he wondered just what she had meant by the 'long wait' comment, surely she wasn't implying that she had no boyfriends.
Trish made a choice and went into the changing room to discard her tights for the new stockings only to discover that she would need a suspender belt to keep them up. Poking her head out of the cubicle she caught the attention of the assistant and asked for a suspender belt to suit the hosiery, this soon arrived and she put it on, to her surprise Geoff had been right, the stockings and suspenders made her feel so sexy. The pity was that she had no-one to show them off to, the relationship with her boyfriend having been broken off just before her trip, he hadn't been much of a boyfriend, but to have lost him to a woman older and less attractive had been quite a blow to her morale. Smoothing her dress Trish stepped out of the cubicle, she reached into her bag for her purse only to see Geoff handing over money at the till, she decided to settle up with him for the suspender belt once they were outside.
"Ah, there you are." he smiled at her, "Now be honest, doesn't that feel a lot better."
"I must admit it does." Trish replied with a grin.
She realised that she was enjoying the company of this old man, not that she'd spent any time with him, but he seemed to be more in the here and now than in the there and then. He held the door for her as they left the shop and appeared to be on the verge of bidding her a farewell.
"Geoff," she said quickly, "let me pay you for the suspender belt."
"Good lord," he said in surprise, "I wouldn't think of it."
"Well at least" Trish grinned, "let me buy you a drink as a thank you."
"I'll agree to that," he replied, "but I mustn't keep you away from your grandmother too long."
Trish laughed at his comment and explained the situation she had found herself in, why she'd told him she wasn't sure, but he was very sympathetic.
Geoff hadn't been overly surprised to learn that Maud had invited Trish down and then gone on holiday, he felt sorry for her stuck out in the sticks with nothing to do and no-one her own age to talk to. He led the way to the pub where Trish bought him a glass of the amber nectar, whisky, which they took out into the garden to drink at one of the tables.
"How does your boyfriend feel about you being away all this time?" he asked.
To his surprise her face clouded over, something was obviously wrong in her love life and he quickly changed the subject, but she still seemed unhappy. Without warning Trish told him her troubles, how her boyfriend had dumped her for a woman older and uglier from what he could gather, but Geoff knew outward looks were not always the best of guides. Mind you the lad must have been a fool, Trish was attractive from all points of view, both looks and personality, the men these days obviously needed their brains tested, and he said so. Her blush reminded him so much of his late wife, she had always blushed when he'd made comments of that type, strangely he felt an urge to invite her for a meal that evening, but he hesitated, after all what young lady would want to spend time with an old fogy like him.
"Would you" he asked after a while, "care to join me for dinner tonight?"
Trish was astonished at how easy it was to talk to Geoff and found herself telling him all about her split with her boyfriend, he had been unable to believe it and had said so, his words made her feel so much better. They'd talked for a while, but she could see that something was on his mind, then he asked her to dinner in a tone that seemed to be awaiting a negative response, but the idea appealed to Trish, she had found him to be both a man of the world with some interesting tales, if you dragged them out of him, and a great sense of humour. Even more than this Geoff knew how to listen to you, she had been amazed to discover that he was eighty-three, he didn't look it and certainly didn't act it. They parted a while later and she looked forward to meeting him later in the evening, he was going to pick her up from the hotel and take her to a place where they served proper food, or so he had said.
Geoff had been stunned that she had accepted his invitation, when they parted he had rushed home to prepare the promised meal, his cooking was better than anything obtainable within a ten mile radius, besides which he enjoyed messing about with food. Just before leaving he placed a couple of bottles of wine in the fridge to chill, they would make a nice accompaniment to the marinate of trout he had prepared. He arrived at her hotel five minutes before the appointed time only to find her ready and waiting for him, she had changed into a black, low cut evening dress and he realised that she must be expecting to visit a posh restaurant, nevertheless, she looked delightful.
"Hello," he greeted her, "what have we here."
"Oh," she laughed, "just a little something I slipped into."
"My dear, you look ravishing," he smiled, "but I'm afraid you may be a little overdressed for my humble home."
"Not to worry," she replied, "it means I'll have a captive audience."
Laughing he held out his arm for her, she took it and they left the hotel, he was again struck by the similarity between this girl and Clara, her comments were almost exactly what his late wife would have said under similar circumstances. The walk back to his bungalow was made slowly; throughout they talked of things in general, Geoff felt quite proud to have her on his arm and hoped some of the young studs were watching. At the bungalow Geoff took her shawl and pointed her in the direction of the living room, at his invitation she sat, choosing the couch in preference to one of the chairs, and accepted a pre-dinner drink.
"If you'll excuse me" Geoff said downing his drink, "I will sort out dinner."
"May I help?" Trish offered.
"You are my guest," he smiled, "guests don't work. You may help yourself to another drink if you wish. Won't be long."
When he returned with the food five minutes later Geoff noted that she had added a candelabrum to the dining table, the candles were lit and the main light dimmed making the room romantic. One last trip to the kitchen for the wine and they were ready to eat, out of habit Geoff held her chair for her as she sat at the table. Over the meal they talked and before he knew it their plates were empty, smiling he refilled their wine glasses before starting to clear the table.
"Would you like a dessert?" he asked.
"I couldn't eat another thing." she sighed, "That was fantastic."
Her compliment made him feel pleased, taking the plates and cutlery out to the kitchen he collected the other bottle of wine and returned to the living room, as he entered the room he saw Trish looking closely at the photos on the mantle of he and Clara.
"What a lovely couple." Trish said over her shoulder, "I assume it's you and your wife."
He joined her at the fireplace and discussed the photos and explaining his loss.