Love at Ninety-eight
“It’s 2074, you’d think they’d invent a shoe you could find” Timothy was vexed. He wanted to go visit his lady friend, Rebecca and couldn’t find his driving shoe. He needed that shoe to drive. The little gizmo in the heel attached to a pedal and the button on the toe engaged the power. Without that shoe, the car wouldn’t go. “How stupid,” Timothy muttered. He was convinced that the shoe had a mind of its own and it disappeared when it didn’t want to go for a drive – or maybe his son took it. He wanted him to stop driving. Timothy stamped around his apartment for another ten minutes and finally admitted defeat.
“Call Rebecca,” Timothy said to no one in particular. He still felt foolish talking to the air.
“Hello,” said Rebecca. “Is that you Timothy? You were supposed to be here a while ago. Is everything OK?”
She sounded more concerned than peeved. That was good, thought Timothy. “I can’t find that blamed driving shoe for the new vehicle, so I can’t come over. Any chance you could come here?”
“No, Juliette has the vehicle today and won’t be back for a few hours. Is that transporter thing working at your place? Mine only takes me to the doctor and the grocery store.”
“I hadn’t thought about that. Which grocery store?”
“The Better Food For You store on Locust.”
“Mine takes me there, too. Let’s meet there and then we can walk to the coffee shop on Locust and Wells. Feels like it’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”
“I agree,” said Rebecca. “Can you be there is fifteen minutes?”
“Sure can. See you soon,” said Timothy.
Timothy hurried about his place getting dressed and finding his credits and that book he wanted to talk to Rebecca about. He stepped into the hallway, locked his door and walked to the transporter. There was a lot about 2074 that he did not like, but transporters were pretty terrific. You got places instantly, it was comfortable, and there were lots of transporter stations around, so it was easy to move through the city. It lacked the feeling of traveling , though. No wind blowing through your hair, not that he had any left, no radio blaring with the best songs. It was sterile, but it was efficient.
He got in the transporter and pushed the button labeled “Better Foods for You -Locust.” Before he could think about it, he stepped out of the Transporter right at the front door of the store. Rebecca wasn’t there yet, so he went inside to get some drinks.
Rebecca liked the pomegranate-almond and he liked the pineapple-peanut butter. She always made fun of his tastes, but he liked it and today felt special. He picked up two old fashioned soft pretzels with mustard. He had not seen those for years. As he remembered, they were delicious.
He went back outside to wait for Rebecca. She walked out of the transporter door just as he sat down on the bench. He jumped up and went over to her. His hands were full, so he just leaned over and gave her a peck on the cheek. “I thought you might want a snack. These looked good, so I just got them.”
Rebecca chuckled. “I always love a snack before I go get coffee.”
“My memory is as long as an inch,” Timothy said. “I got here early and thought I’d just get us a quick something and forgot all about the coffee. Maybe we can munch and sip a bit, then window shop a bit, and then we might be ready for coffee.”
“Sounds fine to me. I always enjoy time with you.”
They sat under the brightly colored eco-umbrellas, dialed the weather and view they wanted and settled in. He wanted sunshine and puffy clouds; she was in a rain showers mood. They set the weather to change randomly over the next 20 minutes. There was no question about the view, though — they both loved the beach. The eco-umbrella sides came down and they were immersed in a gorgeous sunny day at the beach. They drank their concoctions and ate their pretzels and talked about what they always talked about — the old days.
They reminisced about beach trips, long drives to the mountains, and camping trips. Timothy told her tales about having to stay in his car with his dog that had surprised a skunk and she told him tales of camping when there were tornados all around. The eco-umbrella obliged with a rain shower during her story. They were both dreamy eyed.
“Do they still make those gasoline engine cars?” Rebecca asked Timothy.
“I think there might be a few left, maybe for movies or in history museums. Would be pretty neat to get one, wouldn’t it?” That innocent statement started it.
They looked at each other as the idea hit them at the same time. “Let’s find an old car, drive it to the mountains, and find a cabin to stay in,” said Timothy.
“We can’t do that. First those cars are hard to find, second, there’s no gas, third, the solid roads are all broken up and weeds are growing in them, and fourth, well, I don’t know what is fourth, but we just can’t do that.” Rebecca was giving all of the reasons why it wouldn’t work and at the same time wanting it to work out with all of her heart. She remembered playing in a cabin as a little girl and those memories were always joyful. “My grandparents had a cabin that I loved and we would often go there for weekends. Back in 2004 we could drive just about anywhere.”
“OK, you are right about the cars and the gasoline and the roads. So, how’re we going to get to that cabin or to the beach?” Timothy suddenly wanted to escape his apartment and the city. The cities were clean and had parks and were not the dirty crowded places he remembered in the ‘20s, but they were so controlled. He wanted some wildness.
The two of them thought a bit.
“Let’s use some of our wisdom for a minute,” said Rebecca. Timothy did not like the sound of that. Using wisdom usually meant let’s not have any fun. He felt a grump coming on. Rebecca continued, “We’re in our late 90s and are in great shape, but I’m not sure we’re up to a true road trip.”
Bring on the rain, thought Timothy, but he just listened.
“You know where they’re building that new living center to the west of here?” she asked.
“I‘ve heard about it, but I’m not sure exactly where it is,” said Timothy warily.
“It’s right on the edge of the city. Beyond it is countryside that hasn’t been touched for twenty or thirty years. What if we drove there in your new vehicle and then took a hike into the countryside? We might find something wild – maybe a wildflower.” Rebecca looked pleased with the idea.
Timothy thought about that for a bit. “Maybe we could use that as a training run,” he said.
“We could carry food with us; see how far we can walk comfortably and see what the terrain is like. Then we can do it again in a few days and go further. Eventually, maybe we could walk to that cabin.”
Rebecca loved Timothy’s optimism. Not many of her friends shared that. “Great plan,” she said. “When do we start?”
“Tomorrow, if I can find that blamed shoe. Do you think my son might have taken it to keep me from driving? He thinks I’m too old to drive. He thinks I might try to go somewhere that I shouldn’t go, where I might get myself into trouble.”
“Somewhere like the edge of the city where they’re building the new living center?” Rebecca said with a grin.
“Yes, exactly! Maybe he knows me better than I give him credit for,” he was grinning, too. “You bring the food and some good walking shoes and I’ll bring the car and meet you tomorrow at 9:00 at your place. I’ll tell him it’s a picnic – he can’t worry too much about a picnic, can he?”
“Let’s start our training by walking to the coffee shop. I think our time is up with the eco-umbrella,” Rebecca said.
“They’re expensive things, but they sure are nice. Maybe if I had one at the apartment, I wouldn’t want to go on hikes. Hrumph! All the more reason not to get one!”
They got up and headed to the coffee shop five blocks away. He reached out and took her hand. It was comfortable. She thought so, too.
“Well, we made five blocks and that was pretty easy. The hike tomorrow will be a snap.” Timothy was feeling good. He wasn’t sure whether it was the walk or the holding hands, but whatever it was, it was good.
“I can’t wait to see what we discover tomorrow. I think it’ll be something surprising,” said Rebecca.
They had a cup of coffee and shared a scone then headed back to the transporter station.
“Somehow leaving to step in to a transporter is spoiling my mood,” said Rebecca. “Just feels cold.”
“Right, tomorrow it’ll be different. I’ll drop you off at your door after the picnic and we’ll feel like kids. I might even steal a real kiss. See you tomorrow.”
They each headed home – grinning.