The Old Manbylancer69©
Monday was cool and sunny, with a slight breeze that carried the scent and promise of early autumn. Jack Williams eased his 73-year-old body down on his accustomed bench in the small park downtown and opened his book. He liked this spot under a big oak tree whose leaves had just begun to show signs of changing color. The fresh air was nice and it was shady and cool during the summer. In the spring and autumn the sun angle was just right to give a little warmth. It gave him a place to ponder his life and those other things that needed pondering. He'd just settled into his read when a shadow fell across the page. He looked up and saw a pretty young woman looking at him.
"Would you mind if I shared your bench," she asked in a soft voice.
"I'd be delighted to share with you, Miss." He stood up and gestured to the bench. "Please join me."
"I didn't want to interrupt your reading." She sat down and crossed her legs.
Jack smiled at her. "You're not disturbing me in the least. This is just my thinking place." He resumed his place at the other end of the bench.
She looked at him quizzically. "Your 'thinking place'?"
"I just come here to read and think, if it becomes absolutely indispensable for me to think."
She looked at him for a moment, then laughed softly. The twinkle in his eye gave him away. "You don't like to think?"
"I find it a chore and it sometimes dredges up memories that I'd rather not deal with. Especially on such a nice day." He smiled at her. "Especially in the presence of such a charming young lady."
She blushed. "My name is Dana Raffelli." She held a hand out to him.
"I'm Jack Williams," he said, taking her soft hand and squeezing gently. He released her hand and looked at her a little more closely. She was indeed pretty, with auburn hair and eyes that defied description. A strange mix of hazel and grey, almond shaped, with long lashes. He held out a paper bag to her. "Care for a chocolate chip cookie?"
"Oh, thank you." She took one and bit into it. "Delicious. Does your wife bake them for you?"
"She used to. She died about a year ago." He looked away for a moment.
"I'm sorry about your wife." She touched his hand gently.
"Thanks, but it's all right. I'm used to it now. So, now I bake them for myself. Looks like they're pretty good bait, too."
She looked at him. "Bait?"
"I caught you, didn't I?" He looked at her and smiled.
She decided he was much nicer looking when he smiled. It helped to change the lines in his face. She smiled back at him. "Very tasty bait."
"Thanks." He put the bag down on the bench between them. "Just help yourself. I got plenty more at home. Once I get started, it's hard to stop."
She laughed softly. Jack liked the sound of her laugh. He liked the way her nose wrinkled and her eyes flashed. He sighed within himself, wishing he were her age. He could get interested in her very easily, but the difference in their ages would make that impractical. At 73, he was a little old for her, but it certainly didn't stop him from dreaming and wishing.
His own perception of himself was that Time had taken him into an alley and beat the shit out of him. His face was lined and puffy, and somewhat colorless. He was losing his hair, which, by now, was all gray. Oh, well, at least he'd be spared the burden of trying to woo and win a girl and fend off the competition. He'd never been good at that.
Sometimes the nights were lonely. Sometimes the only pleasant company was his good old right hand, and even then his stiffy was iffy. But, more often than not, it got the job done. It was a good release and brought back memories from happier times.
"Do you come here every day?" Her hand was on his arm. It felt wonderful.
"Yes, just about every day unless it's raining or snowing. Then I stay home and enjoy the fire."
She stood up. "Well, I have to get back to work. It was nice meeting you, Jack. Maybe I'll see you here again."
"I'd like that, Dana. It was nice talking to you." He stood and took her hand again. "You're a very nice person. They're getting fewer and farther between." He let her hand go, but she seemed reluctant to release his.
"I know what you mean." She finally let his hand go. "Until the next time, then." She turned and walked off toward the street.
He watched her walk away. She does have nice legs, he thought. She was such a charming young woman. He wondered idly who was the lucky guy that was keeping company with her. How could anyone resist those eyes?
They met again the next day and chatted for the duration of her lunch hour. She had brought a sandwich and some fruit. Jack had more cookies and a container of milk. They shared their food and talked about nothing in particular. She seemed to enjoy his company, for which he was grateful, not so much for the company as for the opportunity to spend an hour with such a lovely young woman.
It continued for the next several weeks. They would sit, chatting amiably and learning more and more about each other until that fateful Friday when she didn't show up. Jack wondered if she was ill, or just didn't care to have any further meetings with him. He was disappointed. She filled a void in his life that he was reluctant to leave empty. He looked around for a bit, then decided to finish his book. When he'd finished reading he stood up and put his trash in the bin, looked around one last time, then started for home.
Suddenly, "Jack, wait a minute!"
He turned and saw her running toward him. His heart leaped. "Hi, Dana. I was just leaving. I missed you at noon."
"I'm too late, then." She looked genuinely disappointed.
"Not at all, Dana. I didn't think you were coming, so I finished my book. I didn't see any point hanging around any longer, but now that you're here, let's sit." He noticed that her smile was a little forced, and there was evidence of tears on her cheeks.
She looked at him with those lovely eyes. "I'm so glad I caught you. I could use a friend right now."
"Hey, what's the problem?" He saw that she was ready to break down. He put his hand on her arm and squeezed it gently. "Care to talk about it?"
She did break out into tears. She lowered her head and sobbed disconsolately.
"Come on, Dana. Put your head on my shoulder and let it out." He put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her to him. She didn't resist him and her head fell to his shoulder. Her sobs tore at his heart.
"I lost my job today." She told him the story between sobs. "My boss started making advances to me, and I just lost it and slapped his face as hard as I could."
Jack held her close, trying not to get too familiar with her. She just continued sobbing. He gave her his handkerchief and let her clean up a little.
"Want to talk about it?"
"I'm glad I'm out of there. I need the job, but not that badly. God! What a pig that man is!"
"Maybe you should file a harassment suit against him." He gave her a little squeeze.
She leaned against him. "No, I'm just glad to get away from him and his constantly horny buddies. I can find another job."
"Do you have a boyfriend?" He looked at her, hoping she'd say yes.
"No. Well, I did have one, but he did the same thing to me. He demanded it as though it were his right and my duty. Isn't there anyone in this world who doesn't have sex on his mind?" More sobs, more tears.
Jack felt so sorry for her. He wished he could offer her some comfort. He looked at his watch. "Coming up 5 p.m. How about if I buy you dinner? There's a nice little place not far from here."
She looked up at him, and smiled. "That's so nice of you. I'm certainly in no mood to cook."
He stood up and held his hand out to her. She took it and they headed to the restaurant. They were fortunate enough to get a table right away. He helped her off with her coat and they ordered.
"Some wine with dinner, Dana?"
"Yes, I'd love some. Something red?"
"Just so. You just need some hot food and a little wine and you'll feel a lot better."
"I already feel better being with you, Jack."
"Nobody needs problems. There's no reason that a charming young woman like you should have such unhappiness. I'm just trying to cheer you up a little."
"Oh, Jack. You've cheered me up a lot already." She reached across the table and put her hand on his. "You're a good friend and a good person."
When the wine arrived he poured for her and lifted his glass. "To better times."
She smiled and touched her glass to his. "Right now, these are better times."
They sipped, completing the toast. Jack studied her. She seemed to have relaxed a little, losing the tension in her shoulders. "So, what's on the agenda for tomorrow?"
"I'm going to take the day off." She suddenly giggled. "Tomorrow's Saturday. Of course I'm going to take the day off." Then she laughed heartily. "Damn, I feel so much better, now. Jack, you're a wonder."
"Hardly. I'm just an old retired fart who was lucky enough to be here at the right time to lend you a hand."
"And a shoulder and a hanky and a meal. Since I've met you, you've done all the giving and I've done all the taking."
"Nonsense. You've given me your company and your charm and you've brightened up an old man's life. I certainly couldn't ask for more than that."
She studied his face. She saw only kindness in his eyes. "Jack, would you mind telling me how old you are? I'm just curious."
"I'm 73. Be 74 next October."
"You must have seen a lot in your lifetime." She regarded him over the rim of her glass.
"Yeah, I guess I've seen a lot of interesting stuff. Man on the moon, the internet and all the other pointless crap that mankind is capable of inflicting on himself." He looked at her eyes, those incredible eyes. "Sorry. I guess my cynicism is showing. A concomitant of age."
"I'll bet you've led an interesting life."
"Only if you look at it with a clinical eye. It's actually been rather pedestrian. A couple of hitches in the Air Force during the Cold War, the rest working in the electronics industry in one capacity or another. Then, finally, the culmination of my life. Retirement. Blessed retirement."
"You don't feel lost or at odds? I hear all these stories that when men retire, they go to pieces in a couple of years."
"Don't you believe it. I was never one of those driven individuals. I just took it as it came, did my time in the barrel and got out as soon as I felt I could afford it." He took a quick gulp of his wine as their meal arrived. "Best thing that ever happened to me. I just love it. Been retired for nine years and I don't feel lost or ignored or anything else. I was born for this."
Dana chuckled. "I get the distinct impression that you're enjoying life."
"That I am. When I first retired, I'd get up early and sit by the window and thumb my nose at all the poor souls commuting to work." That delightful laugh of hers again. "The oddest thing is that when I drive anywhere, the traffic doesn't bother me at all, because I don't have to be anywhere at any particular time. My stomach has been remarkably pain-free, too, from not being tied up in knots."
Dana laughed again. "Maybe I should just retire, too. Sounds like the idyllic life,."
"It is. Well, most of the time. Sometimes it can get a little lonely."
"Don't you have friends?" She seemed genuinely concerned.
"Sure. I have you for a friend." He smiled at her slight blush.
"Yes, you do, Jack. But what about people your own age?"
"Well, I don't care much for old people. Too mired in the past. I like to see what's over the horizon. That's the one aspect of death that I don't like. I'll miss all the things that will happen in the future. I don't fear death, I resent it."
The food arrived at that moment. They spent the next few minutes with salt and pepper and preparing to eat, then eating mostly in silence. When they finished, Jack took care of the bill, and they headed back to the park.
"What about younger people?" Dana walked beside him, holding his arm lightly. "Do you have any younger friends?"
"No. They have enough on their plates without me slowing them down."
"I'm young, and you're not slowing me down. In fact, I'm having a time keeping up with you."
"Oh, sorry. I've always been a fast walker." They reached "their" bench and sat down in the darkening evening.
Dana turned to him. She took his hands in hers. "Jack, would you have dinner with me tomorrow night? I'd love to cook you a nice meal."
"Why, I'd like that, Dana. That would be very nice. Are you sure it wouldn't be a bother?" His heart beat a little faster.
"No bother at all, especially for a good friend." She rummaged around in her purse and found a piece of paper. She wrote her name, address and phone number on it and handed it to him. "How about 6:30?"
"Sure, I know where this is. Six-thirty tomorrow night. I'll be there and I'll bring the wine."
"Just make sure you bring you. That's the most important thing." It was Jack's turn to blush. He was glad she couldn't see his face. The blush got worse when she leaned forward and gave him a soft kiss on his cheek.
She stood and held both hands out to him. "Well, Jack, I'll be expecting you."
"Oh, I'll be there. I'd be a fool to turn down a home-cooked meal, especially one prepared by such an enchanting young woman."
"You're a shameless flatterer." Another quick peck on the cheek and she was off.
Jack watched her walk away, his heart beating a little faster.
The next evening, he showered and dressed casually in slacks and a light flannel shirt in deference to the cool evening. He wanted her to see the real person, not some fake. He gathered up the wine, went out to his car and drove to Dana's home.
"Ooooh, Jack, please come in." She greeted him with a big smile and a quick kiss. "I'm so glad you could make it." She was dressed in navy slacks and a light blue blouse.
"Dana, it smells wonderful in here. It's been a while since I smelled anything this good." He handed her the wine and followed her into the kitchen.
She put the wine down on the table and got out a corkscrew. "Please sit down, Jack. It's almost ready. Would you open the wine, please?"
He opened a bottle and sat at the table. "What is that lovely smell?"
She smiled at him. Those eyes and that crinkled nose got to him again. "I hope you like Italian cooking. It's chicken saltimbocca."
"Oh, I love that. It's one of my favorite meals."
"Then I guessed the right thing to cook. If you'll pour the wine, I'll plate it up and we can eat."
Jack poured the wine and realized his mouth was watering. In the light and inside, he got a better look at her. She was even lovelier than he remembered. She had a very nice figure, with high breasts and a trim waist. The slacks she wore complimented her slender hips and delightfully curved behind.
Dana went into the kitchen and returned with their plates. Jack held her chair for her as she sat down. She raised her glass. "To a pleasant evening with a good and pleasant friend."
"Very nice toast, and the same to you." They both sipped their wine, then dug into the food.
"Dana, this is delicious," he said after a mouthful of the chicken. "The sauce is perfect."
"Why, thank you, Jack. I'm glad you like it."
They ate quickly, not because of hunger but because the meal was truly delicious and couldn't be denied further.
She opened the second bottle of wine and brought it with her as they moved to the living room.
"Dana, that was the best meal I've had in a very long time. You're a wonderful cook."
"It's nice to know someone appreciates my efforts." She leaned toward him and kissed him lightly on the lips.
Jack blushed and felt a vaguely familiar stirring in his loins. His heart started to go into overdrive. He wanted so much to take her in his arms and do unspeakable things to her body.
"Wow," he said softly. "It's been a while since I felt something like that."
She put her hand on his cheek. It felt so soft and smooth and cool. "You're a sweet man, Jack."
He couldn't pull himself out of those bottomless pools that were her eyes. In spite of himself, he just kept staring into her eyes. "You're a beautiful woman, Dana." His voice was slightly shaky, his mouth was dry. "Your eyes won't let me go."
She shifted toward him again and kissed him. This time deeper, longer and with more meaning. When she pulled back, Jack just stayed where he was, his eyes closed, his heart racing.
"Hey, you," she said softly. "Are you okay?"
He was finally able to speak. "Okay doesn't begin to describe it. That was wonderful. It's been so long..."
"Don't say anything, Jack. It's been a long time for me, too. I don't ever remember knowing a man so sweet, unassuming and considerate as you." She moved close to him, her breasts now palpable against his chest. She looked deeply into his eyes. "I can't help myself, Jack, I love you."
Jack was thunderstruck. He could only stare into her eyes. They drew him in deeper and deeper. "My god, Dana. We've only known each other for a few weeks. How can you feel that way about me?" His heart pounded. He felt dizzy and somewhat disoriented.
"I feel that way because you affect me that way. I won't attempt to explain it because I don't fully understand it myself. But I won't question it. It's too comfortable. It's too natural, as though it's ordained." She kissed him again. This time, there was no tentativeness about it. She bored in to him, her tongue seeking his soul.
Jack was further confounded by a definite stirring in his loins. His cock began to stiffen. He was overwhelmed by his feelings. Never before in his life had he experienced anything like this.
He pulled back from the kiss, his breathing deep and uneven. "Dana, I don't know what to say. This is...well, surreal."
"Why do you say that, Jack? Do you not want my love?" Her eyes, those lovely eyes, began to fill with tears.
Jack put his hands on her shoulders and looked deep into her eyes. "Dana, of course I want your love. I welcome it, but I'm fifty years older than you..."
She interrupted him. "I'm not worried in the least about that and I really don't care. You're the man I've been looking for. You're the man I love."
His mind was in a spin. He did welcome her love, but felt like such a hypocrite. He lusted after her, too. He felt he was no better than her ex-boss or her former boyfriend. Still, he felt love for her, too. It's just that it was too fantastic to comprehend. He began to get a little teary, too. This sweet, lovely young woman loved him and wasn't going to take "no" for an answer.
"I need someone kind and attentive," she continued. Tears ran down her cheeks. "You're the only man I've ever met who didn't want anything from me. You give everything and ask nothing in return." She threw her arms around him and held him close.
"Oh, Dana, Dana! You make an old man so happy!" It was Jack's turn to shed tears. He pulled back from her and suddenly burst out laughing. "Here we are holding each other, claiming to be happy and we're bawling our eyes out." He hugged her close again.
"Oh, Jack," she sobbed. "I'm crying because I'm so happy! I don't know what I would have done if you had pushed me away."
"I couldn't do that, Dana. That would be unthinkable, stupid, senseless and insane."
Suddenly, she stood up and held her hands out to him. "Come with me, Jack." She spoke so softly he almost didn't hear her.
He stood up dumbly, took her hands in his and let her lead him to the bedroom. The room was dark with only the light from a newly-risen full moon for illumination.
When she began removing her clothes, he could only stare at her.
She stood naked before him, a vision in the moonlight. She went to him and began to unbutton his shirt. "Help me, Jack."
"My god, Dana! What are you doing?"