Marge and SargebyPTBzzzz©
For the longest time I never really knew their names, we called them Merry and Joe. One day they just showed up in town. No one knew where they came from or much about them. They were nice people.
My name is Robert Christmas, everyone calls me Sarge. I am 46 years old and never found the right woman to marry. I don't know why, a customer started to call me Sarge one evening and it stuck, sort of. I run a little watering hole called The Silver Dollar Saloon; I inherited it when my folks died in a car crash. We sell good food and strong drink for a responsible price. We have a regular crowd that drops in as they see fit.
The jukebox is always running, the dance floor is always open for a good time and the old piano is always in tune; even though no one has played it in years.
It was toward the end of the summer; a beautiful, graceful, blond woman walked into my world. I would guess she was about 45 or so. She arrived at almost exactly 9 o'clock. She ordered a Manhattan; I had not sold one of them in the 20 years I ran the place. She saw a look of concern on my face. Finally I told her I had only made one in Bartending School about 21 years ago and did not remember how.
She had no problem guiding me through the steps to make one the way she liked them. She told me it was perfect. Any way she found a table a little ways off the dance floor and relaxed with her drink. After a while one of the regulars noticed her foot was tapping to the music and asked her to dance. She moved like a dream. Soon all the single guys, and a few of the married ones, were asking and she kept on dancing; until just before 10. At that point she declined to dance any more.
Just slightly after 10 another stranger came into the place and proceeded to sit down at the end of the bar; he ordered a coffee, black no sugar. He looked to be in his early 60's.
When the juke box stopped playing for a few minutes she asked if she could play the piano. I had no problem with that, so she sat down and kinda started to play a few notes. I guess she was satisfied; she started to play and sang some old time love songs. She played and sang even better than she danced.
The conversations all died down to a dull roar and she continued to play; until about 11 o'clock. She got up walked over to the older guy and they left together holding hands.
I wondered, as they left, how a dried up old prune of a man could attract such an angel. But, I have seen stranger things.
The next evening it started all over again. She arrived at 9, ordered her Manhattan, danced with all who wanted and stopped just before he arrived. She then played the piano until 11 and they walked out holding hands and disappeared into the dark.
After a few weeks of the same, people started to compare notes. She always arrived on the last cross town bus of the evening. He always arrived, walking, from the same direction.
He always had an older Yellow Lab at his side; the Lab found a place just outside the door, in a protected spot, and patiently waited for them to leave. He was about the friendliest dog you ever saw, and well behaved.
When they left they always walked in the same direction they had arrived from, the dog a few steps behind.
You could see the love in their eyes as the headed out the door.
It was about 3 months later that they were given names. We had gotten tired of calling them her, she, him and other non specific names. She was referred to a Merry because she was always so happy. He was Joe because he only had coffee. The dog was called Killer because he wasn't one. He might have killed you with love if you let him.
They continued to drop in every week day, never on a Saturday, we were closed on Sunday. The only time they missed was when the weather was too bad. If the weather was bad for too long he drove an older car into town; but she always came into town by bus. When he drove Killer stayed in the back seat out of the weather.
They continued their pattern for about 15 years; then did not come in for a month or so. Finally she appeared again, this time accompanied by 2 Yellow Labs, she had walked into town. She danced until 10 and then she sang and played until 11. He never showed up. At 11 she went outside and walked back toward home with a dog on either side of her.
Finally we decided the other dog was to be called Felonious Assault. He could love you to death too.
Merry continued to show up, drink her Manhattan, and dance, sing and play for nearly another 5 years. Then one evening she stopped coming in.
It was 3 weeks later that another beautiful, graceful, blond woman walked into my world; she looked to be about 40 years old. The same 2 dogs waited outside as always.
This woman walked up introduced herself showed me a picture and asked if I knew her mother. I pulled out some pictures that had been taken over the years. As they progressed from younger to older; I had pictures of her dancing, singing and playing and as they walked out the door holding hands. Someone even took a picture with them walking down the street with Killer in place behind them.
She explained how the dogs had been restless each evening at about the same time; and how she decided to let them take her for a walk. When they arrived at my door they just lay down and would not move.
We talked off and on all evening. Her name was Marge; she was an only child and a teacher for years in a town about 50 miles from here.
Her mother was actually named Mary, her father was Joseph, and they had lived on a small farm just north of town.
They raised Yellow Labs to be trained as helper dogs; there were never less than 15 at any time on the farm. Through the years as one dog got too old to walk into town her father, and then her mother, would just train another to accompany them. She guessed we had seen 10 to 12 different dogs over the years.
Her mother often spoke about dancing, playing and singing in the evenings. Marge had her doubts but never let on. She was delighted to know her parents were known and loved in my place.
I told her that it was 11; the dogs were ready to go home. She looked at me with a funny look on her face; I told her of the schedule her parents had. She laughed and left. The dogs escorted her home, one on each side.
Well, every evening the dogs took her for a walk to my place. When the weather was too bad she drove the same old car into town. Marge and I became inseparable.
It was a year later that we were married on the dance floor. 14 months later Marge gave birth to a delightful, blond, little girl, we named her Merry Josephine. I don't know which of my ladies I love the most.
We live out on the farm. She trains the dogs, I run the saloon, each evening the dogs walk both of my ladies into town. Marge plays the piano and sings each evening from 10 to 11 then we all leave together. I stay home on Saturday now; my employees can have the extra hours.
Marge tells me I make the best Manhattan in town. I was trained by the best.