Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1469911-The-Memory-Lane-Malt-Shop
Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #1469911
A story for everyone that knows an Alzheimer's patient.
Memory Lane Maltshop

The Memory Lane Malt Shop


George R. Lasher   
He might, Sid thought, while straining to see an approaching road sign. That young whippersnapper just might pay ten million for my dealership.
        A mover and a shaker in the car sales game for sixty years, Sid Ellington grudgingly admitted to not being as sharp as he used to be. He experienced what he called "senior moments," now and again. He needed to get out while he could still make a bundle.
        A strange, tingling sensation and the notion that he might be on the wrong highway persuaded him to take the next exit.
        Sid filled up at a gas station, one of the old-fashioned kind that offered full service. The uniformed attendant pumped the gas and cleaned the windshield, but the place didn't have an attached convenience store that sold snacks and lotto tickets. Driving away, Sid  decided to find a place to eat.
        Amazed as he drove his classic, 1957 Oldsmobile through the tiny hamlet, everything and everyone he saw could have been props and players in a 1950's theme park. The jukebox blared as he followed a pair of teenagers into the Memory Lane Malt Shop, on Main Street.
        Frying burgers and the aroma of sizzling grilled onions commingled with the happy sounds of young people making plans to go to the dance or the movies that evening. On his way to the counter, Sid's eyes fixed upon a young lady perched on a tall stool, with a stack of books piled high on the table in front of her. Her red hair and freckles reminded Sid of his dear wife, Ellen, who died last year.     
        The teenager looked up and smiled self-consciously. God, she was cute! He felt an overwhelming urge to walk right up to her and tell her, but she couldn’t have been more than twenty and he recently celebrated his eighty-first birthday. She looked just the way Ellen had appeared in 1957 when he met her in a malt shop very much like this one. Trying not to stare, he sat at the counter and acted as if he were looking at something on the other side of the shop.
        The tingling that convinced Sid to take the off-ramp still bothered him. Feels like a low-voltage electrical current. How come it hasn't gone away? he wondered. Concerned about his health, Sid got up, still shaking his head over the remarkable resemblance the young girl bore to his late wife and made his way towards the boy’s room.
        Upon opening the door, he caught a glimpse of himself in the reflection of a cracked, rectangular mirror hanging on the wall above a sink. First, he stared at his hair. Not white or thin anymore, it rose, jet black and thick from his scalp, styled in a full pompadour. Instead of a stooped octogenarian, a wide-eyed young man stared back at him from the mirror.
        Suspecting that he might be hallucinating, Sid pulled his wallet from his hip pocket. He'd heard that people with brain tumors sometimes saw things that weren't there. As he searched for his Medicare benefits card, which he would need if admitted to a hospital, he came across his drivers’ license. Inexplicably, it displayed an expiration date of August 15, 1957.
        Stunned, he assumed he must be either dreaming or comatose. Either way, it appeared as if he had nothing to lose. He had shed enough years to approach that pretty lady without frightening her.
        He glanced at himself in the mirror one last time, stuffed his wallet back into his formerly baggy jeans, which he now filled out quite nicely, and strode confidently through the door. Dreaming or not, he thought, I'm gonna find that girl and ask her for a date.
        After the removal of such a formidable obstacle as their age difference, Sid couldn't believe it when he encountered an even bigger problem. The stack of books and the redhead they belonged to were gone. 
        Sid scanned the entire place and spotted her through the window, crossing the street. He sprinted after her, nearly knocking over a tall, skinny waitress. Had he been the same Sid Ellington that walked into that malt shop, he’d have been appalled at the carelessness the brash, pompadoured youth displayed, but now, his attention focused entirely upon catching up with that redhead!     
        Racing across the street, Sid shouted, “Hey Ellen!” He didn’t really know her name. He figured he might as well be shouting in Chinese, but she turned, appearing surprised, and stopped. 
        “How do you know my name?” she asked.
        The voice fit the face so well. Sid's heart skipped a beat. Even the expression of suspicious curiosity that she flashed looked absolutely adorable.
        One, thin eyebrow arched over an emerald-green eye as she asked, “Do we know each other?” 
        “Well,” Sid replied, catching his breath, “I think we should, don’t you?” He grinned, feeling as if somehow he may have been given the one thing he had dreamed of ever since his dear wife’s death. Could it possibly be that somehow fate might grant him another lifetime with the only woman he ever loved? “Would you like to go to the movies tonight?” he asked. 
        Sid knew that she wanted to say yes, however, she resisted the urge and responded by saying, “But I don’t know anything about you. I don’t even know your name.”
        “It’s Sid, Sid Ellington. There, now you know my name and if you’ll go to the movies with me tonight you can find out anything else."   
        “Are you from around here?” she asked. But before Sid could answer, an approaching bus that she intended to board slowed down and pulled over to the curb.
        Hurriedly, she said, “We live at 421 Eagle Street. Come by at six-thirty and meet my Mom and Dad. If they say it’s okay, I’ll go to the movies with you.” The bus squealed to a stop, the smell of diesel exhaust filling the air as the doors swung inward with a whoosh, revealing the steps. She hopped up and grabbed the rail, balancing the stack of books against her chest with her other hand. 
        “See you tonight,” Sid shouted over the grinding of the transmission being forced into first gear, the revving of the bus’ engine, and the doors swinging closed. He shook his head in amazement as the bus pulled away. How could this be? he wondered. Goosebumps formed on his arms as the thrilling realization swept over him, “This may not be a dream. This may be real!” 
~        ~        ~
        That night Sid explained to Ellen’s parents that his Mom and Dad were dead. But he didn’t tell them they died in the 70’s. He revealed that he'd be a junior at the University of Texas in the coming school year and breathed a sigh of relief when Mr. Brown said, “Ellen, if you don’t mind being seen with this T-sipper, then I guess you can go out with him.” Mr. Brown turned, and menacingly pointed his finger right in Sid’s face. “You get her home by eleven-thirty tonight, young fella. That ought to be plenty of time for you two to see a movie and grab a milkshake. Just make sure that’s all you grab, understand?” 
        “Yes sir.” Sid promised. “Eleven-thirty, on the dot.”   
        Wasting no time, Ellen picked up her purse and sweater. “Let’s go, Sid, time’s wasting. We aren’t getting any younger standing around here.”   
        Sid flinched at her ironic choice of words.  After all, over the course of the day he had shed sixty years. If he didn't stop getting younger, he’d be in diapers before he got Ellen back home.       
        After the movie, they sat on a wooden bench in the City Park. The crickets provided a soft, soothing background to the conversation, mainly consisting of Ellen’s optimistic plans for the future and her inquiries into Sid’s preferences and his past. She marveled at how much they had in common and how he seemed instinctively to know so much about her.
        As she relaxed, Sid put his arm around her shoulder. “I feel like I’ve known you all of my life, Ellen. Don’t you feel that way too?”     
    Laying her head on his shoulder, Ellen replied, “Yes, Sid. It’s almost as if I’ve known you in another life.” She lifted her head back up and stared at him. “Do you believe that’s possible?” 
        “I didn’t used to,” Sid answered, “but recently my opinion on things of that nature has changed.”
        A falling star streaked across the sky, as if the heavens wished to punctuate this magical evening with something more spectacular than just the song of crickets and the soft glow of the moon. “Did you make a wish?” Ellen asked.
        “Oh yes,” Sid replied. 
        “Good, so did I,” she said. Closing her eyes, Ellen tilted her dimpled chin upward, inviting a kiss.
        Her lips were sublimely soft. Sid’s eyes remained closed for several moments after the kiss. He wanted to freeze this night, this moment, and this feeling for all time. Why not? he mused. Here in Memory Lane that might be possible.
        With his renewed vigor he became emotionally and physically intoxicated by the delicate fragrance of Ellen's perfume and the vivid recollections of making love to the woman he adored and missed so much. Sid pulled her closer and kissed her again, harder than before.
        When Ellen regained her composure she whispered, “We’ve got to be heading back home.”
        Sid heard the regret, thick in her voice. Knowing she was right, he still complained, “Ellen, even Cinderella had ‘til midnight, don’t you think we could —" 
        “You met my Dad,” she reminded him. “Did he seem like the kind of guy who would let me come home late, especially on a first date with a new guy from out of town? Tonight has been so special,” she said. “Let’s not do anything to mess it up.”   
        Reluctantly, Sid rose from the bench, took her hand, and escorted her back to his venerable Olds. Less than ten minutes later they stood on her front porch, where she asked him to call her tomorrow, and recited her phone number. "Can you remember that?” she asked.   
        “I’ve never forgotten, err, I mean, I’ll never forget it,” Sid assured her, and told her he would be staying at the local Holiday Inn if she needed to call him for any reason.
        When she asked why he needed to stay at a motel, rather than with friends, he considered telling her the truth. “Ellen, I know this was our first date and you hardly know me yet, but I have something I’ve just got to tell you.” 
        “Tell me tomorrow,” she responded, pointing to the second floor where a light came on. “That’s my Dad. He’s getting ready to come down here any minute.” She leaned forward, kissed Sid one more time and turned to the door, which opened before she placed her hand on the doorknob.
~        ~        ~ 

        Relieved to see a vacancy sign at the Holiday Inn, Sid checked in and went straight to his room. Sitting on the edge of the bed, watching Ernie Kovacs, he resolved to call Ellen as soon as he got up the next morning. He would call her Dad and ask him for a job, just as he had so many years ago.
        As he lay back, he had no doubts about being successful. After all, how many 21-year-old guys can say they have nearly 60 years worth of sales experience? Unable to keep his eyes open any longer, he smiled, knowing this miraculous, second chance at life would be easy. It would be perfect. Everything would be. . .         
        “Wake up, Mr. Ellington. It’s time for your meds.”
        Sid awoke to the annoying sensation of being poked and shaken. Squinting, he looked up into the eyes of a nurse, whose name tag identified her as Janet Reisner.
        Observing recognition and bitter disappointment in the eyes and on the face of her patient, Nurse Reisner said, “My, my, Mr. Ellington, it’s so nice to have you back. You’ve been having one of your nasty old Alzheimer’s episodes. Tell me,” she tilted her head to the left. "Where do you go when you leave us like that?”         
        A single tear rolled out of the corner of Sid’s eye as he realized he had returned to the fast-paced world of high prices, shoddy service, and casual commitments. He didn't want to be a part of this world. It made him feel uncomfortable and unappreciated. But above all else, he felt lonely. He missed Ellen and wouldn’t be content with any world that didn’t include her.   
        He reached out and took the small paper cup containing his medication. So many pills, everyday. He swallowed them and turned toward the nightstand. Crowded onto it sat a small table lamp, a telephone, and a picture of Ellen taken in 1958, wearing her wedding dress. Crestfallen, Sid wondered, How do I get back? He looked at the picture once more, reached out, turned off the table lamp and closed his eyes to shut out the offensive reality surrounding him. 
        He had barely closed his eyes when he flinched at the ringing of the phone on his nightstand. Annoyed to be bothered at a time when he felt so upset, he rolled over. Without bothering to turn on the bedside lamp, he reached out, fumbling for the phone.
        Propped up on one elbow, he answered, “Hello, this is Sid Ellington.” 
        “Sid, this is Ellen, I hope I’m not waking you up, am I?”     
        “Ellen?” How could it be Ellen? He blinked in disbelief and rubbed his eyes.   
        Again she asked, “Did I wake you?”
        Praise the Lord! He was back in Memory Lane, Texas! Perhaps Nurse Reisner had been nothing more than a bad dream. He set the phone down on the nightstand and leapt out of bed to stare into the mirror on the wall, centered over the dresser.
        In an instant, aided by the early morning light peeking around the edges of the tightly drawn curtains, he saw enough of himself to confirm the granting of his wish. Unable to contain the jubilation that welled up within him, he raised his arms and shouted, “Hallelujah!”
          From behind him, he heard Ellen’s voice over the phone.  “Sid, Sid, what’s going on? Are you still there?"
        Sid whirled around and grabbed the phone, “Yes, yes, I’m still here Ellen!" he gushed. "You woke me up, but you know what? I’m glad you did! I’m so very glad you did! What time can I see you today, and by the way,” he added, “do you think your father might need an extra salesman down at his dealership?”     
        “He might,” Ellen replied. “You know, he just might.”
The End.

If you enjoyed this story, I feel certain you would also enjoy the following:
The Blooper  (13+)
An embarrassing blooper occurs at a girls softball game.
#1550587 by George R. Lasher
Please send me a short note. I always appreciate hearing from readers. Feel free to comment or ask questions regarding anything you see. Write to me at georgelasher@writing.com or send an email to georgelasher59@gmail.com

Additionally, you may contact me on Facebook...http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=1625773285&aid=36414

Be sure to check out my novel, The Falcon and His Desert Rose. This 280 page, romantic, international thriller is available online in two formats: eBook (for $3.99) or paperback (for $11.99) from Amazon.com

Kindest regards,

a logo that I find pleasing 

© Copyright 2008 George R. Lasher (georgelasher at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1469911-The-Memory-Lane-Malt-Shop