November 19, 2008

X-rated cribbage game

  The elderly couple drives from their home in the country every Friday afternoon to the mall in town. The Maggie gets out at the food court. Her husband says he'll be off playing cribbage with friends, but he'll be back to pick her up at 4:30 — just like always.

  Lunch at the mall is fun. It's a departure from the heart-healthy food she fixes at home. Today Maggie has chicken fingers, spicy fries, and a medium diet Coke. Other than lunch, her only purchase is two yards of red, white and blue grosgrain ribbon for some summer-time table decorations.

  This day at the mall there's a craft show. Lots to look at. Shell jewelry, calligraphy with wise sayings mounted in frames, wisteria-vine wreaths, you name it and a craftsman has it for sale. Maggie sits on a bench and watches the passing parade of mall-walkers. City folks are strange, she's thinking.

  At 4:30 she goes to the food court entrance to wait for her husband. The routine is the same every week, but this day will be different. Three hours pass. In a near panic, Maggie calls her daughter's husband, two neighbors, and the police. She files a missing persons report.

  Police find the Maggie's husband around 10 p.m. Actually, what they find is a coroner's report. The husband did not play cribbage with friends. He was not with friends, when he died of a heart attack around 4:30 that afternoon. Police give the widow the address where her husband died. What they do not tell her is that the location is an X-rated movie house her husband has visited every Friday afternoon for the past four years.

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