Maude and Burt sat outside Cole’s house on the front porch, admiring the stars. Burt finally broke the silence.
“Nice night,” Burt said.
“Sure is,” Maude said as she lit up a cigarette.
Burt frowned. “Why do you do that for?”
“Do what?” Maude asked.
“That,” Burt said as he pointed at the cigarette.
“I don’t know,” Maude said. “My husband’s dead. I’ve got kids that are too busy to visit me. Grandkids who can’t be bothered to pay attention to me. I don’t recognize the world anymore. I’d say my time has come and gone so I might as well smoke ‘em since I’ve got ‘em.”
“What a terrible thing to say,” Burt said.
“Why?” Maude asked. “No one cares about me.”
Burt smiled. “That’s not entirely true.”
Maude took a drag and belched out the smoke. “You’re sweet, Burt, but my lady business has been out of commission since…dang, I can’t even remember.”
“Oh,” Burt said. “I wasn’t talking about that…I just…”
“Yeah, yeah,” Maude said. “You men only have one thing on your minds, regardless of what age you are.”
“I’d like to court you,” Burt said.
“What?” Maude asked. “Court me?”
“Yes,” Burt said.
“What the hell kind of word is ‘court?’” Maude asked. “Are we in seventeenth century France or some shit?”
“I don’t know what the kids say today,” Burt said. “All I know is I’m retiring soon and, well, if none of your young people care about you and no one at all cares about me then I don’t see why we old folks can’t get together and care about each other.”
Maude gave Burt a look that can only be described as “the stink eye.” “Jesus, Burt, you never got any, did you?”
“I’m not talking about that,” Burt said. “I’m just saying I’d like to, you know, take you out to dinner, maybe go see a movie or…”
Maude picked up her oxygen tank and grabbed Burt’s hand. “I thought Arthur was just joking when he told me you were a virgin thirty years ago, but this is beyond pathetic. Come on.”
Burt became increasingly flustered as the old gal led him up the stairs to Cole’s house. “Arthur told you?!”
“Of course,” Maude said. “We kept no secrets.”
Burt stopped on the porch. “Maude, I don’t know about this. I mean, are you up for it?”
“Stop flattering yourself you old codger,” Maude said. “You haven’t been with a woman your whole life yet you’re worried you might boink me to death your first time out of the gate. Ha! That’ll be the day.”
“No,” Burt said as he looked at Maude’s oxygen tank. “I mean…”
“Oh,” Maude said. “I’ll just turn it up.”
“Maude,” Burt said as the old gal lead him into Cole’s house. “You think Arthur would be mad?”
“Definitely,” Maude said. “But either he’s worm food, in which case, what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him or he’s in Heaven, which if he is, then he’s got better things to do up there than spy on me and your curved unit.”
“He told you about that too?!” Burt asked.
“No secrets,” Maude said.
“The curved thing doesn’t bother you?” Burt asked.
“Meh,” Maude said. “I’ll go at it from an angle. We’ll figure it out.”
“Maude?” Burt asked as the pair walked through Cole’s dark living room.
“What now?” Maude asked.
“I’d still like to take you to dinner sometime,” Burt said.
“We’ll see how this goes first, champ,” Maude said.