Andrew Jackson looked up from his newspaper as Rose appeared in the doorway of the kitchen still dressed in her familiar tattered housecoat and beaded leather slippers.
“Good morning,” he said. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes. Coffee is ready. Help yourself.”
Rose gave him an insincere scowl but brightened at the mention of coffee.
“If you want me looking presentable in the morning,” she said, “maybe you shouldn’t keep me awake so late at night.”
Andrew grinned. “If you were gone,” he said, “this is the way I would remember you.”
“Lucky for you I’m not going anywhere,” said Rose.
“Lucky for me indeed,” said Andrew. He laid his paper down and slid the cream pitcher across the table as Rose seated herself in her usual chair. “What’s on your agenda for today?” he asked.
“I’m gonna have a shower,” Rose answered.
“Good idea,” said Andrew. “Sounds like a full day.”
“It’s going to be a long shower,” said Rose. “You might have to get your own dinner.”
“OK then,” said Andrew. “I have a hankering for Kraft Dinner and hot dogs.”
“Oh, also,” said Rose, “I have to go out and get some groceries. We’re having all the kids over tomorrow in case you’ve forgotten, and we’re low on potatoes and beer.”
“We have kids?” said Andrew. “Since when?”
“Since those other nights when you kept me up way too late,” said Rose. “In the ’80s and ’90s.”
“Ah yes, I remember,” said Andrew. “How are they?”
“How are who?” said Rose.
“The kids,” said Andrew.
“As far as I know, they’re good,” said Rose. “You can ask them yourself tomorrow.”
“Hey do you think Jennifer’s ever going to marry what’s-his-name?” said Andrew.
“Alan,” said Rose. “His name is Alan. And yes, I think she’ll marry him. Eventually. God only knows when that’ll be though.”
“Good,” said Andrew. “I like Alan. He’s very talented and surprisingly stable for an artist.”
“Also his family lets us use their beautiful cottage at Victoria Beach every summer,” said Rose.
“That doesn’t hurt,” said Andrew. He paused for a moment. “I went to see Brady at the shop yesterday,” he said. “He just hired another body guy because he couldn’t keep up with the workload with the guys he had.”
“He sure timed it right didn’t he?” said Rose. “Buying an auto-body shop just when the population is aging and people are forgetting how to drive but still have licences.”
“Good timing indeed,” said Andrew. “I used to worry about Brady when he was a kid. I wasn’t sure he’d ever amount to much.”
“Really?” said Rose. “You never let on.”
“Well good for me,” said Andrew. “Anyway, I was pretty wrong in that assessment, clearly.”
“Clearly,” said Rose.
There was a brief pause as they both sipped on their respective coffees. Eventually Andrew set his cup down and took a deep breath.
“Here’s a thing,” he said. “About Randy.”
“What about Randy?” asked Rose.
“Sometimes,” said Andrew, “and I might be wrong about this, I’m just basing this on things he says sometimes which maybe I’m reading wrong, I don’t really know, but I wonder sometimes… ”
“Spit it out honey,” said Rose. “We haven’t got all day.”
“Sometimes I think there are other things Randy would rather do than farm,” said Andrew.
Rose pondered that for a moment, clearly somewhat surprised.
“I’m somewhat surprised,” she said eventually. “But you spend a lot more time with him than I do. I’m sure he says things to you that he wouldn’t have any reason to say to me.”
“Yeah,” said Andrew. “It’s just subtle things he says like, I hate farming, or, farming sucks, or, I wish I wasn’t a farmer. Those things could mean anything, right?”
Rose laughed. “I assume you’re joking,” she said.
“Yeah,” said Andrew. “If those were the things he said, then I wouldn’t have to wonder, would I?”
“Hardly,” said Rose. “I think you should ask him.”
“Ask him?” said Andrew. “Just like that? I was going to hire a private detective to follow him around and record his conversations and see what we could infer from that.”
“That’s also an option, if you’re an idiot,” said Rose.
“So you’re saying that’s an option then,” said Andrew.
“What if he says yeah, there’s something he’d rather do than farm?” said Rose. “What would we do?”
“My first choice would be to ignore it,” said Andrew.
“Me too,” said Rose.
“Otherwise I guess we’d have to think about selling the farm,” said Andrew.
“How would you feel about that?” asked Rose.
Andrew shrugged. “Terrible. Great. And everything in between.” He picked up his coffee. “I have no idea,” he concluded.
There was a brief pause.
“Life,” said Rose eventually. “It’s like a box of chocolates.”
“Delicious but not nutritious,” said Andrew.
“Not exactly what I meant,” said Rose. “But close enough.”