Fancy Gap is a small town just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The name stayed in my head until I conjured up this short story
Aging & Attitude
The thick boardroom doors to Lion Technology fly open and the boss, Leonia, the grand dame, ceremoniously joins us around the water cooler. We are on break from a strategic planning session. As head of finance, I know to shut up and let Leonia be center stage. Sales representatives, holding paper cups, listen to her important chatter. I linger for a refill as the others return to the meeting room. Leonia whispers, “John, things have changed.”
She wears a dress of invitation; black and white stripes up and down the skirt, then across the bodice; the zipper concealed in a side seam. She drains the cup with her head thrown back, and runs her tongue full circle around her lips, “Meet me in Fancy Gap.”
I'm still in love with her. Memories of our get-a-way cabin go with her high heel tapping as she saunters away.
Later in the day, I study a quarterly report conflicted, and anticipate a blind copy of an email Leonia will send to her husband, Hector, telling him her plan.
In the past, I have reneged on my ultimatum, leave Hector or else.
Leonia believes I am easy prey.
Sure enough, late in the afternoon a bcc copy appears saying; What time are we dining with Sandy & Bob on Sat? Have a division mtg. on Mon in Roanoke. Thought I’d leave early Sun morning for some R&R at Doe Run Cabins. Love u
The email brings back feelings put aside.
Once, I asked her, “Why do you cheat on him?”
“Yes, your husband. Why are you cheating on him?”
“The day I met Hector he wore wool slacks, a blue pin striped dress shirt, a navy sweater draped over his shoulders and loafers. A pulled together look only a model carried off, hector did.”
I grew impatient for a real answer mesmerized by her words.
“Is this cheating? You make me happy. When I’m happy, Hector’s happy, real happy.”
“So we’re doing Hector a favor? You said you loved me, what about love?”
“Love? I love everything you do.” Sex ended the conversation.
On Sunday, the drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia is spectacular. A combination of crimson, gold, amber and tangerine colored leaves compliment the clear blue sky. I stop in Floyd to have breakfast at the Blue Ridge Café.
A lively group of men occupies a white metal table near a large front window with the establishment’s name scrolled in black cursive. A waitress greets regulars with, "Good Morning," and saves the "I’m Lorie, your server," for strangers like me. A piece of gray duct-tape across the thumb section of her hand acts like a bandage to protect a cut.
Time is frozen; it could be 1965.
I study the menu halfheartedly and listen to the men banter.
Jake, a robust man with a white beard and railroad cap makes manly man noises. I imagine him scratching his head and passing gas, it is not pretty. Luther wears suspenders,and his thin curly hair is pulled back in a ponytail. Several other men's stomachs lay beneath the tabletop, threatening to tear their pants. They discuss Obama Care then move on to love.
Luther clears his throat and says, “What negative feelings do you bring to the relationship?”
“Are you talking about me throwing the remote at the Giants or Jane catching it?” Jake chuckles.
“You could’ve cracked the flat screen.” Lorie comments refilling water glasses from a pitcher positioned sideways.
“No shit, blame Manning. He fumbled the ball.”
Lorie gives me an hope you are good tipper smile. Says, “Ready to order?”
Her look makes me flirt. “How’d you hurt your hand?”
“Burned it, you know what you want?”
I want Leonia to stop jerking me around, but do not tell Lorie, and order the Blue Ridge Everything Omelet.
Thinking about Leonia, I flip open my smart phone, and access her email account. I send Hector an email. Subject: Miss you/Meet in Fancy Gap. Then write a seductive message about missing him. I sign it Love u, and press send. All unbeknown to Leonia.
It is a short drive from Floyd to Fancy Gap, MP 189 on Blue Ridge Parkway. The 2010 census counted two hundred and thirty-seven citizens in Fancy Gap. Doe Run Cabins are on Keno Road. Familiar with the area, I arrive around 2pm, and see Leonia’s car parked outside our cabin. Leonia greets me with a big hug and smile. When I tense, she says, “We’re not at Lion Technology, relax.”
I want to know, “What’s changed?”
Leonia takes my hand; we go inside and sit on the bed. The black granite tops in the galley kitchen, flat screen TV, and the four-poster bed made with all cotton linen are familiar.
“It’s serious. Hector has inoperable brain cancer and is probably dying. It may not be long. We'll be together, like you want.”
“Probably dying? Geez.”
She cries. I lose control. We are under the sheets making love when her cell rings.
It is Hector. He has received my email. I squeeze my hands with apprehension, and listen to their conversation.
“So you miss me.”
“Terribly” Leonia gets out of bed and puts on my t-shirt juggling the cell phone.
Hector’s laugh is hearty and robust, “Well miss me no more, I’m outside your door, knock, knock.” The sound is loud and clear.
Leonia eyes widen in panic. She hesitates waving her arms for me to hide, then opens the cabin door.
Hector is wearing a big smile, Ralph Lauren jeans, and Rockports. He hugs Leonia and looking over her shoulder our eyes meet. “John? John, from Lion?”
His happy expression changes to confusion then no need for an explanation.
“Hector, I’m sorry about your cancer, please understand.”
“Cancer, what cancer, why are you here?”
Later, when Leonia is unpacking she informs me. “Hector wants a divorce. It’s ironic how things work out. Why don’t we buy a cabin on Groundhog Mountain, I’ll call that realtor, what’s her name? You know, she advertises on a billboard on route 8 outside of Floyd.”
The cicadas produce a symphony sound locals say predict tomorrow will be hot and sunny. The sun sets and stillness surrounds me, grounds me. The Blue Ridge Café Men are back in my head with Luther’s question; what negative feelings do you bring to the relationship, as I leave and close the door.
. . . just saying