This story marks #6 in the Jack and Diane series. The two met on a 50+ dating app a few months before this story occurs. I did not set out to create a series for these two characters, but they continue to live in my writing mind. Enjoy!
You can read the first five stories here:
Mi Volvo Es Muy Mal
Jack Marin parked his Ford F-150 at the curb in front of Diane Somer’s house. The double garage door was open. Her Prius sedan sat in one bay. As Jack walked up, he realized the second car was an old dark blue Volvo, its hood open.
“Hello?” he called.
Diane’s head appeared from under the hood.
“Hi. Right on time.”
Jack nodded. “A very old Volvo.”
“A 142-S. Frank kept it for all these years.”
On the wall facing the Volvo was a faded wooden sign. Mi Volvo es muy mal.
Jack pointed to the sign.
“Frank got it from an abandoned garage somewhere up north, years back,” Diane said. “The old girl is fading, though. I only use it three times a year.”
“Visits to the cemetery. His birthday, my birthday…and today, Margaret’s birthday.”
Diane ran a pair of battery cables from the Volvo to her Toyota.
“Can I help?” Jack asked.
“I got this.” She started the Toyota, hopped out and got in the Volvo. In a minute or so the Volvo kicked over. It coughed and sputtered, then smoothed out. She disconnected the cables and turned off her Toyota.
Ten minutes later Diane was driving them to the cemetery in the Volvo. She pulled up under a large tree. Opening the trunk, she took out two faded aluminum beach chairs and placed them at Frank’s grave. Then she set out a small cooler.
“Have a seat,” she said. “There’s water and soda in the cooler, and a few snacks.”
“I’ll wait,” Jack said. He sat.
“I usually stay for an hour or two,” Diane said. “If you get restless, feel free to walk around. And there’s a restroom in the office near the front gate.”
“Good to know.”
“Jack, I appreciate your being here with me.”
“I sometimes sit in silence. Once in a while I will talk quietly to Frank. Today I’ll introduce you.”
Jack shifted in his chair.
Diane sat upright. She closed her eyes, arms resting in her lap. Jack leaned back, tried to relax. His own wife had been gone for two years now, but he had never once visited her cemetery.
Diane whispered. “Frank, I drove over in the Volvo today. She’s still running.” She gestured to Jack. “I brought a friend with me today. His name is Jack. You’d like him. We met on a fifty-plus dating app a couple of months ago. Not really dating. More like hanging out together. Developing a friendship.”
Diane drifted back to silence.
Jack looked around the cemetery. Many of the graves had flowers or flags. Several other visitors stood around graves, or sat in the grass. He got up quietly and walked to the road. He walked the perimeter of the cemetery. Near the top was a section for cremated remains, graced by a small fountain. He circled and walked down near the office building.
A white BMW SUV sat in the office parking lot. Jack walked past without a glance. As he went by, a woman’s voice called out. “Sir?”
Jack turned. A woman slipped out of the BMW. “May I ask you a question?”
Jack pointed to himself. “Me?”
The woman nodded. “I’ve been sitting here for a while. Are you with that woman up the road, the one with the old Volvo?”
“Her name is Diane?”
Jack took a step back. Held his palms out. “I don’t know you.”
“No, you don’t. But I was watching you sitting with her.” The woman pointed up the road. “That’s my mother.”
A hawk screed in the distance. Jack looked up. A half dozen crows were chasing the hawk away from a stand of trees at the edge of the cemetery. The hawk flew calmly away while the crows squawked after it.
He turned his attention back to the woman.
“You must be Margaret.”
The woman leaned back against her car. “I’m guessing my mother told you about me.”
Jack shook his head. “I only know she’s troubled the two of you are not communicating.”
“Today is my birthday.”
“That’s why she’s here.”
Silence hung between them for a few moments.
“She didn’t tell me how sick my dad was…till he was gone.”
Margaret took a step toward Jack. “What has she told you about me?”
Jack held his palms up. “Please…don’t put me in the middle. I like your mother. I don’t want to be carrying a secret around. Reach out to her, but don’t pull me in. It’s none of my business.”
A tear slid down Margaret’s cheek. She looked out at Diane up in front of her dad’s grave. “I don’t know how to do this.”
Jack turned to walk away. Margaret slipped back into her car, fired up the engine, and drove off.
Damn! Don’t do this to me.
Jack walked back up to the grave site. Sat down again without a word.
Diane looked up at Jack. “You were talking to Margaret.”
“Yeah. You saw her?”
“I know her car. I spotted it as soon as we got here.”
“This is awkward.”
“What did she say?”
Jack shook his head. “I told her I didn’t want to get in the middle of this.”
Diane stood. “We should get back.” She folded her chair and packed up the cooler.
Jack remained seated. “I don’t belong in the middle of this.”
“Jack, we’ve been seeing each other for several months now. Like it or not, you are in the middle of it. My estrangement from Margaret is part of my life. Jump in the pool, or walk away.”
She stood over him. “Your ouch is nothing compared to my pain. You can help me with this, or I will go back to dealing with it alone. Your choice.”
Jack stood, folded his chair, put it in the Volvo.
They drove back to the house in silence.
Diane nudged the Volvo back into the garage. “Want to come in for coffee?”
Jack shrugged. “This is getting complicated.”
“You’re in or you’re out…in, I hope.”
Jack smiled. “Got any cookies to go with the coffee?”