Happiness, Last Chance
After the divorce, I helped Cory move a 900-pound piano from the big old house to a funky little cottage that he'd rented nearby. There I met a shy, skinny woman. "This is my lover, Melissa," Cory said by way of introduction.
Cory was in his sixties. An engineer who'd survived cancer. Retired.
Melissa, lover, looked a little younger, fifty-something.
When we'd wheeled the piano into place, Melissa said, "That's it?"
Other than the piano, Cory had brought one suitcase. "That's it," he said. He'd given everything to his ex-wife: house, furniture, all earthly possessions. He would start anew.
Melissa, apparently, was starting over as well. In the living room there was weight-lifting equipment and nothing more. In the bedroom I could see a mattress on the floor. The walls were all bare.
Cory limped into the kitchen. He'd injured his leg in a bicycle accident as a child. Opening cabinet doors, finding nothing but nutritional drinks, he asked, "Don't you have a single pot?"
"You know I don't eat," Melissa said.
They kissed. Taped to the refrigerator was their only decoration, a calendar featuring photos of muscular body-building women.
They had equipped the house with their passions, nothing more.
For a couple years thereafter until Cory's cancer came back, evenings when I was walking my dog by the cottage, I could hear the piano and see the thin shadow of Melissa on the curtains, lifting weights, not eating. He loved that boogie-woogie.