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[2010.11.27][1654][45384]
Harry spotted Rita at a deck chair and brought her over to the bar to meet Harold.  Harold’s first impression of Rita was that she must be an intoxicating woman to have affected Harry so much in such a short period of time.  Yet, from a short distance, he could see that she appeared to be an ordinary woman, not an extraordinary one.  In a way, she was a fine specimen of a woman, a woman who must have been breathtakingly gorgeous with an excellent bone structure, but what he saw was an older and handsome woman, one filled with grace who lit up when talking to Harry.  The most important part, Harold supposed, was that she liked Harry and Harry liked her.
Upon meeting her, Harold was struck by her grace, she seemed to be much younger than she actually was, though she must have been younger than him, certainly.  Without much prompting, he gave in to Harry and Rita’s joint request for dinner in a group tonight in the main lobby.  Immediately after that, he acquiesced to her invitation to visit Sunny Gardens the following morning.  Harry’s beaming smile was well worth it in Harold’s opinion.
Harold spent the rest of the afternoon alone, not that he was alone, but that Harry and Rita were deeply involved in conversations, some of which Harold caught and some of which Harold ignored in favor of a nap or a quick dip in the pool.  No matter how many people came and went into the afternoon, Harry and Rita remained together, briefly apart for mere moments.  Harry’s increased animation in her presence was amusing to behold and not the least bit delightful to observe.  She left for her room as the light of the day began to change, before the sunset could grace the sedate scene with its presence.
Harry rushed Harold along to their room, insisting that they not be late.  “Early is better, that way we get the good seats.”
“There are good seats?”  Harold wondered.
“Of course there are,”  Harry was affronted by the thought that there weren’t.  “Now, come on, the sooner we get ready, the sooner we can get seats and eat.”
Harold wondered what kind of food the Coconut Motel served that he would actually enjoy.  Given the age of the majority of its patrons, he expected some kind of gooey, edible foodstuffs.  Having most of his teeth at his age, Harold knew what he could and couldn’t eat.  Also, what he couldn’t bear to ingest.  Once clean and presentable, Harold was fussed over by Harry.
“She knows what I look like,”  Harold snarked.
They both arrived early in the main lobby and sat at a table facing the sunset.  The lights overhead were chandeliers, refitted for modern electric lights.  The carpet bore an old design, reminiscent of another era, in magenta and other reddish hues.  Dark hardwood accented with magenta fabric, the five chairs surrounding the round dining table were sturdy and dependable.  Harold settled into the seat and watched the changing horizon.
Rita’s arrival was no less spectacular, for no other reason than Harry’s reaction.  Harry fluttered around her like a hummingbird, dropping compliments and taking in her appearance in happy spurts.  Harold watched them interact and it relaxed him, at least Harry would be in good hands if left with Rita.
Supper was a no frills affair:  Harold had hoped for a buffet, but the meal Rita ordered for all of them wasa light meal that not only filled each of them up, but was colorful and bright.  The serving sizes were tiny, but appropriate, with the right amount of proteins and carbohydrates and vegetables.  They chewed happily, making idle conversation.
Harold told her no lies:  that he and Harry and Hare and Rold lived together was no secret.  He was once, he explained, a very famous scientist, but those days were long over.  She gauged his interest in a retirement community in a roundabout fashion by talking about Sunny Gardens and its many advantages for people of a certain age.  
He had to admit that he had never thought of himself as old.  He did not ache the way he thought an old person should ache, did not fear being alone or with people of differing ages.  In fact, his pension could hold out for quite some time if he chose to live where he was living, semi-independent with the other Harolds.  To sum up, his life had changed enough since he had retired and he was not looking to put down roots in a strange place.
“I think, if I can be so bold to say so, that you’re afraid of the future,”  Rita postulated.  “Speaking of the future, I’m going to head off and powder my nose before dessert arrives.”  Patting Harry on the back as she passed, Rita headed off for the ladies room.
In her wake, Harry blushed.  In fits and starts, he attempted to tell Harry something that was obviously embarrassing, but he kept on trying.  Harold got frustrated immediately, but it was still a neat puzzle that he could solve, and there were precious few puzzles around.  By asking a few questions, he managed to get a handle on what Harry could be meaning to say, which somehow involved Rita and Harry, and in the largest sense the two of them together.  Harold was definitely a part of this question, which confused him at first, until he realized that Harry was referring to the current night and the mostly current moment at hand.
“She’s invited you to her room?”  Flustered, Harold coughed into a hand.  “That’s fine by me.  I’m fine alone.  Fine.”
“I do want to, but I’m not sure its right.”  Blushing, Harry admitted, “She’s invited me several times, but I feel like, its improper to go over if I’m not married.  Its old-fashioned, right?  I mean, there are other guys here.  She could easily ask one of them, but she asked me.”
Harold mused aloud,  “Maybe you should ask her.”  Matter-of-factly, he shrugged.  “I think, these days, its mostly up to the lady.”  He paused, pulling his shoulders back downwards.  “Not that I know from experience, I’m assuming that’s how its done.”
Harry nodded.  “I’m as much in the dark as you are.  Sounds reasonable to me.”  Leaning back in his chair, he added, “As long as you think its not offensive for me to ask.”
Shrugging, Harold wished the subject matter would go away.  “No, of course not.  Ask her.”
They sat in silence until Rita returned.  The dessert appeared at their tables, a flavored pudding treat that each could mumble around.  Harold mentioned that he would be pleased to at least view Sunny Gardens the next morning because “one never knows about the future.”  Rita politely smiled around a mouthful and rubbed Harry’s hand absentmindedly.  Mindful of their group dynamic, Harold excused himself from the group, citing exhaustion with his exposure from the sun, and bid the both of them a good night.
Alone in their, his motel room, Harold dressed himself for the night, taking off his finer things and pulling on lighter pajama shorts.  Streetlights outside the motel flickered on as he did a minor routine of calisthenics, taking particular note of any aches and pains he felt.  In due course, he felt confident that, in fact, he was no more creaky than he had been at least twenty years past.  Wide awake, he settled onto his motel bed and turned the TV set on with the remote.  The news was inoffensive, mostly consisting of reports on the weather and local festivals which were to happen before he and Harry were due to fly back.  In many ways, he would miss the television set the most, and not the ample sun or the unique kinship of elders which existed here.  
When at home, he had to depend on Rold’s computer for information, and often he had to search for information blindly, since he never could remember any of the URLs with their http business and their random back slashes.  Television was as informational as the internet, if not more useful to Harold since it could be accessed with quick clicks of a small set of buttons.  In their old house, he had loved to watch the many different news stations.  Sadly, the motel’s television had few channels, and most were related to sports or entertainment, neither of which were especially fun for Harold.
The news program ended and a sitcom began, a simple and pithy tale of a boy and his closest friend, a robot.  Harold watched the half-hour program through until it ended.  He had not laughed during the sections of canned laughter, but he did find it slightly heartwarming.  The young boy’s hijinks were only compounded when the robot ‘helped’ and often made the situation not only worse for the boy, but for his family and neighborhood as well.  Yet, there was a certain type of chemistry between the boy and his robot:  it made him miss Five, which was a silly notion, since the robot in the show had Artificial Intelligence.  Five had no personality to speak of, but was nonetheless, a contributor to harmony in their home.  Without Harry or Harold around, Five would be the only member of their family unit who would be cleaning on a regular basis.
The boy’s robot was humanoid in appearance, with two arms and two working legs, like any biped.  In fact, Harold figured that a small man or woman must be playing the part of the robot, since it moved much like a man would.  Its voice was tinny and spotty in bits, as if it were being transmitted through a garbled radio transmission or a cell phone with horrible reception.  
Halfway through the next sitcom, something about teenagers, Harold could feel himself drifting into sleep.  Harry had not returned.
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