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[2010.11.28][1668][47052]
The next morning, Harold met the shuttle on his own, he tried to dress as well as possible with the clothes he still had left which were clean.  The happy couple, Harry and Rita, trundled onto the bus along with other elders, who seemed excited about Sunny Gardens and the prospect of living there.  Harry and Rita took the seats behind Harold.  They traded pleasantries until the bus driver moved the bus out of the motel’s parking lot.  The bus jostled passengers back and forth.
Rita elbowed Harry, then waved a hand in Harold’s direction.  “I can leave you two to talk this over?”
He grabbed her hand.  “Actually, I’d feel better if you were here with me.”
Harold could tell immediately that something important must have happened last night.  Harry was the same person, clearly, and wearing the same clothes he had been wearing the night before.  Still, there was a new light in his eyes.  Rita, however, was leaning against Harry openly in view of Harold and that was different.  She had held herself apart from either of them at dinner and while polite and deferential, she had not gazed this happily at Harry over dessert.
Harry cleared his throat.  “I asked Rita to marry me.”  Peeking at Rita and their entwined hands, he contined, “And she accepted, but I had to tell her everything.”
Aghast, Harold could only gape at Harry.  With a wink, Harry explained what he had meant, that ‘everything’ he had told her was crafted around, but not about the lie that all the Harolds needed to maintain.  Harry was free as a bird to marry Rita, although he had a son and grandson, he had no job to head back to and was in no hurry to include his family on their newly formed bond.  Having no steady job for many years, he could not provide for the two of them.
Rita interjected at this point, that she thought Harry should not be ashamed of his situation, because after all, he had raised two fine children and was clearly beloved by his dear father.  Here, she indicated Harold, who had stalwartly come to dinner with a stranger and who supported Harry no matter what.  Unspoken was the implication that Harold had encouraged Harry’s relationship with Rita, although Harold didn’t want to know the particular details or what that had looked like.
Grinning ear to ear, Harry squeezed her hand.  “She’s offered to marry me and bring me with her to Sunny Gardens.”
“Now, I know this seems pretty crazy,”  she offered.  “Harry and I have only known each other a few days.  I’m not the kind of woman who makes decisions like this.  I mean, I’ve been visiting Sunny Gardens over and over for the past few years, but I never really jumped on an opportunity to live there.”  She pursed her lips.  “I was waiting for something.  I think I was waiting for someone.”  Rita lifted Harry’s hand.
“And when she said it, Harold, Dad, I thought to myself, ‘its crazy.’  Because, its crazy, right?”  Harry brought his other hand over onto their clasped hands.  “But, I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.”
Rita blushed.  “Me too.”
Mollified that Harry had not spilled the proverbial beans, Harold warmed to the idea of Harry and Rita getting married.  It was beneficial for all involved, but he would miss Harry.  Harry would probably not miss him, not with his own vision of loveliness and the chance to live with her.  “I’m happy for you, for both of you.”  Without the ability to reach over and hug either of them, Harold felt a bit stiff in his seat.
“I promise you, I’ll take really good care of him.”  She used her free hand to bus Harry’s face.  “I know that he hasn’t had the best medical care that money can buy and that he hasn’t had a lot of the best of everything.  I’ll give him absolutely everything he can need.”
“What’ll I give you in return?”  Harry mused aloud.
“You.  That’s all I really need.”
Harold endured what seemed an eternity of their snuggling and endearments.  He kept his head turned forward as they cavorted, almost like teenagers would, but he could still hear their activities behind him.  A beautiful sign with shiny metal lettering heralded the bus’ arrival at Sunny Gardens.  In many ways, the subdivision was similar to the tract housing that Harold associated with all suburbs.  However, there were several things that distinguished the retirement community from a different neighborhood.
The gated community had its own security patrolling the grounds, the guards at the receiving gate waved to the bus driver as they pulled through.  Each individual building was a single-floor duplex with two separate condos that could hold one or two residents.  All of the duplexes were connected with a walkway that led to a central area with a tiny car park that the bus pulled into.  The young woman who greeted Harold, Harry and Rita at the Sunny Gardens Center was effusive, to say the least.  She hugged Rita as if meeting an old friend.
The tour they took of the nearest condo showed off the  one bed one bathroom with a living room, and eat-in kitchen on one floor.  Filled with light from the large windows and a pleasant cross breeze from the windows and ceiling fans, it was quite pleasant.  Harold noticed that the counters and tables were very low and the doorways were wide with few doors.  All of the doors had handles which were also set low and everything was sized to be handicapped accessible.
He felt as if he was peeking in an open grave, a conveniently arrayed one, but a place he was destined to belong in someday.
He mentioned this to Harry, trying to point out all of the flaws when Rita had wandered off with their guide.  “It has very little storage, even our place has an attic.”  
“Yes, but my knees hate stairs and climbing.  I don’t need a lot to live.”  Harry took a seat on the couch which fit him perfectly.  “I don’t even need the things I’ve got at home.”
With a grin, Harold added, “All you need is her?”
Silenced for the moment, Harry became a blushing groom.  
Shrugging, Harold admitted, “I think the others would approve.”
“Honestly, I had forgotten all about them.”
“Still shocked that she said yes?”
Harry nodded.  “I should call them, let them know.  I don’t know, there’s so much to plan out.  Rita wants us to be married soon.”  Picking at the arm of the couch, Harry went on, “She knows that this place really likes it if multiple people move into one unit.  Sunny Gardens likes it better, because two people can take better care of one another than if one person was alone.  So, the sooner we’re legal the better, because it’ll be easier for us to move in.  Its different if you’re not married, they don’t like it if you’re just, um . . .”
“Living in sin?  At our age?”  Harold scoffed.
Harry chuckled.  “Its practically dying in sin at this point.”    He sighed.  “I’m worried that the marriage won’t work, that it’ll be obvious that I’m not a citizen, that I’m not real.”
“You are real,”  Harold insisted.  “Its my fault really that you and Hare and Rold don’t have identities.  In a way, marrying her will take care of that.”
“Yeah, I’m scared that I’m using her for that.”  Harry rubbed his face as if to clear his mind.  “That she’s using me for this.”
Instead of stating the obvious, Harold rubbed his chin.  “If it gets bad, I’ll come back and get you.  Hare will or Rold will, one of us will get you.”  He sat beside Harry.  “I know that we’re not the most demonstrative of people, but we do care about you.  You’re not alone.”
Harry gazed off into the distance.  “I’ve known that for a long time.”  Smiling to himself, he idly placed a hand on top of Harold’s.  “Do you think the others will take it badly if they’re not there for the wedding?”
“How quick is Rita thinking?”  Harold’s eyes widened.  “I mean, does she want to get married today?”
Harry nodded curtly.  “I do, too.  I mean, why wait?  I’ve waited my whole life.”  Harry had been wondering his whole life what it would feel like to be loved by a woman:  to desire and care and be desired and cared for in return.  In his fondest dreams when he was a young boy, he had pictured a young girl who would listen to him and be with him during the day when Harold was gone and he was lonely.  When Hare and Rold had come along, he had visions of a woman who would aid him as he tried to be a father to them, as he cared for them.  “She’s more than I could have ever envisioned.”  
The bus ride back to the Coconut Motel proved similarly trying to Harold as their ride to Sunny Gardens.  Taciturn, he accepted that he would probably be the one to bear the news to the others, to tell them that Harry was abandoning all of them, but for a good reason, not a bad one.  Glancing occasionally at Harry and Rita, he decided that he could not begrudge Harry his own chance at happiness.
As they disembarked from the bus, Harry pulled Harold aside.  Rita stood a ways off, looking at them expectantly.  Harry speedily explained how their civil ceremony would be arranged, with he and Rita calling a local justice of the peace post haste.  Harold was expected to come, but also, if he, Harold, could let Rold and Hare know before the ceremony that would be a great help.  The main goal was that Rita and Harry would have the ability to sign up for Sunny Gardens and the exact condo that they had seen. 

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