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Some Day, But Not Today

A female medical student and a handsome retired gentleman bond while playing pickleball...

“Move to a nudist colony? So we can play pickleball... naked?”

Laughter filled the kitchen.

“Harold, that’s the most ridiculous idea you have ever had!” his wife exclaimed.

He winked at Maggie, his wife of fifty three years, and counting, and then pointed to his head.

“I’ve got a lot more like that brewing up here.”

“That’s what worries me,” she said shaking her silver hair.

The laughter continued, but now some wheezy coughing was added from his friend Sam. Harold grabbed his crotch and gave it a Michael Jackson shake as he winked again at his wife.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Maggie asked, now almost in tears.

Harold shrugged his shoulders while still gripping himself.

“Nude pickleball. Seriously Harold?” 

“Leave him alone Maggie, it’s a great idea,” Sam interjected.

“Zip it, Sam. You're not helping,” Maggie shot back.

“Honey," Maggie continued, "We live in this wonderful retirement community that I’m still surprised we can afford. All those years at sea are finally catching up with you.”

Maggie immediately felt bad as soon as she said it so she quickly redirected the focus.

“Sam, you’re supposed to be his friend. This is the last thing we want his mind fixating on.”

“Did you get your racquet restrung?”

“I did. I used the synthetic gut again. I just love the stuff.”

The girls looked forward to their tennis match. No boyfriends. No papers. No exams. They both needed a break after finals. The past semester was tough. They both did well on their MCAT’s, so their future was now out of their hands. They hoped it wouldn’t be long before they knew which medical school they would be attending.

“Ah, shit. I thought you said your grandfather booked us a court?”

“He did. Well, he said he did,” Mary said.

The girls walked over to the court bookings display and they understood why there were no tennis courts available.

“I’m sorry, Bobbi. He must have forgotten.”

“Damn it. I was so looking forward to kicking your skinny little ass.”

“It looks like they are booked all day too. Shit. We can't reserve a court either. Only residents can book for non-resident family members."

“Do you want to go someplace else?”

“Maybe.”

The women then heard laughter on the other side of the sheets of green fabric attached to the chain link fence. The fabric was used to both shield the courts from wind, and provided privacy and separation for both the tennis and pickleball courts.

They peered through a gap in the pickleball court gate and saw a gaggle of old timers whooping it up. Mary was both amused and impressed. Some of the players must have been pushing eighty.

“Have you ever played pickleball?”

The girls turned and an attractive, very fit man smiled at them after having asked his question. They also realized they were in his way.

“Sorry,” both women said in unison as they moved to the side to let the older gentleman pass.

“Have you?” he repeated.

“Oh… pickleball? No, never. How about you, Bobbi?”

“Me neither. We’re more into the tennis thing, but unfortunately, we forgot to book a court.”

The handsome gentleman squinted at Mary and then smiled.

“You’re Sam’s granddaughter, aren’t you?”

Mary smiled and nodded she was.

“I’ve heard so much about you. Sam said you were coming today.”

He then looked at Bobbi and acknowledged her compassionate gesture, for taking the blame for the missed reservation.

“Did Sam forget to book you a court?”

“I think so.”

The man then extended an offer to both ladies.

“Girls, my name is Harold. Harold Hoffmeyer. I’m here early to warm up before my match with my wife and some friends. Would you be interested in warming up with me? I could teach you a thing or two about our game.”

As he waited for their answer, Harold walked over to the court bookings display, entered some residents’ information, and booked a tennis court for early the next morning.

“Will that time work for you, Mary?”

“Yes! Thank you, Harold.”

Bobbi looked at Mary hoping she got the message that she wasn’t interested in playing pickleball.

“Bobbi, I know that you have errands planned. Can you do them today so we can play tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

Mary then looked at Harold.

“Mr. Hoffmeyer, I’d love for you to teach me about your game.”

“Fantastic!”

Bobbi then hugged Mary and held her hand up to her ear like a phone. “Call me.”

“I will. Again, sorry about the mix up,” Mary apologized.

“No worries. See you tomorrow.” Bobbi turned to Harold. “Nice meeting you, Mr. Hoffmeyer. Thank you for reserving that court for us.”

Harold waved as he and Mary watched Bobbi walk to her car and then drive away. Mary felt bad that she had wasted Bobbi’s time, but was very appreciative of Harold’s gesture.

“After you, my lady.”

Harold held open the gate and Mary entered but waited until the nearest match was between rallies.

“Go to the court in the corner. No one can see us there if they are looking through the gate. I like a little privacy, especially if my game is off.”

Mary was easily the youngest by several decades. She had spent a lot of time in her grandparent’s retirement community since her parents passed. She was comfortable with the blue hair and the occasional blue language from some of the saltier residents.

“Mary, have you ever played badminton?”

“Sure.”

“Good. Pickleball uses similar rules. We play to eleven points, like squash, but you must win by two, and you must be serving to score a point.”

“Got it. Why is it called pickleball?”

“Funny story. Back in the sixties, one of the creators had a dog named Pickles, that kept taking the ball. I guess the name just stuck.”

Harold continued.

“A pickleball court is the same size as a badminton court or about twenty feet wide and forty four feet long. The net is a few inches shorter than that in tennis, and the playing surface, as you can see, is the same as it is for tennis.”

Mary looked at the court and noticed the lines were almost exactly the same as badminton too, except they didn’t have a singles side line. She assumed singles and doubles, doubles which appeared to be the game of choice, used the same lines.

“Service is always cross court, like tennis and badminton, and the server must strike the ball, underhand and below their waist. The server, like in tennis, must keep both feet behind the base line while serving. The ball must land in the service box behind the no volley zone, otherwise it is loss of service.”

“No volley zone?”

“I’ll get to that shortly. There’s no second service like tennis, unless the ball hits the net and lands in the service box.

“That’s okay. I don’t usually require second serves,” Mary joked.

“So, the gamesmanship begins.” Harold winked at Mary.

“The no volley zone is an area seven feet from the net, on both sides, running the entire twenty foot width of the court. You can’t hit the ball if you are standing in that zone unless the ball has already bounced. Otherwise, to volley, you must be standing behind that zone. This compensates for our slower reflexes.”

“I guess I’ll have to test that.”

This time, Mary winked at Harold. He loved her feisty demeanor.

“Now, there’s a quirky rule but we are thankful for it. It’s called the two bounce rule. Essentially, to encourage longer rallies, the ball must bounce once before the serve is returned, and then, the return must bounce once, before it is returned. After that, we can return the ball by volley or after the bounce.”

“Just no volleying from within the no volley space.”

“Precisely.”

“I think I’ve got this.”

“Excellent. Now, one more thing.”

Harold then held up the hollow plastic ball.

“Do you know why this is called a wiffle ball?”

“No idea.”

“Back in the fifties, a man named David Mullany invented this ball to help his kids and their friends learn how to throw breaking balls. Using a regular baseball took its toll on even the youngest and strongest of shoulders. He designed this light plastic ball with a bunch of holes in it so the ball could curve and bend with a lot less effort. When the kids started throwing strikes, they said their friends ‘whiffed’ at the ball. Supposedly, they dropped the ‘h’ to make the name larger on ad space. I don’t know if that last part is true.”

“That’s a pretty cool piece of history.”

“History is everywhere if you just look for it.”

“Am I looking at some right now?” Mary playfully asked.

Harold laughed, “Yes, my dear. I’m a piece of history, but one that’s going to paddle your behind.”

Harold then held up the paddle and shared a mischievous smile with his student. Mary suspected his paddling joke had probably been told a thousand times.

“This is your paddle.”

It reminded Mary of something she and an ex-boyfriend played with a couple of years ago. She didn’t care for getting smacked on the ass. That relationship didn’t last long after she realized her ex was into it much more than she was.

Harold handed Mary the paddle and she swung it back and forth. It was similar to a racquetball racquet, with its smaller handle and larger striking surface. Armed with this new information, Mary began hitting it back and forth with Harold, at first lightly, and then, they began to have some fun.

“That’s a pretty mean spin you put on the ball, Harold.”

Mary then showed him what real spin looks like when she struck a cross court forehand that kicked so far left, that Harold would have needed to be in the adjacent court to return it.

“Remind me to keep you off your forehand.”

The next rally, Harold showed Mary one of his tricks, and struck the ball with enough force that it surprised Mary when it hit her between the breasts.

“Is that how you are going to play?”

“You’re young. You should be able to move out of the way. And... that’s my point.”

For the next hour, Harold and Mary played several games. At first, Harold’s game experience dominated Mary’s tennis fitness, but soon, Mary was taking several points from him, and eventually a couple of games. Pickleball was a lot more fun and demanding than Mary expected.

“Harold, there you are!”

An older lady hurried over to their court, disrupting the match that she walked past.

“Hi Maggie. It’s about time you got here. Where are the others?”

“Others? Harold, we aren’t playing today.”

“We aren’t?” Harold starting laughing. “Oh, silly me. I must have gotten the days mixed up.” He then looked at his concerned wife as she looked at Mary.

“Maggie, you’ll never guess who this is. It’s Sam’s granddaughter. You know, the smart one who’s going to be a doctor.”

“How lovely to meet you, dear.”

Maggie looked at her husband and smiled.

“Thank you for entertaining Harold. He does love his pickleball.”

“Sure. It was fun. Thanks to your husband, I now know how to play.”

Mary walked over to the other side of the net and gave Harold a side hug, unsure how his wife would react to a twenty-three-year-old woman full-frontal hugging her husband.

“Let’s go home, sweetie.”

Maggie guided Harold as she looked back at Mary and mouthed the words, "Thank you." Mary waved and let them exit before she left the courts.

Several months had passed before Mary saw Harold again. She had finished playing tennis with her grandfather, and her grandmother just left with him in their golf cart. Mary looked into the pickleball court, as she did every time she played tennis, hoping to run into Harold again. This time, she saw him on his favorite court. He was stretching against the fence, preparing for a match. Mary closed the gate behind her and casually walked toward him, hoping he’d see her smiling face as she approached.

“Hey stranger, how’s it going?”

Harold turned and his solemn face lit up as soon as he saw Mary.

“Well, look what the wind blew in.”

This time, they hugged like they had known each other for years.

“Do you want someone to warm up with?”

“I’d be a fool to decline an offer like that from an attractive woman such as yourself.”

“Well, aren’t you the charmer.”

“I still try, even at my age.”

Harold handed Mary one of his spare pickleball paddles and pointed with his, to her side of the court.

“Are you waiting for Maggie and another couple?”

Harold’s tanned face went white. Mary immediately rushed over and grabbed his arm to stabilize him.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, well no.”

Mary led Harold to the nearest bench along the fence and helped him sit down.

“I guess your grandfather didn’t tell you. Maggie passed away a couple months ago.”

“What? I’m so sorry. No. I didn’t know.”

“It was peaceful, just like she wanted. She passed in her sleep right next to me. I’ll never forget the feeling of waking up to her cold, rigid body. Just awful. One minute she was there, and the next… “

Both Mary and Harold had tears in their eyes. She held his arm, placed her head on his shoulder, and tried to comfort the man who just lost a woman he had spent over fifty-three years of his life with, and counting, as he liked to say.

“The best thing for me is to keep moving. I’ve mourned and will continue to mourn, but I’ve still got to live my life. Maggie demanded that. She definitely didn’t want me to stop playing pickleball.”

Harold brushed Mary’s hair so she lifted her head to see him.

“It appears I’ve been stood up. If your offer still stands, I’d love some company. Are you up for a game or three?”

Mary wiped the tears from her eyes and forced a smile.

“Absolutely. Loser buys ice cream,” Mary beamed.

“Deal. I can taste victory already,” Harold smiled back.

“Just keep trash talking old man, and I won’t give you an opportunity to serve.”

“Old man? Game on, little girl!”

They both laughed, and Mary kept her service promise.

Over the next several months, Mary and Harold became regular playing partners. Sometimes they’d play singles and other times they partnered against other couples. Mary found it funny, but oddly comfortable, when others referred to them as a couple.

There was coincidentally, fifty-three years age difference between them, but she never brought that up. Only if he was trash talking on court, would she bait him with ageism, especially if she craved some mango gelato.

Mary had started med school at a nearby university, so she was able to stay close to her grandparents and spend more time with Harold. She didn’t intend it to be that way, it just happened.

Usually, Mary would call Harold when she was on her way, and she’d either pick him up outside his home or he’d meet her at the courts. She almost always drove him home after their match because he almost always had to buy ice cream, which was their standing bet. Harold had no complaints.

“Oh, that’s an easy one. Maggie’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. She made that stuff with love. What about you?"

“Hmm… my last meal? Probably a Big Mac, large fries, and a medium coke. Hey, don’t judge me!”

“Without a doubt, deep dish apple pie with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream."

“Crème Brulee with a caramelized honey glaze.”

“Purple.”

“Red.”

“Well, politics has changed a lot since I started voting. I was always a Republican. As soon as I learned about the Emancipation Proclamation, dear old Abe had me hooked. However, today the parties’ philosophies have flipped. It’s more confusing and worse, I don’t know who to believe in any more.”

“Definitely Libertarian. Sadly, not many candidates to vote for, so I usually vote Democrat. It really comes down to the person and if I believe they are sincere. I think a well-intentioned heart can do more for society than their political alignment or religious beliefs.”

“Well, I was raised, like most of the country to believe in God. I don’t know though. Since my time in Vietnam, I downgraded it from belief to hope, but with reservations. If there is a God, and when it’s my time, I hope he or she doesn’t hold that against me.”

“No, I don’t believe there is a God or any supreme entity. After watching cancer take both of my parents at such young ages, I can’t believe an act that cruel, was designed by something supposedly representing love. If you had all the power in the universe to create anything and everything, why would you choose to include suffering, pain, and death?”

“My interest actually started before my parents’ deaths. When I was eight, my dog, Misty, was hit by a car. I was amazed that the veterinarian could not only save her, but her care enabled Misty to walk again, albeit with a limp. I never forgot the magical power of science and medicine. I also never had a female role model like that. I thought she was the smartest and coolest woman on the planet.”

“My dad was a fisherman. My grandfather was a fisherman. Almost every man in our family earned a living from the sea. It was expected of me to follow in their footsteps, so I did.”

“So, why did you quit fishing so many years before you retired?”

Harold then recalled what ended his career.

“This is going to sound a bit funny, but a long time ago I had this dream.”

Mary smiled at Harold, wondering what wicked dream a younger Harold would recall to this day.

“Over the years, I pulled a lot of fish out of the bountiful ocean waters around here. When you spend as much time on the water as I had, especially on days when the fish aren’t around or biting, your mind begins to wander.”

“Wander?”

His eyes became glossy as he re-lived his dream.

“Maggie and I had had a fight about something silly that morning, so I took off for some alone time. I was on my boat by myself, just riding the tide with my own thoughts when I saw a mermaid swim up to the boat.”

“A mermaid?”

Harold chuckled. “I’m not crazy. There wasn’t a mermaid. I know that. But my mind thought I saw a mermaid.”

“You daydreamed that you saw a mermaid.”

“Exactly.”

“What happened?”

“Well, nothing. Not until I went to bed that night. I had both a horrific and erotic dream. So horrific in fact, it ended my fishing career.”

Mary wondered what had shaken his soul. She waited for him to speak, not certain he was going to continue. She had hoped he would. She patiently waited. Then, he did.

“As a commercial fisherman, back in the day, we used large, trolling nets. We would catch just about everything in those damn things.”

She moved closer to him and gently rubbed the side of his arm. She could tell he wanted to tell her, but he was getting emotional, so she waited again for when he was ready. He then blurted it out.

“I dreamt I caught a mermaid in the net. She was fighting to free herself, but couldn’t. I could tell her struggle for life weakened her. It was horrifying to see such a beautiful creature dying in my net. I couldn’t leave her there. I had to do something about it.”

He paused again, but this time Mary couldn’t wait.

“What did you do?”

“I saved her.”

“How?”

“I first untangled her hands so she was able to grasp onto the net while I worked on her tail. By now, she had been out of the water so long, her legs began to appear, starting from her bottom, all the way down. Only her tail fin was left, where her feet would eventually appear. I worked hard to free her so she could return to the water. According to the legends I grew up with, if a mermaid lost her tail fin, she could never return to the sea.”

“Did you save her? Did she return to the sea?”

“Yes, to both of your questions.”

“What did she look like?”

“Did you ever see the movie, Splash? She looked a lot like Darryl Hannah did as a mermaid. She had long blonde wavy hair, nice full breasts, and legs that didn’t stop. Well, except at her tail fin.”

“Harold!”

They both laughed at his apparent sexual interest in an aquatic mammal.

He paused and swallowed hard before he shared the rest.

“We didn’t need words.”

“What do you mean?”

He let Mary think about what he had just said. Her eyes got wide when she thought she understood.

“You two made love?”

“We did. She held onto the net with her breasts pressing against the mesh. The last of her tail fin was still being held by the twisted net, but from the ankles up, she was all woman. I’ve never felt the insides of a woman feel as marvelous as hers did.”

Harold saw a grinning Mary mesmerized by his story.

“Did you… you know… did she enjoy it?”

“Oh yes. We both did. I held her tight and felt her body shake while we made love. To this day, I can still feel her in my arms vibrating from her orgasm.”

“And then what happened?”

“Well, she kissed me goodbye. I untangled her tail fin and lowered the net back into the water. She then looked at me one more time before swimming away, never to be seen again, except of course, when I was in the shower.”

Mary slapped him on the shoulder for that nasty image he just shared with her.

“After that, I could never fish again. I couldn’t risk hurting her or anything else in the ocean. So, I sold my vessel and quit fishing.”

“What did Maggie think about the dream?”

“I never told her. I knew she’d never understand, so I just told her I always hated fishing, which was a lie, but a believable one. She knew it was expected of me to follow in my father’s footsteps. I told her I wanted to do something else with my life. She understood.”

After one match, one which Harold actually won, while savoring his winnings, a mocha almond fudge in a waffle cone, he asked Mary about her personal life, more specifically, about her boyfriend. She told him they had broken up prior to her starting med school. She said it was just one of those things.

“Plus, I don’t have time for med school, a boyfriend, and YOU!”

She squeezed his hand while they rested on the table as she savored her mango gelato.

“I remember when I was your age. I couldn’t keep my hands off of the ladies.”

His eyes glistened as he got lost in memory again, and his Cheshire grin spoke volumes.

“I’m sure you couldn't, you scoundrel.”

Harold nodded at her usage of that dated insult.

“However, once I met Maggie, everything changed. She was the one. I never cheated on her because I never wanted to. She was ALL the woman I could handle, and a little bit more, if you know what I mean.”

A wink and a smile confirmed the man still had naughty thoughts and a little fire left in his belly for them. Mary wanted to remind him about the fish he fucked, but thought it was best to keep that to herself.

“Harold, can I ask you a personal question?”

“Go ahead.”

“When’s the last time you and Maggie had sex? What I mean is, were you still having sex in your seventies?”

“Of course, my dear. If you find the right one, which I did, age isn’t a barrier to making love. We both stayed relatively healthy, and I didn’t have any major circulation issues, if you follow.”

Mary smiled at him. “I do indeed. I’m both a woman and hopefully, some day, a doctor. I understand blood flow and circulation.” She squeezed his hand twice to reinforce her acknowledgement.

“To answer the first part of your question, the last few years had been few and far between. With Maggie’s hip replacement, and then her battle with breast cancer, we didn’t as much as we both would have liked.”

Harold then felt Mary’s eyes on him.

“So, it’s been a few years, why do you ask?”

“Do you think you could sleep with another woman?”

“Possibly. No, probably. I’m not dead, yet. There’s still a little life left in me.”

That was the first real moment Mary thought about having sex with Harold.

Would you consider sleeping with me?

She imagined the old man’s face light up after hearing her words. It aroused her to think what having sex with a young woman would do for a man as passionate as Harold.

It was after seven. Most of the residents were tucked into their beds, ingesting their evening medications while watching Wheel of Fortune. Harold and Mary had just finished their match. Harold held service and won the last game by four points.

The sun was going down and the courts were now empty. As Harold gloated about his victory, Mary hurried over to the gate, then placed and closed a padlock on the latch. She then ran back before Harold noticed.

The wind break, the green fabric that wrapped the chain link fence, gave them enough privacy from any prying eyes. They were also, of course, on his favorite corner court. To her delight, Harold continued with his victory trash talk while he faced the opposite direction, continuing to stretch against the fence. This gave Mary the time she needed. When she was ready, she called Harold.

Harold turned and froze. He saw that he had caught another mermaid.

Mary had removed her top and sports bra, pulled her panties and emerald green tennis skirt down so it covered her white tennis shoes. She then stuck her feet in the net and bent over the top cable.

From the other side, she pushed her breasts through the net and wove her arms and hands through the squares. She also wore a rented, long, wavy blonde wig, just like Darryl Hannah’s mermaid.

As Harold slowly walked towards his dream, his eyes scanned Mary’s supple, young body, always returning to her smiling face. She held her head up the best she could so Harold didn’t have to look at her upside down face.

Mary then spoke the only words Harold needed to hear.

“Please save me.”

Harold fought his tears as he entered his catch. Her warm insides gripped him as he held her hips and moved the best he could. He then moved one hand between her legs, rubbing her and eliciting soft moans reminiscent of his memoried days gone by.

As a tangled Mary began clenching and wiggling from her own orgasm, just like that dream on his boat, Harold had one of the most intense, but this time, real orgasms of his storied life. When they were done, he held her and smiled, knowing that he did not need to return this one to the sea.

A few days later, Mary arrived a little late for their match. She ran hoping that they didn’t lose the court to an aggressive group calling them on the five minute late rule. When she arrived, Harold wasn’t there. No one was there. All the courts were empty.

She looked at her phone to confirm she had the correct time. She did. She began fearing the worst. Harold was always early. She began to worry. Her mind raced and she felt a swell of tears. Mary decided to drive to the residence and ask the unthinkable question. She turned back to the court’s lone gate and as she reached for the latch, it moved, and the gate swung in towards her. She then started crying.

“What’s wrong?”

She looked up at Harold, now laughing at herself as her tears streamed down her face. Her face burned with embarrassment but his soothing voice comforted her.

“Did you think I had left you?”

She nodded yes.

“You’re not going to do this every time I’m late, are you?”

She wiped her tears as she nodded she indeed would.

He secured in his arms his young friend and held tight her shaking body.

“Well, some day, but not today.”

“Harold, get your hands off me,” she whispered.

He heard her but he wasn’t listening.

“Harold, please let me stand up. I just bent over the net to get the ball.”

Maggie stood up and saw that her husband was holding his flaccid penis in his hand.

“Harold,” she whispered. “Honey, please put your penis back in your shorts.”

Harold stood there, confused by the mermaid’s change of mind. Maggie realized her husband was away, so she tucked him back in and zipped up his shorts.

“Hey, you’re not Mary! Where’s MARY?”

“Mary who?" Maggie calming asked.

“Mary, you know, Sam’s granddaughter.”

“Honey, Mary hasn’t been here since Sam passed away three years ago.”

Maggie could tell her husband was agitated. She needed to get him home.

“It’s okay, sweetie. It’s okay.”

“But… but she wanted me to. She said so. She asked me to save her!”

“I know sweetie, I know.”

Maggie nodded to their understanding friends.

She then led Harold off the pickle ball court, cursing the damn disease that was taking away her husband of fifty-three years, one cherished memory at a time.

 

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