Departure lounge.

“We loved it!” The seat behind me pressed against mine as a heavy body was lowered into it. It was a woman, laughing as she continued her story. “We would get five boxes of doughnuts and we would go hang out in the parking lot of the motel.” She laughed again, low and confidential.

“How often did you do that?” The friend sounded surprised.

“Oh, we went every night! There was no stopping us. Sometimes we couldn’t get through all the doughnuts; we would put them in the freezer and we would add them to the new set of doughnuts the following night.” Her voice reminded me of the repented yoga lady in Orange Is The New Black. She had that same slow, careful drawl.

“That’s hilarious,” said the friend, although she did not seem to be laughing at all.

“Uhuh. Sometimes Stanley would come get me at the apartment. The one in Palm Beach. He was so fancy, you know? I remember one time he came and I was wearing a hat- you know how I love hats- and he wanted me to take it off! He kept saying “You’ll get hot in that hat”, but you know what I think? I think Stanley didn’t like the hat!”

A full laugh rumbled through the seats. “But he was Stanley, so nice he couldn’t tell me. He was the sweetest. I tried to wriggle the hat around his ears, I did!” More rumbling. “We went shopping one time and he didn’t like anything he tried on anywhere. I was just about ready to give up or drop, then he came out in the last store, and he was perfect! He looked good!” This last word was dragged as far as its vowels could stretch. “He asked me ‘I look good?’ I said ‘you look good!’” She coughed suddenly, a violent outburst that shook both our seats.

“I really liked Stanley,” the friend said. I wondered if Stanley was deceased. I hoped for his sake that he was not.

Z.K. Royer