It was a brisk afternoon at Mountain View Cemetery. It was a clear, sunny day, one Charlie and Betty would have enjoyed under different circumstances. Charlie wore a black wool suit. Betty wore a black dress with a black sweater and gloves.
Betty’s family was there along with Daisy, their attorney, Wesley Herman, Mr. Schneider from the shop, and a few of their customers. The same Minister from Charlie and Betty’s wedding was just finishing the group in prayer. “Amen,” everyone said at the end. Then they all stood in silence for a few minutes.
Charlie felt a hand on his shoulder. He didn’t look to see who it was. He just kept his head bowed and tried to keep his composure.
“Hey, champ,” a familiar voice said softly.
When Charlie turned around to see who it was, he was shocked to see Smitty standing there with an attractive blonde woman. “Smitty, what are you doing here? How did you know?”
“We were on our way to Maui,” Smitty said. “We arrived in San Francisco the other day, and we just happened to read about Zach in the newspaper. We’re so sorry.”
“Thank you for coming,” Charlie said. He didn’t know what to say, everything was so sudden, and he felt off balance. “Oh, where are my manners? This is my wife, Betty.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Betty said softly.
“This is Smitty, our good friend from Tennessee,” Charlie said to Betty.
“Pleased to meet you,” Smitty said. He shook Betty’s hand gently. “This is my wife, Caroline.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Caroline said. “I’ve heard so much about you and Zach lately. I feel like I practically know you. I just wish it were under different circumstances.”
Charlie thought Caroline was sweet, and a good match for Smitty. “Thank you for the kind words,” he said to them. “How’s Mr. Graziano?”
“He, uh ... passed away last year,” Smitty said. “Throat cancer, ya know how he loved his cigars. It was a wake up call for me though. Made me quit ... been about a year now.”
“I’m sorry about Mr. Graziano, we didn’t know,” Charlie said. “He was a good man.”
“Yes, he was,” Smitty said. “He didn’t want anyone to know. He left me everything, but I got outta the business. I didn’t want to be apart of that lifestyle anymore. Caroline and I live very comfortably in Florida. That’s where’s she’s originally from.”
“Well, good for you,” Charlie said.
“Hey, I even got to see some ball games too,” Smitty said. “Caroline and I have been doing a lot of traveling, as well. Got the idea from you guys. Unfortunately, we’re leaving for Hawaii later today. I wish we could stay longer, but we got a boat to catch.”
Betty removed a pen from her purse, and found something to write on. She gave Caroline their address and telephone number. “Next time you’re in town, please stop by or give us a call, we’d love to have you as our guests.”
Caroline took the information from Betty and smiled. “We’d really like that, thank you so much.”
Smitty stuck out his hand. “Well, we best be on our way. We gotta go, we just wanted to say hello and give our condolences.”
“Please keep in touch,” Betty said to Caroline.
“We certainly will.” Caroline gave Betty a hug. They appeared to hit it off right away. “Bye now,” she said with a warm smile.
“It was so good to see ya. Bye champ,” Smitty said before they walked away.