Charley Sleeps Alone
“I ran my father’s business while my husband philandered,” Mrs. Bradford said. “He was killed by one of his mistresses twelve years ago. He never did an honest days work in his life. He was kept man.”
“What kind of business?” Steve said.
“We were into wholesale building supplies,” Mrs. Bradford said. “I knew the business inside and out from my father and grandfather. After the death of my scoundrel husband. I turned the business over to our two sons who proved to be as worthless as their father. Fortunately long ago I invested in real estate. I‘ve lived like this to throw my sons off. If they knew the money I have they‘d be sponging off me. After running the family business in the ground they sold it for pennies on the dollar. One has a sheep ranch in Australia and the other owns a bar in the Canary Islands.”
“That’s sad,” Steve said.
“My daughter, Gwendolyn, is like me,” Mrs. Bradford said. “Except she choose well when it came to men, a business lawyer. They started a small corporation that purchased businesses that were losing money and turned them around and then sold them. What a team they are!”
“Let me guess,” Steve said, “they were the ones who bought the business from your sons.”
Mrs. Bradford laughed. “Those two idiot sons of mine don’t know to this day and you figured it out over coffee.”
“I know something else about you, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.
“What would that be, Mr. Joseph?” Mr. Bradford said.
“I’m sure in the business world you are tough and ruthless,” Steve said. “But you married for love, you stayed in love, and you love those idiot sons more than ever.”
She forced a smile over a face that was about to cry. “They struggle with a genetic problem passed on to them as my husband did. Their only chance at life is by means of me and so it was with Charley. Do you want to here something funny, Mr. Joseph?”
“Sure,” Steve said.
“Near the end of Charley’s days he laid in bed and kissed my hand so tenderly: a tingle ran all through my body. He said, ’In the after life I will be faithful.’ Don’t you think that’s touching?”
“Yes, but it’s not funny,” Steve said.
“Oh,” Mrs. Bradford said. “I haven’t got to the funny part.”
“Next is death and generally that’s not funny,” Steve said.
“On his gravestone it says, ’Charley, I know your sleeping alone now.’”
“You’re kidding me,” Steve said.
“Someday I’ll have you drive me out to his grave and I’ll show you,” Mrs. Bradford said. “But first we must buy a car. Can you help me do that?”
“If there’s one thing I know, Mrs. Bradford, it’s cars,” Steve said.
“Hmmm,” Mrs. Bradford said, “a CPA who knows cars.”