Ricky leaves to fetch the cake and Enrique turns his full attention to his wife. He smooths at her thin silver hair and pats her shoulder. He stares into her face and smiles, then reaches over and kisses her sweetly on the forehead before he looks up and notices me watching. He smiles and pets his wife’s hand before he nods at me and points at the jacket lying across the back of the chair.
“You’re on a motorbike?” he asks. I smile, nod, and swallow the mouthful of food before offering a “Yessir.”
“Look, Elizabeth, that young lady rides a motorcycle! Remember that old bike we had?” Enrique chuckles and shakes his head, rubbing his hand across the back of his neck and into his short hair before looking back at me to tell about the old Indian he’d gotten in trade for the work he’d done on a farm years ago. He was a carpenter as a young man and a storm had leveled several outbuildings and part of a hay barn, but the farmer ran short of cash and offered his son’s bike in recompense.
“I felt kinda bad, his son being a soldier and all, but the guy said his boy didn’t care about it anymore. He still owed me a good amount of money so I took it. I think it was about $600, wasn’t it, Lizzie? You sure got mad at me over that. Told you I’d sell it after I got it running but we had such a good time on that old thing. Weren’t nothing to look at, all beat up and ugly, but it ran pretty good and Elizabeth liked it after a while. She had to get done being mad at me first, but oh how she would laugh on that thing. She’d hang on tight and scream about her dress. Ladies didn’t wear dungarees much back then, and my Elizabeth was quite the lady.” He pats her leg and chuckles at his wife as if there’s an inside joke. “Good times back then. Real good times.” He hangs his head for a minute, then looks back at his wife. “We gave that to Rebecca’s boy, didn’t we? Didn’t he ride that out to some big bike thing back east? Where was that?” He looks at me and squints, as if the memory was about to resurface. “Nope, that was James we gave it to, then he gave it to Mark. Yep, Mark loved that old thing. He made it real nice. I think he still has it, too, doesn’t he Mama?” Enrique kind of hums as he fusses with his precious wife’s wrap, arranging and straightening her to sit more comfortably.
The cake arrives and Enrique tends to his lady, immersing himself in the world he shares with only her. The rest of the world fades away as he feeds her every bite of the dessert, taking one for himself now and then, tenderly dabbing at her mouth and offering sips of coffee cooled with ice chips, chatting to her the entire time as if there were a two-way conversation. His wife showed no signs of recognition, but the light in Enrique’s eyes still shines bright for his beloved Elizabeth and the life they once shared.