"Relax Shirley, we have plenty of time." Saul said as he buttered another roll. "Sit with me a little longer."
It was Wednesday, "All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Night" at the Fresh Meadows Diner. An event the Finklesteins rarely missed.
"I know Saul, but Betty is saving me a seat. Right in front of the number caller." Wednesday was also Bingo night and Shirley didn't want to be late. She slid her seat out and started to rise.
"Shirley, please," Saul begged. "Sit down. Have a piece of pie or a nice piece of cake."
"Dessert? Feh! We can always have dessert," Shirley replied. "This is Bingo night, Saul. I've got to go." She stood up and kissed Saul on the forehead. "Now finish your meal and wish me good luck."
Saul smiled. "You don't need luck, Shirley. You'll always be a winner with me."
Shirley turned as she approached the door of the Fresh Meadows Diner. She looked back at Saul. He was waving good-bye to her. She waved as she flew out the door.
"BINGO" Shirley yelled as she stood up. There was a collective groan . "Look!" she exclaimed. "I got Bingo. Right here. Four corners." She pointed to her card. "Look!"
"Please hold your cards until the Bingo has been verified," the caller announced.
But there was no doubt in Shirley's mind.
She was a winner.
"Betty!" Shirley yelled from the caller's desk. "Fifty dollars. I won fifty dollars! Fifty dollars!"
"Will the lady in the third row please sit down so we can continue?"
"Oh," Shirley said apologetically, "Sorry." She sat down.
"Fifty dollars," she whispered to herself and giggled.
Shirley ran up the two flights of steps. No time for an elevator. She rushed into the apartment.
"Saul, Saul," she yelled. "Guess what? I won! Right here. Look! Fifty dollars." Shirley walked into the living room, but Saul was not there. He wasn't in the kitchen and he wasn't in the dinette. Maybe he was in the bedroom.
Saul was lying on the bed. Shirley rushed up to him. "Look!" She fanned the five tens and waved them in front of his face. "Bingo!" she yelled gleefully.
But Saul did not move.
"Saul. Saul. Wake up. I have wonderful news."
But Saul did not wake up. She shook his chest. "Hey Sleepyhead. Get up."
Shirley grabbed Saul's hand. It was cold. Like ice.
She threw the money on the floor, ran to the phone and dialed 911. "Rush. Please." Shirley yelled frantically. "It's my husband. He's collapsed." She waited for a response. "Yes, that's it. Sixty-fourth Circle. Right on the corner."
She sat on the bed and held his hand. She knew there was need for them to rush. She just knew.
Betty ran downstairs when she saw the ambulance pull up.
"It's Saul," Shirley said mournfully. It's Saul. He's gone.
Shirley and Betty watched silently as the medics wheeled Saul Herman Finklestein out of the apartment he and Shirley had shared for twenty-one years.
"How could I have known?" Shirley asked herself a million times over the next few years. "How could I have known?"
She sat on the bed and relived her last few minutes with Saul as she had so many times before.
"Relax Shirley, we have plenty of time." Saul had begged. "Sit with me a little longer."
And whenever she thought about that day, Shirley wished she had.