Norma’s lips curled over her toothless gums as she squeezed her husband’s arm. “This is so exciting, Eddie! Our first nice picture together.”
They were like teens posing at junior prom.
Eddie was standing with his arms crossed loosely over a smudged V-neck tee. Around his neck he wore three gold chains that caught at the curls of his exposed chest hair. Smiling at his wife he said, “Yes it is.”
Norma and Eddie were truckers from Indiana, passing time at the local Wal-Mart while stopped on route.
In small-town Iowa, Wal-Marts are one of the few retailers left and are utilized as community centers as well as department stores. They’re host to egg hunts, teenage rendezvouses, and the mother-daughter pair from the nearby church who, even on nice days, don workout clothes every Saturday morning to speed-walk the aisles.
In the entrance to the in-store portrait studio, Eddie tried his luck on the Spin-to-Win wheel—its bold pink, yellow, and green pie slices blurring into gray. The wheel ticked to a stop, landing on: Free 16×20 Portrait.
“Whoo-eee!” said Eddie, snugging up to Norma.
“Can we get our picture taken today?” she asked, smoothing the front of her NASCAR t-shirt.
Tucked back in the small studio, Norma and Eddie sat side by side on a sheet-draped posing block. They smiled at each other–their heads touching and their hands held between them. At the flash, their pupils dilated and they blinked several times, Eddie sneaking a wink at Norma.
“Will you hold the picture till we’re in next, please?” Norma asked at the register. Then with a Thank-you, she and Eddie left, their shoulders together and their fingers linked.