"Bert looks good this morning, Doc," Dud said, quietly. Three stools down the counter, Bert smiled and said, "Yes, I certainly do!"
We turned toward our old pal. "You heard that?"
"Sure did, guys," he grinned. "Look...."
He pointed to his ears. "Hearing aids," he said. We walked over and looked, and sure enough.
"It was Maizie's idea," Bert said. "She made the appointment and everything. Said she was tired of having the TV on so loud."
"But it was a good idea, Bert," Doc said.
"Oh, I know. I'd been thinking about it for some time, Doc, but you know how a guy gets. You never really want to admit you need them, I guess. Truth is, I didn't know how bad my hearing had become until I got them. Yesterday, when we got that little shower ... I heard the rain on the roof. I heard a clock tick, too, and it's been years for both those things."
"Both what things?" said Herb.
We all looked at each other. We knew who should be next.
"Rain and clocks, Herb."
"Oh ... yeah."
"The hearing test lady came in the little room when the test was over and asked me if I'd shot guns a lot," Bert said.
Bert's younger days as a hunting guide brought nods and chuckles from us.
"There's a range of sound that loud noises can hurt, and I guess that's what happened with me. Turns out, it's also the range of most women's voices."
He grinned. "That may have something to do with Maizie's making that appointment for me. Now I have no excuse when she says things like 'Take out the trash' and 'When are you gonna mow the lawn?'"