Mr. Cook: Chapter 11

Three days had gone by since Eveline found Mr. Cook who had peacefully passed away in his bed. She had cried for a long time each day and panicked about what to do. When she found him she called 911 as soon as she could finally speak. She made Clara watch the TV and eat her breakfast like normal and told her not to go downstairs, that Mr. Cook needed some medical attention.

When she finally told Clara what happened she didn’t have to explain what death was, luckily. She had already explained it to her when Clara asked about her father. She promised herself and Clara that she would never hide it from her. Clara cried and held onto the picture of Carol which Eveline figured was ok to “borrow” for a while.

Eveline was waiting for a call from the real estate company to give her the next steps to take now that he was gone. She didn’t think it would happen so soon. She wished she hadn’t gotten so close to him, but she was also relieved that he had a friend, and someone there to find him.

She received a call, but it wasn’t from the real estate company it was from the bank.

“Hello, is this Mrs. Fryling? My name is Julie and I am calling in regards to the will and testament of Mr. Cook. It shows on my records that you are the rightful owner and beneficiary of all of Bernie Cook’s belongings and accounts.”

Her jaw dropped, she was speechless, in that moment all of the emotion was overwhelming and she burst out in tears.

One month later…

Eveline was as nervous as ever setting foot on that plane. She looked up at the compartment above her and smiled.

“Here we go.”

Inside of her carry-on bag were the urns of Mr. Cook and Carol. Clara was staying with her grandparents back in London while Eveline made the trip to Bora Bora.

When she got to the resort she was amazed by the place. It was so green everywhere, the palm trees were green, the sky had a greenish blue tint and even the water. She realized in that moment why Mr. Cook love it there so much. It was paradise.

There was only one thing on her itinerary that day; a sailing lesson where she planned to release the ashes of Mr. and Mrs. Cook into the place where they were the happiest. It was where they belonged and it was Mr .Cook’s last request.

If it weren’t for Mr. Cook she would have never set foot on another airplane. She forgot how much she truly enjoyed traveling. This time it felt different, she didn’t feel guilty for going without Christopher because of her purpose for going. The thrill she got after stepping off of the plane in Tahiti gave her newfound courage to do what she loved. Eveline was already planning her next trip and she thought she would even bring Clara along.

When Eveline boarded the vessel for her sailing lesson she was surprised to be greeted by none other than the handsomest instructor of them all. They flirted as he taught her the ropes, how to set sail, and how to check the wind.

She figured he might think it was a bit awkward to dump the ashes right in the middle of the lesson. She was surprised when the instructor offered to help her so that they could go at the same time and place, he even set the anchor so she would have time to say her goodbyes.

Before exiting the vessel she turned around to shake the man’s hand and thank him for the lesson. He wouldn’t release her hand.

“You are a beautiful woman,” he smiled “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”

Eveline smiled so big and after contemplating it for a moment, she figured she should take a risk one last time in her life. Who knows what the possibilities could be or where it could lead her. All she knew is that she has a life ahead of her to live to the fullest. She didn’t want to dread the past and let it haunt her like it did to Mr. Cook. In the back of her mind she thanked him for opening her eyes.

“I would love to.”

The End

 

 

Mr. Cook: Chapter 10

Eveline and Mr. Cook were sitting at the dinner table. He was telling more stories about his time at sea, about Carol when she became a nurse, and Eveline shared her story about Christopher. She told Mr. Cook about their time traveling and how they fell in love while doing what they love.

“It was the best time of my life, I was free. Nothing was in my way and I was free to go wherever I wanted, he followed me until I agreed to go to dinner with him.”

Mr. Cook smiled and shared the story about how he met Carol.

“We were in the same class, she kept staring at me or so I thought, so I would make faces at her and then one day the teacher told me I had to stop doing it because it made the rest of the class giggle. Turns out her best friend was right behind me so every time I thought she was looking at me, she was actually looking at her friend. They thought I was a clown. It took me months to work up the courage to finally ask her out.”

Mr. Cook was actually enjoying Eveline’s company. He felt solace in the fact that she went through a similar loss that he did.

Meanwhile, Clara was in the living room watching cartoons on the small television that Mr. Cook rarely ever watched. She had fallen asleep on the couch while Eveline and Mr. Cook were talking. They must have been talking for hours because when Eveline got up to check on Clara she noticed it was pitch black outside. Not only that, but it had been snowing the whole time they were talking.

She woke Clara up and hurried her coat on and told Mr. Cook that she wasn’t sure if she could drive in this but that she was going to try. Before she even made it to the car Mr. Cook had his shoes on and hobbled outside to stop them.

“It’s not safe to drive in this. The hill will be too slick, there isn’t another way down that isn’t a hill. You guys are welcome to stay here until the morning and then see if it has melted away.”

Eveline was reluctant. She felt a little strange staying in an old man’s home that she had only known for a little over a month. She shrugged her shoulders an agreed and took Clara’s hand and went inside.

Mr. Cook was feeling very friendly this evening after their long talk. He didn’t have any other place for both of them to sleep aside from the spare room, which was the one he slept in. The only other option was the master bedroom.

“I will fix the master bedroom, you guys can stay in there,” he put a hand up before Eveline could bud in “Don’t worry I did wash the sheets since.. you know.”

Eveline wasn’t sure about that. She knew Carol died at the dinner table but something felt really strange about sleeping in the bed that they used to share. She remembered how it felt to sleep in the bed alone that her and Christopher shared. But, it was better than cramming on the couch, and, it was only for one night… hopefully.

They settled in, Clara was the first one asleep of course, it was way past her bedtime and she was exhausted. Eveline had a really hard time sleeping. She kept waking up and turning to the other side. She was just not going to be able to sleep in that bed. She didn’t want to wake Clara so she just shut her eyes and laid there until the early morning.

It was much earlier than the time Mr. Cook usually got up, but Eveline could not wait any longer in that bed and Clara was wide awake anyway. It was still very icy out so she knew she would have to wait until later to hopefully make the drive home. She put on a pot of coffee and fed Oscar. She thought it would be a nice surprise to make Mr. Cook some breakfast, he probably hadn’t had anyone cook for him since Carol died.

She made some bacon, toast and topped the toast with a poached egg. Then she went downstairs to wake Mr. Cook. She knocked on the bedroom door and quietly said his name.

“Mr. Cook, I made you some breakfast.”

The door swung open the second time she tried to knock. She walked closer to him and put her hand on his.

It was cold.

 

 

Mr. Cook: Chapter 9

There they were; standing on the bow of their sailboat looking out at the sunset. Mr. Cook’s arm was wrapped around Carol and she leaned her head on his chest. Nothing could get better than this. Mr. Cook felt as though he could not grip her tight enough, tried to squeeze tighter and tighter but she was slipping out of his arms. He shouted at her to hold on but her body was limp and lifeless. He couldn’t hold on, her body slipped out of his arms and disappeared beneath the ocean surface.

Mr. Cook opened his eyes and sat up. He rubbed his face hard with his hands trying to wipe away the nightmare. Not again, it had been months since he had any nightmares. He got up and put his robe on to go get the mail. He hoped his magazine had arrived so he could try to get his mind off of Carol and the nightmare.

He opened the mailbox but nothing was in it. Confused, he walked to his neighbor’s mailbox to see if he had gotten any mail, empty. He went inside the house and into the kitchen to get his coffee and then sat down at the table. Right in front of him was his magazine open on a picture of Bora Bora. He glanced at his watch and realized it was the same day, he must have taken a nap and thought he slept through the night; however, he didn’t remember getting the magazine earlier that day.

Eveline had called him earlier just to say hello and check in. She said she wanted to stop by but she had to work that day. It wasn’t any issue for Mr. Cook because he had been particularly grumpy. The previous day he scolded his neighbor for using the blower again when he was trying to have some peace and quiet; he even called him an imbecile.

“Oh yea, well you’re just an angry, troubled old man who is going to die alone,” The neighbor said and then turned the blower back on ignoring Mr. Cook. That was the first time his neighbor really got mad, he must have been pushed to the last straw…

Mr. Cook felt bad about what he had said but it was already too late. He figured there was no point in trying to make any friends at his age. Forming relationships with anyone at this point is not fair to them because he was going to die soon anyway…

Oscar was on the window sill and heard Mr. Cook in the kitchen. He did his usual leap from the window and meowed while he stretched next to Mr. Cook’s leg. Mr. Cook had a hard time remembering if he fed him or not so he had resorted to giving Oscar full cans of food, and had put out a large bowl of water as suggested by Eveline -so he didn’t have to refill it as often.

Mr. Cook thought about Eveline as he placed food in Oscar’s bowl. He couldn’t believe that he actually sort of missed her. He especially missed Clara. Something about Clara reminded him of Carol, it almost seemed like her spirit was inside of Clara.

The next day Eveline had set aside her work and planned to visit Mr. Cook. He was slower to answer the door which made Eveline even more concerned than she already was.

“How are you feeling today?’

He shrugged his shoulders and responded how he usually does “I feel like I am 94..” He said in a snarky tone.

Eveline giggled and told him to sit down while she made the coffee. He typically forgot to either put the grounds in, or the water so Eveline made it for him.

“Any good boats in the ads today?”

“A few, there is a 43 Nordhavn. You know, that was always our dream… Carol and me… that one day we would own a bigger boat; likely a Nordhavn and sail around the world.”

“That sounds lovely Mr. Cook. During my traveling days I would have loved to learn how to sail. I would actually prefer sailing over flying now anyway…”

Her heart skipped a beat as Christopher wisped through her mind. She wished he were still there. Daydreaming of her, Clara, and Christopher sailing around the world together put an ominous look on her face.

“Are you ok?” Said Mr. Cook.

“Fine, I’m fine… just thinking about Christopher.”

“Is that your husband?”

“He was…”

To be Continued…

 

Image: https://flic.kr/p/4ggMZZ

 

Mr. Cook: Chapter 8

A couple of weeks went by and Eveline was sticking to her goal of helping Mr. Cook through the transaction. He didn’t know it but Eveline called the real estate companies to make sure they stayed in touch with him and updated him every step of the way.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cook was up to his usual antics. Oscar was in his usual spot on the window sill looking at the birds in the maple tree. Mr. Cook sat at the table circling good deals he found on boats, and day dreaming about the months he spent with Carol in Bora Bora. He closed his eyes for a moment and could almost feel the tropical breeze on his face, and smell the scent of Carol’s perfume mixed with the salt water.

With the thought of Carol stuck on his mind he got up from his chair and walked toward the bedroom. He sighed before he opened the door knowing that no matter how much time went by, he would never be able to set foot in that room with out feeling overwhelmed with sadness.

He sat down on the bed and closed his eyes while flashes of Carol went through his head. He was in the middle of a daydream when Eveline knocked on the door snapping him back to reality.

“Good afternoon Mr. Cook, I brought some lunch with me, I thought we could celebrate the closing of this transaction over some take out.”

Mr. Cook was torn on his feelings about Eveline. He did not like it when she just showed up out of the blue. It was so rude to assume someone did not have any other plans. However, there was the slightest bit of relief when she showed up. He had been feeling quite lonely and sluggish the past couple of days.

Little Clara hopped out of the car and hustled to the door. She had a navy blue and white striped gift bag in her hand and handed it to Mr. Cook with the biggest smile on her face. For the first time in a long time, Mr. Cook felt a smile coming on as he thanked Clara and welcomed them inside.

He sat down in the reclining chair by the couch and began to open his present. First was a card that had a boat on the front and thanked him for being gracious during the transaction. He felt around the tissue paper until he felt something square shaped. He pulled out a wooden picture frame and in the bottom right corner was a carved ship’s wheel and anchor.

“Clara picked it out for you.”

“It’s for the picture of Carol,” Clara said.

Mr. Cook hadn’t received any sort of gift in a very long time. He was overwhelmed with emotion and even felt a little bit guilty for accepting such a gift from people he barely knew. He also felt bad for being such a grump all the time.

He went downstairs to get the picture of Carol to put in the frame. Eveline got up while he was doing that and went into the kitchen to get plates for the food. Oscar -who was out of the room today- followed her and meowed loudly while he brushed against her leg. She hesitated to pet him after many warnings from Mr. Cook about his temperament. He looked sweet to her, so she bent down to pet him and noticed his water dish was bone dry and he had no food in his bowl. She wondered when the last time was that Mr. Cook fed him.

Carol decided she wanted to warm up the rice, so she opened the microwave and saw a TV dinner that appeared to have been in there overnight. She pulled it out and threw it away as Mr. Cook walked back up the stairs.

Eveline was very concerned about him. She knew he would get mad at her for asking too many questions, especially if they were about his health. Mr. Cook had told her during her previous visit that he hadn’t seen a doctor since the only one he trusted died a couple of years ago.

She searched the kitchen and found the cat food and topped off Oscar’s water dish. When she came out of the kitchen Mr. Cook was telling Clara a story about Bora Bora. The picture of Carol was in the picture frame on the coffee table between them. She wished in that moment that Clara still had her father to tell her stories like this. She imagined how thrilled Clara would be to hear about his time in Africa.

She sighed and while fighting back tears, she told Clara that it was time to go. She put Clara’s coat on and shook Mr. Cook’s hand. He thanked both of them for the gift and apologized for not getting them anything in return.

Eveline thought about Mr. Cook the whole way home. She knew he was 94 and would likely have good and bad days; but something was different today. He didn’t seem as angry; she couldn’t tell if it was because he was warming up to them, or if he just didn’t have the strength to fight any longer. In a funny way, she kind of enjoyed Mr. Cook’s attitude, and she admired his independence.

She was up most of the night, and before she fell asleep she decided that she was going to go back there every day that she could to check on him and make sure he was ok.

To be continued..

Mr. Cook: Chapter 7

It was like a movie playing in Eveline’s head. She and Clara sat and listened to his story patiently and quietly.

I met Carol when I was 16 in high school. She attended the same history course as me and we started dating two weeks before I dropped out. I left high school to become a Merchant Marine; I was underage but somehow I slipped through the system. Another young boy jumped the same freight train as me to get to the ship and we became fast friends.

During one of the first weeks on the ship a Navy tug was helping a carrier dock when suddenly the propellers ripped open the tug. That tug swung into ours which was a pioneer steam tug from the 1890s. I stopped a crewman from tying the sinking tug to ours because if he had, we would have both gone down. The boy I met on the train went down trying to save a trapped crewman.

Before I was 18 I experienced WWII in Pacific and Atlantic waters. I had returned home for a brief time when I was 17 and found a note on the table that my parents had gone to Alaska to work until the war was over. I spent that summer falling in love with Carol and I asked her to marry me before returning to the ship and sailing to Panama.   

Upon my return home I sat on the train reading the letter Carol had sent me. My mother had died from cancer and my father disappeared. Carol was all I had to return to…

After becoming an 18-year-old veteran and returning home, I had found work going door-to-door selling fuller brushes. When that grew old I decided to go back to sea, this time as a fisherman. I worked my way to captain in less than two years and was in charge of my own ship for almost six years.

When my sea legs grew tired, I started my own business selling travel trailers. Carol and I were well on our feet so we bought a sailboat and lived on it for a year in Bora Bora.

We had talked about having children for quite some time so we returned to Washington to settle down and begin a family. After three failed pregnancy’s Carol could not bear the heartbreak again. 

My father reappeared after many years and tried to steal from us and take advantage of us. A friend from the ship who became a lawyer helped us in court and my father ended up going to prison after trying to burn down our house.

The reason I am selling my home to you is because there is no one left to take it. I am going to die soon and I do not want the city to take my house.”

It was silent for a while as they finished their beverages and while Eveline tried to find the words to say. She expected his story to be a good one, but this… this was way more than she expected. She had grown to adore Mr. Cook but he still didn’t seem to trust her.

She set a goal for herself and for the transaction that was taking place. She was going to make sure Mr. Cook was taken care of and walked through every step of the way. Despite his reluctance to accept help she was going to earn his trust one way or another; even if she had to bend over backwards and help him against his will.

After finally understanding why he is used to being alone and doing things on his own she knew she needed to be careful. She didn’t want Mr. Cook to think she was only helping him because he was old.

The phone rang cutting the silence like a knife.

“Darn solicitor!”

He was back to his grumpy self. Eveline looked at her watch and realized they had been there for over an hour. She helped Mr. Cook clean up and then put her hand on his shoulder as she said good-bye. She was lost in thought for the rest of the evening; she was almost in shock and tried to let it all sink in. She sobbed into her pillow before finally falling asleep.

 

Mr. Cook: Chapter 6

Once again Mr. Cook is startled by a knock on the door.

“Hello again Mr. Cook. I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by, I have some business to discuss with you.”

Annoyed by her assumption that he had nothing better to do, he was about to turn her away when Clara popped out from behind her and smiled. There was something about her smile that sparked Mr. Cook’s heart. He showed his reluctance on his face but let them inside.

“Do you drink coffee? Would you like a glass of milk Clara?”

Clara nodded and sat down on the sofa while Mr. Cook went into the kitchen to get the coffee. Eveline followed him to help and noticed he had turned the coffee maker on but forgot to put water in it. She didn’t say anything but went ahead and poured water into it as Mr. Cook turned his back to get the milk. They finally settled in the living room.

“Sorry again to stop in like this, I just had a few more questions and thought we could discuss some more details about our transaction.”

After finishing a brief discussion about the details of their transaction Eveline was finding it hard to approach the subject she really wanted to discuss. It was silent for a moment then Mr. Cook stood up to get something from his room. Eveline watched him and was perplexed when he went downstairs instead of the master bedroom. She assumed Oscar must be in there but her curiosity was getting the best of her.

She arose to her feet and walked quietly to the door of the bedroom. Mr. Cook was mobile but he moved pretty slow so she figured she would have enough time for a quick peek. She opened the door slowly to not make a sound. There was no cat in there that she could see, so she went inside. The bedroom was dusty and eerily untouched; pictures of Carol and Mr. Cook were on the dresser along with some perfume and earings. She turned around to find a silk bathrobe on the back of the door. Womens slippers were on the floor next to the bed.

It finally made sense to her. The room hadn’t been touched since Carol died. Suddenly she can’t help but put her hand over her mouth and cry. Creeks on the stairs cause her to jolt back into motion and hurry out of there and into the bathroom. She could hear Mr. Cook saying something to Clara as she fixed her makeup and tried her best to hide her expression.

“This is a picture of my wife when she was your age. You look just like her.”. He said as he let Clara hold the picture.

“I met her when I was 16 years old.”

Clara smiled and handed the picture back to Mr. Cook as her mom sat down on the couch.

“You were 16 when you met? That’s incredible; I met my Christopher when we were 24, I wish we had met sooner… I’d love to hear about that time from your perspective; I studied history in college and it fascinates me.”

Mr. Cook looked like he was angry or maybe just deep in thought. Eveline gave him some time to gather his thoughts. She was relieved when he began to speak. Finally, she was going to find out what she so desperately wanted to know.

***

To be continued…

Mr. Cook: Chapter 5

It was dark and chilly by the time Eveline and Clara got home. They went inside and made tacos for dinner and Eveline thought it was a perfect Fall night for some hot cocoa. She made some for both of them and put three marshmallows in Clara’s -just the way she liked it. She put a little splash of brandy in her own. They sat and drank together as Eveline began thinking about Mr. Cook.

She wondered what the rest of his story was. There must be some serious events that occurred to mold the grumpy, lonely old man that he was now. She wondered what he was like when he was younger and what Carol was like. She wondered if they had any children or if he had any other family. Then another thought ran through her head that made her feel heavy with guilt.

You see, Eveline is not just buying a house from a seller. She is buying the house through life estate so that she can own the house when Mr. Cook passes away. She buys the house and Mr. Cook still lives there and pays for utilities and maintenance.

At that moment Eveline wished she never met the man, it would be easier that way. It was too late. She had to uncover the rest of his story.

In the morning Eveline woke to the sun shining through the curtains. It was truly a beautiful day outside so she decided it would be nice for her and Clara to get out of the house. She put on some tennis shoes, yoga pants, and a sweater and got Clara dressed and they headed to their favorite park across town.

Clara was making friends with what seemed to be a 6 year old girl. Eveline thought she was being too bossy and offered to push Clara on the swing. While pushing her it occurred to her that Mr. Cook lived only a few blocks away. By the time they left it would be a little before 3pm. Maybe she could swing by and just check on him, and maybe he would let her ask a few more questions. She knew she shouldn’t call first because she didn’t want to hear him say no. If she just showed up he won’t have much of a choice but to talk to her.