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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A group of twelve young men and women seek wisdom from a ninety-two year-old man who runs a hundred miles at a time.
Penny and Jan visit the home of this phenom to invite him for pizza and beer and 'questioning'; and find transcendence.
Now what?

Submitted: August 08, 2016

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Submitted: August 08, 2016





A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Four


A very loud laugh; deep, a reverberating roar, caused both women to raise their heads and display their beautiful bulging eyes.

Conrad Cox was laughing as merrily as any Santa Claus, or any other person of good will.

He immediately saw their discomfort, and said, with a hypnotic baritone, “I would be delighted and honored to have some pizza and beer with you and your friends; just tell me when. My social calendar is practically blank these days, so, here’s the phone number and give me a call.”

His broad grin remained as the two women dove to their sides for their purses and a pen and paper. Veronica was looking at her husband, who winked and smiled even more broadly

“Here’s the number,” looking at Penny, who was the first to find a pen and pad.

After taking down the number, Penny and Janice didn’t know what to do next.

Penny managed a sincere” what a marvelous view you have,” and Janice nodded in agreement.

“It is indeed, “Conrad was nodding his head, “ yes,  and it’s very quiet up here as well; now the back yard . . . have you seen the back yard?”

He looked from one to the other while his eyes twinkled with the pleasure of being in the company of two young, very attractive women.

They, the women, were both thinking of the sheer impossibility of anyone –man or woman—being so robustly healthy and agile at ninety-two. And indeed, that surprise would be echoed by anyone who came in contact with Conrad Cox .

His entire physical presentation –even persona, if the physical aspects of a person have a persona—was simply staggering . Any county fair age-guesser would lose—by a lot.

His hair was en brose above black eyebrows and a face bearing lines of wisdom. His nose was somewhat long but perfectly proportioned for the length of his head. A firm jaw with a cleft; strong cheeks and thin lips immediately diverted people trying to guess his age to a number with a six in it—at most.

Years of running and pumping iron had developed the body of a thirty-year-old.

 Conrad Cox was the epitome of the lifelong physically-aware individual 

Both women nodded in the negative before Veronica could answer for them, “oh, well, come on back here and see,” and he moved in front of them and walked through the dining room left into the kitchen, up a step to a back porch, where he opened the door onto a stoop.

He stood back to allow the women to stand near him while he pointed out redwoods, rock formations, summer grasses, flowers, cedars and a space that vanished into the collection of tress and undergrowth of the back part of Cragmont Park.

“We get deer all the time, raccoons the size of a Saint Bernard, foxes, an occasional mountain lion; so, you see, the back is as impressive in its way as the front; we’re spoiled rotten; every day.”

The women looked and oohed and aahed for minutes and then looked up at TM and he nodded for them to re-enter the porch and  pass through the kitchen again, and eventually they returned to the living room.

Penny then noticed that there were bookcases of one size and color or another; even in the dining room.

“This is a really remarkable place you have, Mr. Cox,” Penny offered admiringly; coming from her comparison with her own residence of comfort and beauty.

Janice was too emotional about the entire beauty of it all that she was choking back tears. Veronica saw this and put an arm around her shoulder.

“It’s okay Janice, Connie and I cry quite often here; a particular sunset; the clear day when you can see past the Farrallones; when a doe and her new child are nosing around the back yard; or a raccoon looks up at you when you turn on the porch light at night; and many more . . . there, there, okay?” and she gave Janice a strong hug around her shoulders.

After some excessive thank yous and promises to return, Penny and Janice found their way down the stairs to the glassed-in porch, down the switchback stairs to the front stoop of the student apartment, down the walk past the brimming flowers and bushes of extraordinary beauty, and eventually to the Healy.

Penny agreed with Jan that it would be bad form to remain in front of the Cox’s home while they exchanged the views, visions, and opinions of the past hour.

Penny gunned the Healy up to Marin, took a right up to Grizzly Peak where she turned right again and pulled into the curb at the first opening.

Shutting off the motor, “Well, son of a bitch,” wheezed Penny, “I mean . . .”

Jan reached over and hugged her friend and choked up a bit,” Geez Pen, what to say? I mean,” shaking her head and smiling thorough tears, “I’ve never seen such a place, or met such people; this is a, well . . . like finding treasure; a treasure . . .  not gold or like that, but something, I don’t know, something almost intangible . . . what do you think?”

Penny was sighing and nodding and then moving her head from side to side.

“I don’t know Jan . . . I just don’t know.”
“Don’t know what, Pen?”

Penny was silent for a few more moments, and then turned to face Jan.

“Oh, I don’t know if it’s such a good idea to get together with TM.”

Janice couldn’t find an expression to register both her surprise and her disappointment.

The two women were silent while they each groped for an appropriate remark or observation—even an opinion.

The day that had begun as beautiful was now approaching glorious and on its way to becoming divine. The warmth of the sun and the deep blue of the yonder were interwoven with the sounds of birds. These golden moments of nature were quite possibly the best background for the conversation that the two women were about to begin.

Penny spoke first.

“I have this feeling, Jan; it’s as though I’ve discovered a perfect treasure with almost endless facets of thrilling enjoyments, deep love, silent thinking; everything that I have been missing, for the most part, in my own life and the lives of others.

“They seem to be all together on that second story flat on Euclid. I have his dread, that if I become entangled somehow in the lives of Mr. and Ms. Cox; if I intrude into the living of their lives; their situation; the clear loving and respectful bond that they obviously enjoy, that I would shatter all that overwhelming joy that I feel from our visit.

“Just their company and a view into their lives; the books everywhere, the view, the ambiance . . .” her voice trailed off on the balmy breezes.

Jan had melded her feelings with those expressed by her friend.

“Penny; I completely agree; at least about the treasure—or more the treasured existence of those two.

“Somehow they don’t seem like they’re in the same world with us –and others. "Yes, I know exactly what you mean. But if that’s so, then what could they possibly tell us that we didn’t pick up from our visit . . . well, that’s dumb; what we really want to know is how they got to this point; how they have managed through; what, maybe seven or so decades and then end up as happy and content as they are now in their nineties.”

“That’s exactly it Jan,” Penny had regained her enthusiasm and perhaps was changing her mind about intervening in the lives of the Coxes and at the same time signaling that she thought meeting with Conrad at LaVals might be possible as long as anything or any questioning didn’t in any way rearrange or disturb or recalibrate the lives of the two in some way that would bring them either sadness or disappointment, “maybe we should invite him . . .  but let’s talk it over with the gang before; and tell them about our visit and what we’re feeling and thinking about right now.”

Janice’s face brightened at the prospect and her sudden thought shot into words, “ we should google him—them, and see if they’re in Wikepedia; or something like that.”

Penny was now enthusiastic. “Great idea Jan; we should all know something about him before we meet him, that’s for sure,” laughing merrily, “maybe they’re vampires; or he’s a stalker . .”

Jan cutting in, “or a serial killer; a co-ed killer like Ted Bundy . . . ooooooooo” and she laughed with gusto.

Penny turned the key and the Healy sprang away form the curb on its way to meet the other ten and start a group project to find out about Conrad and Veronica before any calls were made. 

Ripples of femininity and fun, and tinkling laughter floated out the back of their sporty ride.



End of Chapter Four

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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