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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Wikepedia reveals every detail of TM's past and prompts the twelve students to consider the best way to discuss life with this amazing person; or should they just eat, drink and question him.
But Conrad Cox has his own plans for his meeting with the twelve.

Submitted: August 18, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 17, 2016




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Five


"Well, sweetie, what do you think of all that?”

Veronica was sitting on the long white couch with a cat, Winnie, in her lap and reading the New York Times.

Conrad was in the office room, standing and looking out over the trees toward the hills while he mulled his answer to is wife’s question. He took another sip of his coffee and spied the high window to his left that presented a view of a large nearby tree and a tangle of high hedges .

“I’m torn, honey; yeah, very undecided. And here I was being so enthusiastic when they were here, but now; hell, I don’t know.

"What can I possibly say to a bunch of teenagers and low-twenties kids that would make them feel they learned something or at lest heard a few things they hadn’t heard or thought of before? What do you think?”

Veronica rose and joined him. They stood together holding hands and absorbing the different spectacular view from this room.

“Hmmmm, darling; you have led an amazing life; been here and there; had a few careers . . . I really don’t know. You could end up just discouraging them; some of them . . .”

“Yeah; that’s what I was thinking; not in a conceited way; not at all,” sighing, “would we—I, be diminishing either their achievements or their ambitions . . .?”

They stood close to each other and Veronica put her head on his shoulder while they viewed and thought and almost cuddled.

Abruptly, Conrad’s body stiffened. Veronica removed her head and looked at her husband as she waited for some decision that she knew was coming.

“I think I have it honey; yes; that’s what I’ll do.”

He took his wife into his arms and kissed her.

*  *  *

All twelve were present; six on each side of the long oak picnic-style table at La Val’s where the sounds of gladness and grief erupted at intervals above the steady sound of cheery chatter.

Penny and Jan had finished relating their entire visit in detail; with dialogue, as well as Jan’s detailed description of TM and Penny’s meticulous description of setting, views, fixtures, and furniture.

“What about Mrs. Cox?” Jewel snuck in the question during a lull in the two women’s exposition.

Penny and Jan both began to speak at once; then they laughed and took a strong pull on their beer. Jan nodded a slight bow to Penny who then, with her best smile, “ She’s a very unusual woman.” Penny went on d describe Mrs. Cox and then added her assessment of her role in her husband’s life.

“I wouldn’t say they’re inseparable but they have this kind of silent communication network between them; probably because they have lived together for so long—sixty-six years. They really seem to know what the other is thinking and what he or she will say next. It’s all a bit spooky, but in a very good way. In fact, I should be so lucky—well, to live so long, for a start.”

Jan picked up the thread. “Guys, it is very unusual, their relationship; almost magical; and there they are as if suspended in the air overlooking the Bay . . .”

Amid the clatter and chatter, there was a pronounced silence between the twelve.

“Well,” Jewel asked, “did he say he’d come and join us here some day—night?”

The other nine looked to Jan and then Penny. Neither spoke right away but then Penny stated, “Yes.”

 A rumble of beer-laden cheers bounced through the other nine.

“In fact he was very enthusiastic; I think, right Jan?”

For sure; enthusiastic is the word; but then he was enthusiastic about everything that day, right Pen?”

“Sure was,” thinking how she would phrase the next thought about having him ‘cross-examined’ by them.

Another pitcher and two more pies hit the table, prompting loud sounds of thanks.

Both the bouquets from the pizzas and the general jollity jumped a few notches.

“Jan and I discussed this right after we left. I thought that any heavy questioning might not be such a good idea. We wanted to tell you everything first and then discuss it with all of you before taking a vote.”

Penny stopped abruptly, and let her thoughts and her questions  just hang in the air for the others to inhale and use to make their decision.

The twelve took up pieces of pizza and mugs of beer while they turned to each other and discussed and dissected the news form Penny and Jan.

After their break for food, drink and discussion, Penny asked for comments about what each of them had learned about Conrad Cox on the net.

Everyone shot up a hand and one by one each told the other what they had found and where.

Between the twelve of them, they knew, personally, only three other people who had a Wikipedia page. However, Connie Cox sure did.

The page had been prepared by those who knew Mr. Cox; old friends, college pals (both Cal and Stanford); football teammates, again both at Cal and Stanford and the only player ever to do that. Then his career with the San Francisco Forty-Niners.

His Navy career was as a carrier pilot in WW II. However, he somehow ended up on land and being wounded in the battle for Iwo Jima, for which he was decorated.

After the war came the college years and ended with Stanford Law.

His accomplishments, appointments, awards, and citations were then followed by his uncanny ability to run for what seemed forever. The twelve were particularly interested in this facet and a few had found other links that told of more running awards and accomplishment and the final shock: at the age of fifty–three, he had duplicated Al Arnold’s unbelievable run from Badwater to the top of Mount Whitney, over a hundred and forty-four miles; non stop.  

He and Al had been the best of friends until the ravages of a bad surfing accident struck down the big man at ninety.

Then there were Conrad’s good works; donations of time and money; gifts to almost every charity in the Bay Area.

Apparently, Conrad and Veronica had found their aerie while they were very young and the Euclid building had just been completed. For any number of excellent reasons, they had stayed there despite several attempts to find houses or flats which had attributes remotely approaching those of Euclid. Nevertheless, they had raised two sons there after altering the back porch into a third bedroom and extending the office out over the roof of the glass enclosed porch


A sudden cessation of talking among the group preceded a number of comments beginning and ending with awesome, fantastic, unbelievable, and other words of excessive surprise, delight and amazement.

Around closing time, following a reasonable consumption of carbohydrates and alcohol, the twelve began to discuss their views about the invitation to Conrad Cox.

“I have a great idea,” offered Nicky, “let’s get together a list of questions, and I mean from off the wall; out of left field; from out of our butts; just everything we can possibly think of to ask this guy and then send it to him with the invitation; or a least before we call and invite him."

All the others immediately shelved their own suggestions and chose Nicky’s.

They decided to review all the remarks of everyone that night and to make their own individual lists of questions when they were cold sober; and perhaps "in vacant or in pensive mood”.


End of Chapter Five

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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