Glory Days

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Nick Brennan is sitting in a coffee shop, working on an article when he runs into an old friend from school. What starts as a visit with an old friend turns into a moment of recollection that Nick will never forget.

Submitted: September 06, 2016

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Submitted: September 06, 2016

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When you think of coffee shops, usually what comes to mind are fancy coffees, overpriced items and rude teenagers behind the counter. You come in to these places with the basic notion of paying close to $10 for what amounts to a milkshake without ice cream. Alot of people come in here to visit with friends or be on some sort of electronic device. Communication is of high importance in a coffee shop, whether it's in person or device. Human interaction is a rare commodity in a place like this. It's not something that people do very often these days.

I was in a coffee shop called "The Electric Grind". The name of the place was not one that I would associate with coffee necessarily. It was the latest in a string of Starbucks knock offs. Very modern chic tables and chairs placed along the windows. The coffee counter was designed with a breakfast bar with stools so customers could watch the baristas not mess up their drinks. The staff working behind the counter couldn't have been older than 20 years old. An assortment of attractive younger people. 

It was a rainy Thursday afternoon. The rain came down hard and fast. You could smell the sawmill near by mixing with the rain. It was an unforgetable stench. I had just left my house to get a cup of coffee and work on an article I had to write for the paper. I normally work at home and rarely come in to the office. Every now and then I had the urge to work where there was a lot of noise and distraction. Almost putting myself in a competion against the world, if you will. I had just finished some research and decided that I would send in a draft to my editor. So I loaded up my laptop and notebook and made it to the coffee shop. 

When I made it inside, I saw an assortment of elderly people sitting at the bar, sipping on coffee discussing the weather. I made it to the counter and stared at it for a moment. Off to my left I could hear a teenage girl coming over to the register. 

"Good Afternoon," She said. "How may I help you?"

"I would like a cup of regular coffee," I said.

"What size?"

"Large," I said. 

"We just made it a second ago, so I hope it's ok.If not you get free refill." She said.

I nodded my head in approval. She gave me my total and I gave her the money. A minute later I got my coffee and made my way to the nearest table. Over the loud speakers James Taylor was telling of how in his mind he was going to Carolina. I didn't know what Carolina in particular. I had been to both and they are lovely places. Maybe it was a woman named Carolina that he was going to. I wasn't sure, but I knew that like most James Taylor songs, my favorite part was when it was at the end and he stopped singing. 

I sat down and placed my coffee where I wanted it and started to open my laptop. I sat it on the table and opened my word processing program to see where I left off with my article. It was a piece on a music store in town that was trying to launch a music festival featuring classic artists from the 1980's. It was an interesting idea. The music meant alot to the gentleman, inspired his business and he wanted to make something that could mean lot to people like it did for him. I was sure I could get it published. 

Turning on my internet radio and plugging in my headphones, Billy Joel was telling me how he was "Keeping The Faith" while I went to work. I settled into a rhythm with the song. It was funny how music could make a person do things. It inspires, makes people dream, think, question the way we live. It was even helping a reporter like me with a story. 

As the album moved to the next track I took my headphones off and continued writing. While I was writing I could distinctly hear foot steps coming towards my table. I heard the chair across being pulled from the table. As I looked at the person across from me, I couldn't believe who it was. 

Elizabeth Howley was a girl I had known my whole life. We lived right next door to each other, went to the same schools all the way through college. Chris Messner was my best guy friend, but Elizabeth was my best overall friend. When she needed a guy for anything, I was that guy. If I needed a date, I'd always count on Elizabeth. A lot of our firsts were with eachother. First kiss, first date, first time sleeping with someone, any imaginable first. We did a lot together. She even was okay with my dating Katherine Taylor. We were quite the pair.

But such as life, we drift apart and move on to other things. I hadn't seen Elizabeth in 20 years. We had always sent emails, made phone calls, but it wasn't the same. The last time I saw her was at her wedding to Geoff Whiting, a successful lawyer. I had covered a couple of his cases and knew that he was as good in court as he was to Elizabeth. When I had moved back to town, I hadn't looked up Elizabeth and had felt guilty about it. The demands of the career can out weigh the demands of humanity. 

"My god," I said.

"Well, Wordslinger," Elizabeth said. "I see your still quick with an adjective,"

I got up and hugged her. Squeezing her as tight as I could. When you don't see someone for a long time, you might forget certain things about them. Their smell, touch, smile, appearance, manner, etc. As soon as Elizabeth and I embraced, it felt as though I was that 22 again. 

"I see that life hasn't diminished your beauty, Mrs. Whiting," I said. "Your as beautiful as I remembered you."

Elizabeth was wearing a Nike Athletic suit. Jacket and pants were black. Her Hair was as red as I remembered it. She had a large watch on her right hand and a big cup of coffee in her left hand. I motioned for her to sit down. We sat back down at the table. 

"How you been?" I asked.

Elizabeth smiled. "Been good, I have a good job and my daughter is almost going to college. Life sure is amazing. How have you been, Nick?"

I nodded my head. "Not to bad, I guess. Just doing the writing thing still and traveling the world. What do you do for work?"

"I'm run my own business." Elizabeth said. She motioned around the "Electric Grind". My eyes widened at the notion. 

"I gotta say, I'm impressed." I said. 

"We outdraw Starbucks 5 to 1," Elizabeth said. "We use their logic and twist it in our favor." 

"One thing I have to ask," I said.

"What's that?" Elizabeth asked.

"Can all coffee shops quit playing James Taylor?" I said. "Seriously, If I'm gonna spend close to $10 for a cup of coffee I don't want to listen to some 700 year old man tell me that he is a steamroller. Can you do the decent thing and play like Michael Buble or Ingrid Michaelson? Please?"

"I will let you in on a little secret," Elizabeth said. "He is our most popular artist on the radio here."

"What is your clientele? People who had their first date when Herbert Hoover was in office?" I said.

"Funny," Elizabeth said.

We sat for a minute staring at each other. Relationships that have lasted for an extended amount of time can do a lot of different things to people. For me it was reliving summers in Seattle, random trips to Idaho and a lot of late nights laying on the hood of my mom's camry looking at the stars. 

"I should have called," I said. "I've been back in town for a year. I figured you and Geoff were busy and I didn't want to interfere with anything. I'm really sorry."

"My best friend didn't want to come see me cause I was being married? That is a little weird but ok. The best part is that we are here now. First time in 20 years. So we gotta catch up. Instead of dragging it out, let's just cheat and give each other the cliff's notes versions. You first." Elizabeth said. 

"Let's see," I said. "Became a journalist, traveled the world, had a couple of books turn in to movies and am back here in Ridgeview." 

"Wow, let me think," Elizabeth said. "Married a succesful lawyer, had a daughter, started my own business. Geoff passed away 5 years ago. Here I am now." 

My jaw dropped. "I'm so sorry, Liz." I said

"Pancreatic Cancer," Elizabeth said. "It was hard but Geoff just did like he always had done. Treated it as if it were a setback in a case. He would dig and dig and fight til he found the answer he was looking for. But with that kind of disease, all you can do is just sit back and remember what has happend thus far and plan for what is gonna happen."

"Of course," I said. "But still, that is pretty horrible. I never really knew Geoff that well but the few times I saw him he was quite the guy. A fighter in court."

"A fighter in life," Elizabeth said.

"What's your daughter's name?" I asked.

Elizabeth smiled. "Nicole Ellen Whiting." Elizabeth reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a picture of her. I looked at if for a while and smiled. She was the spitting image of her mother. Red hair, athletic body. I handed the picture back.

"Beautiful as her mother," I said.

"Thank you," Elizabeth said. "Do you have any kids? How's Katherine?" 

"No kids. Last time I heard from Katherine was a year ago. She was working for a theatre in Santa Fe teaching people how to sing. I guess she's doing fine."

"She's in Santa Fe, I never thought she would go anywhere farther than Seattle. That is a shame." Elizabeth said.

I put my laptop in the case and caught a glance of the crowd around us. There was a single couple sitting at a table staring at the parking lot. The music had changed from James Taylor to Billy Ocean. I was really gonna have to Elizabeth about the music in here. 

"Yeah it is a shame. It's just one of those things that can't really be explained." I said.

"You remember in fourth grade, when you put the frog in Rosie Carver's shirt and she had the biggest panic attack?" Elizabeth asked.

"My god, I do remember that." I said. "Or do you remember when we snuck out and drove to Boise just for the weekend? Your dad and my mom got together and gave us the worst chewing out ever. You remember what your dad said to us?" 

"Son, if your gonna take my daughter away without telling me, she better be pregnant or your kiddnaping her," Elizabeth said. "Yeah, later that night they got us together and asked us why we did that. I still can't believe what you said to your mom. I thought we were both dead."

"What did I say to her?" I asked. "I don't really remember."

Elizabeth tilted her head. "Really, Wordslinger? You don't remember what you said? Nick Brennan I am surprised at you." Elizabeth said.

"Tell me what I said." I replied.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Elizabeth said.

I had to tilt my head. "That does sound sound like something I would say." I said.

Elizabeth laughed. "I'm gonna get another cup of coffee. You want anything?" Elizabeth said.

I replied that I didn't and she got up and walked back to the counter. I replayed what had happened so far. Reuniting with Liz was incredible and I couldn't have been happier. But yet I had this strange feeling of guilt. My best friend's husband passed away from a terrible and awful disease and I was no where near for her when she needed me. I had mentioned that life can take us in a lot of different directions, right in that particular moment the guilty feeling was growing stronger. I sat there in silence. 

Elizabeth came back and sat down. She caught the expression on my face. "What's wrong sweetheart?" Elizabeth asked.

"I just feel awful, Liz. I'm sorry I haven't been around for 20 years." I said.

"Why are you sorry for living life?" Elizabeth asked.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

Elizabeth smiled. "It's like I tell Nicole. There comes a time where you are sitting in the living room planning your future. Then there is a time to put the plan into action. You can't be sorry for living Nick. Things happen. Would it have been nice to have you here when I lost Geoff? For sure. But I was happier knowing that you were accomplishing your dreams. I knew that you would have been happy for me no matter what I did." Elizabeth said.

I nodded my head. "That is very true. I guess sometimes we never sit down to think about our actions." I said.

"Just remember this Nick," Elizabeth said. "Time leaves us with nothing but stories we can pass down to the next generation. We just need to make sure they aren't boring and that they can mean something to someone." Elizabeth said. 

I pulled out my notebook and wrote that quote down. That was gonna go in the article. 

"Hey since we are here, I was wondering." I said.

"What's that?" Elizabeth asked.

"Wanna hangout sometime? Just like in the old days." I said.

Elizabeth smiled and laughed. "Sure," Elizabeth said. "I'll be here for a while. Gotta go do some paperwork." She got up and started to walk towards the counter. I turned around to check her out. Elizabeth turned around and caught me looking at her. 

"You know for 40," I said. "Your as hot as a teenager."

"Since I have a teenager, I don't know how to take that. But because it's you, I'll take it as a compliment. Pervert." Elizabeth said. She continued heading back towards the counter. I sat there with a big grin on my face.

Being with Elizabeth again reminded me a lot of the guy I was writing about. Here was a guy that felt like the music he grew up with was like a friend, when he grew up he moved on to other things and forgot about his friend. When he got older he reunited with his friend and it improved his life. Granted Elizabeth was a human, but the sentiments were the same. It feels good for a moment to be that young kid, waiting to conquer the world. I'd rather be the adult that I am now, however. 

I put my notebook in my laptop case and zipped it up and sat there thinking about the young kids, Nick and Liz. Ready to conquer the world and make something of ourselves. I think we did alright. Springsteen had a song about glory days. I guess overall, I was happy with what I was doing and what was to come. I didn't need to sit back and relive the past. I had a long way to go.

I started to get up from the chair to head to the counter. As I stood up I noticed that the music was now Bruce Hornsby with Ricky Skaggs. Now seemed like as good as time as any to talk to the owner and make a complaint about this. Luckily, I was really good friends with the owner.


© Copyright 2017 Robert Logan. All rights reserved.

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