Cook Nuclear

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Two Rivers

Chapter 11 (v.1) - Leaving the "Big House"

Submitted: February 02, 2018

Reads: 108

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Submitted: February 02, 2018



The dampness of the day crawled under your skin, and clouds hovered over the earth like a foreboding illness.  Even as miserable as it was, it could not quench the glorious feeling Don Mills had on his final day at the Cook Nuclear Power Plant.  He’d been called back to town to work in the local doing “real” electrical work. 

He had been converted. In his mind now, Cook had become “the big house”.  He felt he had been enslaved there for the last six months.  The day was such a contrast to the day he’d hired in six months ago.  That morning had been a bright, sunny October day, but today was dark rainy April day.  He’d driven by himself because he was planning on clearing the work site, gathering his tools and getting his friendly fire from the foreman and heading home early.  Max said, “I’m going to miss you,” and he sounded like he really meant it. 

Don looked up to see the security gate and the guard standing there inside the gatehouse.  “What can I do for you?” the guard said coming out to see why Don stopped.

“I just wondered if there was anything I need to do to clear the work site.  This is my last day” Don said.

“Just wave when you leave,” the guard said.  “Everything will be taken care inside.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“Oh, have a good life,” the guard said. 

Don thought about that as he drove on inside.  Anything had to be better than working here.  “It’s going to be a great life!” he thought.


Back at the Union Hall, he was sent to the new Penny’s store that was being built.  It was like heaven to be back in his hometown again and on a job, that respected the true work ethic.  His boss, John, who also had been Don’s first journeyman he had ever worked for, told him he had asked for Don specifically.  That made Don feel he was worth something again.

“I have an easy job for you,” John said.  “Mount a box centered above the door going out into the mall area.”

“Okay,” Don answered eager to get started.  He wanted to impress John, who had shown faith in him.

After forty minutes, John came back to see how things were going.  “Why didn’t you center the box over the door?” John asked.

“I did,” Don answered.

“Here hold this tape measure,” John said.  “Something doesn’t look right.”

They measured it twice both directions.  It was dead on.  John shook his head and said, “Well, don’t worry about it.  I got another job for you.”

At lunch, John kept looking at the box and shaking his head.  Another journeyman noticed and said, “Why wasn’t that box centered over the door?”

“It was,” John answered.  “Measure it for yourself.”  Pretty soon everyone was up looking at it and measuring the box in the opening.  Finally, John said, “I see it.  The box is out of line with the lights running down the center of the mall.  The door isn’t centered with the mall corridor, giving it the illusion the box is off.”  Years later Don walked into Penny’s to do some shopping and noticed the box with the clock over it.  After 40 years, it still looked off center to the door. 

Seven years after working at Cook Nuclear Plant, Don read the obituary of Max in the local paper.  He had taken his mother to the mall for her to do her Christmas shopping.  He’d died in the parking lot of a heart attack.  He was 39 years old, and six months younger than Don.  To Don Max always seemed so much older than him.  Maybe it was the life Max had lived that made him seem so much older.  Or, maybe it was all those years Max had spent at the “big house.” 


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