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Starting Over at 55 (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 02

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DW is 55 Plus & married for 30 years. He once nearly lost his wife in a horseback riding accident. He wondered if he could start over if...


Jack hadn’t yet told his children how he’d used a chunk of the life insurance settlement to buy his aunt’s house on Buzby Beach from their grandparents. His parents had been holding on to the place since his Aunt Caroline had passed away two years before, using it as a rental. They hadn’t really needed the money from selling it and let Jack, Cheryl, and the kids stay in it when it wasn’t rented out, which wasn’t often.

The house wasn’t right on the beach. It was precisely half-a-mile from the front door to Iggie’s Burgers according to Cheryl’s pedometer. Walking there and back was how she’d rationalized going there for one of Iggie’s famous milkshakes.

When Jack told them he wanted to move in, his folks agreed to sell him the place for next to nothing. His only request was they move out everything but the queen-sized bed in the bigger bedroom and the kitchen appliances.

Meagan had taken Brayden aside and talked to him. Brayden stopped fighting his father about selling the house, but he hadn’t been happy about it.

Nothing in the kitchen had been packed up. Jack was paying the moving company to have somebody do that. He just wasn’t up to it. Meagan had offered to come and help him, but Jack told her that he would let the movers handle it.

The Keurig Coffee Maker had been a Father’s Day present from the kids two Father’s Days ago. Jack looked at the reservoir and realized he needed to add water. He put in what he thought would be just enough to make what coffee he would drink before the movers showed up, popped a K-Cup of Starbucks Blond Roast into the machine, propped his Salt-Life Tervis cup with the handle under the outlet, and pressed the brew button.

While the Keurig did its thing, Jack turned to the stainless-steel Kenmore refrigerator Cheryl had picked out when they remodeled the kitchen two summers before. It matched the stainless-steel range, dishwasher, and over-the-range microwave she’d chosen. Standing in the kitchen that Cheryl had always wanted didn’t bother Jack nearly as much as it had just a week before.

From the fridge, Jack grabbed the half-gallon jug of Low Sodium V-8 Juice that he drank every morning to satisfy himself that he was getting a serving of vegetables with his breakfast. Besides the Bailey’s (non-alcoholic) Irish Coffee Creamer, a tub of butter, and a bottle of Welch’s Grape Jelly, the V-8 was the only thing in the refrigerator. Knowing the movers were coming, Jack hadn’t bothered to stock up.

Not that he’d done much grocery shopping since the phone call. If it hadn’t been for Meagan’s regular visits home to check on him, Jack might not have had anything on the refrigerator shelves at all. Most of his meals had been either at the Corner Diner a mile from the house or up at Debbie's Grill in town.


Breakfast at the Corner Diner

The Corner Diner got Jack’s business on the morning of the One hundred forty-second day after the phone call. It was closer to the house. With the movers coming, Jack decided he didn’t want to stay gone very long. He still had to pack up what he was going to take with him when he moved into his aunt’s house in Buzby Beach.

Jack hadn’t planned on moving any of the furniture from the house in Goldsboro to Buzby Beach. He was taking a couple of boxes of books, his laptop with all its bells-and-whistles, a duffel bag full of clothes, and whatever paperwork he’d need that wasn’t digitized and saved on a CD or thumb drive.

What he could take with him was limited to what Jack could fit into the 2012 Ford Mustang Cheryl had given him for his fifty-fifth birthday just three months before the phone call.

Sherman, the morning cook at the Diner, brought Jack’s ham-and-cheese omelet out to him instead of letting Letty, the weekday morning waitress, do it.

“How are you doing this morning, Jack?” Sherman asked, real concern in his voice. Cheryl and Jack had often had breakfast at the diner on a Saturday morning.

Jack shrugged his shoulders. “It ain’t getting any easier.”

“Let me know if you need anything,” Sherman said, patting Jack on the shoulder.

Jack nodded and mechanically started in on the omelet, not taking any pleasure in what was once his favorite thing to eat for breakfast. When he’d sat down, Jack stared at the menu unable to decide what to order. Letty suggested the omelet and Jack handed her the menu and said, “Okay.”

When she saw that Jack had nearly finished his breakfast, Letty set the check on the table. “No hurry,” she said. “Just take it up whenever you're ready.”

Jack glanced at the check and nodded. His mouth was full of the last bite of home fries so he couldn’t express his thanks. By the time he swallowed, Letty had moved on to another table. Jack took one last sip of his coffee, tucked a couple of dollars under his plate, and took the ticket up to the register. Sherman cashed him out.

“Think you’ll be back for lunch?” the cook asked him. “Meatloaf with creamed potatoes and gravy is the special today.”

Jack shook his head. “Probably not. Movers are coming this morning. Don’t know what time they’ll finish up. Then I have to get heading down to Wilmington, Buzby Beach. I'm moving into my aunt’s old place.”

Sherman handed Jack the change. “We won’t be seeing you for a while then, I guess. Take care of yourself, Jack.”

Jack snorted a rueful laugh. “Yeah, you too, Sherman. See ya.”

Sherman watched Jack walk out the door. Letty came and stood by him.

“You think he’ll be all right?” Letty asked, nodding toward the closed door.

Sherman shrugged. “Probably, in time. I hope so. He’s good people.”

Continue Jack's story with "Starting Over at 55, Part 3

  • Starting Over at 55 Part 3
    Jack packs up the few things left in the house he wants to take with him and takes one last look around.

Start Jack's story at the beginning with "Starting Over at 55, Part 1

  • Starting Over at 55 Part 1
    Jack Callaghan lost his wife in a tragic auto accident. After nearly 6 months, he takes his first steps into the rest of his life.

© 2018 DW Davis

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