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Starting Over at 55 (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 24

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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 didn’t have much time to dwell on the Wanda fiasco. He’d no sooner gone back inside than the delivery truck arrived with his television. The delivery guys helped him get the home theater equipment and blue-ray hooked up, for which he tipped them generously. Since he didn’t have any DVD’s and the cable hadn’t been hooked up yet, there wasn’t anything to watch.

It was, however, lunchtime. Jack decided to try The Beach Cone. He’d seen that The Beach Cone served sandwiches - it was painted on the front window - the day before when Georgia went in to meet there with her client.

All the tables were occupied. There was an empty seat at the end of the counter. Jack made his way there and sat down. He barely had time to look over the menu when a pretty, fit, young lady with short red hair and emerald green eyes came down the counter and favored him with a pearly white smile.

“Hi, I’m Ginger. Are you here for lunch or ice cream?”

Jack smiled and said, “Hi, Ginger, I’m Jack. Can I get ice cream for lunch?”

Ginger shrugged and replied, “You can if you want. Sundae or cone?”

Jack chuckled and shook his head. “Uh, actually, I think I’d like a sandwich first.”

“We can do that, too,” Ginger said. She pulled a pad of order tickets out of her apron pocket. “What can we make for you today, Jack?”

“He likes pancakes for breakfast and chicken patty sandwiches for supper, but I don’t know what he eats for lunch,” Corie said over Jack’s shoulder, causing him to turn suddenly and almost fall off of his stool. Corie grabbed his shoulders to steady him.

“Whoa, there, old-timer. Don’t fall out of your seat.”

“You guys know each other?” Ginger asked, eyeing Corie suspiciously. She knew Corie from seeing her around the island.

“Oh,” Corie said, her hands still on Jack’s shoulders, “Jack and I go way back. I’ve known you since when, Jack, Sunday morning?” She laughed and gave his shoulders a light shake.

“It only seems like longer,” Jack retorted, scowling at Corie.

“Jack just moved to the island,” Corie told Ginger. “He’s already becoming something of a regular for breakfast at The Crabby Stack. At least on the mornings I’m working.”

“And even when you’re not,” Jack said, casting her a sly grin. “Skyler did a good job taking care of Wanda and me this morning.”

Corie’s light-hearted demeanor visibly chilled. “You had breakfast at the Stack this morning with someone named Wanda? Who’s she?”

Despite himself, Jack was pleased that Corie seemed, if not jealous, at least concerned that he’d had breakfast with another woman. I know it’s wrong, but I’m glad the idea bugs her a little.

Ginger didn’t miss the sudden stiffening of Corie’s back or the way her eyes dimmed when Jack mentioned Wanda.

“Wanda’s just an old friend from Goldsboro,” Jack explained. “We taught together at West Wayne High. She’d come down early to spend a day at the beach and stopped by to see if I wanted to grab some breakfast.” You don’t need to know that she went skinny dipping in my pool and tried to convince me to join her. I still don’t understand that myself. I never thought Wanda thought of me like that.

“So you two went and had breakfast at The Stack, and now she’s somewhere out on the beach?” Corie said. “Why didn’t you go to the beach with her?”

“I had other things to do,” Jack said. “Like wait for my TV to be delivered. Plus, I thought about going to Wilmington to buy something nicer to wear than jeans and t-shirts. I’ve been invited to dinner at the Coastal Towers tonight.”

Ginger noticed the perplexed look on Corie’s face deepen. But she had other customers and couldn’t wait all afternoon for Jack to order.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Ginger said to Jack. “But I can come back if you need more time to, uh, decide what you’d like for lunch.”

“I’m sorry,” Jack said, turning away from Corie and picking up the menu. “I’ll have the turkey and swiss on whole-wheat, lettuce only, with chips. No pickle. And sweet tea to drink. Okay?”

“Got it,” Ginger said. “It’ll be right up, and I’ll be right back with your tea.”

Jack turned back to ask Corie if she’d just come in for lunch or if she was leaving. Before he could, a tall, dark-haired, dark-tanned man in a form-fitting blue golf shirt emblazoned with Buzby Yacht Club over the right breast pocket walked up and stood beside her.

“Looks like a table just opened up by the window, Corie,” he said. “Let’s grab it before someone else does.”

“You go ahead, Biff,” Corie said, forcing herself to smile at the tall, buff Biff. “I’ll be right there.”

When her date was out of earshot, Jack snorted and said, “Biff, really. I’ll bet the pretentious ass drives a Range Rover. Or is it a BMW SUV?”

“It’s a Lexus RX if you must know,” Corie said. “And his real name is Aaron, but he’s a third, so he goes by Biff.”

“He’s a third of what?” Jack said before he could stop himself. Why the hell am I feeling jealous? I barely know this girl. She’s just my waitress, for Pete’s sake. But, dammit, I do care.

“I’m sorry. That was rude of me,” Jack said when he saw the indignant look come into Corie’s eye. “Really, I’m sure he’s a great guy.”

Corie looked over her shoulder at Biff, smiled, and gave him a little wave. Biff shrugged impatiently and pointed at the empty seat across the table from his. When Corie turned back around, she rolled her eyes and said softly to Jack, “You were right. He’s a pretentious ass.”

Jack choked back a laugh and forced himself not to look at Biff.

“My grandfather,” Corie continued, “Lawson, not Macaulay, set it up. He gave Biff my cell number and told him he should give me a call. Biff’s looking to buy a house at the south end and join the Yacht Club. He’s staying at the Coastal Towers.”

“I haven’t been down by the Coastal Towers in ages,” Jack said. “I’ll remedy that soon.”

“You will?” Corie said. “And why might that be?”

Jack glanced over her shoulder at Biff. “He looks like he’s getting impatient. You probably ought to join him.”

“Not so fast, mister,” Corie said. “Let’s see if I can put two-and-two together. Your ‘friend’ Wanda comes to town, but she’s at the beach, and you’re going to town to buy new clothes for your dinner invite. You’ve got plans to go to the Coastal Towers sometime soon. If it’s not your ‘friend’ Wanda, who do you plan to dine with at the Coastal Towers?”

“He’s getting up and coming back this way,” Jack warned Corie.

Corie turned around and, before Biff could say a word, told him, “I’m sorry, Biff. I’ll be right there.”

“Is everything all right?” Biff asked, cocking his head and eyeing Corie as if she was an errant child.

“Everything is fine,” Corie said. “I’ll be right there, I promise. “Why don’t you go ahead and order me a glass of sweet tea.”

Affecting a bored look, Biff shrugged his broad shoulders, said, “Whatever you say,” turned and walked away.

Corie watched Biff until he returned to the table and signaled the waiter with an imperious snap of his fingers. Then she turned back to Jack and said, “We’ll discuss this later, Mr. Callaghan. You’re lucky I’ve got an impatient date.”

Jack watched Corie walk over to the table where Biff was giving his order to their waiter. Maybe he’s the type who grows on a person, or maybe he’s just annoyed because his date was talking to another guy, Jack thought as he returned Biff’s arrogant stare with an indifferent blink of his eyes. Or, maybe, he really is a spoiled little prick. It’ll be interesting to hear all about it at breakfast tomorrow, which I’m sure I will.

Ginger returned with Jack’s sweet tea and asked, “How do you know Corie?”

“She’s my waitress at The Crabby Stack,” Jack said, and then bit his lip. “I mean, we met when she waited on me at The Crabby Stack and have become friends.”

Ginger turned around to the service window and picked up the plate with Jack’s sandwich and chips. “Just friends? You seemed bugged she showed up here with…,” Gingers lip curled and her nose wrinkled, “…that guy.”

“Corie’s a nice kid,” Jack said. And she is just a kid. “But nothing is going on between us.”

Jack's story continues in Chapter 25

© 2020 DW Davis

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