Monday, February 5, 2007

Pressed Against the Pain, Part 4

Until that spring of 1985, life had been quiet and relatively uneventful. The birth of three healthy children, a simple home, and a life of making ends meet.

And then the phone call from his mother. Heart attack. Harlon gone. Services the following Tuesday. His mother’s voice hadn’t changed much in 30 thirty years.

Jack couldn’t bring himself to go to the services. The man who could not remember him in life would not be remembered in death, he thought.

But Jack had been remembered.

The check arrived unceremoniously in a brown envelope from a generic-sounding law firm. 500,000 dollars. An amount Jack not only never imagined seeing in one place but also never thought could be attributed to him. The letter accompanying the check was terse and to the point: “Your inheritance, my son.” Only a few words, but “my son” was all Jack needed to hear. The disowned son was owned and claimed. The warm tears ran down his cheeks as his hands trembled, re-reading the four words.

Then, what to do with the money? Mary wanted to invest it. “Be sensible,” she advised. But Jack wanted a gift. An extravagant gift for Mary. Something to say thank you for claiming him every year he’d been disowned by his father.

Stepping out of Hannigan’s that fresh spring day sporting a freshly tailored tweed blazer, Jack’s eyes caught the “For Sale” sign in the back entrance window of the closed bistro. He and Mary had been there a few times. French-y, he thought, but good wine. It was a quaint and inviting space. Taupe adobe throughout with dark burnished hard wood floors. A small bar area with an impressive silver-tinted cappuccino machine as the focal point. The bar faced a small cozy fireplace in the corner near the front door entrance. The place was usually bathed in warm light due to the front wall being a sliding glass garage door. He could already imagine the twinkly lights that could adorn the dark ceiling.

A place for conversation and connection, he thought, where everyone is welcome. No one will be disowned from here; everyone will be family.

Mary loved the idea and instead of yet another restaurant on the Brookside strip she suggested a coffee shop. “Gold Coast” she called it, after the coffee-producing area in Africa. But Gold Coast reminded Jack that that anyone can wash up here and find untold treasure.

And so Gold Coast Coffee Shop was born. They decided that since they wanted to seem like mere parishioners of the place, they would keep their ownership a secret, hiring a financial manager who hired the store manager who in turned hired the rest of the staff. And so every day at 2pm, they arrived to preside over the doings of Gold Coast. In their eyes, the godparents of everyone who walked through the door. In everyone else's eyes, table 9.