Hello coffee lovers and avid readers! Welcome to Olive’s Library at Olive’s Café, where you can read the stories of adventurous characters as they explore life.
Here’s a story of a man returning to his family:
__And now, our next contestants will be dancing Waltz, with accompaniment of the song, Crazy in love…___
I wash the dishes as I hear the television set from the living room. My husband, Charles, sits on the recliner, sleeping.
That old man never stays up to watch television.
It’s been that way for 30 years. What’s different is that he’s retired now. I even get excited when we walk in the park together in the early afternoons. Just right after tea time.
Now that the dishes are done, let me watch my show.
I head towards the den area, and I sit down on the sofa to begin my knitting. Suddenly, I hear the doorbell ringing.
Who could that be during this awful snowstorm?
I set my yarn on the arm of the couch, as I get up to get the door. Charles is too fast sleep to do anything. That old man never stays up.
As I approach the door, I ask, “Who is it?” I hear nothing.
I stand in front of the door.
I ask again, “Who is it?”
Again, nothing. Then, there’s another knock.
Instead of knocking, I look through my peephole. Darn my old age! I can’t see very clearly.
I step few inches away from the door, and realize I have my glasses with me.
Should I try and look again?
I shake my head a little and deciding not to look through that small hole again, I open the door.
There, right in front of me, I see a tall man, wearing a black hoodie and covered in snow. The storm looks awful, and this poor man looks extremely cold.
“May I help you?” I ask the stranger. He just stands there, not saying a word. Just stands and shivers. His hands balled up into fists, as if he’s attempting, but failing to control his shivers.
Although I may be old, I do tend to lose my patience, so I inform him, “I understand that you’re cold, but I can’t help you unless you tell me what I can do.”
After a beat, he finally shifts, and moves his head a little, and says, “I’m hungry…”
It was almost inaudible, but nonetheless, I heard what he said. Luckily, I still have food leftover in the fridge.
“Well, come in, and I can feed you some food,” I say, inviting him into my home. Slowly, but surely, he walks into the house, and waits for me in the foyer as I close the door behind us.
“You can remove your coat and hang in on the hanger next to you. Then, you can follow me to the kitchen,” I say, as I wait for him to get comfortable.
Slowly, but surely, he removes his coat and hangs it on the coat hanger. Then, moves to take off his shoes, places them next to his coat. As he stands straight, I take a look at him.
Tall, strong, seems young, and looks comfortable. Has a beard, though…
Doesn’t seem homeless.
Curious, I ask, “Where are you coming from?”
Scratching his head, he responds, “I uh… was walking to find shelter. My car broke down, and I’ve been walking for miles on the road. I was driving from an acquaintance. Currently looking for work…”
This is poor, young man…
Suddenly, I develop this feeling about him. It’s as if I knew him from long ago, but I can’t put my finger on it.
Darn my old age!
“Well, come along. You must be hungry,” I say, as I turn and head towards the kitchen. As he follows, I start to have to that feeling again. The feeling that I must have known that person before.
Ugh, my head is beginning to hurt.
Darn this old age!
I tell him to sit by the counter as I open the fridge and take out what was remaining of supper from earlier. I set it down on the counter and head to the cabinet to grab a plate. After setting it down, I take a spatula, and slice a nice piece of the quiche and set it on the plate.
Ooh, I almost forgot!
I click my tongue and snap my fingers, as I remember that I also cooked steak, enough for a third person.
Darn my old age!
I open the fridge again and take out a pan of steak. I set down the pan, scoop out the steak, set it on the plate next to the quiche, and return the pans of food to the fridge. I take his plate, put it in the microwave, and cook it for 5 minutes. It tastes better when it’s nice and hot.
The young man needs it anyway.
I turn to look at him, and I see that he’s falling asleep. He must be exhausted. To wake him up, I ask him, “Do you have anywhere else to go?”
He jolts up and rubs his eyes to regain his composure. Then, he answers, “Um… no ma’am. I’m just trying to find work out here…”
I look him, wondering why he’s looking for work, especially at this weather. I look out the window, and I see know rapidly falling on the ground, the storm blowing the snow around. I look back at the young man.
“Well, just for tonight, you can stay with us. We have a spare room that you can crash in, just until tomorrow when the snow storm subsides,” I offer.
He blinks slowly, and nods as he says, “Thank you, ma’am.”
BING! I turn, and I see that the microwave has finished heating up the dish. I grab my oven mitts, open the microwave, and grab hold of the dish. I walk to him and set his dish in front of the young man. “Ah,” I say, as I point my finger up, and I just remembered that he needs utensils.
Darn my old age!
I walk around the counter, open the drawer, and grab the steak knife and fork. As I approach him, I hand him the utensils. “Enjoy,” I say as I smile at him. He grabs the utensils gently, and nods as he says, “Thank you, ma’am.”
I pat his back and walk away from him to place my oven mitts back to where I found them. I face and fold my hands together as I watch him eat. I smile as he devours the food from his plate, and I feel a sense of joy to watch someone enjoy my dish.
Charles enjoys it, too, but I’m used to it already.
However, this feels all too familiar…
It’s too quiet in here. The television and Charles’ loud snoring are the only two things that are filling the space. I take a deep breath and begin to speak, “So, where are you from, young man?”
As he wipes his mouth with the napkin, he answers, “I don’t remember exactly. But, I’ve been living in Queens for years. Stayed at different homes, working from one place to another. I don’t know. I feel out of place…”
After that meal, he’s singing like a bird.
“I understand. So, what brought you to Buffalo?”
“I got tired of living in the city. There’s no work for me, and my friend, whom I met in foster care, took me in just about 3 months ago. But today, I told him that I had to leave because I didn’t want to take up his space. Besides, I found a job a few miles from here, and they have a place for me to live. I start two days from today.”
“I see,” I say, understanding why he’s out here. “Well, you can stay for the night, until the storm subsides.”
“Thank you, ma’am. I appreciate that,” he says.
He’s so polite. But I swear, if it wasn’t for my old age, I could possibly remember who he is.
“Just out of curiosity, how old are you?” I ask.
“Well, I’m-” He’s interrupted by Charles walking into the kitchen.
Wow, the bear has finally finished his hibernation.
“Judith, have you seen my-” Charles stops in the middle of his question, as he says me and the young man looking at him. Charles looks at me first, then at the young man, as he hides his hands in his pants pocket.
“Well, hello. How are you?” Charles greets.
I shake my head. I want to laugh so much…
“Hello, sir, I’m better now that I’m somewhere warm,” the young man answers him.
Charles nods, and looks out the window to see the snowstorm. He looks at the young man again, and says, “Well, I hope that Judith lets you stay in the guest room upstairs. You can stay for the night.”
I already did that, old man!
The young man smiles, which I can’t tell because of his beard, but his eyes can show that he is, as he nods. “Yes, Judith has informed me of that.”
Oh, for the love of GOD, Judith! Why can’t you remember this young gentleman? He seems so familiar.
“Oh, okay then, never mind,” Charles says, surprised, as he walks towards me, and stands next to me. “So tell me, young man, what’s your name?”
For a moment, the young man pauses. Frozen still, as if he was asked if he did something criminal. My smile fades as I look at him. He can’t remember his name?
After what seems like a while, he finally responds, “Um… I don’t know for sure, but I believe my name is Frederick. Frederick Cooper.”
Then, it was my turn to freeze. That name seems familiar to me, too.
He continues, “The family name, Cooper, is from a family that took me in after I got lost in Manhattan when I was 9 years old.”
Right then and there, my eyes widen. My heartbeat skips. Now, I feel cold.
Charles, also in the same state as me, he stutters, “Um… I…I… I’m sorry. But d-d-did you say that you went missing at 9 years old?”
“Well, yes,” he says, “at least that’s what the family told me. They couldn’t find my family, and I believe I got injured during that time. So my memory is a little off.”
I continue to stare at him. Could it be?
I blink rapidly to see him clearly, before I ask, “Where did they find you?”
He looks at the ceiling, possibly to remember the answer, then he says, “I believe Central Park.”
I turn to my husband, and I swear I was about to snap my neck for going so fast. Charles slowly turns to me and I know for a fact that he’s thinking the same thing as me.
Then, I hear Frederick ask, “What’s wrong? Everything okay?”
We slowly turn away from each other to face him, and say, “I’m sorry. It’s just that-“
I pause, not sure of whether or not I should tell him. I look down at my feet, contemplating on telling him. Then, I look up at him and say, “Our son went missing 30 years ago at Central Park…”
“Oh,” Frederick says, taken aback from what I just said. “I apologize about that.”
“I’m sorry,” Charles steps in, “but I hope you don’t mind. How old are you?”
“I’m 39 years old, sir,” Frederick says.
Dear Lord. Can it be?
I cover my mouth as I feel that my blood turns cold. Charles rubs his forehead and turns away from us.
By now, the room feels heavy. The temperature, although warm from the lighting and the fireplace in the living room, has dropped drastically.
Or is it just me?
It became quiet for what seems to be an eternity. Thankfully, Frederick breaks the silence as he leans forward, and sets his arms on the counter and asks, “I’m sorry, but do you mind telling me what’s going on?”
I am too shock to speak, and Charles feels it, so he says, “Frederick, our son who went missing 30 years ago, he was nine years old at the time.”
I don’t know why, but after Charles said that, I felt Frederick’s blood going cold, and his skin turning pale. He blinks a few times as he asks, “What?”
He nods, and as his voice breaks, he says, “And his name was Frederick…”
And right there, it’s as if he’s starting to remember everything, Frederick’s eyes widen as he looks at me and Charles. After a heartbeat, he begins to ask, “So you mean to tell me that I could possibly be your son?”
I nod, still covering my mouth. Charles covers his face to hide his teary eyes. After what seemed like forever, I finally move from the kitchen through the living room, and into the closet to find a box. The box where I have all of my son’s pictures and newspaper articles of my son going missing. I grab the box, and head back to the kitchen to give it to him.
He grabs it gently from me, and sets it down on the counter, as he removes the lid from the box and sees all of his pictures. I watch as he grabs the pictures, and thoroughly looks at them. He even grabs the newspaper clips and sees his picture above it.
At least I remember that. Darn my old age…
He looks closely to the picture he has in his hand, and immediately looks at me. Then, at Charles. Then, at me again.
I hope it is…
He sets down the picture, and tucks his hand inside his shirt, only to pull out the chain. It’s the locket that I gave my son for his 9th birthday.
The locket that has my face, and Charles’ face inside it.
Frederick opens it and sees the two pictures. All of sudden, I see a tear fall from his eye. Then, he whispers, “Mom…”
Finally, I hold my chest as I begin to sob. Happy that Frederick has finally remembered. That my son has finally come home.
It’s him! My long-lost boy!
I rush to him, not caring that I’m old to rush anywhere, and went to hug my son. We hug each other tightly, both of us happy that we finally found each other. We sob in happiness into each other’s shoulders, as he says in my ears, “Mom, I’m so happy to finally see you again.”
“Oh Freddy! I’ve missed you so much!” I say. This is truly a blessing.
I feel Charles hugging us both as he cries with us in happiness. Finally, we’re a family again.
Our long-lost boy has finally come home…
Please comment your thoughts on this story. Have you ever lost something that was so special, that you kept praying, but all of a sudden it comes back to you?
Thanks for tuning in on Olive’s Library at Olive’s Café!