Chapter 25, Blog 1
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
Eight a.m. struck, and Harry acted as if nothing had changed. But I had. No more granola, I wanted some bacon. But before Harry and I could tussle over breakfast, Jessie and Shannon flew in and crashed the kitchen table.
“Daddy,” Jessie managed between gulps of air. “Guess what.”
“Dad. Look, look,” huffed Shannon, waving The Times in my face.
The newspaper headline stopped my heart.
“Local man finds Fountain of Youth,” it read in big, bold Helvetica type.
Harry grabbed the paper, scanned it and started chuckling.
“You cannot quit now, Charlie baby.”
An Associated Press story, datelined Atlanta, told the tale of my five-month-old quest.
“Fifty-eight-year-old Chuck Wells has succeeded where Ponce de León failed,” I read out loud with horror. “Fifty-eight? Holy Jesus!”
Everybody laughed, my kids, Harry. They thought it hilarious I had grown 10 years older before their eyes.
“That’s it. I’m calling the paper. They owe me a correction.”
While Harry whipped up breakfast for Jessie and Shannon, I called The Times office. Next thing I knew I had a 4:30 p.m. appointment with the sports editor. This old man had something to tell him.
Or her, as I discovered. The sports editor was a familiar, pixie blonde: Sheila Anne Beaven. We dated in high school. We split when I went to Purdue for engineering, and Sheila went to Indiana University for journalism. Last thing I heard she was working for the Indianapolis Star.
But here she was.
“C.H.,” she cooed. “How arrrre you?”
“Call me Chuck,” I said. “That C.H. phase ended with high school.”
I offered my hand. She grasped it with both of hers and held it.
“Sure, Chuck, it’s sooo good to see you.”
“I had no clue you were back in Valpo. How long have you been back?”
“Oh, a couple of months. I got tired of picking up the pictures falling off the wall.”
“Off the wall?”
“Oh, you didn’t know. I worked in L.A. for a while. The L.A. Times. It was a nice gig. But the quakes were scaring me. I wanted to get out before L.A. slid into the ocean.”
“You worked in Los Angeles?”
“Yes, the last nine years,” Sheila said. “Maybe I got homesick, too. California’s nice, but I missed Indiana.”
“Well, it’s nice to see you,” I said.
We strolled back to her office. I sat in front of her desk cluttered with stacks of newspapers. The smell of ink permeated the building. A myriad of awards from Associated Press and the California Press Association covered the wall behind her.
“Sooooo,” Sheila started. “Looks like you did find the Fountain of Youth. You do look good, Chuck.”
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang