The Captain was a good man and would have made a great father had he achieved the rank. As it was there was only Lizzie, his wife, and she wasn’t about to do any marching or saluting, Captain or not. Their efforts to advance in life had been spirited, and mutual, but though they had a long and earnest campaign it was not to be and Captain was the highest rank in the stars. He came early to it. He was Army, and proud. He never saw a bullet but fully knew there could be one with his name, or anyone’s on it, and treated all under his service with a thoughtful kind heart. Those above him he held in great disdain or profound respect, depending upon how they went about their business. During wartime many advanced rapidly, some so far as obscurity it turned out, their bullets having found them and the Captain had done his best to serve his post, and his country, though only a cook who trained cooks. He kept the title after the war, when he was out of the army and wore it so well that it came to fit and became official again, though colloquial.
Elisibeth was proud of him. He wore his title with pride, dignity and proper humility and she made sure he had a good breakfast every morning before he went out the door. An army travels on more than a stomach and while she was content to allow his coffee, repast and morning paper to give him the quiet reflective time needed for proper digestion, she made it a point, when his pipe was lit, to feed him some of her thoughts on various matters. Like many couples, their thoughts were similar, and nuanced and turned to good end. Neither were fond of the civilian mouthpieces and politicians that chose to weigh in on every matter they had no experiance with. Many other things the two of them had blissfully come to concordance on and found little need to discuss. They were both sublimely happy to have bright blue skies above and a small green patch of lawn to mow. It was plenty. She would contently give her opinion upon those workday things he would open to her, such as how to infuse more nutrition into the diet of a young, active individual who craved only cigarettes and stimulation. The Captain was active before MRE’s were in vogue and well before food cards and concessions came to be. Later he operated amid fast food businesses and held his ground. Elisibeth somehow knew there was such a thing as too much salt and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and diners down the line learned it too, without knowing so. The Captain also appreciated the marigolds she placed at table, mess sargeants that had trained under him could often be found ordering their charges to pick flowers when in season and there were no potatoes in need of peeling. Such orders were usually considered dizzy but often well recalled.
The Captain fed his army and Elisibeth fed him. His work was on an institutional scale, hers was more personal. His army, after the war, consisted of legions who came in from their work in offices and factories. Policemen on duty were fond of his cooking and the clean tables and counters he kept and frequented his place. He only opened for lunch and dinner, closing at seven, home by eight. Elisibeth would have a late meal waiting and they would often sit quietly afterwards. He was closed on Sundays.
Only this little is known about them, they were private people with friends who are now gone. Elisibeth is gone some twenty years now. The Captain had never thought she would go before him but she did, she just did, leaving a bright glass vase of golden marigolds on the breakfast table. The Captain is gone now too, one day the diner merely didn’t open. This serves as his obituary. The men he served during the last war, and those he served under are mostly all gone as well. Many were just doing their part, still did after war, just as the captain had. Honest, earnest men. All he’d wanted was to see them fed, to make the world a better place. Those of us he served , and fed, think he did.
There was no bullet with his name but somehere a small vase of flowers shows his touch, learned from another as the best touches are, and that even a man without children can be a good provider.