Where Was He?
He hadn’t been at the restaurant in two weeks, and she was starting to get worried. In the last seven-year, he had never missed a single breakfast. But now fourteen days had passed and there was no sign of him ever returning.
She needed to get some answers. But before she could start asking around, her phone began to ring. It was a number she had never seen before, usually, she didn’t answer unknown numbers, but she decided to anyway. The phone call changed her life forever.
Few people see waitressing as an ideal job. A lot of people look down on the occupation, and then they extend these feelings to the waitstaff that serve them on a daily basis.
Eva Gonzalez loved her job as a waitress. Sometimes it could be demanding and tough, but usually, it would leave her smiling at the end of her shift. When she first applied for a waitressing job, she never guessed how much it would change her life.
Seen It All
Eva was a waitress in Kansas City, and she had seen all different kinds of people come into the restaurant. She had served her fair share of truckers, teachers, bikers, and law enforcers to kids, college students, and big families.
But none of them ever lived up to Carl. He was a veteran who requested the restaurant. Since the day Eva had started working there, Carl was there.
Carl And Eva
Carl and Eva shared a unique relationship. When they first met, Eva was a novice young woman trying to make enough money to care for herself.
Carl was over fifty years older than Eva, but she adored him. She never expected to feel this close to a customer. It was unexplainable but she attributed it to one glaring fact about Carl.
Carl was the grumpiest old man Eva had ever come across. Nothing ever seemed to be good enough for Carl.
The first time Eva ever served him, he would not stop complaining about how slow she was and how long he waited for his food. He told her that his food was soggy and that the restaurant was too cold. Eva thought that it would end there, but it got even worse.
Carl told Eva that he wanted to speak to her manager. When the manager arrived, he complained about Eva’s interactions. He said that she was too friendly and smiled too much.
Eva knew that anyone else would have been offended by Carl’s remarks, but she found them to be quite endearing. Little did she know that her perspective would create the most interesting platonic friendship in her life.
The Other Waiters
Months went by while Carl and Eva interacted daily. None of the other waiters even bothered with Carl, no one ever wanted to serve him before Eva started working there.
It was because of Carl’s complaints. Everyone else disliked how grumpy he was. It made Eva sad to think that the restaurant wasn’t showing Carl the same amount of love they showed other customers. She had to change that.
Eva’s goal was to make Carl feel at home in the restaurant. Despite his nasty attitude, she always treated him like she would her own family.
Years passed, and Carl had started having conversations with Eva. He would share stories about his time as a soldier. Eva loved when he would give her first-hand accounts of his adventures. But despite the change, one thing remained the same.
A Fantastic Routine
Carl still maintained his sharp tongue. He’d constantly complain about everything Eva did, and although seven years had passed, he didn’t show her any form of affection.
For Eva, everything had become a fantastic routine. She loved everything about Carl, from his constant grumbling and complaining to his gripping stories. While interacting with Carl, she’d realized something.
The main reason Eva loved Carl was how much he reminded her of her late grandpa. Eva moved to Kansas when she was five with her grandparents.
Her parents had sadly passed on a year before, and with no close family willing to take care of her, her grandparents stepped up. But life in Kansas wasn’t the kindest then.
Her Life Before Everything
Before moving to Kansas, Eva had grown up in Oaxaca, Mexico. She’d been brought up in a loving Spanish-speaking household, with her parents instilling in her the importance of heritage and family ties.
They lived as one big happy family, and although Eva didn’t know it then, this family setup would influence her relationship with her friends, coworkers, and Carl.
New To Kansas
Eva found it hard to acclimate to the new world she was suddenly introduced to as an immigrant in Kansas. She’d been used to living among seventy or so family members. Now she was reduced to living with her grandparents.
Although her grandma used to work from home, her grandpa would leave in the morning to work as a chef in one of the best restaurants in the city. Eva rarely talked to him, and there was one reason for this.
Eva’s grandpa was among the strictest people Eva ever knew. Their conversations usually revolved around her school work, her training in English, and her homework.
When they’d finish these short conversations, he’d tell her to continue working hard and go to bed. But being grumpy was only part of why he was so similar to Carl.
They’re So Much Alike
Like Carl, Eva’s grandpa always complained about stuff. Eva never knew he did it at first because he rarely complained at home. She only became privy to the situation when her grandma took her to her grandpa’s restaurant one day.
What she saw that day made the little fear she had over her grandpa evolve into a crippling dread that rooted her to her seat.
He’s In His Element
Eva’s grandpa was like a war general in the kitchen, hurling out orders and reprimanding his cooks for poor work. If he was usually a lion at home, he was a riled firebreathing dragon in the restaurant.
Eva had been scared of seeing him like that. When her grandmother told her she’d be spending some afternoons at the restaurant, her heart dropped to her feet.
Returning To The Restaurant
The second time Eva went to the restaurant, she saw how harsh her grandpa could be. But she realized that although he was seemingly mean to his coworkers, he never brought that energy to where she was.
He would come and ask her if she was alright or needed snacks. He’d send over a glass of milk or juice and sometimes come to sit by her during his breaks. One day, all this changed.
Eva had been spending her afternoons with her grandpa for almost a month when he asked her something she never expected.
“Would you like to know how to cook, nieta?” he asked. His face was devoid of emotion, his dark eyes boring so deep into her she shook. Her answer made him frown.
This Won’t Be Easy
“Yes, Abuelo,” Eva said, and her grandpa frowned. “This won’t be easy,” he told her. But he didn’t know that in the month Eva had been sitting with him, she’d been watching him run the kitchen.
Her fear had mellowed down during this time, replaced by a burning curiosity that made her analyze everything that happened in the kitchen. “It’ll not be easy,” Eva concurred. “But nothing good ever is.”
Hard Work Pays
Eva started taking cooking classes from her grandpa. She was still five, learning all that her young mind could grasp. She’d not expected her grandpa to go easy on her, and the man never did.
Although she didn’t handle any sharp objects and hot ingredients, and utensils, her grandpa would turn red with anger when she did something wrong. He would call her out loudly, complaining about everything she did. But as the weeks went by, Eva noticed something.
Making Him Proud
Whenever she messed up her answers to his questions, he’d fume and correct her. He’d still seethe and add more complexity to her response when she got it right.
Eva noticed that a mask of pride, though hidden, would take her grandpa’s face throughout all these moments. So when Carl displayed the same behavior, Eva quickly picked on his patterns and saw that he was proud of her.
A New Realization
Such a realization made Eva adore her time with Carl even more. She’d never had the chance to sit and talk to her grandpa as a grown-up and saw her time with Carl as a chance to do just that.
She’d cook for him, going to the extent of cooking special meals that she’d come up with. Although Carl would complain, he’d clear up his plate and ask for more.
History Repeats Itself
The relationship between Eva and Carl went strong for seven years. Eva would talk to him over the counter as she prepared his meal.
She’d send milk and juice docked from her paycheck to him and sit next to him during her breaks. Eva would remember when her grandpa did the same with her and smile in these instances. But one day, everything changed.
He Doesn’t Show Up
The morning everything changed and seemed as normal as any other. The only difference was Carl didn’t show up. Eva tried to ignore it, but she knew something was wrong deep down.
Her boss commented on the man’s seat being empty. Even she seemingly knew the diner felt empty without Carl. The second and third days were the same, and by the weekend, Eva knew Carl wasn’t showing up. Where was he?
Worry set over Eva when Carl didn’t show up on Monday. He never missed Mondays, given the diner’s special, a peach cobbler that was his favorite dish.
Eva made up her mind to go to the home where Carl stayed. What if he’d been sick all this while, and she didn’t visit him? He couldn’t be alone at such a horrific time, especially in his advanced years.
She’s Going To Look For Him
Eva was about to leave the store when her phone rang. As she didn’t recognize the number, she set her phone aside. She only picked it up the second time it rang.
“Good evening, ma’am,” the caller began. “Is this Evaline Gonzalez?” “Yes,” Eva answered, taken aback by the caller’s formal tone. What the caller shared would make her breath hitch.
The Caller’s Identity
The caller was Carl’s lawyer. He revealed that Carl had passed away that previous week. He continued talking, but Eva couldn’t hear a thing. A loud buzzing screamed in her ears, and her eyes blurred with tears.
Pain exploded within Eva’s heart, and she let out a silent cry where she stood. Her boss saw her and came running. “What is it?” she asked.
“Carl,” Eva stammered, still reeling from the news. How could Carl be gone? He’d been so healthy this last month and had been the sweetest he’d ever been in the previous seven years.
“He left a few things in your name,” the lawyer’s distant voice said over the phone. “Would you mind meeting me tomorrow morning to go over his will?”
“Carl had no next of kin,” the lawyer said immediately after Eva sat down. “He was a war veteran with a lot of funds saved up.”
The lawyer leaned back, adding, “Some of those funds he wants us to donate to a veteran’s charity, and the rest he’s giving to you.” He leaned in, “You must understand, this is no small amount, Miss Gonzalez.”
“With all due respect, sir,” Eva said with a sniffle. “I don’t think I care that much.” Her heart still ached, and she didn’t know what she’d do now that one of her closest friends was no more.
“I understand you are grieving,” said the lawyer. “But these formalities are crucial.” He slid a document to Eva and said, “Mr. Hemsworth left this amount in your name.”
Need I Say More?
“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” the lawyer said across from Eva. “He also left you a 69’ Charger. It’s in mint condition, in case you’re wondering.”
“Why?” Eva asked, her voice hoarse from crying through the night. The lawyer pulled another document out of his file and read the first line, which was Carl’s own words, “To my dear and only friend, Eva Gonzalez.” He returned the document, “Need I say more?”