Obituary. Mike Cole

Mike Cole was a jack-of-all-trades turned successful businessman, who turned a small moving and hauling company started with one truck into a publicly traded behemoth, Mike Cole Shipping. He loved his friends, his fiends, and good food, and resembled a half-Irish, half-Italian James Gandolfini. He was proudest of his Italian meatballs and cheesies, and would foist them off on perfect strangers at the slightest provocation.

After suffering years of pain from a debilitating car crash, which exacerbated back pain caused by being a one-man shipping and moving business in his early years, Mike Cole shot himself yesterday. He was 57.


At Mike’s ex-wife’s apartment after the funeral, a handful of us sat around and remembered Mike. Nancy, his ex-wife, and I hugged. She was a short, slightly plump woman in her 50s like me, and her short hair was frosted and highlighted and stood out from her head like a slightly madder Annie Lennox. Even though she’d been crying, her eye makeup was still intact. We’d met a few times before, but we didn’t know each other well. Mike had never re-married, and it was just like him to stay good friends with his ex. And I guess it was just like her, too.

“Did I ever tell you how Mike and I met?” I told her, sniffling. We’d been trading Mike stories all night. “We were at Other Nancy’s place, and finding out how much we had in common. ‘Oh, you’re half-Italian too? Here’s my recipe for cheesies.’ I thought mine was the only family that made cheesies. It was like finding a long-lost cousin.”

Other Nancy was Nancy Hightower, the writer and poet and teacher. See, Mike knew everybody.

“Mike loved to make those things. His were so good,” Nancy said. “Every time I tried to make them by myself, they were never as good.”

I resisted the urge to tell her that mine were better. You have to use dried basil. I’m sorry, the fresh is for pesto, but dried basil is for cheesies.

Pieta (Peeta) plopped down next to us.

“What’s going to happen to the company?” she said. “Is it going to close down?”

Pieta was in her 20s, still pretty unworldly. She looked unworldly too. Not as much as the gargoyle, who was her boyfriend, because she was human, but she looked elfish. Or Gelfin, maybe, with a neotonic face — big dark eyes, small nose, sweet mouth — and tousled dark hair. Like all of us, Mike had given her stock in his company when it went public.

“No, it’s public now. The board will find another CEO, and it will go on.”

“But how? Mike was that company.”

That was true. I’d have to keep better track of how the company did, and think about selling if it looked like it wasn’t going to recover from. Mike’s death.

Eventually the party broke up. Some of us went outside to the open biergarten,but it was still drizzling, and the tables were wet. The downspouts were making fools of themselves, opening their big mouths and blurping water all over each other. This made the gargoyle laugh like a little kid, but it just depressed me, and I wanted to go home.

Pieta had to go to work, and so the gargoyle got a ride with me, so we walked across the biergarten, which was huge, and half of it was covered, to the parking garage. It was dark now, twilight turning to night, which was just as well, because the gargoyle, well, he’s a gargoyle.

The gargoyle isn’t like a demon. He’s actually more of a ghastly cherub. In his human form, he looks like a mean little kid, with blond-brown curls. He walks funny with bowlegs, and when he talks it’s like a mean little kid talking. In human form he affects a jean jacket and cowboy boots.

I carry him, because it’s hard for him to keep up, so it looks like I’m carrying a toddler between the tables, and people smile at us. The gargoyle smiles back and people stare in shock.

A lady with a bunch of kids and a stack of pizza boxes accosts us just before I reach the car.

“We’re selling pizza,” the kids say. “You can buy some and won’t have to cook tonight.”

“No thanks,” I say. I shift the gargoyle to the other hip.

“We should get some,” the gargoyle says.

“No. Dude, you ate and drank at Nancy’s.”

“We have a special. Buy five boxes and get the sixth free,” says the lady.

“Who needs six boxes of pizza?!” I say. This is getting ridiculous.

“It’s a great deal,” says the gargoyle.

“No it’s not. It’s too much. No one can eat that much pizza.”

Why am I trying to reason with a gargoyle? We keep going without saying anything to the pizza dealers, and go and find my car.

It’s really dim. I’m waking up now, aware that it’s all been a dream. I can always tell when I’m dreaming. I guess because my eyes are closed, or something, but I never dream about daylight. I’m always walking in my dreams in twilight.

There’s no car. There’s no gargoyle. There’s no pizza.

There’s no Mike Cole.

RIP, Mike Cole. I would have liked to have been friends with you.


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