Okay, this one gets our vote for the most gorgeous, saddest chapter in the whole book. You might want to snuggle up to your sweetie or mom or cat or something.
Colonel Freeleigh has a dream about being an apple on an apple tree, watching the other apples fall, and being the last one left. So sad, right?
He wakes up saying, "No, I don't like that dream." Even sadder.He calls the long-distance operator and asks her to connect him to "Mexico City, Erickson 3899," which is how people used to say phone numbers.
He reaches a man called Jorge, and we learn something cool: People in Mexico say "bueno" (good) instead of "hola" (hello) when they answer the phone.
This remains true today. Viva Mexico!
Colonel Freeleigh asks Jorge to open the window and hold the receiver out so he can hear the sounds of the city.
Jorge obliges, and Colonel Freeleigh's grooving on his little staycation when his nurse comes in and spoils the fun. She tells him she needs to check his pulse, he tells her no, and she says, "You're not going anywhere, are you?" which really should be in the What Not To Say If You're A Nurse manual.
Of course she realizes what he's up to, and she tells him she's going to have his grandson take away the phone so Colonel Freeleigh can't upset himself any more.
Furthermore, she thinks Doug and friends stirred him up asking him to tell them stories, so they probably shouldn't come over anymore either.
Freeleigh tells her he loved having the boys come and listen to his stories.
Cue incredibly sad violin music and the desire to never grow old.
When she leaves, she takes away his wheelchair, just to make sure he can't get to the phone until she can have it ripped out of the wall.
Not that she's totally evil or anything.
Colonel Freeleigh understandably freaks. He uses all his strength to run across the room and grab the phone to make one last call to Jorge, then he slumps against the wall to listen to Mexico City one last time.
Jorge obliges once again, and Colonel Freeleigh listens to the music playing in the streets, remembering a time he danced to it.
Hours later, Doug, Charlie , and Tom walk through Colonel Freeleigh's unlocked front door. Charlie says Colonel Freeleigh called and asked him to come visit, but to make sure the nurse wasn't there.
They find him dead. Doug lifts the receiver from his cold fingers, hears Mexico City on the phone, and gently hangs up. Tear.