When Luther went home for the long holiday weekend, amongst his toiletries, he packed a suit, a blazer, two pairs of “shiny shoes” as Claire called them, a set of running shoes, his iPod, some ties: one for the plane, one for day, one for dinner, one for Mass, and his journal.
He was not at all concerned about flying, but his nerves were a wreck; he was looking forward to runs in the park with his labrador, “Charlie” and for long walks with his dad by the lake. He was even looking forward to seeing his sister’s husband, Griff, the hotshot lawyer who always managed to make big husky Luther feel like a chump. A chump was a god compared to how Luther felt around his mother.
[go here for the first part of this story: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/friday-fiction-friends-2-0-familiarity-breeds-fonder-over-greener-ponds/ ]
Although she had never directly expressed her dismay or disappointment with Luther’s job, or his lack of a steady girlfriend, or his seemingly directionless life to Luther, it’s what she said to all his relatives, friends, the mailman and the pharmacist that gave her away.
“How’s the card company, Luther?” Mr. Everwood would say from his perch above the pharmacy floor when he’d go by to pick up a refill for his father. “We don’t carry those cards in this shop. People don’t seem to like ’em…” he would add on, his voice fading into a mutter about an obscene greeting card scandal years before that had nothing to do with Hansen’s Greetings, the country’s second-largest greeting card company.
For the first couple inquiries, Luther would try to talk up the company, but after his first year ended, he’d decided that Mr. Everwood wasn’t really interested in a conversation; he’d always wander off mid-sentence looking for his reading glasses which were usually hanging from a black polyester cord around his neck.
When he boarded the jet to take him to Nantucket, Luther put his bags in the overhead compartment. His carry-on fit perfectly beneath his window seat on the small aircraft. Luther was a big guy, 6’3″ 195, athletic, and broad-shouldered. He had inherited the Irish farmer in his father’s side of the family. His sister, Maureen, was much slighter than he, but what she lacked in physicality, she made up for in personality. He stood up in the aisle for as long as possible, stretching his aching legs as he’d waited for his section mate to show up. Once that unknown fellow traveler arrived, Luther would be locked into his seat for five hours. He looked at his phone. The flight was already 7 minutes behind schedule, he sighed, loosened his tie and decided to take off his jacket.
Luther came from ‘good breeding’ and he learned early on to dress appropriately for a flight; it was a sign of respect to the captain and the staff of aircraft. His grandfather was a commercial pilot after flying for the Navy during the Vietnam War. His grandfather told everyone to dress for a funeral when flying because, “you never know if you’ll be buried at sea” when flying over the water, but he also said it was important to dress well because often those pilots were retired military officers who risked their lives for our country, so “dress up or get off my plane!” was his oft-heard refrain he’d offer to anyone who flew with him.
He turned around and prepared to put his jacket up in the overhead compartment when his section mate arrived. They’d just about bumped right into each other. It was a young woman, about 20, who asked if she was in the right place on the plane. She was tall, just about Claire’s height, Luther noticed, and dressed smartly for the flight.
“Uh… row 22 seat B, yup, that’s you. Right here. Can I get your bag for you? I’m happy to –”
“No, thanks, I’ve got it. I’m on the volleyball team at school, so I’m used to doing shoulder presses and all that. You putting your jacket up there or are you getting it down? Need me to –”
“Sure, great. Once you put your bag up there, if you could take my jacket, here, it’s all folded and ready, and plop that on top of my bag, that would be awesome,” he said as he stretched and twisted his back before submitting himself to the cramped seat which waited below him.
The blonde student-athlete took his jacket and gently placed it on top of his bag.
“It’s gonna shift around in there, just so you know, I put it right on top as you suggested, but if it comes out all rumpled…” she said, pursing the right corner of her mouth and raising her right eyebrow, “don’t blame me; blame the pilot.”
“Then it’ll be rumpled. The humidity on Nantucket should straighten it out in no time once we get back on land. My name’s Luther, thank you for your help,” he said, extending his hand as he prepared to sit down.
“Chris, and you’re welcome. My pleasure,” she answered with a big bright smile. “You going home or vacation up there? I’m heading home for summer break; classes just ended yesterday and I’ve got two weeks before volleyball training starts over again,” she asked, not looking at him, but acquainting herself with her seat, the safety belt, the magazines and her arranging her iPod.
Luther padded his shirt pocket for his iPod, then his hip pockets, still nothing. “I am … doing neither. …. My parents live up there; it’s where I grew up, but I don’t consider it home. Anyway, I’m rambling. I’m heading to Nantucket for a long weekend with my family and I’m looking forward to seeing our dog,” he said. “Aha, there it is, in my carry-on,” his voice muffled into his chest because he was all compressed like a shrimp.
“Your dog?” Chris asked.
“No, my iPod. My dog… Ha ha… that’s funny.”
“Well, you’d be surprised about what people bring on planes, Luther,” she said.
He agreed. “If you need anything that I can help you with, please let me know; I’m just gonna plug in here and zone out.”
Chris nodded, she was a few steps ahead of him with her pillow scrunched under her head alongside the headrest.
He fell asleep quickly. Images of leather chairs and Persian rugs flooded his dreams. A small room, the sunlight which made it past the leafy birch out front dappled the wood floor, high mahogany walls, lots of books, a maple roll-top desk and a matching swivel chair on casters with a black leather seat awaited him. He sat on the chair; his hands resting like paws on the armrests, his feet didn’t touch the floor, they swung loosely from the cushion which was cool to the backs of his bare legs in seersucker short-pants. He could see his blue and white saddle shoes swish back and forth. Waiting here meant trouble. Waiting here meant he had some explaining to do. Waiting here meant he got thirsty real fast. A door swung open and a fierce-looking woman in a grey suit spoke to Luther, “Your mother will see you now, Luther.”
“Yes mother,” said Luther to the woman.
Luther jostled in his seat. The song he’d fallen asleep to hadn’t even ended. The plane was still on the ground. His cell phone was ringing, it was his mother calling.
(c) Molly Field 2013
here is the next installment: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/friday-fiction-2-1-perfect-is-the-enemy-of-good/
well, that’s it for me – about 1200 words. i’ve been sick all week with strep throat and it’s late (thursday night – i have an appointment friday); i’d write more, but we have the whole month of May to write about mothers … all fiction of course. 😉
Here is the prompt:
May is the month to celebrating motherhood. Start this week’s post with the following:”Your mother….”
please read the other Friday Fiction Friends who are participating today: