“Your father is getting rid of the dog, Luther,” his mother said after a peck on the cheek under the arrivals canopy at Logan Airport. He hadn’t had a chance to unload his luggage into the way-back of the family wagon.
“Mom, you should get rid of this thing, it’s a pig and you don’t need all this space anymore.”
“He also wants a divorce.”
“What? I just talked to him this morning, before I boarded, what are you talking about?”
Luther was used to his mother’s histrionics. She was an eccentric, a free spirit, and often given to flights of whimsy or bouts of rage.
“I’ll take the dog with me when I leave. This is madness. I should drive, you’re in a state.”
“Why didn’t you answer my call? I called you six hours ago. Why didn’t you answer?”
Luther held out his hand for the keys. “Mom, the keys. Give them to me.”
“You didn’t answer my call.”
Editorial interruption: This is a fifth in a series; please go here for the first “chapter”:https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/friday-fiction-friends-2-0-familiarity-breeds-fonder-over-greener-ponds/
“We were about to take off; they told us to turn off our cell phones. It — it wasn’t on. I don’t have any recollection of you calling. The phones interfere with the communications between the pilots and the tower people,”
“Tower people? Luther, speak directly me to me; you’re not making any sense.”
“The people, mom, who operate the … the … the people in the Federal Aviation Administration airport towers who direct planes on the runways and in the air. Those tower people. Mom. The keys.”
“The AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS, Luther. That’s what they’re called. I’m driving; you don’t even know what the flight crews are called at an airport, I’m not letting you drive my car.”
Luther walked to the back of the car, and prepared to lift the tailgate. His mother locked the doors just as he reached.
“It’s ok. You’re perfect anyway. Show me your teeth. Smile for me. I got caps last month, what do you think? Show me yours.”
Luther’s shoulders slumped and he swallowed back a breath. He lifted his face and showed his mother his teeth. His mother lowered her Andy Warhol-eqsue prescription sunglasses and moved in to inspect his teeth.
“Mmmmhmmm. Your tooth, that bicuspid, it still does that doesn’t it? It snags on your lower lip when you smile. See my teeth? Whe I smi li you do, I don hav tha sna, see? Loo, it’s awl flus alo th guhli..”
“I’m not smiling mother. This is embarrassing.”
“Just get that fixed and you’ll be perfect.”
Luther hung his head and looked for a rock to kick.
“You need to move your car, Ma’am,” said a traffic police officer. “His bags are in the car, you need to get going now.”
“He wants to drive, officer, would you kindly tell him that I should drive him? He’s had a long flight. This is my son. Luther, he’s coming home for the long holiday weekend. Isn’t he beautiful?”
“Nice to meet you Luther, let your mother drive. Just get this car out of here. NOW.”
“Yes officer, thank you … uh. Nice to meet you too.”
“We’re waiting for someone else, Officer,” she blurted out. “Get in the car, Luther, no need to make a scene,” she said.
“No we’re not. What are you talking about? Officer, I’d like to drive. I’m not tired. The sun is up.”
“Get in the car, Luther,” his mother barked at him, her teeth gritted, and her eyes burning into Luther with an intensity he’d not felt in years.
“What do you mean you’re waiting for someone else? Well, I don’t care. If you are, you need to taxi around the airport. Just keep making a loop. Either way, get in the car, Beautiful Luther,” and Luther did as he was told and got into the car.
“Thank you officer! I’ll do just that! See Luther?”
She adjusted the side view mirror so she could see herself, put her big sunglasses back on, fixed the scarf around her face and slid into the car like a movie star.
Luther hated riding with his mother behind the wheel. She was an angry and anxious driver. She loathed highways and would drive 40 mph in the right lane. She’d drive slower if she could, but 40 was the legal minimum. On two-lane roads, she would slow down when opposing traffic would approach and hug the shoulder of her lanes. Anyone who rode with her needed a nap afterward.
“Why did you lie to that policeman? We aren’t waiting for someone else,” Luther said.
“I liked talking to him. I love the energy of airports. People coming and going. Do you know where my copy of Haywire is?” she asked.
“The John Belushi book? The one about his overdose? No. Mom, I just got in the car. I just got off the plane.”
“Which reminds me, why didn’t you answer my call?”
“I told you that already. It was off. We had to turn off our phones. I didn’t see you call. I turned off my phone before I boarded.”
“Can I change lanes? You need to look over your shoulder, can I? Can I? I need to get over to the right. LIAR! You said you talked to your father before you boarded! He TOLD me you spoke.”
“Yes, it’s clear. After this red Buick, you can go. Oh my God, mom, mother, yes, I did, I spoke to father. But then I –”
“Your father wants a new wife.”
“What? Mom. Pull over.”
The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was one of those fantastic May days when the air is clear, a gentle breeze wafts the leaves of the trees, sometimes the longer blades of grass catch it and wave in its flow.
She switched lanes to get off the highway to take the back roads to the house. They were going to stop at the house in town first to get some things for the weekend before heading to Nantucket to open up for the summer.
At the first red light, Luther reached over, put the car in park, turned the ignition and grabbed the keys.
“Get out of your seat, switch with me. I am driving. You’re not right today.”
“Smile when you say that.”
“Get out of your seat and switch with me. I am driving us home and to Nantucket. There is nothing to smile about right now. Do it, or I throw the keys into the trees.”
“Your mother is not happy about this, little man,” she said, her nostrils flaring and eyes as dead as a corpse’s. “Very well.”
Luther got out of his seat, his mother slid over to where he was sitting.
He walked around the side of the car, pulled open its ancient and heavy door, sat down behind the wheel, pulled his door shut tight, locked the doors, started the engine, fixed the side-view mirror, shifted into drive, just as the light turned green.
“Don’t speed, Luther. This isn’t some hot rod.”
Luther nodded and said, “Yes mother.”
“You’ll be sitting in the hot seat for this unacceptable behavior, young man, when we get to the house.”
“Just enjoy the view, mother. I’m already in the hot seat.”
“Is that a comment about me? That I made the seat hot? Is that some menopausal slam?”
“No, mother. It’s just a saying. I’ll try to not be so witty next time,” he said.
“Smile when you say that, Luther. Show me your teeth again.”
© 2013 Molly Field :: All Rights Reserved.
Here’s the next installment: Gritting Cards
This week’s prompt: It is “Liars need to have good memories” ~Algernon Sidney
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