Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fishing Buddies

Rob has a new friend, a shadow of sorts, and an avid fisherman. He's eleven.

I'm dressed, but when I hear the knock on the door, I shrug a bra on under my t-shirt. "Hi J.T."

"Is your husband home?"

"Sure." I hide a smile and open the door. "Come on in."

When I head to the back room to write, the conversation swirls around sharks and night fishing, when I emerge, two hours later, J.T. is jumping up and down and reading off stats from the stock market. 

Rob grins at me and turns to J.T. "Okay, what's the average?"

J.T. adds up the prices and rattles off a figure. "I'm right aren't I?"

"You sure are." Rob says and the two hi five. 

I'm a little surprised the talk has turned from sharks to the stock market but what do I know about little boys? Nothing. But when the two decide to clean up the pond, I know pizza is in order. I return just as they finish working. Hawaiian for Rob and I, cheese for J.T.

"Got any Thousand Island dressing?"

"I'm sure I do." Amused, I stick my head in the fridge. Never mind that Rob and J.T aren't the same age or part of the same family. The two are soul brothers.  J.T. shadows Rob for five hours, and turns down a offer to fish with his best friend, in the hopes that Rob will take him shark fishing, at night.

Not happening.

He'll have to settle for fishing in the morning, before the afternoon showers, before the lightning storms. It's one thing to entertain someone else's kid, it's quite another to turn him into a crispy critter.

"So what are you doing later?' He asks when I walk him towards the front door.

"Maybe a bike ride." I say.

"You ride bikes?' He's perplexed that old folks like us can still wheel around the neighborhood, but he's too polite to say what he thinks. "So," he shakes his head and looks up at Rob, "I'll wake up early and see you at seven?"

"If the weather's good." Says Rob waving him off.

"Cute kid."

Rob laughs. "He's not shy. I just hope he doesn't sleep through his alarm again."

"I bet you weren't shy either." I say, picturing Rob as a pre-teen.

He cocks his head. "You know, I remember a friend's mom asking what I'd like to drink with lunch and when I said tonic she gave me a funny look, smiled and said. 'I'll bet your parent's drink vodka tonics or maybe gin and tonics.' Thinking about it now, I realize they must have had a good laugh."

Kids, no matter how old they are, are pretty damned wonderful.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lock and Launch

"Morning Honey." Rob ambles into my room and yawns.

My heart lifts at the sight of him then slams to my gut as the adjoining door snicks shut behind him. "Dammit Rob,"I yelp, "you just locked yourself out of your room."

He gives me a sleepy perplexed look. "I did?"

"Yeah." We've got an early flight to work and I'm not happy but I rein in the attitude and shoot a look at the clock. "Call the front desk and get someone to open the door."

"Okay," he says as he sets down the phone, "they'll be right up." Unfazed, he wraps a towel around his naked glory and saunters into the hallway. The airport van leaves in twenty minutes. Annoyed, I roll my eyes and yank a brush through my hair. Two seconds later Rob is back. "Well I have a key card but I forgot I set the security bar."

"Jesus Rob," I moan, "what if you pay attention?"

"Don't worry," he grins, "They're sending a guy to pop the lock."

Yeah and how long will that take? I snatch up my uniform pants, yank them over my hips and thrust a thumb at my bathroom. "Take a shower Rob or you'll miss pick-up."

"Good idea. You'll answer the door when they knock?"

My jaw hurts. I like mornings but on my own terms so I wake early, drink coffee, stretch out the kinks and enjoy the silence. I'm not happy.

Rob clicks on CNN and my shoulders hitch a little higher. "Now Rob."

He disappears into the bathroom so I click off the TV and pour water into the coffee maker but I can't get the foil wrapper off the filter. I give up and slam the rest of my belongings into the roller-board. I'm at the door when the shower shuts off. "I'll let the crew know you might miss the van Rob, just do your best."

I blow past a man bearing bolt cutters and breeze into the hotel lobby moments before pick-up. I'm telling the story to our fellow flight attendant when a hand settles on my shoulder. "Now this is a funny conversation to overhear."

"Yep," I look at our new Captain, introduce myself and roll my eyes, "my husband."

"It was funnier when I didn't know that."

I grin.

Our luggage is already loaded when Rob trots up to the crowded van so he hauls his roller-board in and plants it on his lap. "Yeah," he says, "lets go to work." He hands me a bit of cut metal and laughs. "I'm a gold member so they didn't charge me for the lock."

As the van stops at another hotel I eye the available space. "Better put your bag in the back Rob so the next guy can find a seat."

He hauls his bag to the front door but it doesn't open.

"Locked out again." Shouts the Captain. The van fills with laughter as Rob returns to his seat and wedges the roller-board between his knees.

Houston, I sigh, we have a launch.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Eggs and Exes

Humidity sinks down the back of my neck and presses my shirt to damp skin but some things are more important than air conditioning, like making nice with my mother-in-law.

Which is a trial.

So I take a shallow breath of fetid air, toss two pair of navy blue polyester pull-on pants into the red texas clay at the side of the clapboard house, and grind my heel into the fabric.

"Ya got the laundry?" Asks Bubba shuffling onto the porch and scratching his belly. "Mom's making dinner."

Oh Joy. I remember the last time Anne cooked. Canned chili, which is fine, but I watched her add eggs and lard to the pot and my tolerance for new and interesting food shot to an all-time low. I wonder if I should pack an orange.

"Hey," Bubba watches me lift the pants and shake the excess dirt into the drive. "You don't like Mom's gift?"

I study the sturdy elastic waist and shake my head. "Not exactly."

He snickers and I laugh. For six months we've gone to Anne's house for Sunday dinner and for six months I've tried to wear out the knees of these pants but polyester is impervious to damage. Annoyed, I toss them into the laundry and load the basket into the back seat of the pickup. "I'll drive."

"I don't think so," Bubba grips the keys and climbs into the cab, "you'll ruin the tires running over curbs."

I set my chin and ignore him, which is easy, because blue bonnets, poppies and buffalo grass undulate along the side of the road. Sun blazing across my cheeks I prop bare feet on the dash and drift asleep.

Before Bubba can set the break, Anne lowers the tail gate and hauls out the laundry. "Like the pants?"

"They're perfect for work." I say, but instead of calling me on a lie she grins and jerks her chin toward the house. "We've been paintin. Think you can climb up there and finish that bit below the eaves?"

I peer at the house. An eight by four is suspended across a pair of ten penny nails. "Not exactly." I say.

"Well, maybe after dinner. We're having chili." She plants her hands on ample hips and studies me out of the corner of her eye. "Hungry?"

Well shit. I study my options and decide death is preferable to dinner. "Tell you what," I say, "You save me an extra yeast roll and some of the beef steak tomatoes from the garden and I'll finish painting."

"Well that's nice." She says but when she turns to Bubba, and gives him a broad wink, I know I've been played.

Damned Texans.