To Kansas City

Airborne again. Des Moines had been left far behind. It was dark, and, but for the sound of the engines, quiet in the cabin of the plane.

Try as he might, he was having difficulty staying awake. The Stewardess had said they would be on the ground for an hour when they got to Kansas City. Time enough to get off and stretch his legs a bit, and wake up. He really wanted to wake up. The dreams were going to come, again. He knew the dreams were going to come. But the sound of the engines, droning on and on, the gentle vibration through his body ... and he was drifting away from the sound to where it was soft and quiet ...

He stood there in the cold drizzle, next to the pine box that her body was in. He held a small bunch of purple flowers in his hand, his eyes tightly shut so he wouldn't have to pretend to cry. A few people were there, grownups, people who towered over him and seemed to talk in whispers and everybody was dressed in black and everybody sounded so sad. And the whispers said "Poor kid" and "Only six" and "whore" and "no way to raise a kid" and "father was executed" and "little bastard". And the priest said words in a language he didn't understand and then the box was gone into the ground and it was time to leave. He knew he was supposed to cry. But he just stood there, eyes tightly shut. Someone picked him up and carried him and held him tight, and he opened his eyes as he struggled to get free and he saw it was his uncle, he didn't like his uncle, his uncle hurt him and made him do things and he didn't want to go anywhere with him he wanted to stay with her but she was gone now and he had no one, no one but his uncle and the things he did, the things he did, the things he was GOING TO DO!! He woke up with a start."FUCK!!"

He wiped his hand across his face.

The Stewardess looked down at him.

"Are you alright?"
"Yeah. Where are we?"
"We're about an hour out of K.C. Can I get you something? You're perspiring. Would you like a wet cloth?"
"Yeah. Cold. Ice cold."

The Kid looked out of the small, rectangular window of the DC-3. Nothing but dark out there. Dark, occasionally punctured by little pinpricks of light. Farmhouses. There'll be lots of lights in Vegas. And good times. Lots of good times. Joey The Hat had had a full money belt. Of course, he knew he would. Joey was a runner and a bag man for the bookies. And he'd been skimmin'. Filling his moneybelt with other people's money. And those other people were not happy. Just how stupid did Joey think they were? Dumb fuck. But had he caught him at just right time. There must be Twenty Grand in Joey's belt. He hadn't had time to count it all, yet, but it was around Twenty Large. He intended to turn it in like he was supposed to, but the cops found Joey so fast - the cops were after him so fast, he never had the chance to give the money to the people it belonged to. And now he's runnin'. And when you're on the run, it's 'Finders Keepers'. Like Joey's hat. Joey's hat had come off in his hand as Joey slipped to the ground, like the hat was his now. He pulled the knife from Joey's neck and slipped the hat onto his head. It felt good there. Like it belonged. Like the moneybelt. The money was his ... and the hat was his. And he was goin' to Vegas. Just like that.

The Stewardess brought him the cold cloth to wipe his face and neck.

"Would you like a beverage, Sir?"
"Yeah. Coffee. Black."

The Stewardess walked to the back of the plane to get a mug and fill it with coffee. She wondered about the thin young man in the hat. Most people took off their hat when they flew. But not him. She had thought to offer to take his hat and stow it for him, but he had covered his face with his hat almost as soon as he'd boarded, so she left him alone. She'd do it later, maybe. When he woke. But it was when he woke that she thought better of her planned kindness. Once she looked into his eyes she knew, instinctively, that no kindness would soften the hardness she saw behind those cold, grey eyes. When she looked into his eyes she felt a tightness in her belly. She realized the tightness was fear.

She brought him his mug.

He sat back in his seat and sipped the coffee. It was hot and strong and burned all the way down to his stomach. But it felt good. Yeah, real good. Probably like his uncle felt that night he staggered into the apartment with the knife stuck in his gut. In the year after she died he had stayed with his uncle. And his uncle had hurt him, over and over again. So as his uncle was dying he just stood there and watched. And when his uncle finally died, he pulled the stiletto out of his gut and kept it. The stiletto that was in his pocket, that he had kept for the last 11 years. The stiletto that he had used on Joey The Hat. Joey, and so many others. The stiletto that fed him and clothed him and kept him alive. The stiletto he knew he would find a use for in Vegas.

"Fasten your seatbelt, Sir. We're on final approach to Kansas City."

Kansas City and still awake. Good.

I'll get off, walk around, stretch my legs and wake the fuck up.

And then it's Oklahoma City.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Any other things I try to say other than just wow don't come out right, so I'll just say wow, incredible. Amazing talent, and I love the details. Wow.

Shadow said...

the story's developing nicely. thanks for the entertaining read!!!

Eric S. said...

Personally, I love the part where the stewardess recognizes the cold hardness in his eye's, and the resulting tight fear in herself.

The kid is such an interesting character, it's too bad he dies so young.

That's alright though for we have you to take us back to see where he came from, and answer the ultimate question; WHY?

www.ayewonder.com said...

Another great installment, Lou. The uncle deserved it. ;-)

moneythoughts said...

It is very good and as I think about it, it reminds me of radio, but then you and I have talked about radio before. I also liked the insight of the stewardess, I thought that was very real. Nicely done.

Christy said...

I of course also relate to the instinct of the stewardess....er, female flight attendant.

Nice job!

Unknown said...

maggies mind: Thank you, Maggie. That's sweet.

shadow: You're more than welcome. Thanks for reading - and commenting.

Eric S: Why, indeed. We'll find out more about The Kid after the next installment, which takes place at the Kansas City Airport, as promised. It's long flight from K.C. to Albuquerque. Plenty of chance to sleep, perhaps to dream?

Ayewonder: Thanks, Mike. Yes, he did, didn't he.

moneythoughts: Thanks, Fred. She became an easy way to describe The Kid. What I didn't realize, was how important she beomes in the story, later.

christy: It's O.K. In 1950, they were called 'Stewardess'. Did you REALLY expect me to be P.C.? I don't have a P.C bone in my body.

Elizabeth said...

I'll echo all of the accolades... wonderful job, Lou! I'm all aflutter about what's gonna happen in Vegas.

Yes, you're right... it IS Thursday and I'm good (if not generally annoyed with my husband). The windows are open and I've forgotten how lovely early morning can be. I got my stitches out yesterday, I have a day full of household activities (low key as per Dr's instructions) planned for today. Everything should set up for a relaxing weekend. :)

Michael said...

So you are an author then, how do you hold your mind on all the little details without it racing off into the story.
I dont think I could have the patience to be a famous author but I do admire people like yourself

Unknown said...

elizabeth: thank you. And i'm so glad you're okay. Whew!

Michael: I take notes, Michael. Plenty of notes. I'm flattered you think me 'famous' - or I that I could be - but not yet - not by a long shot.

Ndinombethe said...

Wow Lou - Wow again!

I could never do what you're doing here. I am so awed!

another brilliant read! Can't wait til next Thursday. Will be in Miami but will get to a computer!


Jientje said...

You know Lou, this is so amazing. The whole time as I was reading this story, I "saw" it right before my eyes! You know, like a movie, I could picture the whole scene! Not many authors can take me there, but you did!
Can't wait to read more of you, and of this story!
I must pack my suitcase now, got to leave for London at 5 am in the morning!

Expat No. 3699 said...

I’ve been up for almost five hours and intentionally put off reading this next installment until now…building up the anticipation, so to say. Kind of like putting off reading the last chapter of a great book because you don’t want it to be over. Well. Worth. The. Wait.

Have a magnificent day.

Oh, and I hope you’re thinking ahead to the next round after ‘The Kid’, because you know we’re all going to want more and more from you.

Unknown said...

tash: Thank you. I am awed, myself, by the response this series is getting. This is just amazing.

Jientje: *waves back* I am so jealous. you couldn't stop by and pick me up, could you? I SO love London.

Employee: Such self control. Like how you resisted serving sugar stuff to your grandkids. Uh-huh. Thank you. I'm so glad you found it well worth the wait. As for more? Who knows. I have no idea how long this guy is going to last - at least a month more, I would think - maybe more. Who knows? But, if y'all want more - well, I'll think of sumthin'.

Queen Goob said...

at work

meeting in three

I'll be back!

Jientje said...

You have your imagination, if you want to, you can be there, I know you can! ;-)

Expat No. 3699 said...

Yes, more of 'The Kid', but I meant something else after this series.

Holly said...

The plot thickens ...! I assume a stiletto is a knife and not a high-heel shoe? I am such a girl.

Regarding your comment, I know which one of the bloggers I've listed you've got a little crush on! But don't worry -- I think everybody does!

Vikki North said...

E X C E L L E N T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Need we say more? I'm loving this.

Momisodes said...

I think everyone else stole my comment. Seriously. This was on of my favorite installments. It really feels as if I should be hearing this story told on NPR. I'm looking forward to the next ones more and more :)

Unknown said...

queen goob: That's okay. I'll wait. Patiently.

jientje: Yes, so true, but the reality is so much better than the imagination.

employee: I knew that. When I saud I'd think of sumthin', I was, in reality referring to just that - something after The Kid.

holly: I'm glad you're such a girl - and yes, a stiletto is a knife.

redchair: Thank you, Vikki. I am so amazed.

Sandy: Well, there's plenty more where that came from. At least - I hope so.

Myst_72 said...

This is fantastic Lou,
looking forward to reading what happens next!


Anonymous said...

Nice work Lou.
I'm starting to like the Kid, and not like him too.
I imagine, as a writer, it's hard to bring that out in words - you do just fine with it.

Hurry up next Thursday.

Unknown said...

You're sucking us in...showing us the soft side... making us feel sorry for him because after all, regardless how old, he's just a small boy who's been hurt and who can't sympathize with that?

Excellent use of the proper aircraft and 'stewardess' terminology for the time! Your facts are impeccable, your story riveting.

I waited all day, until there was quiet and no disturbances... so I could take it all in.

Perfect, Lou!

Eve Grey said...

Love it Lou.

Crimzen Creative said...

Ahhh...the stiletto
reference sent chills
down my spine!

Alice said...

Wonderful Lou! Keep me entertained on my imposed hiatus.

Anonymous said...

Whoa . . . that was seriously dark. Pretty chilling, for a person swingin' by for the first time. Nicely done though, crisp.

I see why Eric has you high on his list of best blog authors.

Unknown said...

myst_72: Next? Ah, yes, next. The episode with a twist - or - the twisted episode. Whatever. I hope you like it.

warriorwoman: Yes, do hurry Thursday.

hyphen mama: I'll really have you sucked when when you CAN'T wait. But thank you, so much, for waiting, so as to savor. THAT is so flattering.

eve grey: Thank you, Eve.

lady language: Chills? I gave you chills? You should see ... ah, nevermind. I'll be good.

alice: I will do my very best.

kel: Yes, I suppose a first time reader would find this rather dark. And this does stand alone, sorta. I mean, a person COULD read this without having read the rest - but I hope you did.