Saturday, October 6, 2012

M&R: Checking on a Friend

The female driver struggles to get their floral print luggage into the back of the “Airporter”. Roxanne is busy chattering away. That leaves her sister-in-law Maeve to notice what is happening as they enter the van.

A big guy is sprawled over the middle of the first bench seat. He reeks of spilt booze and that seared smell of sweat. He must have slept in, rather “passed out in” in his sports jacket on board the jet. His left arm lies across the back of the seat. A teenage girl with a page boy haircut cowers in the crux of his arm. She sits behind the driver’s seat as her mother instructed. Her body twists away from his intentions. She keeps her brown eyes downcast. Her answers to his flirtatious questions are inaudible and non-committal.

Maeve lays her hand Roxanne’s forearm just below the elbow. Maeve’s hand is white; her fancy long nails painted blood red. The touch, the motion is almost universal and will stop almost anyone. It pauses Roxanne’s’ delightful prattle. It stops her, just as she hefts the hem of her gay gown in order to climb up into the van. She smiling, looks to her best friend and then follows the fierce gaze.

Roxanne laughs out loud. “What’s this? A man in the “Women-Only” section!” Her left turned vertical, indicates the invisible fence dividing the women’s bench from the rest of the van. “Okay, darling, out of there!” She gaily summons him way from the girl with a wave of the index finger on her right. “Come on you stud.” she continues with a laughing smile, guiding him by his lapels. Roxanne is a stout woman; there is strength to spare in her grasp. She rewards him with a blown kiss and wink of a painted eye as he slides across the seat towards her. “All the way in the back. There’s more women coming.” she instructs as she turns his broad shoulders and sends him off to the last bench.

The whole time Roxanne is full of laughter and giggles and womanly charms. If the drunk looks Maeve way, he’ll see a different expression. Maeve looks like a woman coolly contemplating using the ornate rat tail comb in her purse. A few lunges to the belly. Maybe the cute horned owl key fob. It’s actually barbed brass knuckles that only fit’s a woman hand. The pointed horns on the owl are the same distance apart as a man’s eyes. Or maybe the knitting needles in her sister-in-law’s shoulder bag; TSA never looked twice. A knitting needle would make a nice foil. She took fencing for a reason.

“Hello.” Roxanne greets the girl then bounces onto the seat next to her. She gives the girl a reassuring pat on the knee then alternately rearranges her outfit and helps Maeve aboard. “I’m Roxanne. This is my friend Maeve.”

Maeve extends a hand and a surprising nice smile. (It must have been the relief from decision-making. She decides on the silver rat-tail comb.) The girl clutches Maeve’s right hand with her own, the hand shake last longer than normal. She is sitting up now. She seems to shiver. Maybe from the moist stray breezes that drift through the concrete parking structure. Maybe. She sighs loudly in relief, but first leads across Roxanne’s lap towards Maeve. Roxanne’s piled up auburn hair, wide gaudy earrings, flying lace collar and the padded shoulders of her dress, screen the girl from the drunk’s view. “Thanks.” she whispers to Maeve with a gulp and then makes eye contact Roxanne. The teenager’s breathing returns to normal and she resumes her seat without offering her name.

Roxanne resumes speaking without any qualms. “Oh, I love your look!” she squeals. “That tight black knee length skirt looks so chic on young woman of a certain age!” Then she lets out a big sigh, her shoulders drop and hands flop into her lap.

“Of course." .observes Maeve to no one in particular, “you and I are a long ways past that age!” At which point Roxanne and Maeve begin jabbing one another in the ribs and screaming “Ah!” gleefully.

The teenage girl bursts into giggles as the driver climbs aboard wondering aloud what she missed.

With no reply she begins her routine. “Where you headed Mr. Dreyfus?”

The response is a burst of ratting, rasping snores. The rest of the passengers burst into giggles again.

“Oh, I have an address for him. Miss, all I have for you is 10th and Spring. Do you know exactly where you are going?”

The smile slips from the teenagers face. She’s been covering her mouth with her right hand. The hand drops as does her gaze. She’s now staring at the floor. Roxanne and Maeve can see the monitor clearly from where they are sitting 10th and Spring is the emergency room at Virginia Mason.

“Obviously, she’s going to the Inn at Virginia Mason like us.”

“Ah, Mrs. Sienna? I have your party going to the Renaissance on Madison.”

“Us, at the Renaissance?” chuckles Roxanne while tossing questioning look at her sister-in-law. But out of the corner of her eye she can see the girl relax. “And miss the best hotel in town?”

The driver has to call in the correction, Roxanne starts explaining their shopping strategy for Rainier Square the next day and the sorts of outfits they need for “the girls”, the traffic is heavy and neither the driver nor the drunk have an opportunity to interrupt her rousing tale.

As they finally reach 10th and Spring, the driver confirms “Miss, Inn at Virginia Mason?” The other choice is the “Baroness” across the street.

In the dark, Roxanne can see the girl nod and relays the confirmation.

“So, why are you here dear?” driver says while pulling the van alongside the entrance.

“Yeah, what’s wrong with you?” comes a harsh forgotten voice from the back of the van.

Even in the dark, Roxanne and Maeve can see her blush.

“We covered that earlier dear.” It’s Maeve who lies. “She is checking on a relative. Grandmother wasn’t it?”

Again silence from the girl. The only sound is her and Roxanne gathering up their bags.

“Isn’t that sweet of her?” Roxanne announces. “Well if we don’t meet her tomorrow, you make sure to give your Grandmother our best. Oh, look we are here! Come on Missy.”

Maeve slips out the sliding door. Roxanne bounces out in a whoop of skirts and the girl races out in her wake.

“I’ll get out too, to say good bye.” comes the drunken voice from the dark. Maeve stepped back into the door, fencing off his exit route. . That and the difficulty of getting out of there convinces him to fall back onto his bench. “So, what are you ladies doing here?”

“Same thing.” Maeve says glancing thru the windows at Roxanne and the girl giggling on the sidewalk as the driver struggles with their luggage. “Checking on a friend.”

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