Railway Children

In the morning I went to the airport in a hired car that was not driven by Tony. I guess because Nomad was paying for it and not WTA? The flight was from Newark, which I tried to pretend was not in New Jersey.

I made my way to the gate, my left thumb aching a little from carrying the guitar in that hand all the time since the splinted hand really couldn’t take any weight.

There was Mel. Ford was crashed out on her shoulder. I sat down next to her, quietly, waving hello. She smiled a little wryly as she waved back.

“Let me guess. You have to pee,” I said.

“Would you? The restrooms here have a place to strap him in, but when he’s asleep he’s like Jell-o.”

“Sure.” She carefully transferred him from her shoulder to mine, and then hurried off.

“Damn, Ford, you are getting heavy.” He was heavier than a cat at that point, and with only one really good hand my left arm was doing all the work.

When she came back, she took him back, and he woke up hungry. She hid him under her shirt which was a kind of hippie blousy thing. Come to think of it, she probably wore it because she could hide him under it.

“He’s getting big,” I said.

“He’s actually underweight for his age,” she said, “but not by too much. Not enough to freak out over, anyway.”

“I’m all for not freaking out,” I said, and then cringed a little because I didn’t want it to seem like I was criticizing her for our past friction.

“Yeah. Working on that,” she said, though, I guess feeling okay with some mild criticism today. “In two weeks we’ll be settled in LA and then we can really start trying to fix everything.”

“You make it sound like fixing up a relationship is like fixing up a house.” If only. If that were true you could pay someone to do it while you were away.

“I guess. I feel like I’m losing my mind, though. So seeing a shrink seems like a good idea.”

“I saw a guy in LA. I liked him. I’ll give you his name if you want? He was good for me, anyway.”

“Oh, really?” She looked at me. “When was that?”

“A while back when I was camped out at Remo’s for several months.”

“How old are you again?”

“On my way to being twenty-four,” I said, since my next birthday was now just barely closer than my previous one.

“I keep thinking you’re just a kid.”

“Because Remo and everyone treats me like one? Some of the time anyway?”

“I guess. That’s what happens when you grow up with people. They still remember when you were twelve. My own parents are still treating me like I’m a knocked-up sixteen year old runaway, not married to a millionaire.”

“How old are you?” I figured if she could ask me I could ask her.

“Almost twice that,” she said, which I took to mean thirty to thirty-one.

And Remo was about to have his fiftieth, but until then was considered “forty-something” and she was “thirty-something” so it didn’t feel like they were so far apart in age.

I was reminded that what people think of age and numbers has never really made much sense to me and that people ought to be judged by their abilities and maturity, not a number, but somehow I could never completely escape them.

“If you feel like you’re losing your mind, I’m not sure touring with a rock band is the best place to be,” I said.

“I know. But it feels better than sitting at home like a caged rat.”

“Ah. Yeah, I could see that.”

We were silent for a while. Ford finished his snack and made gurgling noises. She put him on her shoulder with a little towel and patted his back.

“You know we’re on this flight together on purpose,” she said.

“I figured that when I saw you sitting here, yeah,” I said. “Remo’s idea?”

“He trusts you with me and the baby. He really does. Well, and I guess why wouldn’t he. I trust you, too. I mean, who else would risk bodily harm for my baby? You’re a good pick for godfather, Daron.”

I didn’t say what I was thinking then, because I knew it was going to come out wrong. I think I would’ve thought it even if I wasn’t Ford’s godparent. But I was thinking, well, someone has to look out for the kids when the parents are wrapped up in their own crap. Right?


(Happy Thanksgiving, USians!)

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