The Hook, ch 33

Lucy Hits the Bay

Lucy started in her seat as the wheels touched down. San Francisco. She hadn’t been in an airport in years, but it had been horrible this time. They’d even broken her nail file off of her nail clippers. And there’d been a little boy no more than six years old who’d had to keep going through the metal detector until they’d finally found that there were metal reinforced insteps in his orthopedic shoes. Like a six year old from New Orleans was going to be an Arab terrorist, she thought. She hadn’t realized it was this bad; this went beyond security and into just plain rudeness, and she was going to write letters to her congressman and the president and tell them so.

The airport was huge and confusing. It seemed like everything in her path was some kind of obstacle, set up so only the local folks would know how to use it. But she moved along with the crowd, and she found her baggage claim, and they stood waiting too long for the bags. When she finally got her suitcase, the little luggage lock on it had been cut off, clumsily, with a bolt cutter that had left marks on the suitcase itself. She tried to stay calm, but the thought of strangers poking through her stuff got on her nerves.

She stopped herself. It was bad, sure, but it wouldn’t have gotten on her nerves so much except that she was worried about Rose. Trying to put things back into perspective, she gathered up her suitcase and headed for the row of cabs waiting outside the door.

“Yo,” said the cabbie, pulling up to the curb. He greeted Lucy with a big smile, but he didn’t offer to get out and help her with her bags.

“Hello,” she said, falteringly, as she opened the back door. “I need to go to my daughter’s place at 211 Blake, in San Francisco.”

“Sure, no prob,” the cabbie replied, indicating the back seat with an expansive gesture. “Just toss your bags in on the backseat and I’ll take ya there.”

Lucy set her suitcase and her carryon on the back seat, shut the door, then walked around to the driver’s side where she felt too exposed to all the traffic, and got in. There’d been some kind of BART connection available too, but BART didn’t go anywhere near Rose’s place and besides she didn’t want to be crowded in with a bunch of strangers right now.

With an effort, she smiled at the cabbie, hoping to bring out a nicer side of him. He grinned back, rolled down the window, and pulled out. At first the breeze wasn’t unpleasant, but when he got out on the highway it was just whipping wind and exhaust fumes in her face. Miserably, she scooted over to the passenger side of the car, trading places with her luggage. It was going to be a long drive.

Finally they pulled up at 211 Blake. Lucy paid the cabbie, got her bags, and asked him to wait, then went up and knocked on the door. There was no answer, so she turned around and waved at the cabbie. With a last grin, a friendly wave back, and a big thumbs up, the cab took off. Rose wasn’t home.

Exhausted, Lucy sat down on the front steps and looked around. There was a palm tree in a pot here, a big silly-looking thing that she thought looked like the kind of tree that belonged in a Doctor Seuss book. The houses were all cheek by jowl and nobody had any yards. The neighbors had another potted tree, a tiny sugar maple. That, anyway, seemed comfortingly familiar. She looked up into its branches and found, to her delight, a mockingbird.

It opened its mouth and Lucy heard a car alarm. She blinked in shock. The little bird bounced back and forth from foot to foot, then cocked its head and sang again. This time it was somebody’s cell phone tone. For a moment Lucy thought she was going to cry. But then the absurdity of the whole situation hit her and she had to laugh instead. There was a McDonald’s at the end of the block; she’d just sit down and have a cup of coffee and figure something out.

This is one chapter of The Hook, a novel which is being published serially on this site. This page links to all chapters so far serialized.

The complete novel is available from Amazon.

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