A Bumpy Ride Over Bermuda, 1939
Andrew J. Hogan
“So, kid. How’d you like the ride?” Lucky Saunders said. He’d just returned from fixing the jammed landing gear of the Douglas triple-star 36 biplane.
“I threw up,” Maxie said.
“Hey, you’re only ten, and you have never ridden in a plane before. Am I right?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Well, when I was ten and if I’da gone through a storm like the one we just went through my first time on an airplane, I’da tossed my cookies, too,” he said with a wink.
Maxie laughed a little; she was not quite so queasy now. “So it isn’t always like this?”
“Naw, it’s usually much worse. We fly the plane upside down a lot of times to keep the passengers from puking up on the floor.” Lucky looked at the floor next to Maxie’s seat. “I guess we shoulda flown upside down this time, too. Maybe I’ll talk to the captain.”
Maxie reached out for his jacket sleeve. “Too late now.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Lucky sat back in his seat and took out a packet of cigarettes, Lucky Strikes. He held up the pack in Maxie’s direction. “You smoke?”
“I’m too young. My Uncle Nate won’t let me.”
“Uncle Nate? You got parents?”
“No. They were lost at sea when I was only two. I still remember them a little.”
“Oh, yeah. That’s pretty young.”
“My mother was very beautiful, with long hair, like Mary Pickford. And my father was tall and handsome, just like Douglas Fairbanks. They were on an adventure to Maracaibo when their ship was sunk by a German submarine.”
“I didn’t know that there were any German subs active in the Caribbean?”
“Oh, yes. They were after my parents. I think they escaped and completed their mission but were taken captive by Yanomani Indians. That’s why they never came home for me.
“You think they are still alive, held by them Yawning Manitee Indians?”
“Oh, yes. When I am older, I am going to find them.” A smile lit up Maxie’s face.
“That’s a pretty good story, kid. You ever used that one before?”
“A couple of times. I got a whole quart of ice cream from a minister’s wife once with that story.”
“Not bad. Sure you don’t want to smoke?”
“Those things will kill you.”
“Don’t you read the magazine ads?” Lucky inhaled deeply and blew smoke toward Maxie. “Doctors recommend these cigs. The smoke kills the germs in your lungs.”
“My Uncle Nat smokes two packs of those a day, and he can barely climb the stairs to our house.”
“Uncle Nate, the one who ditched you so that we gotta take you to Bermuda?”
“Yeah, he went off to Tibet to read scrolls at some monastery.”
“Okay, this is another story, right?”
“I wish! Like he is even going to be able to breathe at eleven thousand feet,” Maxie said. “I’ll never see him again either.”
“Who’s this guy we’re taking you to?”
“My father’s brother, Uncle Charles. He runs Caribbean Petroleum for Standard Oil of New Jersey.”
Lucky looked confused.
“You know, like the Rockefellers.”
“Ah. Big money.”
“I hope. Uncle Nat was pretty much broke. His salary as a college professor was peanuts.”
“How’d he get the money to fly to Tibet?”
“If I told you, I would have to kill you.”
Just then, the plane hit a patch of wind shear. The plane jumped violently for several seconds. Maxie hurled again, in the direction of Lucky’s shoes. Lucky lifted his feet, swung them out into the aisle where the floor was still clean, and jumped up, giving no indication of the plane’s violent gyrations.
“I’d better double-check the landing gear. We’re almost ready to land.”
Leaning on the fence next to airplane depot was a fat man in a white suit and large Panama hat. Maxie could recognize Uncle Charles even from the fluttering plane.
About the Author
Andrew J. Hogan received his doctorate in development studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before retirement, he was a faculty member at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University, where he taught medical ethics, health policy and the social organization of medicine in the College of Human Medicine. Dr. Hogan published more than five-dozen professional articles on health services research and health policy. He has published thirty-five works of fiction in the Lowestoft Chronicle, OASIS Journal (1st Prize, Fiction 2014), Hobo Pancakes, Subtopian Magazine, Twisted Dreams Magazine, Thick Jam, Midnight Circus, Grim Corps, Long Story Short, Defenestration, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, The Blue Guitar Magazine, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Children, Churches and Daddies, Festival Writer (Pushcart Nominee), Fabula Argentea, Mobius, Thrice Fiction Magazine, The Lorelei Signal, Fiction on the Web, Sandscript, and The Copperfield Review.