Vern and Frank in 4 parts
Ever meet a stranger and you immediately click? By the end of a shuttle ride from the airport, I felt like ‘Vern’ and I were brothers from different mothers. Over the next several days, I began mentally wandering about the ‘what ifs’ of his life and of mine. I eventually wrote this fictional story and it received second place in the Oglesby Winnebago Literary Society (OWLS) writing contest last year. Though not directly related to Thanksgiving, somehow this story makes me feel thankful for my health, friends, family and all the strange people I meet in life, who—now don’t take offence—usually turn into my friends! Just to build suspense, or not to bore you all at once, I split the story into 4 parts…HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Vern and Frank – Part 1
I just got off the phone with this guy from Michigan. He landed at Hartsfield-Jackson, our big Atlanta airport. Told him I’d be there in 20 minutes. That I picked up some riders from downtown and was headed his way and he should go buy hisself a shuttle ride ticket over at the blue booth. His name’s Frank and he come in to see his daughter.
His daughter flagged me down the other day when I was drivin through her neighborhood in the shuttle van. She asked how her dad could get a ride from the airport. I gave her my cell and said he could call me. Oops, there’s the phone again.
“Hello. Oh, it’s you, Frank. What? They won’t sell you a ticket to zip three-oh-three-ten? Yah, I know, ain’t nothin wrong with that area. Tell ya what, Frank, don’t you worry none, I know right where you’re goin and will get you there. You set tight by that purple sign number eighteen.”
I hang up and ask which airlines the riders are going to at the airport, tell them we’ll be there in 15. Damn shuttle company’s nationwide, with a big-ass website you can reserve a shared ride on, but they block-out some areas, like Atlanta zip 30310. He’s a white guy and even he knows it’s an okay area or his daughter wouldn’t ‘ve been livin there for 3 years.
It’s funny. Funny how you meet someone and click. I’m a friendly guy, have to be when you’re pickin up folk from all over, drivin ‘em to and from the airport. Always get good reviews and decent tips. But somehow, Frank and I extra clicked right when I picked him up. He wondered if the shuttle company wouldn’t sell tickets to that zip was because Adair Park – Historical Adair Park, is shimmied in between a couple poor, tough areas that give the whole damn zip a bad reputation.
I told him yes and the reason I knew the area so well was my girlfriend, AJ—for Andrea Jacqueline—lives up the street from his daughter.
Frank must be close to my age. Me? I’m 71. He’s gray haired with a white goatee, kinda like me, ‘cept he’s a little heavier, And a lot whiter, ha ha. I still weigh about what I did when I was 25, good lean solid 175. Frank probably pushin 225.
Frank gets a text, says his daughter asked if we can stop at the liquor store on the way home to get some ice. He seems a little embarrassed to ask, like it might be imposin on me. I tell him it’s no problem, he’s the only rider and that’s how it is with Atlanta folk, we’re friendly and helpful. He comes out with some ice and beer, asks me if I want one when I pull into his daughter’s driveway. Tell him I quit the alcohol.
He asks if I want to come over for his grandson’s fourth birthday party in about an hour. That’s what I mean, we clicked right off. Never had someone I just met ask me to come to their grandkid’s birthday party before. And havin met his daughter, I knew I’d be welcome. Still, I said no. Didn’t tell him I needed to pop in on AJ, make sure she was home.
I backed out and started laughin again. On the ride in, I told him I was datin a young lady, much younger than me. AJ’s young enough to be my granddaughter. He laughed and said way to go. I tell him I tried seein women closer to my age, but they couldn’t keep up with me in the bed.
So Frank jumps in, talkin in this high voice, “I just gave you some last month, and you want it again?”
I busted up so bad I had to slam on the brakes cuz I almost missed some ass in a Benz cuttin in on me…
Catch Part 2 on Wednesday next week. Better yet, hit the Subscribe button to the right and have it automatically show up in your email!