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Fiction Friendship Inspirational

This may sound crazy, but Attorney Darryl Jones looks forward to his flight from New York to Los Angeles. Darryl hopes to review the legal brief for three hours during the six-hour flight and then sleep for three hours. A skillful Constitutional Law Attorney acknowledged as a constitutional law expert, he’s often hired to help resolve legal disputes. This past week, he flew to Washington one day, Nevada two days later, and Florida yesterday.

The airline personnel herds California-bound passengers down the corridor towards the plane. Darryl’s daydreaming about the upcoming flight when someone jumps onto his back.

The assailant yells, ” Hi, Dahjah! Hi, Dahjah!”

         Darryl shrugs the attacker off, and he tumbles onto the carpet. The other passengers scatter. Darryl turns, fist clutched, ready to defend himself.

         A young man and woman pushed through the crowd to help the man to his feet. “Dad! Dad! What are you doing?”

        Confused, Darryl watches as the pair brush off their father’s clothes. A woman hurries over. Her face drained of color, and her eyes filled with tears.

         “Please, sir, forgive my husband. He didn’t mean any harm. He suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Recently, he had a minor stroke that affects his speech.”         

         Darryl looks over at him. The man is grinning and staring at Darryl.

The young man says,” Dad! Don’t go over there. Stay here!”.

         The woman continues. “Apparently, you remind him of someone he knew. Do you, by chance, recognize him?”

         Darryl shakes his head.

“He saw you sitting in the lobby and told me he knew you. He believes the two of you attended middle school in Brooklyn. His name is Max Goldberg. Max Goldberg.”

         “I don’t know him, sorry, Mrs., uh, Goldberg, right?”

         The airport police officers trot down the corridor. They flank Darryl and ask, “What’s going on here?”

         Before he could answer, the sergeant steps closer. “I said, what’s going on here, sir?”

         “Sergeant, “ Mrs. Goldberg intercedes, “my husband bumped into this gentleman. My husband apologized, and everything is fine now.”

         The sergeant glanced at her, then looks at Darryl. “Is that right, sir?”

         “Yes, sergeant.”

         “Do you want to press charges, sir?”

         “No. It was a nothing, forget it.”

         The sergeant nods. “No harm, no foul, huh?”

         Darryl chuckled. “Yes, I guess so. May we board now, officer?”

         The flight attendant leads me to my seat in first class. The Goldbergs seats are in economy class. Mrs. Goldberg pretends not to see Darryl talking to the steward. She plops down onto an aisle seat next to Max. Patting his hand, sMrs. Goldberg sighs. “Oh, Max.”

         “Mother, what’s wrong?”

         Mrs. Goldberg smiles at her daughter. “As I boarded, Abby, I saw the man your father grabbed talking to the steward,  no doubt complaining about your father.”

         Mrs. Goldberg clasps Max on the hand.

         “So, what do you think they might do?” The young man asks, looking around the plane.

         “I don’t know, Ben. If they come to us, we’ll explain your father’s condition.”

         “That sucks!” Ben said.”Why do we have to let everyone know about our business.?  He places his hands on his father’s shoulders. Max smiles.

         Mrs. Goldberg replies, “Don’t worry, children. We’ll be okay. Let’s just relax and enjoy the flight.”

         Abby starts looking through the movie listing. “Come on, Mom, Let’s watch a movie. A real good chick flick.”

         Ben scoffs. “As long as I got my music, I’ll be okay.”

         Mrs. Goldberg smiles at her children. She leans forward to get a better look at Max. “Are you okay, Dear?”

Max nods as he squeezes her hand.

“Okay, Dear. I love you., you know.”

Max leans and kisses her. “I love you too.”

Abby asks, ”Mom. what time is the appointment tomorrow?”

         Mrs. Goldberg searches her purse and pulls out the appointment confirmation letter. “Umm, tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock.”

         “This Doctor Miller is supposed to be a leading authority on Alzheimer’s, right?”

         “Yes. It took three months to get this appointment. I’m glad Doctor Miller agreed to examine your father.”

         Ben removes his earbuds.”Hey, are you guys talking about me?”

         Abby rolls her eyes. “You wish. We were talking about Dad’s appointment with Doctor Miller tomorrow.”

         “Yeah, about that,” Ben looks over the seat, “What time do we have to be there.”

         Abby sighs.”Weren’t you listening? Mom just said 10 in the morning.”

         “Sorry, Brainiac, I had my earbuds on. So, how could I hear you guys talking, duh?”

         “Hello, you two.Your not kids anymore. You’re young adults. Try to behave like adults. We are going to focus on your father-no distractions. Thank you.”

         “Okay, mom,” they say in unison, then sit back.

         A female flight attendant makes the pre-flight announcement. Shortly after, the flight crew drives the plane down the runway. The fasten your seatbelt sign lights up. The pilot turns the plane around and begins to taxi down the runway. As the plane gathers speed, it lifts off.  The Captain’s Message comes on ten minutes into the flight. The Safety Briefing is next. The fasten your seatbelt sign shuts off. Five minutes later, two flight attendants approach the Goldbergs. Mrs. Goldberg holds her breath. The children lean forward in their seats.

         “Excuse me, are you the Goldberg party of four?”

         “Yes. Is there something wrong?”

         “Oh. No. You’ve been upgraded to first class.”

         “What? There must be some kind of mistake. I  didn’t pay for an upgrade.”

         The steward checks the paper in her hand. “No, there’s no mistake. You’ve been upgraded to first class. Unless-“

         “Ma!”  

         Mrs. Goldberg glances over her shoulder.

         “Okay, we’ll accept.”

         The steward escorts the Goldberg to their seats.

         Looking around, Ben remarks, ”Well. this is how the other half lives, huh?”

         “Be quiet, Ben,” Abby jokes, “or we’ll have them put you back in the cheap seats.”

         “Yeah, right,”

         “Enough, you two.”

         The Goldberg sit enjoying the amenities of first-class.

         Ben leans forward. “Mom. you ever been in first-class before?”

         His mother smiles at Max. “Yes, thirty years ago on our honey. We flew first class to Hawaii.”

         Ben leans back and places his hands behind his head. “Well, from now on, I’m only flying first-class.”

         Mrs. Goldberg and Abby look at each other, then laugh.

         Mom, look over there.” Abby nods. “It’s the man dad attacked.”

         “He didn’t attack him, Abby. He just thought he saw a friend and overreacted.”

         Darryl stands and walks towards the lavatory. The Goldbergs watch him until he steps in and closes the door. Relaxing after dinner, the Goldberrgs gets a surprise visitor.

         “Hello.”

         Startled, the Goldberg’s lookup. Ben moves to the edge of his seat.

         Mrs. Goldberg smiles. “Hello, are you enjoying the flight, mister, er”

         “Darryl Jones. And no, not really. Do you mind if I sit down?”

         “I lied to you and your family.”

         ‘Lied? About what?”

         “Ben! Mr. Jones is speaking to me.”

         Ben sits back.

         Darryl leans forward. “How you doing, Maxie, Waxie.”

         Max starts to laugh.

         “Long time since you’ve heard that, huh, buddy?’

         Max reaches out to hug Darryl.

         The Goldbergs look at each other.

         “You know, Max?”

         “Yes. We were class makes in a Brooklyn middle school.”

         “So, he did recognize you?” Mrs. Goldberg turns to Max and kisses him.”I sorry I didn’t believe you, sweetheart.”

         “Why didn’t you say something before?” Abby asks.

         “Because he was embarrassed about dad’s condition, that’s why.”

         “Ben, you mind your manners. Mr. Jones is—”

         “No,” Darryl interrupts, ”I was embarrassed. But not about his condition. I’m sorry about an incident that occurred when we were in middle school forty years ago.”

         Darryl takes a deep breath..” Max and I attended an integrated middle school. Even though there was constant tension between the races, Max and I became close friends. One day, while playing in Lincoln Terrace park, we were approached by a gang of Black teenagers. I knew a few of them. They left me alone, but they started in on Max.”

Through tears, Darryl continued. “They started by calling him  Jew Boy. Then punched him, pushed him down, and kicked him. They took all this money. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t say or do anything to stop them.”

Darryl had to stop for a moment to compose himself. “The police caught the boys a few blocks away. They brought them back to the park to be identified. I lied and told the police they weren’t the boys.

 But the next day,  Max never stopped being my friend. I didn’t realize how significant that decision would be in my life. That one seemingly inconsequential act cost me my friend and my self-esteem. It’s one of the reasons why I became a lawyer To fight for the underdog.”

         Darryl smiled at Max.”I never thought I’d see him again. And when I did, it brought back that old shame. I’ll never forgive myself.”

         Darryl hangs his head.

         Mrs. Goldberg reaches out and touches his hand.

         “So, when dad yelled ‘DahJah,’ he’s saying D.J.?”

         Darryl looks at Ben.”Yes. That was my nickname in middle school. D, J, for Darryl Jones.”

         Mrs. Goldberg Pats Darryl’s hand.

         Darryl looks at the Goldberg’s and asks,” Can I ask a favor of you? Can I sit next to Max for the rest of the flight?”

         Mrs. Goldberg pats his hand. “I think Max’s would like that.”

         “Would you mind?” Darryl asks the children.

         “I think it’ll be great, Mr. Jones,” says Abby.

         “Yeah. But what a story. Do you mind if I write it someday?”

May 29, 2021 03:53

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