Henry Gaines sat on an airplane… in coach. His father had some nerve not to pay for a first-class seat. This whole trip wasn’t Henry’s idea, and Henry said he was sorry. Did that not matter?
He had to clean the whole house and pay for his mother’s broken art. His friends broke it! Why should he have to pay for it?
He leaned forward in his tiny seat. It was the best he could do. The plane was full, and the person next to him was fat and smelled like corn chips. Ugh! He placed his hands on the sides of his head, tucking them under his shaggy blond hair. The man beside him farted. It was awful.
Luckily he sat in the aisle seat. He was thankful he wasn’t sitting next to the window. That girl must be dying.
He turned his head across the aisle. A girl about 10 years old was staring at him. He gave her a crooked smile; he didn’t like kids.
“Are you a movie star? You’re handsome,” she said, her little face in awe.
Henry ignored her and turned back to his tray in front of him. I desperately wanted to slam his head into it. He was thinking about it, but as he sat there contemplating the flat, grey, hard plastic, a child behind him started kicking his seat…
He stood up and turned around to glare at the child and mother behind him. She looked at him apologetically.
“Maxwell, stop kicking the gentleman’s seat, please.”
“This is dumb! I can’t do anything!” the child screamed. His mom gave him a look of, ‘I will whoop your ass till you can’t sit down,’ and he immediately quieted and resigned himself to pouting.
Henry sat back down. ‘At least some parents know how to control their kids,’ he thought.
Henry’s flight from California to the UK lasted 4 flights. He was rushed from terminal to terminal to make each flight and every seat he had was coach. He was deeply angry. However, most of his flights were not as annoying as his first, which he was grateful. His last flight was his longest and he remembered very little of it because he was so angrily exhausted he passed out.
The landing woke him up. ‘Can’t they land this thing a bit softer?’ he thought as he unbuckled his seat, disregarding the fasten seat belt sign. He wanted to get out of the plane as fast as possible.
For some reason, his parents forbade him from packing anything. He was not even allowed to bring a magazine on the plane. His father said it was his Grandfather’s orders. So, in that respect, he would be nimble enough to get out and get going.
He didn’t know much about his Grandfather; he hadn’t seen him since… Henry actually couldn’t remember when he last saw him. He just stopped visiting. He probably just didn’t care…
Henry was given one thing: a Nokia phone. It was made to function in the UK and was specifically given to him to contact his Grandfather when he arrived. Once he evacuated the plane and stood at the gate, he pulled out the phone and navigated to the 1 contact in there: Hank.
Henry pressed the dial button, and started walking towards baggage claim and pick up–those were the only instructions his mother gave him before he left.
“This is Hank,” said a rough voice on the other end of the line.
“Grandpa? It’s Henry, your grandson. I’m heading to baggage claim. Are you already here?”
“Aw shit! That’s today? Fuck… I’ll be there soon.”
Henry rolled his eyes. He couldn’t believe his parents would send him to this idiot. What were they thinking? He remembered exactly what they said before this nonsense came up:
“Henry,” said his father the next day after the party, “I’ve had it with your behaviour. You mother and I have discussed it, and we are sending you to your Grandfather’s in London. We’ve already explained to him the situation, and he agreed to take you. You will be there till he deems you ready to come back home.”
“This is so unfair! I had a little party and you guys are blowing it way out of proportion!”
“You destroyed my house!” said his mother. “My father is going to whip you into shape, just like he did me. You’ll learn to respect others and if you don’t, never come back!”
That was the angriest he’d ever seen her, but it was typical mother; It was all about her and her stuff.
Henry made it down the escalator, ready to wait for a while. He sat at a bench. It was another hour and a half before he received a phone call. It was Hank.
“Hello,” said Henry.
“Not so fun waiting on others is it?” said Hank.
“Excuse me?” said Henry.
“Drop the attitude son. This is my world, you just happen to live in it. You’re going to learn that it isn’t about you, you get me?”
“Sure, Grandpa. Where are you?”
“I’m just outside the doors. I’ve been here 15 minutes before you arrived. I’ve just been mulling over how I’m going to handle you while you’re here. Do you know how upset your mother is? I’m upset too. Your father should have raised you, but just as I feared, he fucked up. Now I have to fix it, and I will fix it. I’ve fixed fuck-ups my entire life. You’re going to be a disciplined gentleman by the time I’m finished with you. And you don’t go home until I’m finished, you get me?”
“Yes sir,” said Henry.
“I smell the sarcasm over the phone, but don’t worry, I’m going to fix it. Come outside, I’ve waited long enough.”