The plane carrying Alex Morton touched down in Capitol City just after 9pm. He was on the plane only because his sister had sent him the ticket. Actually people didn't send tickets to each other, they purchased them on line. Then they mysteriously ended up at the ticket counter of the airline. After that Alex just showed his driver's license to get a boarding pass. He used that boarding pass to fly almost home.
Alex knew, from all the news stories, to pack light. He had two changes of underwear and a clean shirt in his small gym bag.
For him getting onto and off the airliner had been a simple thing. He even spoke too the stewardess as he left. "Thank you ma'am it was a pleasure," Alex said as he left the plane.
She smiled at him and said, "Thank you for flying US Air." Her voice sounded like a TV commercial.
Alex followed the line of other departing passengers into one of the tentacles of the octopus that the airlines called a terminal. He managed the long walk to the security gate without any problem. He also managed to make it through the crowd of people. The crowd was a bit intimidating. There were more people in that lobby than he had in seen during the last year, maybe longer.
Alex was one of nine vets who lived in a fishing camp located on a secluded lake in the interior of Maine. He was fortunate to have found something he could do which didn't require a great deal of interaction with people.
Alex had used the money from his savings, and his settlement with the government, to purchase one of the run down summer camp cabins. That cabin, like the others, had once been part of a church summer camp. After he bought his cabin someone had converted the dining hall into a summer fishing lodge. It was used only in the summer and then only by a few hardy souls.
His cabin was beautiful in the summer, but it was brutal in the winter months. He used an old coal stove to heat the place. The price of coal had come down some since the power plant's demand had decreased. Soon the coal mines would decrease production and he would be looking for a new fuel. At that time he would most likely put in a wood stove. Heat was a major concern when the temperature hit the negative numbers routinely in the winter.
Alex was brought back to the situation at hand, when he saw a young blond woman holding a sign which read, 'Welcome home Alex'.
When his sister recognized him, she rush to hug him. In doing so she came very close to knocking him off his foot.
Alex like a lot of his generation had lost a limb to an IED in Iraq. Since he had the last seven years to work out his moves, he managed to stay on his feet while hugging Lucy.
"God you are so fucking thin," she said.
"And here I thought I was just fit," he said laughing. "You still talk like a rebel I see."
"I'll try to keep it clean around you," Lucy promised.
"Probably a good idea, I shock easy," Alex said with a smile.
"So do you have a car here?" Alex asked.
"Give me your baggage check and we will go find it," she suggested.
"This is it," he said lifting the gym bag.
"Good, then lets go home," Lucy said.
"Home yeah," Alex said thoughtfully. They were in the car when Alex demanded, "So what about mom?"
"The end was better than anyone expected. We wouldn't let them do an autopsy. We knew for sure that she didn't want to suffer, and we didn't want that for her. She had a brain cancer, so the end was inevitable," Lucy explained.
"Why didn't I know," Alex said.
"Mom said you had enough on your mind and you couldn't help her die, so we should leave you alone." Lucy said defiantly.
"That's bullshit," Alex said.
"Bullshit yourself," Lucy said. "You didn't even come home after you left that hospital. Far as we knew you were living in an alley somewhere shooting up heroin."
"I might have been except I fell in with some people who pointed me in the right direction. I have been busy as hell being me. Just so you know, Mom knew where I was."
"I know she told me where to find the family papers. I was surprised when I found the name and address of that lodge."
"Let's pretend we are a normal family for this one weekend," Alex said.
"The memorial service is on Sunday, so that shouldn't be too hard," Lucy said. "Believe it or not, I do get it. Mom said you were off learning to be you again," Lucy suggested.
"Yeah, that's what I told her when I left the hospital," Alex said.
"Then you did talk to her?" Lucy asked.
"Of course I had to she was at the hospital. She wanted to do something for me. She never understood that it was never about money, it was about who I had become."
"Alex, did you know she owned Spruce Lodge," Lucy asked. "The lawyer hasn't read the will, but I'm sure she left it to you."
"I don't want it," Alex said.
"Maybe she donated it to the state or something," Lucy replied. "Maybe you could stay home this time."
"I don't intend to be here any longer than it takes to settle mom's affairs. You and Luther can do whatever you want and I'll go home."
"Luther and I have talked about it, but to be honest we don't know much about mom's holdings. I'm a dance instructor at the school of the arts, and Luther is a banker. We were hoping you would stay long enough for us to at least figure out what we had."
"Lucy, I have no idea what Mom where mom invested the money. After Dad died she took over his businesses, but she sold off a lot of them. I don't have a clue what she did with the money. Remember between the Army, the hospital, and searching for myself, I have been out of touch a long time.
"Just stay with us long enough to see what is what. We are going to need you for that," Lucy almost begged.
"Now that is real bullshit," Alex said.
"Okay, I need you around to keep Luther from bullying me," Lucy said.
"Lucille, I'm sure Mom took care of that. She knew Luther as well as anyone. Mom didn't believe in rose colored glasses." Alex said.
They drove for twenty more minutes just to get out of the Capitol City traffic patterns. After that they drove another ten minutes to get out of the suburbs. Finally they came to the country road that let to their mother's colonial revival style house. It had been purchased by their parents new in the fifties. The family had lived there ever since.
With Alex's mother passing, it would almost certainly change hands. It would just be more crap to dispose of, Alex imagined. Damn it, he thought, I have spent five years living in the Northwoods trying to get away from this shit. He hoped he could resist the temptations of the Mcdonald's lifestyle. It wasn't just about fast food, it was about fast and easy everything. That shit just didn't appeal to him anymore.
Alex lived by working as a fishing guide for the lodge in the summer and trapping fur in the winter. He felt that it was a life he could enjoy for a lot more years. He had learned to adapt even with his modern version of a pirate's peg leg.
When the two of them reached the portico of the house, he had to carry his own bag into the house. The servants all had be 'let go' with the passing of his mother. A classy way of saying Luther had fired them all. Alex had no idea how many there were. After Alex left the car Lucy drove it from the portico to the small parking lot at the rear of the house. Why she insisted he enter through the front he didn't know.
When he stepped through the door he quickly understood. There were a dozen of his high school friends awaiting him.
"Luther, what the hell is this?" Alex asked.
"These are your friends. They wanted to welcome you home," Luther replied.
"I'm not glad to see any of these people. I don't socialize these days," Alex informed him.
"Well you will have to tonight," he said. Lucy was right he was a bully.
Alex smiled then left the room without speaking to any of them. He climbed the stairs and found his way to his childhood bedroom. When he opened the door, it was like stepping back into time, or maybe opening a time capsule.
It was a teenage boy's room. His mom hadn't made any changes to it at all. To her he was still a high school kid, he supposed. He walked about for several minutes inspecting the remnants of his lost youth.
After that inspection he walked across the hall to the bathroom. He did his thing then inspected himself in the mirror. His hair was not long but it was ragged. His beard was short, but not stylishly so. In general he was a mess. Back in his room he was surprised by the small TV. It had been changed since his youth. He wondered why his mother would have done that.
He didn't even bother to turn it on. Instead he checked for the hollowed out book containing his stash of pot. Sure enough it was still there. He went back to the bathroom to flush the over ten year old pot down the toilet.
Then he went back to his room where he begin to read. He chose 'The Last Of The Mohicans' from his book shelf. As he read he ignored Luther's pounding on the door and shouting through it.
Finally he said, "Luther, if I come out there, I'm going to kick your banker's ass down those stairs. Then I'm going to throw everyone out of the house." That ended Luther's shouting and banging.
Alex read himself to sleep. When he awoke it was 5am and he was ravenous. He went down to the kitchen and found it kitchen empty for the most part. He wondered if anyone was really staying at the house over the weekend. He did find some instant oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon. He had to relearn how to operate the fancy microwave. He was sure that he had never seen one so complicated.
.... There is more of this story ...