Flash Fiction 2nd Place: The Last True Harrison by Jules Diamond
A puddle-jumper. Well I’ll be a son-of-a-gun.
I hear Granddad’s voice in my mind. I look out the plane window as we climb the California coastline, thinking that he would have loved this view, this little turboprop. Granddad Harrison was the only father I’ve known. I don’t want to imagine who I’ll be without him.
I’ve been up since my brother’s 3 AM call. “Bad news,” he’d said, “Granddad’s heart finally gave out. He’s in a better place now. Oh, and the nursing home needs someone to go up and take care of things.”
Shocked awake, I’d started packing a bag for the trip to northern California as he continued, “I thought you’d want to be the one to make all of the arrangements, Max. I figured you’d understand.” What I understood was that my oldest brother never called me unless I could do something for him.
Don’t let anyone get your goat.
I’d hung up before saying something stupid to Tim.
When I was little my Dad died and as the youngest kid, I have no memories of him. But Granddad always said I was just like him. A True Harrison, he said.
Before I moved to Tucson for college, Granddad said, “There are only 3 True Harrisons left in the world, Max. Me, your Uncle Rory and you.” He was referring not to our surname but to the footprints we leave behind our lives. No one will ever pay me a higher compliment. Uncle Rory died in 2016. Now it’s just me.
When we land at a small airport to pick up another passenger, I call my sister, who informs me that she’s booked a vacation and can’t afford to reschedule. I don’t tell her that I had to wake up a buddy to borrow money for my plane ticket, or that I’ve got a new job I’m supposed to start tomorrow morning and I hope the boss will understand.
You can’t argue with a fool. Save your breath.
She’s heard from the remaining family members and they aren’t coming either. She mentions schedules, important events, all the usual bullshit excuses I’ve heard from them too many times over the years.
Right is right even if everyone is against you; wrong is wrong even if everyone is for you.
I talk to the pilot for a couple of minutes before we take off again. Nice guy, learned to fly in the Gulf War. I thank him for his service, for this flight. As we begin our approach to Crescent City a short time later, the left wing makes a sudden sharp dip, then levels and then the right wing dips sharply, evens out. I smile in gratitude to the pilot. That was for you, Granddad.
Do something every day for which no one can ever repay you.
The small plane taxies to a stop. You’re going to be okay, Granddad. I’m here.
You’re going to be okay, son. I’m with you.
The orange wind sock hangs its head.