by Eric Lochridge
He emerges from exile early in the trip, unshaved, bedhead, cargo shorts, T-shirt, flipflops and a half-cracked smile. Loose behind the wheel, he uncorks a bawdy joke involving the tailpipe of the slow driver ahead. Freed two weeks from the masks—budget overlord, enforcer of curfews, master of developing young lives. Freed from the boss’ expectations—slacks and wingtips and Windsor knots, suffocations and supplications. On board the plane, he tests the power of the ask—extra nuts, the whole can of Coke, an aisle seat for himself, windows for the kids. On the restaurant patio, he sends warm beer back with the lightly chastened server and demands more fries for his sparsely populated platter. Wayfarers propped like a crown on his brow, he sits back benevolent, satisfied, gazes upon his family—one daughter, one son, one wife. What a life. Back at home he asks so little they often forget he is with them. Almost a god, he retreats to his cave. Hibernating in the death mask again, his constant eye roves the world, keeping honest the flight attendants, the bosses, the waiters who will try to skimp any way they can.
Eric Lochridge is the author of Born-Again Death Wish (Finishing Line Press, 2015), Real Boy Blues (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Father’s Curse (FootHills Publishing, 2007), and the editor of After Long Busyness: Interviews with Eight Heartland Poets (Smashwords, 2012). He lives in Bellingham, Washington.