Saturday, November 14, 2009

Finding Blue Bob

--What do you mean you lost it? Erich's father yelled, pounding a low-hanging duct in their cellar, near the table where the two of them worked on the remote controlled plane.

Erich's voice wavered for he was already crying. The tears started just as he began explaining the story to the old man, after he had gone down to the basement to check on the plane. Erich's dad found the thin felt blanket they used to cover it, but no plane underneath. The old man's voice then thundered up the cold air return into Erich's room on the top floor.

--I, Erich sniffed, I was up at Edgewater flying it on the beach, but I had to pee, so I left it on a picnic table just outside the bathroom and when I came out it was gone.

He was crying a lot now. His throat hurt. He felt pathetic because he was.

--So someone stole it? Erich's dad said.

--Yeah. I don't know. I guess.

--You guess? said Erich's dad.

He picked up a bottle of Tri-Flow lube and slung it against the cinder block wall of the basement. He pounded his fist on the table.

-- All that work, he continued. What a waste. What a fucking waste.

The old man kept lifting up the blanket, as if it were a magic trick and the plane would appear below it if he tried the right number of times.

-- I'm sorry Dad, Erich said.

--Just stop. Shut it. I should have never let you take it up there. You're just not ready yet, plain and simple.

Erich hung his head, because he knew his dad was right.

--I'll make it up to you somehow.

--Too late. It's over. You really messed this one up.

Erich sobbed. They said nothing for a long time. It was getting dark.

-- You want to make this up to me Erich? his dad said. Then get Blue Bob back.

His dad's voice was eerily calm and it startled Erich so he cried even harder. The sobbing became uncontrollable.

--That's all it takes. Get the plane back. And we'll be okay. It'll be okay then. But you have to get it back for me.

Then he walked past Erich and up the stairs and slammed the door. Erich walked over to the garage and opened it. He hopped on his bike and rode north to the lake. About halfway, he realized he forgot to shut the garage door, which always pissed off his dad. One time he did that and someone stole all his dad's tools. But Erich kept moving forward.

Earlier that day, Erich did not want to watch the Ohio State game on TV so he pouted and by the second half his father had allowed him to take the plane up to the lake to fly it. The air was unseasonably welcoming for mid-November, and Erich wished for nothing more than to take his dad's plane, Blue Bob, a scale model Spitfire, and fly it around the beach beside Lake Erie.

There were not that many people at the beach that day so Erich was able to fly the plane for a while, even daring to take it out over the water, which he was never allowed to do with his old man. He loved banking it inland, so he could see the circular logo of the RAF on the wings. But then he had to take a leak, so he skillfully landed the plane, retrieved it, and walked over to the public restroom. He sat the plane and remote on a picnic table and did not really think too much of it, taking note of the sparse beach population at the time. Two minutes later, Erich walked out and Blue Bob was gone. He ran directly home and up into his room, counting the seconds until his old man found out.

Now, the day was waning and here he was, riding his BMX bike up to the lake again - hoping, just hoping, it would turn out okay. The odds of that happening were slim. Erich reached the end of W. 65, where a serpentine path led underneath the Shoreway and down to Edgewater Park. He heard the wheeze of a single propeller model plane. Looking across at the Shoreway, he saw a bright blue RC plane with RAF markings spiral up in the air, bank wildly back and forth, then disappear from sight behind some trees near the beach.

Erich pedaled as fast as he could down the sidewalk to the beach, nearly hitting a professional dog walker head on. The lady yelled over a dozen barking dogs for Erich to wake up. He then cut off a motorcyclist that was exiting the Shoreway. That guy gave Erich the middle finger. Erich again caught sight of the Spitfire near the shoreline. The thing was dangerously close to the deck and if he saw it wreck his life would be over. The old man would never forgive him.

The beach was deserted save for two guys in very baggy pants and black hooded sweatshirts. Both had the hoods up. One of the sweatshirts had a skull and cross bones; the other was all flames. Their backs were to Erich as he approached. The guy on the right had the remote, holding it with one hand and smoking a cigarette with the other.

--Hey! Erich yelled.

They took no notice so Erich continued.

--Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!

The one without the remote turned around. He had a scrappy goatee and two black eyes. One of his eyes was dark red where there should be white.

--The fuck you want nephew? he said, then spit.

--Where'd you get that plane? Erich said.

He was shaking and too quick for this sort of exchange.

--It's my dad's, Erich followed up, not waiting for a response.

The other one turned around. He had a tattoo on his neck that said: Stefff?

--I bought this off some dude up on 65th. He said it was his granddaughter's and she needed to sell it for money for school clothes. I ain't never had no plane before so I bought this one.

--Yo, this your dad's plane? said the guy with the red eye.

--Yeah, Erich said, he really likes it. I said I'd get it back for him. Then everything'd be okay. Can I have it?

The sound of propeller filled the air and Blue Bob buzzed just above the three of them. Erich ducked but the other two did not.

--Shit, the tattooed man said, this thing's dangerous. I better be more careful.

He laughed.

--Man, give me that, said Red Eye.

He reached across at the remote and for a moment the two were drawn in a tug of war. Erich watched breathless as the plane piloted toward a hillside.

--Hands off cousin, said Tattoo.

He pressed his cigarette into Red's hand. This ended the feud. Tattoo corrected the trajectory and swung the plane 180 degrees so it was pointed for the lake.

--This kid wants the plane? Red said.

--I don't know man, Tattoo said. I can't just take a loss on this. I paid good money for it. How much you got kid?

Erich fished out his wallet. The Velcro crunched as he pulled it open. He had thirteen dollars, all in ones.

--That ain't gonna cut it man, Tattoo said. I gotta break even on this deal.

--How much did you pay for it? Erich asked.

Tattoo looked at Red.

--75, Tattoo said.

--You mean 85, Red said.

Erich did not have this money and there was no way he could get this money on his own.

--I don't have that much, he said. But I could ask my dad for it. He, he might pay it if I said it was for the plane.

--Ain't no dad coming down here, Tattoo said. You probably go up the hill and call the police. I ain't dealing with no pigs and no dad. You get me nephew?

--It's getting late, Red said. Let's get outta here.

--How the fuck I land this shit? Tattoo said.

Blue Bob passed over top of them. It sounded ill, sputtering and coughing. Erich knew it to be running out of gas.

--That thing sounds like shit, Red said. You got ripped off cousin.

Blue Bob crossed over the shoreline and continued over the water. It bobbed and dipped, propeller unable to keep a steady rhythm.

--Little man, you really want this thing? Tattoo asked.

--Yes! Yes! Erich said.

He felt himself beginning to cry again.

--Trade me your bike and the money, Tattoo said.

Erich's bike was a birthday gift from his dad and pretty much brand new. But he thought the loss of the bike would be offset by the gain of Blue Bob. He agreed.

--Cousin, Red said, I think you losing on this deal. No way that bike is worth 85. Probably not half that.

--Shit, you right, Tattoo said. Little man, you just have to owe me. Next time I see you. Otherwise, we kick the shit out of you.

--And your fucking old man, Red said, shoving Erich off the bike.

Red climbed on.

--Yeah man, this thing feels cheap as shit, he said.

--Here, Tattoo said. Fuck off.

He tossed the remote control in the sand and climbed on the bike's rear pegs, holding onto Red's shoulders. The two rode off, spraying sand up over Erich.

Erich rolled over and grabbed the remote, hoping Blue Bob had enough fuel to make it back to land. It was way far off. Erich jammed the rudder joystick left, but the plane did not respond. He slammed his wrist on the side and sand poured out through vents in the bottom. He tried again. No response. Erich ran toward the water, trying ineffectively to reroute the plane. It kept going into the distance, sputtering, dropping.

Erich hit the water flailing. He was not a strong swimmer and the waves, septic in nature, flowed over top of him. He drank in a mouthful and it tasted of locker room smells. Colder than November air. He reached and kicked past drift wood and non-organic flotsam, beyond where his feet touched. Blue Bob wobbled inches above sea level, gliding incrementally into oblivion.


Charles said...

I really liked your story.

I liked the incorporation of hey hey hey hey hey hey hey

I liked the interstoryality of Abe's bike and Blue Bob.

I did not recognize any characters as Theo.

I wonder if the story is a little too sad at the end. But, I am a big soft-ie.

Mr. Parsons

MikeS said...

Aw this is a sad story. He doesn't have a bike, money, blue bob is going to get lost in the water, and the kid will probably drown. :(