She is in the mood to talk. I’m not. Besides, I’m somewhat repelled by the way she reeks of alcohol and is slurring her words and is so close in my hair. I try to be polite and plot my getaway. In the next few minutes I find out that she is divorced, and is having hard time with her daughter at the UCSB, that they don’t see each other that often, and even though she lives in LA, she doesn’t drive and she is hoping she and her daughter could be more of friends. I don’t  remember her name, or not sure even if I asked, but I will call her Ellie, I think she should be Ellie. I converse with her in monosyllables and when they announce the departure of the flight, I excuse myself to run to the bathroom and make my escape from the bar.

I purposely take longer before boarding and then leisurely walk to the plane. It’s a small city hopper jet and is sparsely occupied. I don’t see her anywhere on the board. I walk as far into the front as I could and duck my head below the head rest. But wouldn’t you know? She comes striding down the aisle just when the plane is about to take off and plumps herself right next to me. I am not welcoming, but she doesn’t seem to notice. Fortunately, its such a short flight that before we know, we have landed in Santa Barbara.

The few passengers scurry away while my friends Mark and Ann (Stevens) receive me with their usual, welcome back feel good brother. Mark picks up my suitcase and standing there by the baggage claim is Ellie. She looks so alone and abandoned.

‘Is  your daughter coming to get you?’

‘No, she doesn’t have a car.’

‘How are you getting to her apartment?’

‘I was hoping to get a ride from someone, she doesn’t live far, in Isla Vista.’ Which is only a few blocks away from where we all live in Goleta.

Normally the most generous and helpful Mark and Ann are not forthcoming. First because their little blue Datsun pickup can hardly seat two people comfortably. With me in there it would already be a squeeze. Plus seeing Ellie the way she is, I am sure that like me, they too weren’t kin on all of us squeezed in together, even though it would only be a ten minute ride.

Santa Barbara airport is only a little more than a shack. Surprisingly, it has frequent jets landing and taking off  to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco and I believe Las Vegas and Phoenix. For someone like me it’s a heaven, because it serves almost like an airlift to Los Angeles Airport to connect with whichever parts of the world I am asked to go during those two years of me returning back to Playboy as a freelancer while still being continue to live in the yet not overly crowded sunny southern California. But there is no public transportation between the airport and anywhere else and there certainly aren’t any cabs cruising by. The one man operation of the United too has thrown the last piece of the baggage on the small conveyer belt and has already driven away. So however begrudgingly, we squeeze Eliie into the little cabin of the Datsun, her perched atop my lap, and we take her to Isla Vista. We somehow survive her reeking of booze and her slurred pronouncements.  Fortunately, a young woman comes running down the stairs from the second floor of the strip of student apartments.

‘I was beginning to worry!’ We breath a sigh of relief in that however repulsive we found her,  we have now safely delivered her into the hands of her daughter.

●●●

Pages: 1 2 3 4