Terri's Cellar Door

Stuff that happens to me, Terri.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fort's First Encounter Pt. One

No, this isn't a porn, cause that's kinda what it sounds like. Anyway, this is kinda long, my bizzle, sp I'm breaking it up into two parts. There you have it. I think it's pretty good, but I haven't, you know, read it again for spelling errors and incorrect uses of comma, but that will all happen later. Or you know, not at all, whatev's. Also, this week of new stories is going to run a little long, since even this story is a two parter, and hopefully I'll finish it by next week. Love to love ya!

Fort's First Encounter

Terri Day

Fortinbras Zalman Elias “Maverick” Savage sat at the desk on a bright Friday afternoon, as parents spoke to his teacher. He twirled a pencil absently on his thumb. He wasn't distracted by what they were saying; he couldn't care less. He was interested in the look that each had on their faces. The young English teacher, Mrs. Swift, was leaning forward, eagerly looking into his parents faces. She had her mousy brown hair tucked behind her ears, they showed off her diamond studs. Her face was almost as creased as the collar on her paisley shirt, and almost as pink. The young man studied her closely. She was dressed like a middle school teacher, and he had seen enough of them in his day. But she was a younger woman, and from what he could tell, under her sweater vest, long sleeve button up, brown slacks and very sensible shoes, she could probably pass for a very attractive woman. He didn't doubt it. He was tall for his age, almost six feet, he had a natural V body shape, with broad shoulders and a slimmer waist. His father made sure to keep him in the best shape, and he had perpetual biceps and defined calf muscles. His hair was dark, kept short, he had perfect teeth (without the help of braces), and eyes that could go from hunter green to almost hazel, depending on his mood. He had been approached my his fair share of older women, none very seriously, since even though he was large for fourteen, he was still fourteen. He looked to his stepmother, who was sitting almost slack-jawed across the desk. He had no doubt that she had long since stopped trying to follow the conversation. He wondered why she was even here. He heard his name and perked up,

“The thing is, Fortinbras is quite intelligent --”

“His name is Maverick.”

Mrs. Swift flinched. That was the second time that his father had corrected her about his proper name. Of course, it was all bull. No one called him Maverick except for his parents. His teachers called him Fortinbras, and everyone else knew him as Fort. Of course, his father wouldn't have taken that, so Fort didn't bother correcting him. His father was a harsh man, former Navy man who had worked on a battle-cruiser. He would often tell his son of watching an F-15 take off from the ship and wishing just for once that he could be piloting one of them. He kept his blonde hair short, and though he wasn't in the service anymore, kept in pretty good shape. It would be almost three years before Fort knew he could beat him at football, and almost four before his father knew that too. His father's face was as red as the teacher's was pink, and he looked as though he was keeping his rage barely bottled up. Mr. Savage intimidated the teacher, and he knew it. Fort didn't feel any particular affection for Mrs. Swift. She was one of those touchy-feely teachers to always thought it was better to connect with students on a personal level rather than just pass out tests and take a smoke break. Fort hated those teachers. On this day he had decided to make a rather perfect spectacle of himself, and after he had goaded her for almost 25 whole minutes, had reduced her to tears. When she had composed herself and asked him to stay after class, he had known he was in trouble, but he didn't seen the reason to get his parents involved. He could usually charm his way out of situations like this, but Mrs. Swift was a little too thin skinned for her own good.

“Maverick...” she began, showing her distaste for the name on her face. “Maverick is a very bright boy. But he just seems to have too much energy for his own good.”

Mr. Savage simply grunted, “There's nothing wrong with a boy having a little energy.”

Fort thought the teacher would have whiplash from the way she agreed quickly with his father.

“Of course, of course, but that's not the point.”

“Then what is the point, and I wish you'd get on with it.”

Mrs. Swift sat back and sighed. She seemed to understand that talking to his father was like talking to a brick wall. She turned to Fort's stepmother.

Surely, you can understand what I have to deal with everyday. Both of you.” She turned quickly back and forth to indicate that she meant both of them.

It's just that sometimes he can be such a handful.” Mrs. Swift threw her hands up, seeing herself get nowhere fast.

Fort could have informed her how pointless the whole thing was. He'd given up arguing with his father years ago. As for his stepmother? He didn't even bother talking to her except the most basic of greetings.

It wasn't long before they were in their beige minivan on the way home. His father having reduced Mrs. Swift to a quivering mess, she seemed happier than Fort even was to have them leave the class room.

I hope that ***** of a teacher doesn't give you a failing grade because of this.”

Fort sighed quietly from the backseat, “No way. I've got an A. She can't do that.”

Well, good.” His father said. He gripped the steering wheel even harder.

Sometimes Fort would look at the wheel after his father had gotten out of the car, he swore he could see the old man's fingerprints dug into the soft leather. He figured that squeezing the wheel was better than his dad squeezing his neck, so this was okay with him.

Cause if you fail this class, it can really **** up your GPA. And everybody knows that the best pilots have the best grades. You're not going to be a ******* pilot with ******* F's all over your transcripts.”

He sighed silently again over his father's liberal use of expletives. But it seemed for the moment he was more angry at Mrs. Swift than at him, which was just fine. He looked out the window, there was a young lady pushing a stroller down the street. The little boy in the seat couldn't have been more than three years old. He looked so happy sitting there. With his mother pushing him along. She was beautiful with long brown hair and a happy little smile. He saw the same smile on the boy's lips.

Maverick, are you listening to me?”

Fort turned and saw the wavy outlines of his father and stepmother.

Yeah, Dad.” He said, wiping his eyes.

What've you got, **** in your ears, boy? I'm asking if you've got everything packed for the camping trip this weekend.”

Yes, sir.”

Fort kept it simple. He hated going camping with his father. Mr. Savage was only a a passable camper, but that wasn't the point. He would force Fort through all kinds of “survival situations”, that would prepare him if he should get “trapped behind enemy lines.” Fort didn't have to really express how very rarely that actually did happen, but that didn't matter his father. So, Fort gritted his teeth, and just got on with it. But this weekend had been a inopportune moment. He was friends with several high schoolers, and they had invited to a football game. He was a popular kid, bright and handsome. He had already been to a prom at a high school in a different town. He didn't play any sports, but everyone knew him, and he always hung out with the popular kids. They had even taken it in stride when he told them of his upcoming trip. He couldn't have cared less about the football game, he only went because that's what they expected of him. And he always did what people expected of him.

They left that night from the house, Mr. Savage kissing his wife and leaving her waving from the front porch. They climbed into his gigantic pick up and headed down the road in silence. They never talked much on this road trips, but Fort figured that was for the best. His father didnt' have much to say that didn't involve the Navy, guns or trucks, and Fort didn't want to talk about any of that. He was pushed up against the window because his father had decided it looked like rain and packed the extra equipment in the cab of the truck. The Lake Herman State Park (or Layman, as it was called by people in the know) was about six hours from their house, and this was with his father driving like a bat out of hell. But as always, about halfway through the trip, they would stop at a restaurant called Bill's. It seemed like home to his father, and would always make a point to stop there and chat up the locals.

Fort's stomach ached as he thought about it. 'I guess now's as good a time as any.' He gripped the letter in his pocket. Fort rolled down the window a little to get some fresh air. He caught the smell of freshly turned earth and thought back to a small, dark basement. He was two years old and chewing on the edge of a play pen. His mother was smiling at him. That's what he remembered most about her. She had a beautiful smile. She sat at a pottery wheel, her mocha hands covered in light brown mud. He was happy to just be near her. He remembered that as well. And she seemed happy to be near him. They lived that way for five perfect years before she died. He didn't remember her death that well but he remembered crying. Thinking back, everything seemed to be covered in the thin haze of tears. But his father as soon toughened him up. His parents had divorced when he was only a baby, and his father had moved far away. He went from only seeing him a few times a year to doing push ups every morning before breakfast. It wasn't that his father didn't seem to care, he did, he just had a different way of doing things.

We're here.”

Fort looked up to the big sign that read “Bill's.” He didn't understand how time had gotten so far away from him, but he was glad that he hadn't spent the entire trip there thinking about what he had to do.

They got their usual table. An open booth that was near the front door and the kitchen. An old country song was playing on the jukebox and there was a rebel flag sticker proudly displayed on it. Most rarely noticed Fort's own dual heritage, and if the people there had noticed, they certainly hadn't said anything. The waitresses greeted them warmly. Some of these woman had been working at Bill's for longer than Fort had even been alive. He couldn't help but smile as he thought back to the many times they had been there when he had come with his father. They were really the only bright spot on these terrible journeys.

Mr. Savage was as charming as a man like him could possibly get, “Good coffee, Shirley.”

Why thank you, Bill, you're always so sweet!”

He had made the same compliment every time they had ever come there, as far as Fort remembered, and the response was always the same. His father sat back sipping his coffee. He would take his time with the coffee, but not too long, because they would want to get to Layman before it got too dark, and before all the prime camping spots were taken. It was either now or never. Fort slid his hand into his pocket and grasped the envelope. Slowly, he pulled it out of his pocket, and pushed it across the table, towards his father. Mr. Savage barely took his eyes off the coffee he seemed to be enjoying so much.

What's that?”

Fort swallowed. “I found it while I was cleaning the garage. It was in your toolbox.”

His father slowly put down his coffee and clearing his throat he reached for the letter. Fort snatched it back before he could touch it.

It's not for you. It's for me. It's from my mother.” He whispered the last word as though he was calling her spirit up from the beyond.

Mr. Savage cleared his throat again and picked back up the coffee.


So?” Fort's voice didn't get any louder, but in his mind he was screaming. “Mom left this for me, and you were just going to keep it in your dirty toolbox out in the garage? She wrote it with her own hands!”

His father set his cup on the table. “I think it's about time that we get on the road.” He made a move to stand up.

You never cared, did you? You never cared about anything but having a son who was a pilot, and she cared about everything! She was everything you weren't!”

Fort's voice was indeed rising at this point. His father was standing now and moving towards the counter, and paying the tab. Fort grabbed the letter and ran after him.

She didn't want that for me, you know that? She wanted more!”

His father was still walking, and he didn't turn to respond. “She was a damn fool. What's more impressive than a son who was fighting for his country?”

If Fort had a couple more pounds, or at least a few more years, he would have flattened his father then and there. He shook with rage as his father got into the truck.

Get in, Maverick.”

Fort took a moment before responding. He reached up to open the door and climbed into the cab. He slammed the door.

She loved me.”

And she'll love you even more when you're a pilot.”

His father was pulling away from the curb when Fort reached for the door handle again. Mr. Savage uttered a long string of curses as his son opened the door, jumped out and took off into the night.


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