As we queued in security, Jacob pressed through do not enter emergency-only glass doors at the new checkpoint, sending Kent County International Airport Terminal B into lockdown. An alarm buzzed and would not stop buzzing. Men in black uniforms ran toward us from every direction.
"Didn't you see the signs?" a guard demanded. Dave bristled.
David Junior assumed his favorite tae kwon do stances, the fancy forms, high block, low block, banking off the row of seating, and posing, striking air.
Jacob clung to the other side of the glass, stranded. He shrugged his shoulders nervously. He looked scared and sorry. He placed his hands on top of his head and shook his legs out, one after the other.
We were moved to a much later flight.
It was pitch-dark when we landed on the shimmering runway in Orlando.
"Am I turning here, sweetheart?" Dave said. He squeezed my thigh in a way that I hated. "We're coming up to a red light," he said. "Where am I going?"
"Go left," I said, hoping for the best. Curry Ford Avenue? I knew something from my childhood happened on this street. Curry Ford. I didn't know where it was exactly in relationship to where I needed to be. I rolled down my window. The October air was sweet. The last time I'd visited, it was summer, and Fred and his brother Donny had been on what they always called a fishing trip, their name for a bender; there was never any traveling or any catch.
"You seem a little tense," Dave said, stroking my arm.
"I'm not," I snapped. "Turn here."
Junior told me not to worry. "We're used to killing zombies all over the world, Heather." He leaned forward and patted me on the shoulder.
Finally, we pulled into Fred's driveway.
"Okay, now, boys," Dave said. He counseled them on how they couldn't run around or talk too loud or rifle through things, and not to ask to swim; wait until Fred offered. He spoke softly and they sat calmly in the back seat and listened. Junior nodded.
I needed to be in there giving Fred a similar consultation. Don't hit me or the boys. Don't pinch people. Don't yell. Don't tell nasty jokes or pee off the back porch.
Then they were out of the car and running around in the yard, which had gone to sand and seed. The house looked terrible, gutter hanging off the front, shutters broken and peeling, loose bricks lying at all angles on the front walk, abandoned. Someone had intended to make repairs, but they hadn't gotten very far.
We stood on the stoop, Dave with his arm around me, his politeness like a silver cape around him, around all of us. The boys stood behind us, painfully well behaved. It was like we were time travelers—I felt we'd come from somewhere so far away. I rang the doorbell, half expecting electrocution: the doorbell had lost its cover, and wires stuck out of the socket. At the same time, I half expected applause from within. I felt like a magician: Et voilà! A little family! At thirty-eight, I felt late for my own life.
We waited out the long sequence of chimes, dum, dum, dum, da dum, dum dum dum dum dum da dum. From inside, Wheel of Fortune went to commercial. A ball game blared from a scratchy radio.