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Darkness Heading

Chapter One

The thresholds between jet and jet bridge tunnel didn't quite line up, and when his wheelchair bumped over the gap the ghetto blaster nearly spilled to the floor. Kid said, "Oops," but pushed onward, the ribbed matting vibrating the chair, and Rick, like a can of paint on a shaker.

Once clear of the tunnel it was glass-smooth concourse linoleum, yet there was Kid, for some reason, pulling over. "Let's check this sucker out."

Rick said, "What? The chair?" His older brother had been known to get crazy in public on occasion. "Here?" he said.

"Hell yes!" Kid knelt to adjust the modification he'd demanded over the phone: a detachable running board that snapped into place between the back tipping levers. "Crank up the stereo, bro," he said. "And get ready to rock! "

Back on the plane, Kid had plopped the ghetto blaster across his little brother's legs-just withered stalks, actually, thanks to a difficult birth and the cerebral palsy that had come with it-so his meager lap was quite full, the stereo as big as a small public address system.

"Rock?" he asked, stalling. "Now?"

"Hey, I got you up here to take charge of the sound, didn't I?"

Shit. Rick groped for, then pushed the play button. Cued the signature harmonica figure of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils' If You Wanna Get to Heaven-wailing from the speakers like some angry beast.

Over the riff, Kid bellowed, "My heart feels like an alligator!" and beat his chest with his fists. "Look out, Anchorage International, here comes some street theater! " Then he started hoofing at the floor like a bull about to charge(snorting no less.

"Wait...a minute!" Rick cried over the music. "Street theater?"

Kid took hold of the handgrips. "Dang right, bro. Learned it as a scum sucking, dope-smoking hippie." He threw his head back and crowed: "It's what I live for, baby!" And they surged forward, even as Rick knew damn well that Kid's recent hippie past had nothing to do with it. His older brother simply loved drawing attention to himself-always had.


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