"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain. We've encountered a storm system, so the turbulence might be a little rough until we can get out of it or get clearance to fly over or under it. Please keep your seat-belts fastened until then."
"Mr. Loy? Are you okay?"
"Hnhh?" Jake answered through his nose. He wasn't -- not okay, not OK, not okie dokie, or anything like that. His fists were balled together and his head was bowed in an abject trinity of prayer and terror and acceptance of fate. The doomed man trifecta. The plane lurched again, and Jake let out a barely audible squeal. A dog might have heard it, but not a human.
"Mr. Loy, I have to pee."
"So go pee, then," Jake said through gritted teeth.
"But the sign is on."
"So piss your pants, then! Which do you want more, to obey a sign or your bodily functions?"
"Mr. Loy, I'm scared. Can you take me to the laboratory?"
"It's the lavatory, but...Jesus, hell, just call it a bathroom, or a toilet. Better yet, call it the piss and shit closet."
The plane rocked back and forth, its frame shaking mightily through the storm as passengers white-knuckled their armrests and the flight attendants tried their best to appear aloof to the possible danger. The cabin lights were out. Then on, then out again.
"Mr. Loy?" Cody said through the commotion, "I don't have to visit the laboratory anymore." He began to cry. The kid had pissed his pants.
"Aw, hell. Aw, kid..." Jake said. "Hey, no -- no shame in that. Here...look, hey, let's get you cleaned up."
The plane rumbled and lurched again. Jake Loy ignored it. He took Cody to the back of the plane.
"Sir, please stay in your seat," an attendant said.
"No can do," Jake said. "I'm going to the laboratory to help my young friend recover some dignity. Some water spilled on his lap during the turbulence and I'm going to help him wash it off. Please knock on the door if you have some pajamas he could put on. "
"Thank you, Mr. Loy. I bet your mother was really great," Cody said. They had been moved to business class seats. "Did you get that from her?"
"I think I did, Cody. And she was. She was a great person. An amazing woman."
"Is she dead?"
"Sad to say, she is. But she's still here with me. Always will be."
"So you are an orphan."
"I guess so. I guess you're right."
"That sounds about right. Goodnight Mr. Loy."
Jake Loy relinquished his wardenship of little Cody -- hell, he never did get the kid's last name -- at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Wichita Airport. The kid's grandmother was waiting there outside of a purple Lincoln Continental with a bouquet of cotton candy the size of a basketball. Jake waved goodbye, but he was pretty sure the kid didn't see it. That's how kids are at that age, he supposed.
Still, as the car drove away, Jake was sure he could see the kid's face in the back seat turn and look at him with a toothy grin. Only it looked like there were too many teeth in his small mouth. And they looked sharpened. They glistened.
But that was probably all in his mind.