The golden wings of dawn unfolded over the northeastern countryside as Byron Forbes stepped out into his driveway. His taxi had arrived, it’s presence heralded by driver laying on the vehicle’s horns. Byron groaned, concluding he was likely stuck with a typical urbanized cab driver from central casting. He knew the type, middle aged, white, uneducated and bursting with boorish opinions on life he would be dying to express to unwary passengers. More than likely the drivers notions would be formed in bars, bowling alleys and from John Wayne film dialog. Byron braced himself against the worst as he approached and stepped into the taxi.
There he found his worst fears seemingly realized. The driver was a fat, balding man in his forties wearing flannel shirt and smelling of cigarettes. The man grinned, displaying several blackened teeth set against and equal number of smoke yellowed ones. For a horrible moment, Byron imagined the man was sporting a mouth full of old dice.
“Where to Mac.” *The driver said further confirming Byron’s suspicions of what he was dealing with.
‘Mac’, Byron groaned. This was going to be worse than he thought. Mimicking the drivers low, gruff voice, Byron replied in what he considered manner and tone this evolved gorilla of a man could understand.
“Da Airport, pal. An’ step on it. ”
The driver tooled the car out into traffic and glanced into the rear view mirror at Byron. Byron sighed knowing he was likely being recognized. He had hoped the man knowledge of celebrity began with Charles Bronson and ended with Jackie Chan. His hopes were quickly dashed.
“Hey I knows ya.” The driver said quickly. “Yer dat writer guy, Forbes. ”
Byron grinned uncomfortably knowing more was forthcoming.
“I read yer stuff.” The man continued. “So does my wife. Yer great man. Ya really set things straight. The world really is screwed up. More people outta read yer stuff.”
Pleasantly surprised Byron nodded approvingly. Obviously, there was something of brain beneath the driver’s oafish exterior.
“Always a pleasure to meet an enlighten man.” Byron replied.
“Yeah. I gotta copy of your one books, right here. I hates to ask but ya think ya could sign it for my wife. It would make her day. She’s a real fan.”
Byron brightened even more. He was impressed. If his writings could reach a simian like this, maybe their was hope for humankind after all.
“Certainly my good man.” Byron said and pulled forth a pen. The man handed him a copy of one of his essay collections and gave Byron the name of his wife. Byron scribbed in the following words: “To Tammy. A truly informed woman. Your mentor, Byron Forbes.”
He handed the book to the man and the remainder of the trip continued in a cordial manner. 20 minutes later they arrived at the Buffalo international airport and Byron stepped out. The fare for the ride was $30 dollars. Normally, Byron would pay that and perhaps a dollar more for a tip. But he was so impressed with the driver, he gave him $60 dollars. The man grinned and thanked Byron as he drove off.
Above the sun had gone behind heavy clouds and snow began to fly. Byron had to chuckle. The snow was starting early. If it came on fast and furious, then stalled over the area, Madison would be snowed in for days.
Entering the main terminal,however, his mood soured quickly. He had barely gotten inside when activists and religious zealots began handing out literature to him. It was at times like this Byron wished he could employ the martial arts without being arrested. He tried to brush past a few of them but a couple were quite insistant, following him. Byron stopped and eyed them coldly.
“You do realize that what you are doing is against the law. You are not suppose to be harassing people in airport terminals.”
One man nodded. “This is not harassment sir. I’m only asking you to consider giving generously to…..”
“Too what?” Byron interjected sternly. “Some insipid cause that fills people’s heads with moronic notions and brainwashes them into giving away their hard earned money without knowing where the money is truly being spent? Charity begins at home, sir. And that is where my money is best kept. Now stand aside before I call airport security.”
Nearby some arriving passengers overheard and applauded. Byron bowed and gestured for the bothersome activists to leave.
Byron stepped away and spied Madison up ahead. He straightened his suit and approached her. She offered her greeting first and he replied. “It’s wonderful seeing you as well.” He paused and looking her over, pleased by what he saw. “My word, you’ve become even more lovely than I thought possible.”
He was not lying. The years had been more than kind to her. Glancing out the airport window he saw the snow getting slightly heavier and an impish grin crossed his face. He looked her over again and his grin widened. “Yes.” He said under his breath. “Snowed in for days.”