Love Is In The Air

Chapter One

I had been on time for my morning flight out of Bradley Airport in Connecticut. That didn't ensure that the plane would take off exactly on time though. By the time everyone was cleared through security and they had an additional half hour to de-ice the plane, we were actually only a half hour behind schedule, but I had a connecting flight to catch in Miami and it was a flight that required you to leave the terminal and walk a roped off path along a section of tarmac to a much smaller plane, a plane that only held a few dozen passengers, as the airport in Key West was much smaller and had swamps on a few sides of it, making runway expansion a difficult job.

I had been dreading any delay in our takeoff, actually dreading anything that would keep me here in the frozen Northeast during Winter. I had come up to visit my relatives and attend a wedding, the wedding of one of my nephews and his longtime girlfriend. It was a long weekend visit, starting as soon as I left my home in Key West during the middle of a balmy 74-degree day and landing in Connecticut some ten hours later after a 2-hour layover in Miami on the way up. The clerk at the car rental place in Connecticut cheerfully told me the temperature was a brisk 20 degrees and to have a nice visit.

As I drove north on route 91 to the rural area of my hometown of South Hadley, Massachusetts I pondered the upcoming visit and seeing the dozens of my relatives at the wedding. I kept in weekly touch with my older sister and her husband, but only a few of the other six siblings and their families bothered unless it was Christmas, or a birthday was being celebrated and I called them. You see, I was the black sheep of the family. Out and proud since high school, a very successful student and successful in every job I had put my mind to, I was the only one of my family to have traveled both near and far and had been able to help various family members out financially when needed, sometimes to my own detriment.

While I was only twenty-seven myself and was the third oldest child of our dearly departed parents, my siblings treated me like the patriarch of the family, even though I was by far the youngest looking and most fit of them. I always thought it was because my salaries from each of the three jobs I'd held since college were high, I mean really high. I was single, I had no huge debt, other than the regular monthly bills like the electric bill or the gas bill, the cable fee and, well, you get the picture. There were no outstanding student loans, in fact, there had never been any student loans, I paid my own way through college doing shifts at the college library and at a local restaurant to pay my tuition and for my expenses, sometimes working fifty or sixty hours a week and still managed to graduate in the top five in my classes and a full year and a half early.

Yes, I had great paying jobs, but little time for me, as almost every day there was another phone call from one of my siblings about a financial problem either they or someone in their family was experiencing. It would put me in a mood and when in a mood I wasn't fit company. On her deathbed, my mother told me that I should get away from everything. See her to the other side to meet my beloved father, but after that she implored me to move as far away as possible, to start my own life from a new place and let my brothers and sisters fend for themselves, it was about time. At the time I was then 26 and my mother went to join my father two days later.

After the funeral and the dissolution of her estate I moved to Florida, Key West specifically. It was the farthest I could get from the rest of my family, not that I was at war with them or anything. I loved them dearly, but I was tired of being the one put in the position of having to bail everyone out of their financial difficulties, everyone but my older sister and her husband and their two children. They too were independent financially and with my mother's estate settled now all my brothers and sisters were too, at least for right now, however long their inheritances lasted. At least they had a chance now to invest or sock some money away for their next "emergency".

I, on the other hand, took my inheritance and ran. I resigned from my position at the prestigious college in my hometown as Assistant Director of Library Services, a position usually held by a wizened library veteran. My doctorate in library services and a Master of Business Education with a BA in finance made me eminently qualified. I had also worked in libraries since I was 9 years old, shelving in our neighborhood library to pay off a small fine and that turned into volunteering at the town Library and that would  last all through junior high, high school and even at the big University library, which actually paid me for working there.

I was decidedly the youngest member of the administrative staff at the college, but I had made my mark there and as my mother said, it was time to move on. Once in Key West, I checked into a guest house on Fleming Street and for the first two weeks I lazed by the pool and worked on my resume. It wasn't all work though, I mean I was staying at a well-known gay guesthouse and I wasn't ugly which is always a plus, I guess, and after the first two days there I had gotten invitations to dinner, shows, drinks, and bed by not only the other guests, but by the owner, a wonderfully entertaining retired lawyer originally from New York. He had made his money by being a corporate mouthpiece and had amassed a small fortune and retired to run a guesthouse peopled by the world's wealthy gay male population.

Monty made no bones about being interested in me from the get-go, but he really didn't do it for me as a sexual partner, but as I said, he was entertaining and loved to appear out in public with me, whether it was grocery shopping or a night at the Tennessee Williams Theater. When I started dating a member of his staff I had to have a "heart to heart" with him and we decided to remain friends, as long as I would continue to attend functions with him and allow his much older friends (Monty was 75 and he had "friends" whose ages ranged up into the low 90's ) see us out together every so often. I was almost 27 at the time.

By some divine providence there became a position open in the county Key West was a part of, actually, all the Keys and a small portion of the lower tip of the Florida mainland were all part of Monroe County. The manager of the local branch of the county library system had suddenly died of a previously undiagnosed ailment and the job was open for applicants to apply for the position, which I did. A week later, one of the guesthouse employees tracked me down to the pool area and handed me the cordless phone, telling me I had a call. It was the Human Resources office at the county building about six blocks from the guest house.

I was invited in for an interview the next afternoon and gladly accepted. Before the interview, I decided to visit the Key West branch. I wandered the public areas of the building, looking to see what exactly was offered to the patrons and even trying out one of the computers open to the public. I made note of the staff that was working that day and even witnessed some of the abuse they took from "patrons" who were obviously visiting the city and not actually residents, or they were that new breed of homeless that felt entitled to what everyone else had, whether they worked to receive that benefit or not. I have to say that the staff handled the situations much calmer than I would have. I would be proud to have them working with me.

I left for my interview with about three-quarters of an hour to leisurely walk to the big county office building about five or six blocks away. I had only been past it by car at night on the way to a favorite restaurant down the same street, so it was a treat to be able to window shop all along the way. I found quirky local shops and hidden local restaurants and cafes. I was about ten minutes early for the interview and I was handed a seven-page application to fill out as I waited. Most of the information they wanted was covered by my resume, so I filled out the first page and went to the receptionist's desk and stapled my resume to the application.

The interviewer was very pleasant and never even glanced at the application, only the slim two-page one I had filled out online and had emailed in along with a copy of my resume just over a week ago. There were several notes penned on the copies and she smiled up at me and asked when I would be ready to start, the library board had met the night before and had voted me, sight unseen, as the applicant front-runner and she said that if I were willing to accept the position the board had voted to start me at the max financial compensation package. I wasn't sure I wanted to shorten my self-imposed vacation, plus this had all happened in a very short period of time, just less than three weeks. I told her that I could start in two weeks, full time, but there were some things that had to happen before that, like finding a place to live and buying a car, as I only had a rental right now. She understood and told me they could work with that, in fact, there were several postings for housing options posted on the bulletin board just outside the office, everything from homes for sale or rent, or apartments or condos, she thought there were also several vehicles for sale posted there as well. We both signed the contract that was being offered, slightly less than what I had been earning at my last position, but this was a chance to live in paradise, which for me meant no snow and no relatives who wanted to meet me at my local ATM.

Within a week I had rented a small cottage that actually abutted the large fenced garden of the library, affording me the opportunity to walk to work. The cottage had been owned by a friend of Monty's and his heirs were renting it out for a year to give them time to determine if they wanted to sell it or not. It was a three-bedroom cottage with two bathrooms, a nice sized kitchen and living room. The small yard was dominated by a swimming pool but also had a covered sitting area and lush tropical plantings. It was a little "garden of Eden" and it had great appeal to me, coming from the North. I signed a one-year lease with the covenant in there that if the property was to be sold I would have first right of refusal and one half of the rent I paid would be credited toward the final purchase price, should I be the purchaser.

Monty insisted he throw me a housewarming party and since the guesthouse was only a block away he also had his staff carry my luggage down to the cottage, and do a thorough cleaning of it as a housewarming present for me. The party was fun as it turned out. I actually got to talk to several of the elder guys who had been instrumental in making Key West a gay mecca and their take on the evolution was sometimes hysterical and sometimes quite poignant. Not one of them came empty handed and I found myself the recipient of many wonderful gifts. There was a Waterford decanter and glasses from one and season seats to the productions at the Red Barn Theater. One older couple had a teak outdoor table and chairs delivered to the cottage, complete with an umbrella to shield the table from the direct sun. Those were only a few of my housewarming gifts and each was a treasure, but Monty had to steal the show and dragged everyone out to the carport on the lane to show off the 2001 BMW Z3 convertible, silver, he then presented to me as a housewarming gift. It wasn't an enormously expensive car, but still, it was something I wouldn't have bought for myself.

I knew why he did it, he wanted to be chauffeured around once in a while, which I was not opposed to at all, but my traipsing around days would be numbered now, because in less than a week now I would be spending at least five days a week working at the library, and those working hours would extend into my private time at my home where I would be reviewing the files of the employees and the files of the work orders completed and those awaiting funding to be able to proceed. Then there would be the financial projections to be made for the upcoming fiscal year, the schedule for the upcoming month to be studied and adjusted, purchase orders from staff to be reviewed and approved or adjusted, and half a million other things to be seen to before I could call my evenings and weekends my own.

I did settle into the workings of the library very soon. Of course, with the exception of two or three of the employees, the other twenty-two employees were all older than me. But I had been hired to breathe new life into the library and was surprised when almost all of my little innovations were greeted with total agreement and the others that raised eyebrows were eventually the most successful changes I made to the operation. The big change was moving all the public use computers into one area off the reference area, a traditionally quiet area and far from the children's rooms which could at times become a little noisy. By removing the computers from the high-top tables and putting them at regular height tables they were much easier to monitor for objectionable viewing content, which happened more often than one would expect in a public library. The low banquet style tables also made all those computers accessible to everyone, the old and handicapped included. There were other changes, like devoting the closest shelving to the checkout desk for new books, movies and Cd's, making it easier to locate new additions to the collection.

Eventually, the newness settled down to a routine and I occasionally found myself with an evening by myself with nothing to do. Being around a bunch of people new to me over the months since I had moved to town my fertile brain had conjured up histories for each, obviously making them much more interesting than they probably were. My little romance with the Czech housekeeper from Monty's guesthouse was over, his time in the US was up and he bid me a tearful goodbye when he had to return home, but we had known this would occur.

I joined a gym and also bought a bike. I would get out early and ride a circuit around the island before most people were even awake in the morning and then stop by the gym just as it opened, do an hour workout and then hop on my bike and return home to shower and have a light breakfast before unlocking the library's garden gate on my lane and going to work for the day. After a few weeks of this, I had a performance at the theater to attend with Monty and we both had dressed in slacks and loose long-sleeved shirts because the seats we usually sat in were chilled by the air conditioner in the house portion and we disliked having to put on a sweater during a performance. We thoroughly enjoyed the first act and when intermission was rung we joined several others at the small bar just outside of the front entry doors and enjoyed the light banter of friends before the curtain went up on the next act.

We were re-seated and enjoying the rest of the show when Monty clutched my arm, but his clutch immediately relaxed and as I looked at him I, unfortunately, saw the life drain out of him. The play was at its end and I caught the eye of an usher and waved her over, and before she had reached us she was on her walkie-talkie calling for the house doctor who was just a few rows behind us and reached us, even as the call went out for him on the PA. Monty was gone, there was nothing anyone could have done for him and it was like losing my father all over again. Someone drove me home, someone else driving my car behind us and they offered to stay and help me, but I needed the time to be alone and take it all in, that my first friend in my new town was gone and I would never get to hear his amusing stories ever again.

His funeral was just two days later and during the gathering after, at the guesthouse, Monty's lawyer asked me to meet with him and about eight others in Monty's office. The eight others were all friends or long-time employees and Monty had made generous bequests to them in his will, but the shocker was he had not only left me all his stocks and bonds, but a bank account with close to three million in cash, and a generous one quarter interest in the guesthouse, his accountant, his guest house manager, and the lawyer having received the other quarter interests.

For reasons you have already probably guessed, no news of this inheritance was shared with my family. I was sort of shocked by my new wealth, and for quite a while it just didn't sink in; I went about my job and enjoyed my little home. I spent time making it more relaxed feeling, but there were times I felt like talking to Monty and it hurt that he wasn't there to tell me tales and listen to my plans for the library, offering me encouragement or laughing with me as I related encounters with some of our most notorious patrons.

Eventually a month or so later I realized that I really should write some of Monty's stories down so I wouldn't forget them. Some were, of course, humorous and some were poignant and my mind started to weave stories about the people and before I knew it there was a manuscript for a novel I had written in front of me, stored on my laptop. It had taken almost four months, and when the story I had created was done, I started another, and another.

By now it was late fall and I had two book-length stories and several that were only six, eight, or ten chapters in length. It was the time of year for our library's lecture season, held in the fall and winter to attract the snowbirds to the events and there were authors from all genres represented in our lineup and I got to introduce them at each of their talks and host them at the receptions after. The first two were former reporters from Miami who often had locations in their books everyone on the Keys could relate to, but the third was a bright young man who had written for television before he had written a "coming of age" book that had been made into a successful movie. I had met Peter as a guest at Monty's guesthouse. There he had a reputation as being a bed hopper, never settling down with one guy, and always playing the field, but a nice enough guy nevertheless.

When he stopped by the library a few days before his lecture he was brought to my office and there we became re-acquainted. He commiserated with me about Monty's untimely death and asked what I had been doing with myself since and I realized he didn't mean for work, I mean he was sitting in my office, what he wanted to know was if I was up for some partying. I wasn't, but we did have dinner that night before he went out to the clubs and I told him about the stories I had created from the seeds of Monty's reminiscences. He asked if he could read one or two of them before he left and I told him I'd print off two of the stories for him and he could take them with him to read after his lecture.

We left it at that and the evening of Peter's talk I handed him the two stories I had printed off as he left to return to the guest house. The next morning, he showed up at my office just after the building opened. He asked if they were all that good as he laid the printed stories on my desk, and I told him I thought so, but he was the only person I had shown one to. He looked like he hadn't slept much overnight and he looked to be in the same, clothes he had worn to the lecture he had given here last night. He told me they were great, he couldn't put them down; he had to read both of them, one right after the other.  He asked me who was going to publish them, and I laughed and told him that I wrote them to get over the loss of my friend Monty and I had no plans to publish them, why, did he think they were really good enough to publish?

He said that not only were they good enough to publish, he thought his agent would cream in his jeans to get to represent me in not only getting them published but to negotiate the film rights too. I sat down hard in my desk chair and asked if he was kidding me and he assured me that he wasn't, in fact, he had already called his agent and he was flying down today to meet me and read some of what I had written. I was stunned, I mean the stories were my way of staving off my loneliness and the realization that I truly had given up a position I was good at up North to move to a party town when I was not a party kind of guy. My missing Monty came to me as a revelation that although he hadn't been a bedmate, he had been my closest friend since I had moved here, and I was missing him more than I had realized.

I gave Peter back the two copies of the stories I had run off for him and told him to let his agent start with those. He told me he'd be in touch at some point tomorrow and left to await his agent's arrival at the guesthouse and I returned to the business of running the library. The next morning, about 11 I got a call from Peter saying that his agent wanted to take us for lunch, would I be available? I told him I was available and could meet them at the cafe across from the guesthouse at noon if that was acceptable. It was, so we met, and I was impressed when the agent, Mark, told me he had read both stories already and was prepared to act as my agent, as soon as we sat down at our table. Over lunch he explained the intricacies of the contract he had pulled out of his soft-sided brief bag and once I felt comfortable enough with his explanations I signed them, setting in motion a whirlwind of activity, at least on his part, I just sat around my house and at work amazed at what he had started in motion.

Within two weeks a top publisher was sending Mark contracts for me to sign which quickly got faxed back to them signed and an editor was assigned to me who would make sure that the commas were the correct shape and that what I had written actually made sense. The first book, the longest story I had written, seemed to take them no time to get to press and then a box of twelve was delivered to my home, advance hardbound copies, and two weeks later the book was out in bookstores and websites, offered for a ridiculous amount of money. I finally told my staff about my good fortune at getting published, which didn't really pay a great amount of money, and that the gay-themed romance book I was donating was actually written by me, and had been written and published under my pen name, Michael Monroe, there were some snickers when the staff realized I had chosen my adopted county for my pen last name and my real last name was the same as the county I had come from, Hampshire in Western Massachusetts. Yes, my father's ancestors had founded the county I had been born in. I had always been called Mike and only Michael appeared on official documents and my diplomas.

Just before Christmas, an email arrived from Mark telling me to go online and check the Times Best Seller List and sure enough, there at number five was my book. When I went out to the circulation desk to share my good news the staff had already set up a special display with the six copies the library now had on hand, the other five must have been checked out already. It was a pretty heady moment for me when the staff broke out in applause when I appeared.

Just after Christmas, Mark called me at home one night and told me he had been in negotiations with a movie studio and a television network for the rights to the book. I was completely stunned and told him that whichever one made the best offer, then that was the one we should accept, there was no guarantee that anything subsequently published would generate this much activity. He agreed but told me that he had just gotten a deal from the same publisher to publish the next book, comprised of two of the stories that had interlaced characters. The deal reflected the popularity of the first book and it would come out in print for the summer reading season.

It was just after New Year's when Mark called and asked what my schedule was like for the next two months. I explained that it was like it always was, work Monday through Friday, weekends off unless there was a function I needed to be at the library for, or I had to cover for a sick co-worker. He sighed and asked me if I was able to take some time off, he was setting up some interviews and wanted me available for the month of February at least, to fly around the country doing interviews and meet and greets to promote the bestseller I had created and to promote the sale of the movie rights to the book to the movie studio. I asked him if he was kidding me and he told me they had worked out a deal finally.

The movie rights were sold for nine hundred and eighty thousand, with 1.2% of the box office take coming to me (with Mark taking his commission out of it all before I got my share), but I would be getting a substantial amount of money out of the deal nevertheless. It was a lot to take in and I knew that I had some decisions to make, I mean it wasn't even a year since I had been hired at the library and I really enjoyed the work I was doing, and the county board of directors seemed pleased with everything I was accomplishing also, but this was my heart and soul Mark and I were discussing. With Monty's legacy I didn't have to work, the money alone was now invested and working for me, actually providing an income greater than my salary when you counted in the income from the stocks and bonds he had also left me and then add on the income as a quarter owner of the guesthouse and I was literally rolling in money and decided, after a conference with some trusted financial advisers, that I would resign from my post at the library and concentrate on my new career as a writer.

I did submit my resignation citing personal reasons but stayed on for the rest of the month of January with the possibility of filling in on some sort of temporary basis starting in March, but I definitely needed the month of February off. The board was very happy with this as they knew that it might take at least six months to be able to attract someone to move down here permanently to accept the position. That day in the first week of January was also the day that I received a phone call from my landlord, offering me a chance to purchase the cottage before they turned it over to a Realtor, they had decided to sell it. I had thought about it for a while now and I knew what the property would sell for, so I made an offer that I thought would start the negotiations, and my offer was accepted. I don't know what motivated the acceptance of my low $500 thousand offer, but I think the fact that I made it an all cash offer was what made my offer easy to accept. I instructed the seller to contact my lawyer with all the paperwork and I would have him handle the closing for me as I had a business trip planned for the whole month of February.

One call to the lawyer I was a partner with in Monty's old guesthouse was all it took, other than going into his office to sign a few documents to make the transfer of the cottage into my name possible. I was all settled before my trip began, the closing on the cottage would occur while I was away, and the inspections I had done on the cottage and the rest of the property all came back with no surprises. There still wasn't a new manager of the library selected, but my assistant was very capable of doing a good job, at least while I was away, she didn't want the responsibility of the manager's position and was happy being the assistant.

Mark kept me informed as far as the itinerary was concerned and he was actually going to meet me in several of the locations, or at least travel with me to some of the cities. I contracted with a local builder to enclose part of the back patio in a sturdy screen enclosure so during the   spring and summer I might want to write out there bug free. The work there and on a wall removal between the kitchen and the living room was to start right after the closing and be done by the time I returned at the beginning of March.

With all the preparations made for my trip, I settled in, in the evenings, still writing stories derived from the tales Monty used to tell me and expanding on them, letting my mind soar onto the keyboard to appear on the screen in front of me. I had splurged on a new laptop with a decent sized keyboard and a large memory. It was newer than my old one and quite a bit faster all around. It quickly became my favorite of the two I owned, and I planned to take it with me on the trip, which began on February 2nd with a flight up to Miami where I was to be met by Mark and we would check into a prearranged hotel suite paid for by the publisher as were all the expenses on this trip. I would be escorted to a TV station for a taping of an interview to be shown a few times on their local station and by their network down here in the South. Mark said this cut down on the number of stops we would have to make in several areas of the country we would be traveling to.

The very first interview never got aired. Mark, as my agent was allowed to go with me to be pre-interviewed by a cute young intern at the station. She was so pleased to be even talking to me as someone from their makeup department took the shine off my face. She had actually read the book and told us that her husband had read it too. She told us that they had received it as a Christmas gift from her brother, who is gay and also a librarian. The questions she asked were really good, like where did my inspiration come from, were the main characters experienced in parenting before the adoption of the two little boys in the story, was it difficult for gay couples to adopt in Florida, was the part in the story where one of the boys was bullied in the first grade based on a true story? She told me privately that she and her husband had talked about fostering with a view to adopting and after reading my book they were now both in fostering classes and looking forward to helping get a kid out of the system.

The actual interview was set up in a closed soundstage with just me and the interviewer on chairs with support staff and Mark sitting on chairs just outside of the lighted area. The sound check for me was done when a middle-aged news presenter came onto the set and barely acknowledging me sat in his chair and did his own sound check. When that was done he turned to me and on a cue from someone out came the smile and he introduced me as the new literary sensation, Mike Monroe. His first question was a two-parter, "When did you decide to be gay, and do you find it difficult finding a willing partner you don't have to pay?" I got out of my chair and walked over to Mark and told him we were out of there.

Before I could even get the little collar mic off a network suit was at my side as the interviewer was being escorted out of the studio, asking his handlers what he had done so wrong. The suit began to try to get me to sit down with the interviewer once they had a chat with him, but I was adamant, I wouldn't sit down with that man again. Mark was pissed too and told the man from the studio that the interview was pre-arranged and questions had already been approved, that the interview was about the book and the impact its popularity was having on the public and on my life. He told the exec that the pre-interview with the young lady, the intern, was better handled and more respectful and that an official complaint would be made with the station and its owner, the publishing house that had put out my book.

The upshot of the whole episode was that the intern got her chance for a sit-down interview with a bestselling author, me, about a half hour after she had a rapid makeover by the makeup artists. She was great, at least I thought so, and apparently, others did also as she became a face of the five o'clock news within a week.

The next stop was Atlanta and I can't say enough about the reception there, it was wonderful. The questions were changed up some and the interviewer had submitted a few of his own beforehand and we went with those also. It really was a very professional looking segment. Then I was on to New York and then Boston. I knew that the Boston stations had affiliate stations in my hometown area so I made it a point to say hello to my family during that interview.

After the Northeast was covered it was on to Chicago and then the West coast. While there for four days, Mark got a call from his office. He was due back to New York in a day or so as I only had two more stops before going home. The call from his office was to say that a popular daytime talk hostess wanted me on her show while I was out there, and she had a segment slot open in two days, but she would sit with me and we could tape it before then if it was convenient. I, of course, was thrilled but nervous about sitting down with her, but Mark assured me that she had read my book and had already submitted a list of questions that the staff in Mark's office had already approved and the faxed set he had just received looked good to him too. So, I agreed to the nationally viewed talk show and since Mark had commitments back East it was just me in the car the show had sent for me.

The entire experience was wonderful. I was treated like a star which embarrassed me, but each person I came in contact with told me how much they had enjoyed my book and asked if it really was being made into a movie. While sitting in the makeup chair to have myself de-glossed, the hostess of the show came and sat with me and we talked about the questions. She told me that she and her wife had both been brought to tears of both the happy kind and the bittersweet kind during their readings.

We only had a little under 15 minutes for our interview to be done in, but at the end of the segment she asked me to please autograph a copy each for her and her wife, which I did, but not without shedding a tear or two (or ten or twenty) myself. It was just so gratifying, being treated like a real author, and not just someone who shelved books for a living.

I had two more stops to make before going home and Louisiana and Colorado both were welcoming and accepting. I was flying to Miami from Denver and would catch my last flight at 2:30 PM, the "puddle jumper" flight in the small plane from Miami to Key West. As I was boarding my first flight of the day in Denver there seemed to be some sort of big discussion at the check-in counter and as I was second in line I could hear everything said in front of me, although my attention was on the packed pair of jeans in front of me. I could just imagine what lay beneath that perfectly filled pair of Levi's, I mean I couldn't detect even the slightest hint of underwear under them and the waist had to be 30" or less. I could have placed my hands around that and probably have touched the opposite fingers of my big hands doing it. The hair on his head was a soft light brown and curled over the collar of his denim jacket and the tight T-shirt under it seemed stretched to the max over his muscled chest.

From what I was able to make out, the ticket he held was for the previous day and they were refusing to honor the ticket, even though he had proof he had called in to extend his stay an extra day to attend the funeral of his friend. I noticed that the 800 number he had written down to make his reservation change was the same one I had used on my cell to move up my departure time so I wouldn't miss my connecting flight in Miami so while he tried to get the ticket agent to honor the change he had made I called the 800 number and explained the situation to a very accommodating customer relations clerk named Brett. Brett assigned the young man a seat next to mine on his computer and didn't even charge me. Shortly the woman behind the check-in desk started apologizing to the young man and told him he had been bumped up to first class, that was why she hadn't seen him listed for today's flight. He gave out a sigh of relief and was soon processed into the plane and I soon followed.

I love to hear from my readers and what they think of my stories Art West