The flight from Charlotte to New York City wasn’t too crowded and Ed hoped that there would no one sitting with him. His hopes were dashed when a woman with steel grey hair approached his seat.
She pointed toward the window and said, “We’re going to be sitting together!” She smiled sweetly and he was reminded of his grandma who passed several years ago. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to have her sit next to him. She hoisted a colorful bag over her head and pushed it into the overhead compartment. He stood up to let her sit down.
After settling into her seat, the woman turned toward him.
“My name is Lucinda, but you can call me Lu since we’re going to be on this flight for a while.”
“My name is Ed. I live in New York now, but was visiting my son and his family.”
“Oh that’s wonderful! Family is so important. I’m going to New York to see my daughter. I haven’t seen her in so long.”
“How old is your daughter?”
“She’s about 20 now. Her pappy died a few months ago and we’ve been talking about having her move down south with me. She doesn’t want me to be all alone.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Lu waved her hand dismissively and said, “It was his time. I’m not sad.”
They settled in for the trip and not long after takeoff, the beverage service came around. Ed wanted a beer, but settled for coffee instead. He was just getting ready to take a sip when Lu put her hand on his arm.
“Could you be a dear and check on my bag? I can’t remember if I had it all zippered up and I don’t want anything falling out.”
He nodded and handed her his coffee before getting up to look.
“It’s all buttoned up.”
She handed him his coffee and smiled.
“You’re such a sweet boy. I bet you make your momma proud.”
He grinned at the thought of his mother and took a sip of the coffee. Nice and strong with a touch of bitterness. Just the way he liked it. He was surprised. Airplane coffee was never this good.
“You know, my husband died during breakfast. Just keeled right over onto the floor and then he was gone.”
Ed tried to say something conciliatory, but Lu kept going.
“I made that man eggs, ham and grits.” Lu laid her hand on his harm. “Darlin’, those grits were so creamy and smooth you could almost drink them. I put a special ingredient in there just for my Herman.”
Lu pursed her lips.
“Can’t tell you that. It’s a family secret handed down through the generations.”
She paused to pull a tissue out of her sleeve and dab at her eyes.
“But, he didn’t like em. Spit them right out and said I was trying to poison him. I told him he was being foolish and that he should just eat his food afore it got cold.”
Ed took another sip from his coffee.
“Herman took a bite of my eggs spit them out too. Well, I got so mad that I threw my cast iron skillet at him.”
Ed choked on his coffee.
“You alright darling? You need to drink that slow and easy, you hear?”
“I’m ok. What happened? Did you hit him?”
Lu chuckled and blushed as if he’d asked her what color underwear she had on.
“Darling, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but my aim was good that day. I hit him square in the chest. That’s when he fell over and died.”
“How did you explain that to the police?”
Lu looked startled.
“I told them he choked on a piece of ham. To tell the truth, that is what killed him. I hit him right when he took a bite.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Oh sweetie, it’s alright. The insurance policy I took out on him helped me get this flight to see my daughter. It’s what Herman would have wanted anyway.”
“I hate to tell you this Lu, but I’m a Federal Marshal. I’m going to have to arrest you once we reach the airport.”
She smiled sweetly.
“I know that darling. That’s why I slipped some of my family’s special ingredient in your coffee. Now close your eyes and get some rest. You’re not going to feel so good when you wake up.”
Written for weekly YeahWrite.me contest with prompts of cast iron skillet and the setting of an airplane. Click on the link to read other stories and vote for your favorites!