The Light Behind the World
Chapter 17: Lore
Copyright© 2010 by Sea-Life
We arrived at the Raleigh Durham International Airport at almost midnight. As we entered the terminal from the U.S. Airways flight we'd taken, we saw a tall, thin, elderly gentleman wearing a black suit and chauffeur's cap. He was not holding a sign over his head with McKesson on it in big letters, or anything else, but Dad walked right up to him and hugged him like he knew him. No he was not black. He did not resemble Morgan Freeman, He was a red head for one thing.
When Dad was done with the big-time hug, he turned to face us and announced with obvious pleasure "Folks, this tall drink of water is Sheb Halliday. He has worked for and with my Father for most of his adult life. I believe one member of the Halliday clan or another has been in the family as an employee, partner or co-conspirator for about as long as there has been a McKesson in North Carolina, and that has been a long time indeed."
With that, Dad introduced Sheb to each of us individually, Sheb complained that it had been too long since Mom's beauty had stolen Dad away from the bosom of North Carolina. It was a polite fiction of course, Mom, Dad and I knew that his leaving had happened even before he met Mom. But the polite fiction was also a polite compliment, and Mom thanked him. When Dad introduced me as his son, David Alan McKesson, Sheb said "Dave, it is a pleasure to meet you at long last. We look forward to the celebration to come, and be assured that as you are welcomed back into the embrace of the Clan McKesson, so too are you now a son of Clan Halliday, and should the need ever arise, the arms and backs and hearts and minds of our family are yours, as they have been your father's though it seems he has never had need to ask."
He took my hand and we shook on that. I understood it for what it was. A ritual. One that I was sure had been performed many times in our families shared history.
"Please call me Davey, for now at least. I suspect it will become Dave some day soon, but for now, I wish to believe that life allows me to be Davey for a while yet," I covered his hand with my other where we still clasped in our handshake. "I do not yet know myself or my family or our history together well enough to return your pledge with the understanding of it that it deserves, and I should have that understanding before you accept it from me, but I want you to know that I understand that this is not a small thing, and when the time comes that I do understand, you will have it with all my heart."
The dignified old man cackled then like I'd never heard, and slapping Dad on the back he just roared hollered "Well, ain't he a seed right off the tree!"
Needless to say, Ginny's introduction was a bit more subdued, but Sheb managed to compliment her beauty politely in the same gentle manner he had my Mom.
The lateness of the hour dictated that we would be spending the night here in Raleigh, and Sheb had us booked into a hotel near the airport. We went to get our luggage, and as we walked through the terminal headed to baggage claims, he asked if there was anything in the baggage that was needed urgently, otherwise he would just leave a couple of 'our crew' to pick it up and take it to the hotel. We had a crew? I thought to myself.
"Just one thing." I said, and so it was that a much relieved fur slinky named Dare was soon nestled happily around my neck as our shuttle headed for the hotel.
My normal bedtime having long passed, It did not take me long to fall asleep once we were safely in our rooms. We each had a luxury suite, and the bed was sooo soft. Dare thought the pillow I had put her on was prime sleeping territory. The only concessions to necessity I made were a quick bathroom trip to both empty my bladder, and to make sure the toilet seat was down for Dare.
Yes, my ferret is potty trained and flushes after. Doesn't yours? If I was a little more awake, or a little more aware of the properties of a bidet, I might have saved myself a little time and grief in the morning, but it didn't penetrate my sleep-seeking brain. Dare did find the bidet, sometime in the morning, and probably was pleased to discover that there was finally a bathroom in the world with a ferret washer installed.
Dare was very clean, and very wet and very happy when I stumbled into the bathroom that morning. There was water all over the floor. I grabbed all the towels I could find and began sopping up the water.
Dad and Mom's room was right next to mine, so I threw on my pants and shirt and knocked on their door. Dad answered the door. He was fully dressed and freshly shaved and showered. Mom was still in the bathroom, so I said I would go see if Ginny was up, as I was looking for a shower, or some dry towels to borrow. Dad decided it would be unwise to allow me to go knock on Ginny's door and ask if I could borrow her shower, so he ran into the bathroom and grabbed a couple of their spare towels. I think he was afraid Ginny would say yes and then decide to join me. Danged if the thought hadn't occurred to me as well.