Fatigue soaked Ernie’s bones and his leg muscles smoldered. He half-ran, half-walked through the terminal, dragging his bags behind him. He hated to admit it, but he was anxious to see his family. Keeping pace, he pulled off a brown baseball cap and wiped the sweat from his forehead onto his forearm. A white bulldog wearing a red muscle shirt sat on the front of the cap. He arrived at the exit and looked through the crowd held back by an orange rope. He found his father waiting in the back and standing on his tiptoes. He waved and his father waved back before pushing his way to the front of the crowd.
“Sorry,” Ernie said, “Customs was a bitch.” While Ernie was pleased to see his father, he wanted to set the rules early. He was a changed and he wanted his father to respect that.
His father raised an eyebrow. “I was getting worried. I was about to have them page you.” His father held out his hand and Ernie grasped it. “It’s good to see you, son. Your mother has missed you terribly.” His father’s grip was strong. Ernie thought it was a stronger grip than when he left. He couldn’t decide what it meant and he decided to push his advantage.
“I was only gone for two months, dad.”
“Yeah, but when you go to college we’ll be able to telephone you. You were in a foreign country, Ernie. You have no idea how anxious that made your mother.”
“You know I’m practically an adult now. You’ll have to start thinking of me like that one of these days.”
“We can argue about this in the car. Your mother would kill me if we spent too much time blabbing while I’m sure she’s fretting at home. She’s been cooking all day.”
“Uh oh, that doesn’t sound good.”
“It isn’t, but we’ll pretend like usual. You know how much she loves cooking,” His father stuck out his tongue and made a gagging face. Ernie smiled. His father placed one of Ernie’s bags under his arm and lifted the other one off the ground. He led Ernie to the car in the daily parking garage.
Ernie slid into the passenger seat of the large blue Buick while his father loaded the trunk.