I do hope you enjoy my contribution to your Black Friday reading enjoyment.
Black Friday short story.
“Just Lucky, I Guess.”
Gabriel Christopher had always been considered lucky, both by his many friends and even those not disposed to like him at all. A few folks had commented and even gasped in amazement each time he pulled yet another rabbit from the bottom of his seemingly bottomless hat.
It had been that way since he was born
His devoted mother unhesitant in telling anyone within listening distance that the odds against her son Gabriel surviving his traumatic early arrival on earth were astronomical.
Another child too ill to play the lead in the school play? Too bad. Guess who was the understudy? Yup … that was Gabriel.
His friends clung to him at every social occasion, for it was always Gabriel that found a cab on those nights after a game or a concert when no cabs were to be had. Rain or shine, if they were with good old Gabriel, they knew they would always find a way to get home.
His looks alone would have drawn the women to him. His ability to provide them with Sir Galahad style safety was just another fringe benefit.
It was always Gabriel who somehow managed to get the great seats when the venues for major sporting events or a farewell performance for a world famous entertainer were meant to be sold-out.
Want a seat in a restaurant that’s booked solid for months in advance? Gabriel was your go to guy.
Gabriel had never acknowledged the ‘damn but you’re lucky’ thing, at least not publicly.
He preferred to think of himself as merely observant of everything important to him. Those observations prompted all of his actions.
He’d never needed to strive to be the best he could be, for that lucky star people said he’d been born under kept right on shining down on him throughout his life. Why work yourself to death for something, when not making any effort at all garnered you the same results?
He’d stopped thinking about it much at all in the past couple of years. Life had settled itself into a comfortable pattern. He was content.
Therein lay the heart of his problem. That craved for contentment had nudged him into a world both predictable and unrelentingly boring.
It was April now. Spring had arrived and reawakened what little spirit he still possessed.
He needed a change.
He mulled it over for a few days, weighing his options. Gabriel decided that quitting his job would be stupid, and he was far from stupid … not by his reckoning. He checked in with his boss, and as luck would have it, he had ample leave time accrued to take a long overdue vacation.
He rarely found anything that he wanted or needed enough to warrant him spending his savings. It had been years since he’d purchased his home. He had only his mother to be concerned about while he was traveling, and she was newly remarried and no longer appeared to be in such need of his undivided attention.
Gabriel knew he could easily afford another overseas trip. He’d traveled throughout Europe and even to Australia in those years when spring breaks really meant something.
He opened the laptop and began looking for a close location that wouldn’t need days of traveling to reach the destination.
He smiled with anticipation as he made his choice.
A short road trip would take him to Orlando Florida, where he could easily make the direct flight to San Juan in Puerto Rico. He used his phone app and found some great deals on both flights and accommodation. He wasn’t surprised.
Gabriel had traveled widely. But not usually this close to home. Now was the time.
The direct flight to San Juan would take only two and a half hours.
He confirmed his flight times and departure details; handed in his leave application at work, which was immediately approved, and counted down the days.
It was now Monday, and his excitement was building. He would fly out on Friday.
He made the road trip the day before, and spent the night of April 12th, in the Orlando Holliday Inn.
He happily drank the contents of the mini-bar and rang through to room service, ordering a bottle of his favorite scotch, and a meal of Lobster and salad.
He deemed the expense worthwhile and fell into bed late, both well sated and alcohol saturated.
Gabriel awoke the next morning and took long minutes to remember where he was and what he was doing there.
“Oh, shit!” He glanced at his phone. “Shit, shit, shit!” He’d been too drunk to set his alarm.
He scrambled from the bed and crossed to the window. The rain came in blinding sheets and the palm trees outside were blown about wildly in the ferocity of the wind.
His flight was due to leave in a less than an hour, and he knew security would be a nightmare to get through. “Damn it!” He haphazardly threw on some clothes, not giving a damn about fashion. He tried to book a cab. The response to his call when he’d finally been connected was that in this storm the cabs were all taken, with bookings piling up ahead of him.
He checked in with the airline, the weather was abating and the flight paths were clearing. The flight had been delayed but only for an estimated thirty minutes.
“Damn it to hell.” Gabriel grabbed his backpack and headed downstairs. He may just be lucky enough to flag down a cab. Anything was better than sitting around.
It had taken him twenty minutes, until in frustration he had walked out in the middle of the busy road and stopped the first cab he spotted.
The driver had the off-duty sign flipped up. He was clearly unavailable and unimpressed by the drenched guy with the backpack now standing in front of his cab and blocking his path. Until Gabriel Christopher pulled out the Benjamin Franklin. “It’s yours. Just get me to the airport.” That hundred bucks sure changed the attitude.
“Anything you say, buddy.” said the driver, smiling at the man now sitting restlessly and drenching his back seat.
“You need to hurry!”
“No sweat, buddy. It’s only six miles. I’ll have you there in no time.”
“Yeah, well, no time is about all I have left. Step on it would you.”
The driver smiled again. “Sure thing.”
The cab made it to around a mile out from the Airport, before the traffic snarl forced it to come to an infinitely slow-moving crawl. The crawl finally ended in a traffic jam that stopped them and everyone else cold.
“I’ll get out here!” Gabriel exited the cab and was almost run down by a motorbike weaving its way through the traffic.
“Jesus!” The cab driver called out from the window. “Be careful, man. You almost wore that bike!”
“Yeah! But I didn’t.”
Gabriel started running. If the flight had been delayed by just a few minutes he could still make it.
He ran into the terminal. He had eight minutes to get through security and hand in his boarding pass.
Security was working at full speed, trying to clear the backlog of people without jeopardizing safety.
Gabriel was cleared quickly, he could see the departure gate not far ahead. His focus was fixed totally on that point.
He didn’t see the toddler stagger across his path sturdily pushing some wheeled toy … until he tripped over the small body and came crashing down in a heap on the floor.
Gabriel’s head bounced with a sickening smack on the tiles, and the parents of the little boy were frantically checking on their son’s wellbeing. The stranger lay at their feet, out cold and unmoving.
Other passengers came hurrying over to assist.
Gabriel came around and looked up into the face of the paramedic that gazed down with concern into his pale face.
“Take it easy. You gave your head a damned good crack. Can you tell me your name?”
Gabriel was a little groggy, and he could feel the beginning of a headache making its presence felt.
“Uh … yes, Yes … my name is Gabriel Christopher.”
“How’s your vision, buddy?” The light was shone into Gabriel’s protesting eyes.
“It’s … okay. Yeah, yeah … I’m okay. Thanks.”
“We’re gonna need to take you to the hospital. You were out cold for a couple of minutes. An x-ray will show if you have any damage that needs treating.”
“What time is it?”
The paramedic checked his watch. “It’s gone three.”
“Fuck! I missed my flight.”
The paramedic was more concerned about assisting his patient onto a gurney. “Can’t help back luck, buddy.”
Gabriel Christopher was stunned at this crazy turn that his luck had taken. This type of thing just didn’t happen to him.
He was finally released from the hospital hours later once the test results had come back satisfactorily. He had a mild concussion and would have a headache for a day or two. He listened to the instructions and gave his word that he’d return immediately if any other symptoms should arise.
He managed to get another room back at the Holiday Inn.
Too weary now to be bothered with making fresh plans, he poured himself a stiff drink, threw on some boxer shorts and lay back on the king sized bed to watch the large screen television.
He flicked through the channels until the ‘breaking news’ headline came up.
He sat uncomprehending the significance of the news flash for a brief moment.
The attractive newsreader looked appropriately sad “Flight 1313 from Orlando to San Juan had disappeared from radar over the area known as ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ Air and sea searches are underway. No wreckage has yet been sighted.”
Gabriel Christopher’s phone began buzzing.
He took the call from his mother. She was hysterical with relief as she registered the sound of his voice. “Oh my God, my Gabriel. It’s Friday the thirteenth! Are you safe? I’m so glad you decided to take another flight, son.”
The enormity of the situation hit him hard as he listened to the sound of worry in her voice begin to diminish.
“Momma! I was meant to be on that plane. I missed it.”
“Of course you did, Gabriel. You have been blessed since birth.”
“Blessed, Momma? Maybe so … maybe so … Or I could be just lucky, I guess.”
He spent a further ten minutes reassuring her that he would stay indoors until after midnight.
He lay back and attempted to close his eyes, but dark thoughts of what the folks on that plane must have felt when it went down made his efforts at sleeping futile.
He thought about the strange incidents that had combined forces and caused him to miss that flight. He shivered.
The space around him felt wrong, it was suddenly crowded with the sounds of screaming helpless people.
He scrambled from the bed, hurriedly dressed,and headed downstairs and outside. Sucking in deep breaths of the spring air to help calm him. Gabriel began walking without checking direction … his usual keen sense of observation and acute awareness of his surroundings now gone, his feet moved with a purpose of their own that he appeared to have no control over.
He flicked a look at his watch. It was eleven forty-five pm. He shuddered as he acknowledged that this dreadful day was not yet over.
A building in the next block drew his eyes to the radiant glow of light emanating from within it.
He walked towards it without knowing why he did so.
He climbed the stairs and made his way into the warmth of the interior.
The light welcomed and encompassed him.
He moved slowly towards the statue of Christ.
A voice deep and rich permeated his senses. He was vibrating to the sound and the sensations as they echoed through his brain and pierced his soul.
“It is time, Gabriel. Welcome home.”
The church bells rang out the hour of midnight.