Yoharie: What It Takes to Fly (part two)
“You just get the feeling, I mean, like it’s written in the stars or something. Like you think about Three Mile Island and you think, it’s gonna go again.”
His name was Makim; he was Rae’s friend from Law Club, and passenger with her in the back seat, Savannah chauffeur. Makim because someone had to drive the car back from the airport. Her sister wasn’t legal without a licensed driver…and the friend, who was far from twenty-one, was the driver she’d come up with. The two kids, in the spirit though, had put on dress clothes, like a prom couple. Except Rae wore a Jackie suit, wine-boucle Chanel (not actual), Makim necktie and leather jacket. They both wore glasses.
Savannah, dressed for anxious travel, was in sweatpants and a baggy black tee. She had a carryon knapsack, that Rae had lectured her: “Keep that under your arm.”
This was interesting. “Do you really get feelings? Have you ever had a psychic…I don’t know…moment, thing?”
“Hey,” Rae said. “Is that what you meant?”
“Oh…like magic? Mysticism? No, but, yeah…I kind of get a strong visual. Um, my Dad. One time I came home from school, and I knew he wasn’t there. I knew…I could really, seriously, see it happening, my parents scrabbling around the apartment, packing my Dad’s stuff, taking pictures off the wall, my Dad patting the dog’s head, walking out with a bag under each arm and his equipment, his video stuff, slung around in back, and stopping…looking at my Mom standing in the door…”
“And he was really gone?”
“I could never explain it. Cause, you know, they tried hard to be normal, so me and my brother wouldn’t guess what was going on.”
“Oh, that’s wild,” Rae said. “What else? Did you ever know someone was about to die?”
He gave an embarrassed teenager’s giggle. “You even know who Joe Cocker is?”
“Well, because. Didn’t they have something about John Belushi on Saturday Night Live?”
“Yeah, think. Mine only almost half counts. I was at the pharmacy and I heard that song from the movie on the overhead, love lifts us up or whatever…and I thought, Joe Cocker has just died. That’s why they’re playing it. But I swear, there was no clue or anything, it was like any other song. They’d just played Bangles or something… You know how on the yodio it’s always eighties shit…”
“Yodio. You don’t mean muzak?”
Savannah said, “And you didn’t get a feeling. And then you did.”
“So, for me it’s weird. It’s like a weird category. Not psychic like something’s gonna happen, but like it has, only I don’t know it yet.”
“But Three Mile Island.”
“That’s just like, magnetism. You feel like…” He leaned to wave a hand between the two front seats. “The place is sitting in a vortex of mental depression.”
This was strong to Savannah. She would almost, if she wrote poems, steal the phrase. She’d been invibing (a jargon-term of a boy she knew who did) the tragic beauty of the approach to Harrisburg International. Her house was equidistant, at least by map legend, from this airport and the one in Baltimore.
When she’d asked Rae, “What do you think the traffic is like?”, Rae, of course, had said to her phone: “Traffic in Baltimore.”
She repeated what they’d both heard. “Says light.”
“Well, yeah. So the lady says.”
Harrisburg had always been Tristanne’s choice.
Seeing the river course alongside, the hills (and cooling towers), the clinging fog, Savannah had got a visual of her own. You had a fair chance of ditching safely here, in the brown waters.
If you were the hero of an accident…
And she thought of her father, of a Jeremiah Hibbler, able…or fated, to rise to some occasion…
One defining. Was that the word? A fat man with rusty-brown hair, wearing a teeshirt with a flag. Telling the reporter, in an ordinary accent.
“We’re not parking?”
Rae’s question…she could sound very Kate at times…was inflected on park. They’d agreed there was no time, the car had to be got back. Savannah would have to sit alone until they called her flight.
She was glad. It was what she wanted. Adventuresome brats with bright futures snarkily ranking on the concourse shops, on poor, slobby passengers, was a little hurtful for company. It made her feel envious, sad, an underappreciated Light-Brigader charging off to die. But, daydreaming, she hadn’t noticed being shunted onto an exit.
“Sorry. Now what? Guys, watch.”
Yoharie takes place circa 2015. In fact, reactor number 1 of the Three Mile Island plant was shut down on September 20, 2019, quite recently. It was under operation by a company called Exelon Generation at a loss, and is in a process of decommission.
(2020, Stephanie Foster)