Smooth like butta. That’s what the kid’s t-shirt read. The shirt looked twenty years old, the boy couldn’t have been more than ten. He stood before Colonel for a moment as his bleach blonde mother asked Jesus three times for help in squeezing her carry-on in the overhead. Jesus finally heard her humble cry. Butta and his mutta – the phrase immediately came to Colonel’s mind.
“Jesus, I don’t know how they expect people to fit in these seats!” She looked all around the plane, Goldilocks searching for something else, something just right.
“Darling, the sooner you sit, the sooner we’ll git.” The airline attendant’s voice swept from the rear of the plane, deep South, endearing. Colonel looked up expecting to see a magnolia from the cast of Designing Women. Instead, he saw Anna – that’s what her nametag read. Anna’s face and frame were an exact copy of that monster’s, Carol, from Where The Wild Things Are. The woman rolled her eyes at Anna, then directed her boy toward the window while she took the aisle, directly across from Colonel – 12 A and B. The flight was scheduled to be two and half hours to Memphis, a breeze. Colonel wasn’t superstitious, but he wondered if the boy’s t-shirt wasn’t some kind of omen.
Colonel’s given name was Percy, taken from his father’s appreciation for the elegant arrangements of Percy Faith’s orchestra, particularly the “Theme from A Summer Place.” His father, Richard, taught history, drank martinis, and wore turtleneck sweaters. But Richard ran off when Percy was eight, on July 4th, Independence Day. The gossip in town said he was in love with a man. All Percy really knew is his mother took the entire Faith vinyl collection, doused it with gasoline, and watched it burn in the backyard charcoal grill. People said you could see the smoke for miles. In less than two weeks his mother took up with the antithesis of his father. Carl was the head butcher at the A&P, listened to Waylon Jennings, and drank Miller beer. By August, Carl had moved in.
Percy’s surname was Sanders. Carl immediately started calling him Colonel, the intent was to rib, joke, woo Percy to him. This did not work. Percy considered protest, but such a move would have aligned him with his father, his homosexual father. So, caught between a gay and simple place, he just let it go. He’s been called Colonel Sanders ever since.
Colonel had watched two episodes of LOST, at the urging of the college minister from church - “It’s a testament for our times.” The goateed boy had preached a series on the series, every Sunday evening for nine weeks. Colonel thought he could have learned Spanish or something useful in nine weeks. The first DVD episode was completely confusing but Colonel wanted to give it a chance, so he watched one more. Two was enough. Still, having seen just a couple caused him to evaluate everyone in his immediate vicinity on Delta 1668 to Memphis. The show had planted the seed of possibility in his mind that he could be stranded somewhere in the Texas panhandle with them for god knows how long. His potential co-stars were –
Butta and his mutta
Anna, a.k.a., Carol Where the Wild Things Are
Don’t Mess with Texas