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Donna Flood
Flying Low


The noise of the clatter and bang of the dishes being shuffled back and forth along with the hammering rhythm of the juke box wasn't a symptom of bad business. Rather it was an indication business was moving at a fast pace. It always was amazing to Donetta to see folks roll into the booths and steadily. Certainly there was no ambiance of decor. There was simply starched country patterned curtains of gingham. The floors were so swept and mopped they actually had no design left to them. Their waitresses were country girls, not classy. but described more as cute. However, some were definitely on the back side of fifty.

As the juke box blared some soul searching country tune about someone's lost wife, dog, or house there was some difficulty in hearing. The waitress would lean over turning her head to the customers voice in order to get their order correct, and this was what Donetta was doing while a newly arrived person was trying to convey a message. She heard him say, "Martin is your brother?"

"Yes?"

"Well, he's crashed his plane and is in intensive care at Oklahoma City." He named the hospital.

Donetta always felt strange in her remembrance of the message. Rather than miss an order or not pick up a plate from the steam table where Cook set it, she simply passed the message on so that it would find its way around to the family. One by one she could see as they were told, a look of startled disbelief was registered on their faces.

The first day they visited Martin he was out of intensive care and for what he had been through, looked fairly well. Of course, there was the traction of the broken bones and so on.

The second day he was sitting up and seemed glad to see them. His coloring was good. He was sitting with little effort and was complaining about the weight they were using to keep his leg in traction. His old sparkling personality was coming through and the Welch "wavy lips" were in their characteristic broad grin. They joked with him about how the crash happened. He told he dipped down too low when he saw one of his hired hands on the ground. The wheels of his plane caught a high voltage power line and the rest was history. He was still grinning

"I was watching television last night." He told them. "There was a terrible plane crash." "It was a light aircraft and I looked at that." "Hmm, a lot like my crash." He went on with his story true to the genes of his blood. "I looked at that, and I said to myself, Man that was some crash." He went on. "The plane had landed in a creek and they were pulling this guy out of the mud and water." "As I looked at it, I was startled." "Hey!" "That's me!"

Donetta was glad to see him so light hearted about the whole thing. He laughed and seemed okay with the scene. He wasn't emotionally upset but taking it all in stride, as the Okie saying goes.

The third visit they made for some reason Donetta noticed a line outside one basement part of the hospital. The line was long and it was obviously the winos and derelict people who lived in and around that section of town. The people were the homeless ones who sold their blood for a small amount of money. Down on their luck to the point of being gaunt and shabby made them obvious. Like everyone else Donetta simply noticed them and made no comment one way or another.

At this visit Martin was shocking in his appearance. He had a sallow almost yellow color. He seemed lethargic and listless. Donetta was startled and a little frightened.

"Martin!" "What is the matter?" "Are you feeling all right?"

"Aw." "Well, no." "They gave me a blood transfusion last night and I don't know what it did to me, but it sure has knocked me for a loop." "I don't feel worth anything."

"Martin!" "Don't let them do that to you again." Donetta was uncompromising.

Martin had the look that he was about to be assaulted by some lengthy spiel as to medical reasons or spiritual reason or whatever. He looked at his sister with that level studied look only he could get. "Why not?" He asked her.

"Donetta, as his sister, had the advantage of reasoning with him. "Go down where the folks who give the blood are lined up." "You might have second thoughts as to why or why not."

Martin looked off to another point in the room. He still held that same studied look he could have when he was thinking. Almost like the ringing of a bell his countenance cleared up. Donetta was always amazed at the workings of the mind and the body when they were in unison. He was different, more alert, and certainly in command. He didn't say anything, but simply looked back at her, raised his eyebrows and looked back away with a more learned expression.

"Oh yeah?" Came his short reply. There was never any more discussion about the subject for as long as they lived.


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