Joseph Anderson Donetti
Comes to Oregon
Joseph Anderson Donetti -- Comes to Oregon, Chapter 3
A Snake and a Large Sign
Joseph Anderson Donetti's stomach tightened. If the plane was getting ready to land, it meant he would soon be seeing his grandmother for the first time. He shut his eyes. The angry feelings came back and bounced around inside him. He wished he could just open his eyes and be back in his own neighborhood.
"You need to fasten your seat belt," Mrs. Boyd said. "And put the back of your seat straight up."
Joseph sat still. His eyes were still shut.
"Are you OK?" Mrs. Boyd asked.
Joseph shook his head. He was horribly afraid that if he opened his eyes, tears would spill out. He only wanted to be home. He wanted to be able to open his eyes and see the tall brick buildings in his neighborhood. He wanted to smell the spicy pizza from Anthony's Pizza Parlor on the corner. He wanted to hear Danny running up the street shouting, "J-o-o-o-o-o-seph! J-o-o-o-o-o-seph!"
The flight attendant walked up the aisle of the plane, checking to see if all the passengers were ready for landing. "You need to fasten your seat belt," she said to Joseph.
Joseph sat still. He held onto the arm rests of his seat and didn't move.
The flight attendant leaned over and buckled it for him. "Is he all right?" she asked Mrs. Boyd.
"He'll be fine," Mrs. Boyd answered. She was quiet for a minute. Then she leaned close to Joseph's ear and whispered, "Look out the window. You don't want to miss seeing us land. If you're going to keep that lizard in your dark and stuffy pocket, you'd at least better watch what's going on so you can tell him all about it later."
Joseph gave a great sigh. He did open his eyes and quickly brushed the back of his hand across them. He looked past Mrs. Boyd. The plane was flying a lot lower now. The stores and houses and cars were getting bigger. And suddenly the ground rushed up to meet them. They had landed.
People began to stand up and pull their suitcases and bags from the overhead luggage racks. Mrs. Boyd fished her purse out from under the seat in front of her. She opened it and stuffed her fat paperback book inside. "Well, I guess this is goodbye, Joseph Anderson Donetti," she said. She paused. "Don't ever forget the most important thing of all," she said slowly. "God loves you. He made you, and He loves you, and He sent me here to tell you so." She gently touched his shoulder. "God has great plans for you."
Mrs. Boyd joined the rest of the passengers filing down the crowded aisle. Joseph sat in his seat, waiting for the flight attendant to come and get him. She had said she would help him find his grandmother. Joseph really, really hoped she wouldn't forget him.
Suddenly Joseph felt truly alone. Mrs. Boyd was the only person he knew in this whole miserable state of Oregon. And she was getting off the plane and walking away, and he would never see her again. Suddenly he stood up. "Don't lose your snake!" he hollered.
Everyone on the plane stopped in their tracks. They all turned to stare at Joseph. Mrs. Boyd turned around too. She smiled and winked.
The flight attendant appeared beside Joseph. "OK, Joseph Donetti, let's go find your grandmother," she said. Getting off the plane was slow work. But once people were out the door and down the steps, they hurried across the hot pavement toward the terminal building.
The inside of the terminal was cool and dim after the bright outside sunshine. Joseph saw a large knot of people standing at the end of the hallway. Some were hugging friends. Some were standing on their toes, trying to see over the heads in front of them. One man was waiting with a bouquet of flowers in his hands.
"Do you see your grandmother?" the flight attendant asked.
Joseph shook his head. And then suddenly he did see her. He was sure it was her. She looked just like the picture that had arrived before he left home. "Over there," he said.
The flight attendant looked where Joseph was pointing. "You're right," she said. "That must be her."
A tall dark-haired woman stood at the edge of the crowd. She had a large sign fastened with two clothes pins attached to the front of her blouse. In big, black letters it read, "Joseph's grandmother".