Joseph Anderson Donetti
Comes to Oregon
Joseph Anderson Donetti -- Comes to Oregon, Chapter 1
Lizards and Airplanes
Joseph Anderson Donetti was angry. He looked at the gray-haired woman sitting next to him on the airplane. He frowned at her. "I have a lizard in my pocket," he whispered.
The gray-haired woman looked at him with wide eyes. Then she frowned too. "You'd better keep it there!" She went back to reading the fat paperback book in her hand.
Joseph took a deep breath and peeked around the seat back in front of him. People were still getting on the plane. They walked slowly down the aisle, looking for their seats. They stuffed suitcases and bags into the bins over their seats. Then they squeezed themselves into their seats. Joseph let out a huge puff of air. He looked at his watch. It wouldn't be very long until this plane was in the air. Joseph Anderson Donetti had never flown on an airplane before. Joseph Anderson Donetti was angry and scared.
Pretty soon there were no more passengers coming in through the plane's front door. Two flight attendants stood in the aisle. One of them took a microphone in her hand and began to talk. Joseph couldn't understand everything she was saying. She talked very fast and sort of mumbled. She said something about getting out of the plane in case of an emergency. The flight attendants pointed to all the exit signs. Joseph Anderson Donetti had not even imagined that there might be an emergency. Now he was really scared.
He stole a glance at the gray-haired woman beside him. She was still reading, not listening to a thing the flight attendant said. Maybe she would help him find the exit if the plane crashed. Probably not though. She didn't look like a person who would go out of her way to help a boy. Especially one with a lizard in his pocket.
The motors on the plane got louder. Joseph tugged his seat belt even tighter. The plane began to rumble down the runway. It went faster and faster. It went faster than a car. Joseph shut his eyes tight. His stomach lurched.
"We're airborne," the gray-haired woman said. She poked his arm with her elbow. "Look out the window."
Joseph sat very still. He thought. Unless he wanted to pretend he was asleep all the way to Oregon, he was going to have to open his eyes sometime. He opened one of them and looked around. Then he opened both of them and peered past the gray-haired woman out the little window. He saw blue, blue sky and a puffy white cloud right by the window. The plane's wing was slicing right through a cloud! Awesome! Joseph had never been level with a cloud before.
The gray-haired woman shut her book and laid it in her lap. "Maybe your lizard would enjoy the view too," she said. "It's probably dark and stuffy in your pocket."
Joseph frowned. There was no lizard in his pocket, but he wasn't about to admit it. "He likes dark places," he muttered. "He likes dark and stuffy places."
Joseph leaned a little closer to the window so he could see even more clouds. Fat clouds above. Fat clouds below. Soft, fat, cottony clouds. He wondered what it would feel like if he could reach out and touch one.
"I enjoy flying," the gray-haired woman said softly. "It gives me a bird's-eye view of the world. It gives me an angel's-eye view of the world."
Joseph thought. The only birds he was personally acquainted with were the pigeons that lived in his neighborhood. He didn't think they flew as high as the clouds. They seemed to spend most of the time pecking around on the sidewalk or sitting under the eaves of buildings. And Danny's parakeet, of course, who didn't do much but scatter feathers and bird seed around Danny's bedroom.
"Do birds really fly this high?" Joseph asked. "And angels too?"
The gray-haired woman leaned her head against the back of the seat. "Well, maybe not quite this high," she answered, "but eagles fly very high. And angels? Well, angels go from heaven to earth and back again. That means they can see the earth from even farther away than this."
Joseph leaned his head against the seat back too. He thought. He had seen pictures of angels on Christmas cards. He had seen angel statues. But he had never thought about angels actually flying through the air. He had never really thought about angels at all.
"Have you ever seen an angel?" The question just slipped out of Joseph's mouth.
The gray-haired woman looked down at him. "Not that I know of," she said, "but it's possible that I have. The Bible tells stories of angels appearing as ordinary looking people. I think the way an angel looks depends on the job he is doing. And usually they just do their jobs invisibly."
"Angels have jobs?" Joseph asked.
"Don't you go to church?" the gray-haired woman asked.
Joseph shook his head.
"Well, you're missing out on something very important. In fact, you're missing out on the most important things of all."
Joseph looked surprised.
"Do you know anything about God?" the woman asked.
"N-o-o," Joseph said. "Not really."
The gray-haired woman took a deep breath. "Well, now I know why He put you next to me on this plane."
"Who?" Joseph asked, confused. It was the flight attendant who had told him where to sit.
"God, of course," the woman answered. "Why are you flying to Oregon by yourself?"
Joseph felt his face tighten up again into a frown. He felt tightness again in his stomach. Joseph Anderson Donetti remembered that he was angry.