The kid was trouble, no doubt about it. He seemed to know just how far to push his mom before real trouble ensued, and she was limited in what she could do to him on the plain. He kicked his legs, thunking them against his own chair instead of the seat in front of him. And, occasionally, he would poke his sister, which would set off a new round of wailing and Mom shushing.
Amanda, up at the front, chatted with another flight attendant, but had worried eyes and emphatic whispers for our row.
I got up and went over to the mother. “Excuse me, there’s an empty seat next to mine. I can move over and he can have my seat. He’ll still be close enough to keep an eye on.”
“Oh my God, thank you. Mikey,” she addressed the kid, “I want you to go sit over there.”
He looked doubtful, ready to rebel.
“Come on, kid, it’s the cool section, and I’ll let you wear my hat.”
“You’re not wearing a hat,” he came back.
“Doesn’t mean I don’t have one.” I turned and opened up my overhead, pulling out my fedora. It was crushable, so I was able to pop it back into shape. I held it by the back brim toward Mikey. He reached for it, but I pulled it back.
“We got a deal?”
He looked at me, the hat, and then back to his mom. It wasn’t about the hat. He probably thought it was stupid—and he would be wrong about that—it was about him getting something and not just obeying his mom.
He nodded and got up.
“He would be wrong?” Nikki asked skeptically.
“Yes he would. That’s a foregone conclusion.”
“I think you are taking your affectation for fedoras too far, Matthew.”
“I don’t even know what that means. Not only do fedoras look good, they’re practical. Besides, this is not an affectation, it’s a requirement. A private detective must wear a fedora.”
“I’m sure that in the state licensing requirements it makes no mention of a fedora.”
“Yeah, like I’m going to let them tell me how to be a detective. Spade and Marlowe. They wear ‘em, I wear ‘em. The end.”
She sighed, “I shall relent, not because of your cogent argument, but because I do agree that they look dashing on you.”
I grinned. “I win.”
“Yes, now getting back to your new detective-in-training?”
“In a minute, I need to bask in my victory.”
Nikki rolled her eyes, but stayed silent.