Fiction Sunny City San Diego by John T. Cullen

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Fiction Sunny City San Diego by John T. Cullen

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Fiction Sunny City San Diego by John T. CullenAt first, the Raynors seemed like the perfect family. Looks can be deceiving.

I can still see them as they stood waiting for me to pick them up at Lindbergh Field, San Diego's international airport (SDX). It was a typical gentle, perfect San Diego evening about nine p.m., and the airport was awash in lights and traffic as well as a river flow of human travelers (and a few pets). There, along the curb waiting for me outside the glass and steel of Terminal One, were the Raynor family. I was glad they had fought their way through the crowds and owned a dominant piece of curbside real estate, which made my job a lot easier.

Daniel Raynor was tall, handsome in a sharp, dark-haired manner, and every inch the youthful corporate executive dressed impeccably in vacation clothes. His gorgeous wife, Marisa, stood beside him—tall for a woman, though half a head shorter than Daniel. She was slender, dark-haired, and looking elegant even in her casual ivory-plaited summer skirt, plum high heels, and merlot blouse with matching, strapless poche from some Paris designer. If you're thinking money, you'd be right. Standing to his side (very significant) were three teenage children, looking somehow somber and sweet at the same time. The kids (a tall girl, a medium boy, and a smaller girl) also were neatly dressed, though more casual in jeans and loose tops. I estimated the kids' ages at about 14, 13, and 11. To Mrs. Raynor's side stood a row of suitcases. Something about the protocol of their arrangement might have tipped me off to some rather bleak family politics, but I had to find that out the hard way over the next few days.

I'm Tom Melchior, 28, and I drive my own shuttle van (twelve passenger capacity max) around San Diego. That's how I make my living these days. Picture me, like most limo and van chauffeurs in the trade, wearing my black funeral suit with white shirt and red or black tie, along with black dress shoes. I own two copies of that outfit. One is always in the cleaners, while I wear the other as I put in five and six days work weeks. Both trousers and jackets are worn shiny in places from sliding in and out of the driver's seat. The exercise, at least, keeps me in better shape than you'd think from driving ten or twelve hours a day. And I do take breaks for food and walks, or I'd go nuts.




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