"You don't mind if I take this seat, do you?"
"No," he says.
"Oh, good." She smiles, and she is blonde, and she is older. Her manner reeks of class; his hunched demeanor tells of indifference.
It's only a sports bar at ten and thirteen minutes into the night.
"I'll have a glass of red." Her order screams of class as well.
His beer is looking mighty dull at this point. She is alone--no man. "God,
it's so warm out there isn't it?"
"A little bit."
She thanks the bartender for bringing the wine. She glances at the
television he stares at. The game's over, and only highlights are played. Night
at a bar in the airport. Her arms have lines and freckles. The face is
"So where are you headed?" he asks.
She turns back to him, smiles again. Thick lipstick. Her heels are red; her dress is death.
He hears D.C., and purses his lips as he nods his head. "Good place, I
"Yea," she says. "It's nice. It is somewhat difficult to get
around." Only in a bar, and only at an airport.
"Well, people drive like maniacs."
"Don't go to L.A.," he
says. Stay away.
"Driving," he says, "is not easy to manage. Strange that it's
required of every human being within the county limits."
Uneasy smile. Too many beers already on his tab. "Come now. Are you
perhaps being melodramatic?"
"Well, I have been there. It's not that the driving is bad, it's just
odd. Likewise, D.C. is very odd."
"What's in D.C.?" he asks. And why is it so odd?
"Driving... the people. Life is just so pressured, you know? I
sometimes find myself just walking on streets in the middle of the night to
free my mind a bit. It really can be overwhelming." One of those. Opens up
easy, like a flower in the morning dewlight.
He says "huh."
She says she was visiting a sister. Another blonde.
"How was she?"
"Good. She just recently moved out there."
He's on the television. The Lakers are not doing well. A shame.
"So why is driving a pain in D.C.?"
"Oh," well, "everything is different. I'm just not used to it
I suppose. I tell my husband that..."
Unimportant. Something about a Mercedes.
The bartender says "your tuna melt and fries," and he says
"wrap that up to go, please. And give me a shot of J.D."
He says he has to go catch his flight, drinks a shot of whiskey, and smiles. She smiles back and says it was nice to meet him. The momentary pause
of consideration and wonder lost in an instant as a loud paper bag is dragged
along a bar and placed in a messenger bag, destined for the overhead storage
compartment of an Embraer ERJ 145 on its way to Seattle.
He sits in the airport terminal for an additional forty five minutes and watches the
lights slowly roll by the window as the arrivals are taxied into position.
A faintly lit airplane in the middle of the night is a den of philosophers.
Travelers attempt to sleep as they reflect on the past and consider the future
in the context of traveling aboard a time capsule. They enter, they sit, and
just as quickly as they take off they arrive at their destination. These people
had lives and fly quickly back to those lives, but in the airplane in the
middle of the night they are frozen. The forty four minds are momentarily
contained. The man in the brown waist coat and spectacles reads the card
detailing the airplane’s emergency procedures as if he intends to follow the
procedures if the plane were to fall over the Cascades stretching north below
them, as if he was not going to panic and groan to the Lord to save him. The
tanned German teenager and her boyfriend in the pink hooded sweatshirt talk
softly among themselves, holding secret conversations and expressing what seem
like hidden desires but are in actuality thoughts about the parents they left
behind in order to take a vacation. He, too, is deep in thought and passes the
time by assuming about those around him. Beyond a cough and a whisper there is
silence, but silence screams loudest of all when every mind is abuzz with
possibility and regret. Those left
behind are remembered and those waiting for them are considered. The lights
outside the window are few and far between, partially obscured by the engine
located at the rear of the craft where he has been seated. Thunderous noise is
not so noticeable when it is constant, and the silence remains undisturbed.
They do not serve meals on this flight.
The bus stop in front of an empty airport terminal at night is mostly devoid
of life. Few people come and quickly go as they ride away in a taxi or hotel
bus. There is no bus or taxi for him. He sits at the end of the curve in the
road and watches the windows for approaching headlights from around the bend.
The air is cold here. Do pigeons fly at night? Buildings are cold and lifeless
and they are designed for efficiency, a trait that is as useless to the heart
of the mind as wings on an elephant. He is patient to an extent and impatient
enough to sit, then stand, then pace from one end of the walkway to the other.
Time passes in hours at first, then minutes.
As he ponders an action and all possible reactions he rests his hand on a
messenger bag and finds a strange warmth. Velcro tears and inside is the
wonderful smell of a tuna melt and fries. Flashes of hunger spring into him and
the plastic box is torn open. Buttered bread, now soggy, slides into his hands.
The smell of shredded tuna fish whipped and spread with a tangy mayonnaise
across the thick toast fill his nostrils and cause him to raise his head to the
air for a dose of fresh air. A cold breeze through an aluminum bus stop’s
slatted walls and moments later the tuna melt is in his hands and in his mouth,
vanishing one bite at a time. Choking him as the clumps of softened food are
forced down his throat followed by gulps of saliva for support. The tuna melt
is gone in the span of a minute or two and the warm stale fries shortly after.
He sits for a while as his esophagus is cleared and he returns to himself in
the cold night at a bus stop at an airport. Reality is mere fantasy when there
is nothing to keep a person grounded.
As the cold surrounds him he reaches into a gray nylon sack and removes from
it a white towel, using it to envelop himself in vague warmth. The white towel
stands out against the surface of the night's cloak, and this man stares at the
windows waiting for headlights that will never come.