Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Baggage Claim (Blogophilia 32.8)

Will the owner of a white Dodge Caravan, Georgia license plate MPX 9996 please report to the nearest Delta Gate Agent? Repeat, the owner of...

He rubbed his ears. Why does it have to be so loud? Every trip here reminds him why he doesn't fly. Besides not being able to afford it, the whole process resembled cattle being lead to slaughter. Blank faces talked to themselves as they flitted between carousels, arms reaching out like lizard tongues grabbing cases and bags at random. They would then flow toward the taxi stands and rental counters, participants in whatever their bosses have commanded. Cogs of commerce sorted like so much produce and shipped for consumption by their customers.

Looking up, he scanned the crowd obsessively. After four times you would think they would have found the owner or towed the car by now. The Hartsfield Gestapo was known to be deadly efficient, open citation books ready and waiting for the unwary stopping vehicle. Arriving as a non paying customer meant being met by the rudest cops in the country. It was an open secret that airport duty was the bottom of the barrel, a punishment assignment for most of them, and the attitude shown reflected it.

For that reason he submitted to the parking trolls. Circling  the low slung white building, dodging like minded driver had no appeal. Security probably kept count of which cars were going around over and over again, wondering if any of them were terrorists. It wouldn't have surprised him. $25 for the hour he'd be there, just to assuage the TSA and airport management he was harmless. The bad sleep well. He didn't.

There was an available space not far from the entrance when he pulled in. Punching in the parking space coordinates into his phone just to make sure, he had made his way toward the white behemoth. Another concrete testimony to political hubris. But it had come in under budget and the place did work well at its job of sorting people to their destination. A new sign pointing to baggage claim had been installed since the last time he had came. That would be a good bread crumb to get back to the car.  It had taken him almost an hour to find his car the last time.

Snicking silently aside, the doors opened for him. An old fear began to gnaw at him. No matter how much praise he had during the illness, deep inside he was scared shitless and skating on the edge of sanity. The false bravado was exactly that. False  What did they call these situations, crisis in confidence? The brave face was just that, a Hollywood quality facade built with the greatest of care. To his boss, his church and his wife's family, he was the stoic statue battered by the storms and still standing.

To Holly, the girl he was picking up he was the weak, sniveling knave of her leather themed fantasies.

No. Not really. She shared his burden of fear and falseness.

The blinking screen said Flight 1622 from Buffalo would disembark at  B-40 at 6:07 PM. His watch read 5:40. He thought for a moment. The gate was halfway down the concourse on the right? A quick mental calculation said it would be 45 minutes before she made it to baggage claim. In the old day, he could meet the arrival at the gate, so much more personal and simple.Now everyone was suspicious and a suspect. There was an empty chair against the wall. Settling in, he waited.

He was used to waiting.

Hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctor's offices had been his life for far too long. A lot of books had been read. Poetry had been written but not shared with anyone. It was too risky to show a crack. Someone might realize what a fraud he really was. The Mother in Law was up in years, too and couldn't get around. When the end came, something in Mom died and her body followed about two weeks later. Two funerals in two weeks, with all of the attending chaos. Another week or so where people kind of hung around to make sure he was alright and then....

Nothing.

No more calls from her friends. A few late sympathy cards, which he put on display on the table. Life just seemed to flow on. Six months went by as a soft quiet blur inside the darkened house. Not that it mattered, all he wanted was sleep and death. He was a-Capella  with no backup singers or band. The high and the low had passed and he was marking time to the end of his show.

Holly was the only one who kept in contact. Divorced and legally disabled, she was young enough to be his daughter. For some reason, that really didn't matter to either of them. He looked forward to her snarky remarks about sickness, family and death, especially the sister who wanted nothing more than to control her life. He understood. He had dealt with many of the same complaints.

Sometimes private messages, both personal and explicit, were exchanged. Phone numbers followed and his fondness for this silly little girl grew.

Something had happened within her family recently and she said she needed to get away. Would it be a problem if she came down? Of course it wouldn't be. It would be nice to have someone to talk to in person. That was three days ago and now he was almost jumping out of his seat.

At the top of the escalator, the drunken angel was leaning on a cane. Glancing from one side to another to see if anybody was looking, she lifted up her shirt to show the tattoo "Here Comes the Sun" with a wink and a smile. He walked up and they hugged, locking eyes immediately. Lavender filled his nose, while Old Spice filled hers. On impulse, he swept her off her feet and spun her around while she squealed like a child.

There was a lot to do and learn. Leaving the blank robots behind, they got into the Lincoln and headed home. 



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Topic-Deborah Truitt

Pic-Kim Herndon

Pic guesses-Produce (in blog) Still life, bounty, plenty, Wheelbarrow, Farm, Bowl, 



20 comments:

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    1. Thank you. And congratulations on being first.

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  2. The old grind of the airport. Some love others hate it. Its a necessary evil for those who travel. I kept waiting for that car to be yours..:D Good story Chris
    Stormy

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  3. I hope you'll continue this? That's so true about death. After awhile no one calls. I'm glad he had her. I would love to see a continuation. :) great writing!! ...Leta

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    1. Maybe. These two have a lot to learn about each other.

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  4. this is a great story , hoping for continuation

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  5. I do admit I used to enjoy airports before TSA took over

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    1. They were great places to people watch. Or get your plane on if you flew that way. One cool thing about living as close to PDK as I do, is to go up on a pretty day and watch them fly in and out.

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  6. You're very good at this storytelling thing! Love your description of the hustle and bustle at an airport.
    Irene

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    1. Thanks. Hartsfield-Jackson is a crazy place most of the time. I try to avoid it like the plague.

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  7. Good to have a sense of happiness coming into both of their lives. You have a talented pen, my friend!

    8 points Earthling! :)

    Marvin

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  8. Top notch, terse writing that literally had me on the edge of my seat. You really have me intrigued with this one.... I want MORE, so I hope you do continue. Masterful! :)

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    1. Thanks. May-September romances are always tricky to work. It should be a good adventure.

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  9. Wow. You're a good storyteller!

    ~~DJ

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much. It's fun to spin these.

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  10. Really well done Christopher!! ~Chrsitine W

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