Thursday, June 16, 2011

Excerpt from Chapter 8 of My Book, 'His Song'

I felt fluttery as I made my way out of the little plane on the tarmac of the tiny airport of Key West. A text message came in as soon as I turned my phone on. I was scrambling to get it to power up and gather my things in a plane no bigger than a walk-in closet. Cases, elbows, sunhats were seemingly tossed in mid air as passengers negotiated each other and their stuff in an effort to disembark. "I think I saw you land". He saw me on his trip to meet me, it was in fact my plane. He would be arriving via bus to the airport to meet me and my stomach was restless as I fussed with my hair and makeup in the mirror in the bite-sized women's room next to the only luggage carousel this Arrivals room had to offer. It was as large as the top floor of a raised ranch home. I was rushing to be ready and presentable as he arrived. The funny thing is, in exactly those kinds of situations if I had a hair and makeup team at my side, I'd never think I looked stunning enough. Being stuffed into a coach seat all day wasn't going to help me find satisfaction with my looks. I gave up mid tussle before I worked myself up into a frenzy.

As I exited the bathroom, the carousel was slowly spinning black suit cases so I lined up along side my plane mates to find mine. It is a miracle that anyone gets their luggage considering most of the free world has only black suit cases. How I haven't mistakenly gone to a hotel on one trip with someone else's clothes is beyond me but I am extra careful to quadruple check tags and stickers before I leave with the case towing behind me. I found mine surprisingly fast and oriented myself to the exit.

I needed to get a cab for us so I was waiting outside near the line for passengers to hail transportation. I was pretending to be entranced by my cell phone and busy on the internet, purposefully not looking up to see him coming. In minutes, I heard his voice. I gazed over as if I was only half interested to see him walking toward me with a lazy, happy grin. He was tanned and casual. His hair was a little windblown which worked for him with sunglasses worn on his face like he was born with them. I didn't know how to approach him. Should I hug him? Kiss him? I quickly made the decision to let him lead. He quietly said hello and leaned down and kissed me gently on the lips. "Hi, Ma'am", it seemed to seep out of his mouth like he forgot it was in there. I was comforted by the greeting. My face was starting to twitch from too much smiling. We made our way to the cab line. It stretched for several cars. Mostly bright pink taxis of different shapes and sizes. To me the taxis looked like flamingos waiting in line for a snack from the zookeeper. As we stood in line, we made the usual small talk you have when you greet someone at the airport.

"How was the trip?", he broke the awkward first start of the conversation.

"Good, not too long. Uneventful really".

I always say 'uneventful' when anyone asks me about traveling. I think it just sums it up. Besides, is being in and out of airports all day ever really a good time? We got into our flamingo car and I told the half paying attention driver where we were going. Elizabeth St. I have stayed in bed and breakfasts before, all of them drastically different than each other so while I got the concept, I had no idea what to expect. This one had a pool, I probably wouldn't be in it, but it was there. I was sure it wouldn't be as nice as the one The Chef suggested but that one was unavailable for when I wanted it and also it was the most expensive one on the island. I was a little off put by the suggestion, considering its expense and the fact that The Chef would not be contributing to the room cost either. He had quit his job weeks before on a whim after a dispute with the restaurant owner he was working for. I remember him telling me this over the phone as I was standing on a street corner outside my office building trying to locate my boss who'd be pulling up on the side of the road to take me to a meeting. I was craning my neck down the street to see if I could make out his silver Saab sedan and trying to pay attention to what The Chef was saying as he relayed the chain of events and the conversation he'd had with the restaurant owner earlier that day. He sounded almost giddy.

"We never got along", he said. "She was always on me about things, nothing was ever good enough", he trailed a little but I waited for him to continue. "She told me that I'd need to take a two dollar an hour pay cut and I told her good bye".

"Oh, but what about supporting yourself and your child support?"

He had a daughter from his former marriage that he would often lament about child support over the phone to me and also his torment that he couldn't see her as often as he wanted to. According to him, his ex-wife was a very demanding and unforgiving woman who was unwavering in what she required of him. I felt alighted with fear for him over having to convey this story to her because in my estimation, she'd still want her support or else.

"I can get a job in a matter of days".

There was a hint of condescending in his tone as he went on to assure me that he was well known and also well desired at the restaurants in his area. He didn't give the fact that he was out of work a second thought and neither should I. I was feeling as he was talking that he was being a bit immature in his response to his former boss and quite irresponsible with his finances but then again, I wasn't being affected by it so why was I so concerned? Now I was. The cab pulled up to our bed and breakfast. We both got out of our respected doors and the driver made his way to the trunk to retrieve our bags. As the bags came out, The Chefs hands went into his pockets, and stayed there. I paid our fare and tipped the driver who didn't even look me in the face or speak a word the entire time we were with him, but I always tip. It's just the right and expected thing to do, even if the service is mediocre to terrible. I felt a little slighted by The Chef not even attempting to pay for the cab but then I decided that he probably didn't have much money so I shouldn't expect much in the way of monetary contribution to the weekend. I signed up for it. I knew what I was coming down to.

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