Saturday, March 13, 2010

More of the same

Disembarking meets with the stewardess meting out the usual- "Thanks for flying with us. See you soon!", noticeably absent when the lanky bastard stumbles down the aisle with a pair of carry-ons slung haphazardly over his shoulder. But maybe he's just paranoid and she dispenses cheerful platitudes to every other passenger only. In either case, nobody's sad to see anyone go, and he gives her his best impression of a natural smile before turning and rapping his head on the portside cabin door. Nobody help comes beyond the obvious- "Ouch, that must have hurt."
Out in the terminal, he stands dumbly before the glass wall separating him from a milling crowd of sharp-suited aero-commuters, visiting families coated in grabbing and mewling children, alongside the middle-aged singles with their Hawaiian shirts and sandals. Small crowds gather around the stands for their shot at some discount perfume, or last-minute Canadian memorabilia: moose dolls, ice wines, and maple syrup, alongside CN Tower snowglobes, decorative Inuit (or is it Eskimo?) inukshuks assuring they've been hand-crafted by sled teams in the Northern provinces or something.
He presses his face against the glass, comforted by its cold, its firmness, and by the separation it provides from himself and those who have yet to come to terms with their own general disaffectation. He breathes out, and a gentle fog covers his view of the crowd. A small child on the other side stares with wide eyes before bursting out into laughter and pointing. The child's mother boredly responds by pulling the kid towards their gate.
A sigh. He feels things collapse inside of him for the uncounted time that day, and moves along with the slow river of travellers to customs.
Still, there's chance for a brief refresher. Hanging a right and breaking from the crowd, he pulls into the well-lit bathroom. After looking in the mirror, it becomes clear that the whole place is in fact too well-lit.
"It's over when you look like your passport photo," he murmurs, "and when you look worse, well, fuck." Ice-cold water to the face, and brief deoderant is applied to the problem areas of smell. He pulls at his shirttails, attempting to smooth out the stress wrinkles in the fabric. His hair is finger-flattened into a more presentable mess. He cracks a wan smile, "Presentable hobos always fly Oceanic Airlines". His reflection gives him a wink and a thumbs-up. It could be worse. Picking up his luggage, he mutters, "Who the hell still calls them 'hobos', anyway".
Too late in the line for bilingual travellers, he realizes he's long forgotten whatever French he had, and pulls himself into another 10-minute customs line. With a flash, one very important expression returns to him- "Et merde."
The customs officer is young, pretty, and remarkably soft-featured for a woman of her workline. She raises an eyebrow at his appearance, but it's clear that she's more entertained than anything else.
"When you look like your passport photo," he starts, trying for humor--
"Yup, I've heard that one a million times today, and I can honestly say seen it twice as often." She looks down at his passport. "Ah, don't worry, you've still got some wiggle room, I think."
"These things on my face? Yeah, they're more wrinkles than wiggles."
She laughs, though doesn't look up from the passport. "Curse of the twenty-somethings."
"Anything to declare? Any drugs, alcohol, tobacco, firearms...?"
"Nada. I've got some items I bought back over there, but they're not controlled, and are well below the purchase limit." Mostly, anyways.
"You were in St. Lucia , Mr. Donnelly?" She asks, using the French pronounciation of 'Saint'. Her accentless English betrays no real hint of maternal language, but she isn't in the Bilingual customs box, so...
"Yes, for five years."
"Hell of a vacation?"
He decides on honesty, probably the best policy for getting back into the country, "Medical school, actually."
"Well!" She sounds impressed, and smiles at him. "Welcome back to Canada, doctor."
"I--" dropped out, he thinks, but the impetus for honesty fails him. "Thanks. Wish me luck on the boards."
She brings her full face to bear on him, and he's suddenly struck by how beautiful she is. Brown eyes, and short-but-stylish black hair top a freckled nose and lips that seem to default to a side-smile. "Best of luck, Jason". That kind of warmth would be seldom seen, much less expected from a security-type in a black flak jacket. Thankfully, his obvious arousal was unnoticeable from her seat. He did his best to hide the just-as-overt ache. Jason now is entirely occupied with the thoughts of just what was under the protective vest she has on.
"Thank-youuuu," he replies, looking at her name tag, going through with humorously stiff formality, "Officer L Shaver."
She tilts her head in deference. "Take the signed declaration slip to the officer on your right. Next!"
He moves on, and is at the luggage carousel before his mind clicks: L. Shaver? Laurie? No, it couldn't be. It probably wasn't anyways. A coincidence, maybe, but the age still fit. Funny.

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