If Carlos had marbles, he would have tried to flick one in.
“How long until the train?”
Six hours. “Reply hazy,” said Carlos, half-eyelidded to mask the frank magnetism of the flickering inner thighs. “Ask again later, but fuck off until then.”
Tim stirred in his seat, having lost count of the Mississippi-seconds that had escalated into the realm of the exhaustively long. “Ffffffffffffuck,” he declared.
He pulled himself from the chair, hearing a small rip of leatherette chair as it sweatily tried to follow him, and ambled over to the ticket counter. A newspaper-reading attendant sat behind the inverted T of speaking space, presumably designed to minimized the less-welcoming effect of regular Amber Alerts in far-away counties, Terrorism Alert warnings, and the stern message that those who left their baggage unattended would be left to the overactively imagined punishments of a few uniformed and enthusiastic sadists with latex-clad arms greased up to the elbow.
Carlos had muttered earlier: “I always get the impression that the better part of the Border Patrol have done time. Who better to stop the rampant threat of terrorism than a group of gold-tooth fuckers with prison stars and cobwebs? Bin Laden will shit himself.”
The teller, at least, looked calm and bookish, pen ticking out the day’s Sudoku while also attending to the consternations of synonym-finding in the crossword, a well-worn thesaurus at arm’s length further indicated the commonality of the hobby. Air conditioned chill poured from the bottom of the window, drenching Tim’s front with a ball-clenching shiver of envy.
“Six hours.” The teller hadn’t even looked up from his paper, smirking only with an accompanying 9 in the centre square of his Sudoku.
“Fffffffuck. Excuse my French.”
“Mmh. Dastardly prevention, six letters…”
Carlos, on the other hand, had pulled his eyes from the peeking come-hither hairs, and concentrated his attention on the efforts of a pinched woman pulling back on the leash of a dog whose unfortunate lineage had probably been assembled from breeders who simply hated the well-being of other people. He couldn’t tell the exact breed, but it was almost certainly the kind that would make the most satisfying sound when crushed roundly beneath a heel, a sound that would, with equal certainty, be drowned out with the relieved sighs of everyone around.
A mail courier came in, apparently celebrating a canid bastardization of Daddy-Daughter work day with the appearance of a black lab whose size and beauty was mentionable even in the absence of a comparative Snap-Crackle-Pop mutt such as the one owned (though the word was only barely applicable) by the pinched-looking woman.
“He doesn’t bite,” smiled the mail courier.
The fuck he won’t, thought Carlos. Chow down, if there is a God, the lab has a taste for mouth-sized mutts. Silent thanks to a provably existent deity were whispered when the mutt launched itself at the lab with decibel-scale disregard for its own safety. Come on, come on. The sudden image of brain-atrophy’s general correlation to the degree of domestication materialized in the very front of Carlos’ prefrontal, aided by the lab’s three degrees of difference from its lupine counterparts. Do the smart thing, do justice to Cujo and Cerberus and all those other wonders of your kind, o lordly lab.
The lab, however, pussified in the clear absence of its balls, backed off, the mail courier giving an obliging dogs-will-be-dogs look at the pinched woman.
“Foofers does bite, I’m afraid,” said the desiccated dog-owner.
“Fffffffuck.” Came the distant exclamation of Carlos.
“Agreed.” Said Tim, neatly settling back into the welcoming slop of sweaty leatherette.
The clock ticked on with a mean-spirited disquiet. Crowds had come and gone in the face of false hope bursting up from the depths, before being dragged under again: “It’s going the wrong way.”
“Fuck’s sake. I just lost count of the Missisippis.”
“You need to get a watch.”
“You need to watch as I bang your mom.”
“Well, you are virginal enough to get a pity-poke from her.”
“And that’s how you were born.”
“Only if you seesaw the blood alcohol levels of both party with the time involved. I’d say she’d need a new liver after your thirty seconds in heaven.”
“Heaven is right, man. Just love those Pearly Gates on her.”
“Yeah, I like that, Biblical. I can see that you’re speaking from experience, getting that whole Rod of Judgment thing from those curly-haired cherry-bum cherubim over at the local hole of glorying.”
And so on…
“How long until the train?”
Three hours, but Carlos was giving out a band-saw snore, squeezed ass-to-neck inside the leatherette dividers along the bench, his bucket hat pulled over his clumped hair.
“Would sir care for a nap?” Asked the affable Stephen Fry Jeeves, conjured up from the air in a gentle poof of dulcet-toned English. Jeeves proferred a tray of imagined daiquiris, strawberry slush drenched in the humid sweat that if nothing else was sensible for the mirage’s setting.
“I’d like that, Jeeves, but more useful would be my time-control slippers.”
“Very good, Sir. I’ll simply inform the laws of natural temporal passage that you are not to be bothered. Would that be all?”
“No, Jeeves- if you’d be so good as to modify my imagination’s output into something more… erotic, I’d be much obliged.”
“Also a very good choice, Sir. The usual able-breasted sophomore nymphomaniac line-up?” Stiff upper lip, eyebrows ever-rising into an unwrinkled and unfettered brow, Jeeves always understood without passing judgment. Or, at least, without passing judgment in a manner that wasn’t in some way drily tolerant a barb of disapproval.
“Shirtless. And no bras, Jeeves, I will not abide that.”
“But of course. I assume also that Sir will, once he has wiped off the ropy strings of excitement from his abdomen after the passing of that so-momentous occasion within the restroom’s cubicle, appreciate something to alleviate the injurious self-loathing?”
“The Long Island Iced Tea- without the snark, Jeeves.”
“Your wish is my command, sir.”
And so on…
“Uch, dude, you stink.” Said Carlos to the rejoining and unnoticeably flushed Tim.
Tim paid him no heed as once more he slapped into a chair unhygienically marked as his territory. Antiperspirant, he thought, all the while waving a dainty pinky against the refreshing heat-hallucination cocktail, should have brought some of. Make a note to Jeeves.
The magnetic cougar flaps across from Carlos had now been replaced with a lumpy figure swaddled in bandages in the area of a surgical brace. The man’s arm had been placed in a plaster cast set at an angle against his torso, propped up by a sturdy looking device that together with the other white wrap of gauze gave the curious sense that if the man were tipped sideways, the fingers on his broken side would drip tea. His eyes snapped open in time with a uni-tooth mouth.
“Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” Came the wail from the oxycodone-deficient man, settling in for periodic repetitions apparently unnoticed by the apathetic tolerance of the observers.
Two hours. Carlos pulled the bucket-hat down over his ears as far as could be done.
“Fffffffuck.” Said Tim.
And so on…
“As long as my dick, cabron, so stop asking.”
“Hey! You’re right, it’s here!”
Carlos leapt up with an implacable ferocity. “Oh, fuck! Yes!”
Masses set into the neat lines of the queue-forming variety. Yips of excitement joined a burbling hum of grateful smiles.
“Only three hours until we’re there!” cheered Tim.
“Three hours? What?”
Carlos squinted at the timetable on the wall. Slowly, his eyes screwed themselves together in some tremendous mental constipation to combat the shitstorm. “All the times are printed in military time. 24-hour clock. That arrival time is in the AM.”
The Unison, “Fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuck.”