Bezel looked at his watch for the third time in under a minute, yet was still irritated to see that time was continuing on in a very fixed manner. Blowing irritation from his nose, he leaned forward and ran his fingers through his unruly hair. His foot was tapping a manic beat.
“I’m just overreacting,” he said to himself. He said it because he wanted to believe it, even though he didn’t. There wasn’t any reason to think that he was overreacting; it had been over three hours since they were supposed to meet up, and she hadn’t shown. Punctuality was the lifeblood in her veins, and Bezel knew that if she were “late,” then she wasn’t really late.
The PA system slurred information about incoming and outgoing flights throughout the airport. Bezel wasn’t able to pick out anything coherent, and there wasn’t anything left in him that really cared to know. She had ditched him—him of all people! She’d left him there, tickets in his pocket, sitting in a butt-numbing, hard plastic seat that faced the great wall of windows that displayed the placid tarmac. Bezel sniffed back a fresh wave of snot and sat up in his chair.
“No, don’t think the worst. Think positive. She’s… she’s coming. She’s just running late.”
A busy looking couple lugging wheeled suitcases passed by him. He flashed an attempt at a tight-lipped smile—polite, but non-committal—but neither of them noticed him. Their heads were pressed close together, and the hum of their voices told Bezel all he needed to know.
“Running late,” he muttered. “And that’s the most pressing thing in their world.” He reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out a battered pack of kreteks. Flipping the lid, Bezel removed one of the black cigarettes and balanced it on his bottom lip, while he tucked the pack back in his jacket. “Lucky bastards,” he growled, then with a flourish, he produced a lighter from another pocket and lit the end of his clove infused stress reliever.
Breathe in… Hold… Breathe out…
The lights above him flickered.
Bezel looked up at the long fluorescent bulbs and watched as they flickered again. “Metaphor of my hope,” he chuckled, and continued smoking.
A few passersby noticed him smoking and gave him disapproving looks; dramatically covering their faces or barking out a few flaccid coughs. He even heard a small group of teeny boppers mutter, “…not even allowed in here,” and “…gonna give us all cancer.”
“You are the cancer.” He rolled his eyes and slumped in his plastic throne; turned his eyes lazily towards the oh-so-enthralling tarmac. “Splendor unrivaled…”
A couple of planes were parked at odd angles near where the blacktop ended and a field of green-going-to-gold wild grass began; and the tail of one plane that was parked at a loading dock could barely be seen peeking around the corner. The sky was mostly clear; a few thin clouds could be seen, static in the upper atmosphere, stretched to the point of being translucent. And the Sun was hanging low in the sky, not quite touching the horizon, but blazing that inevitable deep red of the coming night. Bezel extended his arm all the way out in front of him and closed one eye. Then turning his palm to face him, he counted the number of fingers that fit in the space between the bottom of the Sun and the top of the horizon.
“Three…” He did some quick math, crinkling his nose as he did. “Forty-five minutes, then. Forty-five minutes of sunlight left before the world goes dark.” He checked his watch, then turned back to watching the tarmac. His mind wandered.
Why isn’t she here? Why did she decide to stand me up? Is it something I did? Or is she not ready? Am I really surprised that she got cold feet and pussied out? No, think well of her. She’ll be here. We promised each other, we promised we’d meet here.
A headache was blossoming in the soft of his temples; a steadily pounding pressure, growing. He rubbed his eyes and with a few deep drags, finished his kretek. Dousing the tip on the heel of his loafer, he flicked the butt at the window and got to his feet. He groaned and rubbed feeling back into his butt, then turned in the direction of the food court.
The lights above him flickered again.
The food court was on the other side of the airport, and aside from a few stands selling convenience themed gadgets, there was very little to look at between where he’d been sitting and where he was heading. The PA system gurgled out another list of arrivals and departures and wished “everyone a wonderful d-d-day.” Bezel smirked, hearing the glitch in the automated message.
“You have a good d-d-day too,” he mocked.
“Thank you,” responded the PA system.
Bezel stopped walking; his face was drawn into a confused grimace.
Did the PA just thank me? His headache was continuing to grow. He rubbed his temples and looked around at all the other people milling about. No one seemed to be questioning hearing anything strange. They were all chatting to each other, walking in varying speeds of intensity, or sitting in the plastic chairs looking extremely bored. The only folks who seemed confused were the older couples (always overweight; the husband insisting on tucking in his Polo which only accentuated his gut) that kept pointing and bickering over which direction their terminal lay in.
“I’m just tired,” Bezel finally reasoned, then continued walking down the long stretch of uninteresting blandness.
The wall of windows gave way to walls of cement and drywall, decorated with slightly dated posters and signs, each pushing an upsell on services various airlines offered, or goods to purchase at the airport gift store; it gave this stretch of the airport a tunnel-like quality. Bezel shivered. A few dozen feet ahead of him, a vendor was selling t-shirts, magazines, and what looked like medicine. Rubbing his temples to relieve some of the pressure, Bezel walked up to the squat man and removed his wallet.
“Hey, you got any Tylenol?”
The tiny, round man looked up from the magazine he was reading and looked at Bezel with sunken, wet eyes.
“Tylenol. You got any?”
“You asking if I got Tylenol?”
“Yeah, I literally just asked that.” His headache was increasing. He rubbed his temples, his eyes squinted. The lights above him flickered.
“Everything is alright,” said the PA. Bezel looked up at the ceiling, wondering what sort of malfunction the PA was experiencing.
“Yeah, yeah, I got some Tylenol,” said the frumpy vendor. He made no move to retrieve the medicine.
“Well?” asked Bezel, irritation growing. The lights flickered again, and the smell of sulfur wafted briefly around him.
“Well… what?” The vendor was turning back to his magazine and sniffed loud and wet.
“Christ’s sake! Are you joking? Give me the Tylenol.”
“Hey, hey, hey,” shushed the vendor. He set the magazine down slowly. Bezel caught a glance of the cover: an old National Geographic with a grim-faced doctor on the cover. A glimmer of something bordering on recognition—no, realization—plucked a string in his head, but the pounding of his headache forced the feeling from Bezel’s mind. “Hey, no need to lose your temper, pal.”
“I wouldn’t lose it if you were competent at your job.”
The vendor slowly shuffled around his stall, pushing aside this and that with limp, lazy hands.
“Oh, I’m competent. I can do my job. It’s you who needs to relax, bud.”
Bezel pinched the skin on the bridge of his nose. He was tempted to continue chastising the vendor, but he did his best to try and get back to a pleasant demeanor.
“I’m sorry,” he offered. “It’s just… Headaches, you know?”
“Yeah, yeah, sure, I get it. Headaches.” The vendor finally pulled a small white pill bottle out from under the cramped counter. “They’re the worst.” He held out the bottle. Bezel grabbed hold of it, but the vendor wasn’t letting go. He tugged again, but the vendor’s grip didn’t loosen.