The lounge of the airport was nearly empty. Except for 3 people: the janitor, paining away and a couple. Or were they a couple? It was hard to tell from the distance. There was some sort of interaction between them but there was room to doubt the nature of their relationship. Had they just met? Had they been together for a while? Were they a “couple-couple” or just a “couple-of-friends”?
Too bad there were no microphones. Marcel had stopped watching TV or going to the movies the day he started his job as a security man at the airport. His duty was to watch the films made by the airport’s security cameras and report if anything seemed extraordinary. Reporting meant copy/pasting the event that aroused his interest and mail it to a superior who would study it. At least he thought it must be a superior. He never got any feedback for his work. Sometimes he wondered if anyone even read his mails and acted upon them or if he had just been given a phony address, along with his phony job. His wife’s uncle had gotten him the job. He had been jobless for some ten years already when he had developed a certain affection for his bottle. The ‘affection’ was a little too much and was starting to get out of hand, according to his wife’s family. His wife though, did not care much about it. She was barely home anyway. He did not know where she went when she left. He never asked. Until the day he asked, after he had downed a full bottle of vodka. He decided the answer did not please him and hit her with the empty bottle on the back of her head. He was too drunk to have done much damage and she was quick to take control of the situation and send him and his stupid bottle flying across the room. Once she had secured him on the floor, his both hands tied behind his back with those plastic cuffs she always carried in her pocket, she took her phone out of the other pocket and called her uncle.
“Donny. We have a problem”
10 stitches and 2 broken ribs later, he was off the bottle and into the cubicle at the airport watching movie after movie after movie. He had received the night shifts. Of course he had. Donny had been clear about it: “no more fucking around, kiddo. Or else…” And like in the movies he used to love before getting his new job, Donny had left the sentence unfinished, the threat hanging in the thick November air.
So here he was, watching movies, and loving it. He was positive he had never done anything more exciting in his life. He saw it all, the families running to catch the plane, then running back and yelling at each other because they had missed the plane; the business men traveling with or without their secretaries but never without some good porn in the toilets; the young kids stealing from the shops to the utmost embarrassment of their kin; the newlyweds, happy probably, but mostly fighting at the airport, far from everyone’s eyes, letting it all out at one another after months of preparations for a marriage that would end up costing them more than they had bargained for; the group of children with their teachers, one always seemed to get lost. He simply loved it, could not get enough of it and was sorry they had not yet set up microphones, although he admitted being ambivalent about it. He did have the extra pleasure of feeling like the best screen writer from Hollywood without the mics. With the sound, all his illusions would disappear and he would be faced with reality again. That is why he had never complained about the lack of microphones. And yes, before you ask, he did believe someone would have listened to him, taken his opinion seriously and acted upon it.
So there he was watching the janitor and the odd couple. The janitor had fallen asleep on his broom. The guy must have been a hundred years old. At least. Who had hired him? He was flabbergasted. He never really cleaned. He spent his time walking around the endless corridors of the airport with his broom in hand looking for anything of value that might have dropped from the passengers’ pockets. At night, when the commotion stopped, he would nap on his broom, until the airport came back to life at about 5 AM.
The woman was now sitting by the fountain, not far from the man. The man had his back to the camera. The woman was facing it and smiling. She was holding a big hand-written poster of sorts that was hiding her face and which read: “Ha! Gotcha moron! Hasta la vista!”
When she lowered the card, Marcel recognized his wife. He got up and rushed to the door but found someone had locked him in. He started screaming and hitting the door with his fists and was still screaming and hitting when the last plane took off that day, his wife and her lover in it.
(June 25th, 2013)
This story also appears on Julie Grey’s site, Just Effing Entertain Me