(Post-A-Day Challenge, Day 28)
It’s Friday. You know what that means….
The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
© 2011 Sheila McClune
Teri tactfully avoided discussing my trip any further when she sat back down at the table. Instead, we speculated as to whether or not Jill in accounting was pregnant again—she’d been dressing in loose clothing a lot lately—and tried to decide whether or not Steve in Marketing bought a hybrid because he really was environmentally conscious, or because he thought it would attract chicks. (I suspected the latter.) She told me about her upcoming vacation plans (Cabo, next month) and shared the news that her middle-school daughter had made the honor roll for the third time running.
When we finished eating—and after a second pint apiece—she insisted on calling a town car to take me to the airport. “Really, Maddie, it just makes sense. Your car is in the parking garage here, right? And that’s already paid for the month. So it won’t cost you extra to leave it here, while it would cost you to park it at the airport. And the company pays a flat monthly rate to the town car service, so it’s not like it’s costing us anything. Besides, I can’t let you drive after you’ve been drinking.”
“I haven’t had that much.” Though we’d downed those pints pretty quickly, now that I thought about it.
“Still, I’d feel better. Please, Maddie?”
“All right.” Besides, it did sound easier than trying to find a parking space in a remote lot, then having to catch a shuttle bus in to the airport. We detoured past the parking garage so I could get my luggage out of my car.
Teri waited in front of the building with me until the sleek black town car arrived. As the driver took my carry-on bag and tucked it in the trunk, she handed me a card and a couple of folded up ten dollar bills. “Tip money,” she murmured. “And the card is for when you come back. Call them, and they’ll come pick you up and bring you back here.” She bit her lip, then put her hand on my shoulder. “You packed condoms, right?”
My cheeks burned. I turned to stuff the card into my purse. “I thought you said you weren’t my mom?”
“I’m not. Just a concerned friend. So did you?”
I’d meant to buy them, really I had, but I’d run out of time. Maybe I could grab some at the airport. But Teri was waiting for an answer. I hedged. “Teri, it’s the twenty-first century. No sane woman goes off for a long weekend with a guy without condoms anymore.”
“Well, just make sure you use them.” Her eyes followed the driver as he came around and opened the car door for me. “And have fun, okay?”
“That’s the plan,” I said, but my stomach flip-flopped as I thought about being alone in a hotel room—and a hot tub—with Paul. “And Teri?”
# # #
The town car sped me smoothly to the airport, depositing me at the curb. I breezed through check-in, thanks to my first-class ticket, and there wasn’t even much of a line at security. A glance at my watch showed me I’d have plenty of time to stop off at one of the airport gift shops once I reached my concourse. So when the underground train arrived to take me out to the concourse, I settled onto the bench seat across the front of the car with a weary sigh.
Tired as I was, though, I smiled at the thought of the flight ahead. First class! I might actually be able to catch some sleep on the five-hour flight. Especially after I’d had another drink or two, which I planned to do. Wasn’t that what first class was all about, after all? Free booze? And then, after that, there would be a deluxe hotel room, and that hot tub…and Paul. Heck, we might not even make it to the convention!
The other three people sharing my train car – it wasn’t very crowded at that hour – clung to poles in the center of the car, looking like they were already half asleep. I hoped they’d wake up when they got to the correct concourse. I grinned, imagining to myself that if they didn’t, they’d just stay on the train all night, shuttling endlessly back and forth between the terminal and the concourses.
An overhead speaker blared. “The train is approaching the station. Please hold on for arrival at Concourse B.” The snippet of music accompanying the pre-recorded voice was, as always, far too cheerful, especially for ten o’clock at night. Two of the three pole-hangers shifted sleepily and turned to face the door. As the train slowed down, I tightened my grip on my carry-on bag. Almost there, almost there, almost there…
But before we could quite reach Concourse B, a flash of greenish light temporarily blinded me, and suddenly the train was bumping over what felt like a field of boulders instead of rolling smoothly along steel tracks. And then, with a screeching, crunching, grinding sound, the car jolted abruptly to a halt.