Sunday, 27 November 2011


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Stress, fear and phobia even when on holiday in an exotic location.


AIRPORT, said the sign.
The passengers on the bus grew restless.
Some fidgeted.
Some got up out of their seats.
They touched their bags.
Then they sat down again.
The bus slowed down.
Peter: Fuck, just look at this.
Wendy: What? What?
Are we there already?
Peter: No.
But it’s a mess.
Just look at the traffic.
We’ll miss our fucking plane at this rate.
Wendy. Shhh.
Stop that Peter.
Most of these people speak English you know.

They could see the gray mass of concrete ahead.
As the bus got closer, the jumble of buildings turned into an airport.
Peter: Fuck.
It’s about time.
Wendy: Please don’t swear darling.
It’s so ugly.
The man behind them got up.
He was dark skinned and sweating.
He wore a YELLOW SUIT.
He reached up for his backpack.
It was red and bulky.
But it was obviously not heavy.
As he got it down, his arm brushed against Wendy.
She put her hand up.
Peter: Watch what you’re fucking doing!
Wendy. Peter!
Don’t talk like that.
He didn’t mean it.
Peter: No fucking manners, these people.
The dark man scowled at them.
He said something under his breath
He moved down the aisle.
He joined the end of the queue waiting to get off the bus.

But most passengers simply sat in their seats.
They waited.
They knew it would be some time before they were off the bus.
Peter and Wendy were amongst them.
They’d missed their plane already.
There was no longer any hurry.
They knew they were in a mess.
And it would take hours to unravel.
Papers. Questions.
More queuing.
Longer queues

Peter saw the dark man get off.
He had his backpack on his back.
The red material contrasted strikingly with his YELLOW SUIT.
Peter thought it looked bulky but not heavy.
He wondered what was inside.
Peter: He’ll never get that through security.
Wendy: What?
What are you talking about darling?
Peter: That prick who was sitting behind us.
The one with the red backpack.
The guy who bashed you on the head.
I wonder what’s inside?
He seems to be taking great care with it.

There were soldiers everywhere.
The bus drove off in a cloud of fumes.
Peter: Thank fuck that’s over.
Wendy: Peter!
That’s enough.
Peter: Problem is, our problem’s not over yet.
Wendy: Don’t be such a pessimist.
I’m sure we’ll get another flight.
Peter: I’m sure we will.
But who knows when the fuck that will be?
They walked past a pile of sandbags.
Several soldiers were sitting around.
They were all smoking.
The man in the YELLOW SUIT was just ahead of them.
The red backpack was on his back.
He was talking on a mobile phone as he walked towards the DEPARTURES HALL.
One of the soldiers looked at him intently.
The soldier got up.
He took a few paces after the man in the YELLOW SUIT.
Then he changed his mind.
He went back to his friends.
He put down his gun.
He lit a cigarette.
The man with the backpack disappeared into the airport ahead of them.

The DEPARTURES HALL was bedlam.
Long lines of passengers were queuing at the ENQUIRIES DESK.
There was only one official dealing with the queue.
Children were running about.
Their parents were shouting after them.
Women in drab, dirty uniforms were sweeping the floor.
But it was a loosing battle.
Litter was dropped as quickly as they cleaned it up.
All the seats and benches were occupied.
Most by animated groups of dark skinned people.
The noise was immense.
Despite the NO SMOKING signs, smokers were lighting up with impunity.
No one stopped them.
Even airport officials were puffing away.
Peter: Fuck.
What a mess.
Regular announcements were broadcast over the PA system.
It was a loud noise, but Peter couldn’t catch a word of what was being said.

They found the airline desk.
It was deserted.
Posters showed happy, smiling people going on business trips or holidays.
Airline staff were on hand to assist thenm.
No one in the advertising bore no resemblance to anyone in the DEPARTURES HALL.
Passengers were milling about with worried looks.
A sign read OPEN SOON.
Peter: Fuck.
That’s all we need.
Wendy: I’m sure it’s right darling.
I’m sure they’ll be back soon.
Just a little patience.
That’s all you need.
Peter: I wish I had your confidence.

Peter: I need the toilet.
Wendy. Good luck.
I’m glad I don’t.
I can wait.
Until we get on the plane, I hope.
Peter found the TOILET MEN.
But it was locked.
He asked a man sweeping the floor.
The man shrugged.
Peter shouted: Lavatories.
Where the fuck are the lavatories?
A passing passenger said: Toilets?
They’re down in the basement.
And they’re horrible.
Good luck.
And if you find them you’ll need even more luck.

Peter went down a flight of stairs.
The smell was overpowering.
It stank.
He saw why.
The floor tiles were cracked and wet.
There was paper everywhere.
The urinal was blocked.
On a shelf in the corner was a bulky red rucksack.
It belonged to the man who was on the bus.
A man came out of one of the cubicles.
It was the only one that had a door.
He scowled at Peter.
He fastened the belt on his yellow trousers.
He went to the wash basin.
There was no water in the tap.
He picked up the backpack.
He walked back back up the stairs to the DEPARTURES HALL.

Peter found Wendy sitting on a broken bench.
There were passengers waiting everywhere.
Peter: Whose idea was this?
Wendy looked at him.
Peter: I’d never come back here again.
What a fucking dump.
Wendy: Well, it was your idea darling.
That’s what you said.
Your words exactly.
Peter sat down next to her.
He saw the man in the YELLOW SUIT.
He was sitting opposite them.
About fifty meters away.
The red backpack was at his feet.
He was still talking on his mobile phone.
His free had moved wildly about as he talked.
He was obviously agitated.

A message came over the public address system.
It was in several languages.
All of them were difficult to hear.
Peter listened intently.
Wendy: What’s it say, darling?
Is it our flight?
Is it time to board?
Peter: Fuck no.
No such luck.
Just some crap about unattended baggage.
He looked up and saw a paper notice stuck on the wall.
It was also in several languages.
Peter: Can’t even fucking spell.

The man in the YELLOW SUIT got up.
He looked around.
He was still talking on his phone.
He moved his back pack under the seat.
He walked off into the crowd.
The bright red colour of the left behind item burned into Peter’s brain.
Peter: Fuck!
I wonder what’s inside.
And why the fuck has he left it behind?
Wendy: What’s wrong darling.
Need the toilet again?
Can’t you wait until we’re on the plane?

Peter got up.
He went across to the back pack.
It was large and bulky.
He looked around.
There was no sign of YELLOW SUIT.
Peter’s heart picked up a pace.
He started to feel agitated.
He looked about in desperation.
Peter: What the fuck do I do now?
He saw Wendy looking at him.
She smiled.
She waved.
She put her hands over her swollen stomach.
She patted it.
Peter knew she thought the baby would feel reassured by her touch.

Peter walked across to a group of soldiers.
They looked at him.
Peter: Suspicious package.
The soldiers stared.
Peter pointed.
They shrugged their soldiers.
One of them offered him a cigarette.
Peter: For Christ’s sake, I don’t smoke.
The man looked disappointed.
Peter: Left baggage.
Back pack.
Passenger gone.
Peter grabbed his arm.
He tried to lead him to the problem.
The soldier pushed Peter away.
He started to shout.
He pointed his gun at Peter.
Peter couldn’t follow what was being said.
A man with some badges came up to Peter.
He said something Peter couldn’t understand.
Peter: Danger.
You fucking idiot.
Can’t you read your own signs?
The man with the badges started shouting at Peter.
Everyone nearby stopped doing what they were doing.
They stared.
Sensing trouble, some people moved away.
The man with the badges signaled to his men.
Two of them came forward.
Peter tried to shrug them off.
But they took him by the arms.
Peter: It could be a fucking bomb.
The man with the badges slapped Peter across the mouth.
They led him away.
Peter was shouting and struggling.
Peter: Leave me alone!
I’ve got a plane to catch.
And I must help my wife.
She’s pregnant.
But the noise of the altercation was lost in the general hubbub of the DEPARTURES HALL.

Wendy was getting upset.
Peter had been gone for quite a while.
Every now and again she got up.
From time to time she patted her stomach.
Wendy: Calm down darling.
We’ll be out of here soon.
Your dad must have an upset tummy.
She saw a man in a YELLOW SUIT walking towards her.
He walked straight on past.
He was no longer talking on the phone.
He was leading a young girl by the hand.
They went over to a bright red back pack.
He pulled it out from under the seat.
He opened the zip.
He took out a large, stuffed black and white panda bear.
He gave it to the girl.
She gave a shout of joy and kissed YELLOW SUIT on the lips.


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