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Two Hour Delay

by

Harry Buschman

At a small airport in Maine a man stands looking at the departure schedule monitor in the passenger lounge. He shakes his head in exasperation and looks at his watch.

He is a tall man, graying, and he walks with a nervous energy, glancing about him as though looking for someone he might recognize. He is not carrying luggage. His luggage is at the feet of a blond girl who watches him intently as he stands in front of her.

"Well," she says.

"Two hours. Can you beat it? I asked at the desk -- they said it's weather related."

"Well, we've got two hours then. What'll we do?"

"What can we do?" He starts to pace in front of her.

"You can sit down and talk to me."

"You want to get something to eat?"

"Why can't you sit down and talk to me?"

He turns abruptly and sits staring at the departure monitor.

"You're afraid, aren't you?" She asks.

"Afraid? Afraid of what?"

"Somebody might walk by who knows you." He looks at her quickly and turns away. She smiles, opens her purse and takes out a mirror -- looks into it carefully and smoothes her lips with the tip of her finger. She is a girl in her twenties, with dark blond hair and deep-set blue eyes. She is wearing a ski parka. "No one's going to see you up here, Walter. That's why you wanted to come here, wasn't it? Was it worth it, Walter?"

He leans toward her. "You know it was. It always is."

She kisses him impulsively and he draws back quickly. "I have to call home, he says. You don't mind do you?" She gives him no sign as to whether she cares or not. "I'll just step over there."

He gets up and moves to the departure desk and turns his back to the girl, then he removes his cell phone from his ski jacket. The girl stares at his back and, in her mind she can hear him making excuses for the weather and what a successful trip it was. She wonders what he and his family will do that evening -- where they might go this weekend. Will they have dinner with friends? Will they talk about their children?
She notices his shoulders are shaking with laughter as his back is turned. He comes back again and his nervousness seems to have disappeared.

"Are you sure you don't want something to eat? There's a Starbucks over there."

"What were you laughing at?"

"What?"

"You were laughing while you were on the phone. What were you laughing at?"

"Oh, that. My five year old picked up the phone -- you know how kids are." He smiled as he remembered the call, then he realized there was no reason to smile.

"I'll call you tonight or tomorrow." He went on enthusiastically, "let's hope this sneaking around won't last much longer. I want us to be together -- the way we are now." His face sobered a bit. "But we have to be careful, you know. A step at a time; it won't be long, I promise ... Oh my god! There's Ken Carpenter!"

"Don't panic, Walter. Go to him. Go home with him -- tell him we were just talking. The sad part is I wanted to kiss you goodbye -- now I can't." She turns away from him. "Call me when you can."

İHarry Buschman 2004
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