Walking away from the counter, I catch sight of one ridiculously attractive black-haired woman coming toward me. She has a phone to her ear with one hand, pulling a wheeled-suitcase with the other. She smiles directly at me. She looks familiar but, still, I turn to see who’s behind me that she’s really smiling at.
On the phone with Serge, Riva says, “I am looking right at him. Gotta go. I will let you know how it goes.” She hangs up as she reaches Alex.
“Alex? Is that you?” the ridiculously attractive woman asks.
With enthusiasm that surprises even me, I say, “Hey! Small world! How’s it going … uhhhhh?”
“Riva,” she helps.
“No, that’s not it,” I try to keep a straight face. She does not laugh. “Aren’t you one of Christian’s girlfriends?” I ask. “You look different somehow. New haircut? Gain weight?”
Her jaw drops at the “weight” comment, but she lets it pass. Finally, she says, “I am not wearing my colored lenses. And Christian and I are not together anymore. Not that we ever really were.”
“Colored lenses?” I ask, looking into her captivating eyes. “You say you’re not with Christian, eh?”
“Contact lenses,” she explains. “I sometimes wear the green ones.” Flirting now, she adds, “That’s right, I am single.”
“Me, too!” I say. She’s not surprised.
“You are not with Cheryl anymore?” she asks. “Interesting!”
“That’s right,” I announce happily. But then I divert the conversation away from my ex-, for fear it will ruin this awesome buzz I’ve got going. “How have you been?”
“Great! You?” A guilty look flashes across her face, but I don’t know what to make of it.
“I could not possibly be better,” I say, and actually believe it, thanks to the drugs.
“Are you waiting on someone?” Riva asks, looking around.
“Aren’t we all?” I joke. She looks confused. More seriously, I add, “No, just standing here waiting for my muse. I was hoping you were it.”
“I’m sorry, what?” She’s even more confused.
“Never mind,” I change the subject. “You coming or going?”
“Going,” I say. “Definitely going places.”
I don’t answer. I just stare at her, then start smiling, looking deeply into her eyes. Remember, I’ve been popping pills all day. I refuse to be held responsible for my actions. That’s the good thing about drugs.
“What!?” she asks. “You’re creeping me out.”
“Oh sorry, I spaced out for a second,” I apologize. Digging a hand into my pocket, I ask her, “Wanna see something?”
“No,” she giggles. “Not especially.”
I pull out the bottle of pills I’ve been taking – I don’t know why – and ask, “Want some?”
“No!” she responds immediately, then says, “No, wait. Yes, let me see.” She reads the label aloud: “Triphenocyclizine.” Handing it back unopened, she asks, “How many of these have you taken?”
I start counting on my fingers. I get up to almost ten when, very sure of myself, I say, “I don’t know.”
“OK, well,” she says. “Good seeing you again. See you ’round.”
Confused, I say, “Yeah, okay. See ya.” I give her a semi-salute. Watching her leave, trying not to stare at her ass, I say, “Soon, I will be dead. And I will never have sex again.”
Feeling the weight of my stare, she turns, smirks and waves goodbye. I raise my chin in response, then stare off into space.
Back on the phone with Serge as she walks away, Riva says, “His prescription is for something called ‘triphenocyclizine.’ I have never heard of it, but it must be psychotropic.”
“It is,” Serge replies. “I did that.”
“I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve,” he laughs. “And you’re welcome!”
“For what? I was not prepared to deal with a man on drugs.”
“It’s a very mild psychotropic,” he defends himself.
“Not when he’s taking them by the handful,” she says.
“Oh,” he sounds genuinely surprised. “He seemed the type who would be a good little boy and follow the instructions on the bottle.”
“This is difficult enough, Serge!” Riva complains. “He is a genuinely nice guy. Well, a nutcase now, thanks to you, but not a bad guy. Why couldn’t you give me someone who was already a terrorist? I know how to deal with those assholes.”
“Too easy,” he counters. “You’re better than that. We all have high hopes for you, and this is your test. Don’t fuck it up.” He laughs again and hangs up.
“Fut pe …” she starts to curse in Moldovan, then stops herself. No use getting angry.
Moments later, it is time to pass through the airport terminal security checkpoint on my way to the departure gate. I hate security checkpoints. I never have anything to hide. I just hate them. Who are these people to presume I’m guilty until proven innocent? I dig into my pocket for another pill.
At the checkpoint, the line is long. A few minutes into the wait, I entertain myself by joking with anyone who will listen.
“These guys would crap their pants,” I say to no one in particular, “if they had an actual terrorist to deal with.”
The look on the faces of everyone around me says, “Uh oh.” The man directly in front of me creates as much distance between himself and me as he can. It’s futile. We are next to each other in line. How far can he go?
Holy crap, it can’t be. It is. The man is my old “40-something shopper” friend from the pharmacy this morning! What are the odds?
“Hey, man, how’s it going?!” I ask cheerfully.
He does not reply. Instead, he drops out of line altogether, just to get away from me. Chicken. He is walking very fast, looking over his shoulder. Now he is running. And now he is being tackled by security guards. Poor guy. I should look him up when I return.
Returning my attention to the line in front of me, I notice a young, pre-teen girl eyeing me, probably hoping I’ll be arrested, too.
Her father smirks. Pointing at me, he tells his daughter, “He’s gonna get his ass kicked.”
I say loudly, “I doubt any of these idiots can even draw their weapon without shooting themselves in the foot! Bunch of Barney Fifes. They’re probably only given one bullet each. God help us if any real terrorists come through here.” I am laughing now. No one else is.
Two security officers – one male, the other one female, which makes sense if you think about it – nod to each other and start toward me.
Three feet away from me, the male officer barks, “Sir! Please step out of line and come with me.”
“Why are you yelling?” I ask calmly. “You’re three feet away.” With an irreverent smile, I then add, “Besides, I thought the whole idea was for people like you to keep people like me in line.” Again, I laugh … alone.
The female officer is not amused. “Sir, please.”
I do not move. The male officer, still barking as if from across a great distance, says, “Sir, if you do not come with us immediately, you will be forcibly removed.”
“No!” I reply, now matching his volume. “You work for the government. That means you work for me. You come here!”
The sneering father still nearby says, “Good luck with that.”
He’s right. I probably shouldn’t have taken that path. I probably am going to get my ass kicked now. Pointing at the female officer, I say in a more normal voice, “Or just send her over here. We’ll frisk each other!”
Looking around at my “audience,” I say, “You kids will need to cover your eyes.”
Several people laugh. Finally. Tough crowd. Next thing I know, I am being handcuffed by the woman officer.
“Ooh, handcuffs,” I joke. “Kinky! You will have to excuse us, folks. We’re gonna need some privacy.”
More people finally join in the laughter. Pointing at a sign on the wall, the male officer reads aloud, “Security is not a joke!”
Those who were laughing stop, afraid they might be handcuffed next.
“I’m sorry, officer,” I say. “I didn’t see that sign. And here I thought airport security was a joke. A bad joke. Is there another sign anywhere …” I look around. “… a sign saying something like, ‘Born in the wrong decade? Missed your chance to be a Nazi? No worries! Join the TSA. It’s the next best thing! And you get to grope people!’”
I see a younger man nearby, just cracking up, saying to his friends, “Holy shit!”
“Where’s that sign?” I finish my rant.
As they drag me to the front of the line, I am still performing for my audience. “And that, folks, is all you have to do to get to the front of the line!”
With the guards once again at a safe distance, people resume laughing, shaking their heads, talking about me as I am dragged off to a room just around the corner.
Once inside the interrogation room, I am tossed roughly into a chair. It groans as I sink in. The male officer says, “Okay, funny man. What the hell was that all about?”
“Exercising my freedom of speech,” I say. “Good exercise! I have that right.”
The female officer says, “You want to know about rights? You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney …”
The phone on the wall rings. The woman stops Mirandizing me. The male officer glares in my direction before answering it.
“That’s my attorney now,” I joke.
Speaking obediently into the phone, the male officer says, “Yes. Uh-huh. Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am.”
What a suck-up. Typical. He hangs up and whispers into his partner’s ear. The woman is visibly deflated. She moves in behind me. I’m a little worried what she might do.
Her partner sighs, “You are free to go.” And the woman removes my handcuffs.
The man explains, “You have friends in high places.”
“Since when?” I ask. Neither one of them answers.
Escorting me out the door, the woman says, “Now, get on your flight and shut the hell up.”
I say, “Bite me.” She moves toward me. I wag my finger at her, “Unh, unh uh! I’ve got friends in high places, remember?”
Turning to leave with her partner, I hear her say, “God, I could beat the crap out of that asshole.”
“Better yet, just shoot him,” her partner adds, giving them both a laugh.
But I’ve already stopped caring about them. Who is this “friend in high places?” I can guarantee you, I have no one like that in my life. Maybe my guardian angels have been on vacation the past couple weeks, felt guilty about what’s happened to me, and are now doubling their efforts to get me back on the right track?