Peace and quiet

A long, straight line of padded chairs overlooked the massive plate glass that protected Gate A4 from aircraft fumes and screaming engines. It tickled Cade's sore heart to find the entire row unoccupied.

He excused himself by the travelers seated in clusters nearby and claimed his row, sidestepping along the window in the two-foot space between. The vacant chairs, which seemed to stretch out for miles in their repetition, watched together without comment as planes pulled up to the gate and left again. There in the dull sunlight they stood and patiently observed, a rapt and motionless crowd of identical moviegoers, grey and silver and austere. Cade selected one near the courtesy phone and and sat down to enjoy the show with them.

He sat stock still and upright, hands on the knees of his charcoat suit trousers, and silently supervised a ground crew as they tossed suitcases onto a cart. He wondered if, with his hair neatly parted and his dress shirt ironed smooth under his grey jacket, he might go unnoticed among the chairs. Would they detect an imposter among them?

Too bad for you if you do, thought Cade. I'm not moving. His shoulders quivered with inaudible laughter at the chairs' expense.

As he sat, his concentration was disrupted by an infernally jolly conversation behind him. The inward-facing seats in the next row, lacking all the discipline and severity of Cade's window chairs, were in use by a motley group of men with mismatched accents. He sneaked a glance over his shoulder. The Russian one looked older than Cade and had a big nose and messy, tousled hair. The two others looked younger, barely out of school, but were unshaven and spoke with accents he didn't recognize.

In time, their conversation slowed. Cade turned his gaze toward the tarmac once more, but found his reverie had been irrevocably disturbed. He heaved a dramatic sigh as he reached for his laptop.

He heard Russian-accented English mutterings, followed by a round of stifled snickers. His face grew hot. No, that's stupid, Cade comforted himself. I'm sure they're laughing at something else.

The End

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