Going by the shop

"Wait. It says 'Cade' on it? And your name is Cade?" Maria asked slowly. Cade raised his eyebrows and nodded without looking at her.

He zipped the cracked computer into its case, folding the cord meticulously. His throat felt as though he'd been drinking sand. "I'm going by the shop," he announced. Maria stared at him with big question-mark eyes. "I'm sure it won't go anywhere," he added for her benefit, glaring icily at the thing on the chair. He hadn't tried picking it up. He wasn't eager to. But he could tell her curiosity was weighing on her heavily. He hoped that somehow, the thing would just disappear before he returned.

He gathered his clean black suitcase and slung the laptop's long strap across his body, smoothing out his jacket where the strap made it pull and bunch. Maria stood to follow him, but Cade heard a small voice ask her a question, and she stayed. That was probably for the best. She could warn passersby not to grab the thing on the chair, and he could have a few minutes' peace.

He strode toward the gift shop, where a burly fellow in orange trousers had turned to watch him approach.

"Oi." The man looked Cade up and down, while a cute girl leaning on the counter near him watched with interest. "What's all that going on by you?"

Cade shook his head. "Nothing, just, um. A little accident." Awkwardly, he patted his laptop case and tried for a casual smile. Instead he felt his face twist into a half-crazed apologetic grin. The security guard scowled.

"Lady scream because of an accident?" He looked at Cade's computer case with suspicion in his eyes. How concerned can you possibly be? Cade thought bitterly. I didn't see you move your ass to come see what was going on.

"Startled her," was all he said.

He knew he didn't need to upset security guards at the airport. He had seen a special once on television about people who got in trouble at the airport, and it had reminded him of World War II, only all the bombs were imaginary.

The security guard's eyes narrowed. He looked at Maria, who was sitting, chatting with someone, and looked unharmed. He stared for a moment at Cade with deep distrust, but eventually nodded, unconvinced, and turned back to lean across the counter.

Cade went to the back of the shop, suddenly aware that his usually impeccable hair had fallen in front of his eyes in all the commotion. He was trying to get it to stick back in place when a young woman of about 20, with long, white-blonde braids and an uncommonly frail look, tapped him ever so gently on his shoulder.

"Have you seen this man?" Her voice was deeper and stronger than he would have expected, pale and delicate as she appeared, and she was holding out a photograph. Cade took it from her by its edges and was surprised to see it had been clipped from a newspaper. The young man in the photo was playing a guitar, his eyes closed behind long, stringy hair. Cade's face scrunched into a thoughtful scowl as he reconsidered the question.

"Do you mean... is he famous?" She was stoic when he looked up at her. She snatched the photo back, not rudely, but in a way that made Cade understand immediately that she was all business.

"No. Thanks."

"Er, I'll keep an eye out, if he's here," Cade offered. He wished he had seen the boy she was looking for, if only to have a reason to keep her here a bit longer. He watched as she left the tiny shop, her light dress swishing underneath the short jacket she wore. Odd, he thought suddenly. No luggage.

He walked down each tiny aisle, then approached the counter carrying a cold bottle of chocolate milk and a can of hairspray. The security guard said nothing, but eyed him with intense distaste.

The End

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