Ebb And Flow

“Would Alexandre Denis please report to the Air Canada Customer Service Desk. Alexandre Denis, please come to the Air Canada Customer Service Desk located at the international check-in.” The kid’s voice sounded thin and weak over the PA system, barely decipherable over the constant ebb and flow of conversation that filled the departure hall. I wanted to rip the microphone out of his hand and do it myself.
 
“Do it again,” I growled after another twenty seconds had passed without Alex turning up.
 
“Sir, it takes time to get anywhere in this place,” the kid said around the nervous lump in his throat. “You have to -”
 
“If you’re getting tired I’d be more than happy to do it for you.”
 
“Sir, please restrain yourself. I understand that you’re under a lot of stress right now but I’m just trying to do my job, okay?” I didn’t think he understood the situation at all but I turned my back on him and returned to surveying the crowd. It was either that or a right hook to the chin and a lengthy visit with airport security.
 
I never would have guessed that so many people would be flying out of Vancouver on a Tuesday morning. It wasn’t like it was Spring Break or summer vacation or anything like that, but my field of vision was filled with families and businessmen shuffling around each other with mountains of luggage in tow. I tried not to let my eyes linger too long on the families huddled together – whether they were laughing, expressionless, or screaming at each other, it was too hard to witness just then.
 
A flash of red against black in my peripheral vision caused me to snap my head to the right with my heart in my throat. But it was only a teenager in an over-sized Angels jersey, demanding to know where the hell he was supposed to check in for his flight to L.A. and why the hell didn’t nobody know what they were doing. My hands balled into fists and I stuffed them in my jacket pockets with a grunt and turned back to the kid behind the counter.
 
“Is there any way to check which flight he’s registered on? I’m sure you can pull that up on one of the fancy computers you’ve got back there.”
 
“Sir, first off – these computers ain’t that fancy. My cell phone is more powerful than any of these ancient beasts.” This comment earned him a shocked sideways glance from another representative but he ignored it. I was so caught off-guard that I had to bite my lip to stop from smiling. “Secondly, there’s no way I can do that for you – that would be a total breach of protection of privacy laws and I don’t make nearly enough money to go through that hassle. So either he’s already gone, he’s sitting on the runway as we speak, or he’s in the terminal somewhere listening to me call his name over and over. That’s all I can tell you.”
 
“I’ll take door number three,” I said as I rubbed the heels of my palms into my eyes. I could feel my resolve leaking out of my body as I leaned against the counter. After a few fleeting days of easing up, the world was back to kicking me around.
 
“Me too,” the kid told me. “Because I know that you’ll keep making me do that announcement every two minutes until that last flight takes off – I’d rather this guy just show up and get you off my case.”
 
I nodded my head and stared into the crowd again. This time my eyes kept falling on the faces of couples saying their strained goodbyes before one would collect his or her carry-on bag and turn to go. It occurred to me that I had never been a part of a scene like that, not at the airport at least. I had gone through similar motions whenever I had left Cara behind at the apartment when a fight called me out of town but the long wait in the airport was always a lonely one. I allowed myself a brief moment to wonder what Dawn was doing at that very moment before bringing my thoughts back to Alex.
 
“One more time,” I said over my shoulder. “Please.”
 
For a final time the words floated through the recycled air, landing in ears and empty corners and bouncing off the sterile walls. I overheard someone ask in a voice filled with irritation, “How many damn times are they gonna call that guy? Ain’t it obvious he ain’t here?” I sighed and stared at the scuffed floor at my feet, reluctantly accepting that I was too late. I began to wonder how difficult it was going to be to find a doctor to give me medical clearance for the fight on Saturday. And what the hell was I going to tell Cara?
 
“Nate?” The question was nearly lost to the sound of a passing luggage cart. “What are you doing here?” I looked up to see Alex standing in front of me, a black duffel bag slung over his right shoulder and an unreadable expression on his face.
 
“We need to talk,” I said simply, shoving relief harshly aside. I knew the battle had only just begun.
 
“I have to take care of my family Nate – you cannot change my mind.”
 
Just as I opened my mouth to reply the phone in my pocket began to ring. I yanked it out with a scowl on my face, expecting the caller ID to display the gym’s number, or maybe even Gregor’s. The noise from the crowd surrounding me fell to a dull roar and the lights of the terminal dimmed as I realized that the number that was actually staring up at me was my own.

The End

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