Terminal B

by Geoff Jones

I’m waiting here for my granddaughter to
Arrive… Her flight looks like it will be right
On time… I can’t wait to greet her… She’s
The major part of the legacy we all strive
So hard to leave behind… And it’s strange…
I can’t tell anymore if I’m an heirloom or a
Relic… But here I am nonetheless… I’ll feel
Better… Somehow younger… When I meet
Her at the gate…

The terminal is busy at this hour… It’s teeming
With life…

A slick looking guy is sitting cross-legged at
The lounge with a Martini in his hand… He’s
A little too smooth… Oily… Smarmy…But he’s
A keen observer… He doesn’t miss a thing as
He sits on a stool beneath a ribbon of neon
Light that hawks a two-for-one special on
Margaritas and imported bottles of beer… A
Smile creases his face and I’ll be damned
If I know why… It could be that he sees his
Waiter approaching with another drink… Or
It could be the woman in a sarong that reveals
An expanse of thigh that hints at all sorts of
Wonderful things while promising absolutely
Nothing… His smile widens as she airily breezes
Through the concourse on her way to some
Exotic destination… She does not return his
Smile… Oh well, he thinks… We’re all on the
Way to somewhere else…

This scene is all too familiar as a toddler is
Unleashed on his father who steps through
Gate B-4 in camouflage fatigues and a war
Weary look on his face… The little boy leaps
Into his father’s arms while his mother
Pauses at a distance in order to take in the
Full beauty of the moment… As this family is
Made whole once again if only until the next
Deployment… There’s really no end in sight…
Too many souls roaming the planet beyond
Mother Earth’s capacity to feed them… This
Is really what war is all about… Hungry people
Cannot be expected to behave well… And so
Soldiers will be shipped off only to return home
To families damaged by the separation… This
Will never change… It’s the human nature of
Things… Pollyanna is dead… And unicorns died
Long ago beneath an avalanche of lies and
And hubris… The world is in a perpetual state
Of war…

A pilot preens in uniform as he parades past
Passengers who wait impatiently to board
Their flights… A father kisses his daughter on the
Cheek as she leaves for her first day at college
With all of the hope and wonder that surely
Awaits her… The father wipes his eyes as she
Disappears from view… He looks downward to
Conceal his emotions… Men are not permitted
To cry… Across the way a mother welcomes her
Son as he arrives back home from school with all
Of the pride that a hug can convey… It’s a scene
That plays itself out a million times a day in airports
And train stations all over the world… And it strikes
Martini man as odd that so much joy and sadness
Can occupy the same space… The same place…
All at once… At the exact same moment in time…

There is a chapel next to a news stand on the
Second level of the concourse where the patrons
Of competing flocks pray for safe departures and
Arrivals… As the partisans of prayer gather here
Without conflict or controversary… And Martini
Man smiles an ironic smile at all this harmony…
As faiths of different flavors bind believers
And clerics together wherever there is a thread
Of commonality between them… Everyone wants
Their loved ones to land and take-off safely…
Blessings endure… Mitzva’s abound… And thirty
Minutes from now everyone will be at each other’s
Throat as faith is lost in reality… As soon as the
Saints and the not-so-saintly escape through the
Stained glass door…

A blind man with dark sunglasses and a service
Dog sits down at the bar next to Martini man and
Orders a beer from the bartender who looks like
He’s twelve years old… The bartender chit chats
With the man in a voice that is so loud that anyone
Within a mile could hear him… The man with the
Sunglasses chuckles, and says to the kid behind
The bar, “for Christ’s sake, I’m not deaf… I’m blind…”
They both break out in laughter… And Martini man
Finds this amusing as well…

A shiny multi-colored balloon escapes the grasp of a
Bratty kid and floats up to the top tier of the concourse…
It explodes in one loud concussive burst that echoes
Throughout the terminal… It sounds like a shot…
Man, you should see all the passers-by scatter or hit
The deck…It’s a sign of the times… It’s both frightening
And funny to watch this show unfold… Martini man and
The bartender don’t even flinch… The blind guy looks
Around as if he can see and then shrugs his shoulders…
But the service dog is on high alert… Plainly the dog
Is the brightest of the bunch… Too bright to hit the
Deck… And too devoted to the blind guy’s safety to be
Distracted by the chaos… You gotta love dogs…

A two-story wall of glass offers up a clear view of the
Tarmac… Layers of heat rise above the concrete and
Overwhelm the men and women who maneuver carts
And trolleys loaded with baggage from one conveyor
Belt to another… Their skin scorched red orange brown…
Looking leathery and much like the suitcases and the
Designer luggage they handle… My god it looks hot
Out there… The sun seems angrier than it used to…
Something’s gone wrong… You can’t turn a blind eye to
What can be plainly seen… You can deny anything… But
You can’t undo a result… You can educate ignorance…
But stupidity is without a cure… Enlist in the cause…
Even if only for the sake of baggage handlers and lesser
Heroes everywhere…

I have an intuitive sense about Martini man… He sits on
His bar stool sharing a laugh with the blind guy and the
Bartender… He seems happy enough… But there is a
Vacancy in his eyes… An aloneness that can’t be treated
By all of the Martinis in the world… Vodka mistaken for
Therapy… Maybe he’s brighter and deeper than the
Service dog after all… I’d love to know what he’s thinking…
Hmm… The speculation is all mine… But hold on for just a
Minute… I may be giving Martini man too much credit as he
Slumps down in his bar stool while holding onto his drink
With both hands as if it were the Holy Grail… I change
My mind… It’s a cinch that the service dog is brighter than
This bar fly… So much for giving him the benefit of the
Doubt… I look around with pessimism and don’t see
Much hope for humanity… Christ… What an awful mess
We’re in… But never mind… That’s just abstract bitching…
I need to lighten up… No one likes a cynic… And lately
I’ve grown so tired of my own blather that I loathe the
Very sound of my voice… It costs me nothing to give
Martini man a break… He’s drunk… So what…Who cares…

And older couple is meandering through the concourse
At a leisurely pace… On their own schedule… No worries…
They’ve earned the right to do so… They seem delighted to
Have reached that stage in life when knowing the exact time
Of day isn’t vitally important to their survival… They’ll reach
Their gate sooner or later… Everyone does… But they don’t
Seem to have a care in the world… They are totally lost in
Each other… I admire this… They inspire me… And they
Remind me of all the human things that prevail over all the
Clutter…

Meanwhile… I’m growing older as I sit here waiting at the
Gate…

I’m still praying for my granddaughter’s safe arrival… And
All this other stuff won’t matter a bit once I see her face…
Not Martini man… Or the blind guy… Or valiant service dogs…
At the moment it’s all about her…The flight lands and I see
Dozens of people through the wall of windows with brown
Skin rushing to relieve the plane of its cargo onto carts and
Trolleys in the sweltering heat…

And then…

There she is… Looking just like I expected her to look…
Bright… Beautiful… Confident… And of this I am certain…
This is the time of my life… Nothing else matters… Joy
Amidst the hysteria of being… She is all that could ever be
As I rush to greet her… And welcome her into the world…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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