Free Ticket to Nowhere: Chapter 2
A Stark Mystery
I rubbed the spot right between my eyebrows trying to scrub out the headache hammering the inside of my skull. Maybe I should have added some protein to the leftover gin wipe up.
I looked at the boarding time on my ticket. Two hours off. The scent of charred beef teased me, caused saliva to pool in the back of my mouth. I followed my nose. Why not? I had four sawbucks now and some time to kill. Might as well indulge a little.
Seated at the high-top, I tapped the envelope on the table. Flipped it over and over. Started to slide a ragged thumbnail beneath the seal. Before I could open the envelope, my steak arrived. Accompanied by a highball of Hendricks. Delicate notes of rose and cucumber drifted from the glass. I set the envelope aside and dug in. The steak was perfection, but questions swirled in my head.
Next assignment? What was the first? Who hired me? For what? Why now? And why Nowhere Topeka, Kansas?
Of all the doors in all the world… oh wait, that’s someone else’s line.
Lost in my ruminations I almost missed the crackle of the overhead paging system.
“Final boarding call for flight 1729 bound for Topeka Kansas”
Crap, crap, crap! I haven’t even checked in yet.
I flung a couple of sawbucks on the table and tossed back the last smooth drops of Hendricks. Wasn’t going to waste it. My eyes lingered on the sawbuck wishing I had time to wait for my change. The PA hissed and popped repeating the final boarding call. Well, someone is getting a good tip.
Snatching my faux eel-skin jacket from the back of the chair, I raced for my gate hurdling suitcases and small children alike.
Adrenaline pumping, heart racing, I slid into my gate just as the leggy blonde swung the gate shut. I’m on my knees at her feet, pleading with her, all the while trying to catch my breath. Maybe I should eat better, drink less, exercise more. I shook my head. That was a worry for another day.
The door paused, not completely closed yet. She would give in, open the door and let me board. I saw it in her eyes.
“Sir.” A breathy voice cried out behind me. “Sir? Sir!” The cocktail waitress from the bar moved toward me, her stilettos click, click, clicking against the tile floor of the concourse. She waved frantically.
I looked from the waitress to the gatekeeper and back again. Then I see it. Clutched in her hand. The mysterious envelope — my next assignment.
A quiet thud caught my attention, and I turned back to the gate just as the door snapped closed, right in my face. Still on my knees, I dropped my head.
Looks like I need to find another way to reach Nowheresville.
Continues in Chapter 3: