Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chapter 10: November 17, 2030 Air Taxi

Monday night, Cass called to make sue that she was still coming. Lily had assured him that she would be there in time for the 10:00 a.m. flight. He said he’d taken a later flight so that he could make his eight o’clock class in Boulder before he left.

Lily felt like a stupid little kid. She’d never flown anywhere except once or twice to visit family in New Orleans. Who could on a farmer’s income? Family vacations had meant trips to national parks or to see the stock show and shop at the malls in Denver. She’d certainly never been on a two day get away alone with a boyfriend in the middle of the week.

Her knowledge of the nation’s capital extended mostly to backdrops of evening news broadcasts and half remembered figments from junior high civics. She’d dropped out before she got to government in high school. She didn’t read the paper. She preferred dance music to news and talk shows. She’d passed on her first chance to vote last year.

The day after Cass asked her to go, Lily had bought a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine and a tourists guide to D.C. Travel light, both sources recommended. But, what did that mean? Should she bring boots, in case it snowed, walking shoes to see sights in, or heels for dinner? Or, all three? Would the loft where they were staying have a hair dryer, soap and shampoo, or towels? Somehow, she kept herself to a probably too heavy backpack, that looked like she was bound for the Yukon, and a little blue purse in place of her usual satchel of tools. She decided to wear a bright blue silk blouse and jewelry under her leather biker’s jacket, in case the biker look scared him off.

The post-rush hour traffic was light as she rode her motorcycle up I-25 and turned onto the Northwest Parkway, on her way to the Jefferson County airport. Most commercial flights ran out of the Denver International Airport, but MMAT’s air taxis shared runways with private jets owned by doctors, lawyers and business chiefs with too much money. Flying MMAT was nothing like the trips to DIA she remembered from growing up. Instead of a full fledged terminal, a neat little one story brick building with a sign that looked like it belonged to a fast food restaurant or a gas station sat in front of a hanger, one of several at the airport. Parking in a lot the size of a small park and ride, in front of the building, was free. It was full of luxury cars and government issue vehicles. Several of the cars were attended by mobile maintenance crews, tuning them up while the owners were away. Lily parked her motorcycle a few steps from the front door under a small shelter that also housed several high end touring bicycles. When she walked in the front door it was nine o’clock.

The one official at the desk greeted her.

“Are you here for the nine-fifteen flight to New York? Or, for the nine-thirty flight to Chicago?”

“Actually, I’m here for the ten o’clock flight to Washington D.C.”

“Oh, you’re early. What is your name?”

“Lily Matsunaka.”

“And could I see your I.D.?”

Lily showed it to her.

“Could I take your backpack?”

“I could carry it on.”

“You don’t need to worry about any delays, we’ll have it right back to you as soon as you get off at Reagan National Airport. We could put your jacket with the luggage as well, if you’d like.”

“O.K.”, Lily said, and the gate person took her bag and her leather jacket, and put it into what looked like a motel laundry cart.

“Would you like a coffee, or juice, or a morning paper? Our table at the other side of the waiting room is well stocked.”

Lily looked, and it was indeed well stocked. She grabbed a donut and juice, but decided against the paper. It would be embarrassing to be caught by Cass reading the comics.

Lily had made several trips to the bathroom to adjust her makeup and jewelry by the time Cass arrived at ten minutes to ten. The waiting room bulged to six or eight people every few minutes, and then nearly emptied on the quarter hour.

“Hello, Mr. Jackson. You’re companion, Ms. Matsunaka is already here.”, the attendant said. The attendant didn’t ask for his I.D. He tossed his neat black flight bag into the cart bound for Washington, and then came up to Lily and gave her a peck on the cheek and a small hug.

“I’m glad you made it.”, he said.

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