Tales of the Storage Space, Part 48

Martin staggered out of the cab that was no longer green but swirling shades of magenta. Overhead huge dragons, flying through the sky, roared.

“Is this JFK?” he asked the cab driver.

The cab driver clapped a hand to his forehead and sped away without a word.

Martin staggered backwards. There was a swooshing hiss, twice, and glass suddenly separated him from the outside world. Inside, everyone was dragging rectangularly shaped animals back and forth.

Red, white, and blue. He squinted hard and could make out the letters: American Airlines. He approached the counter, alternately squinting and widening his eyes in an attempt to see past the hallucinations.

The woman at the counter was…he was proud of himself for picking up such details…flirting with a man dressed in blue. Martin couldn’t quite figure out what the man in blue was wearing, some kind of uniform with something gold-colored pinned to it, but he saved his efforts for the woman at the counter, who was the important one. A hard squint even gave him the letters on her name badge: Carol. The man gave him a long look, probably feeling threatened by such a good-looking chap, and seemed to sulk away.

Didn’t matter; bloke was gone. Martin dug deep and came up with a prize-winning smile. He also tried hard to purge himself of any American drawl that might have infiltrated a British accent he knew women loved. “Hi, Carol, wondering if you could help me out. Need the best possible price you can give me on a one-way ticket back home to London. For today. Family emergency and all that. Don’t mind standing by.”

“Passport?”

“Of course,” Martin crooned, digging into his pocket. Bollocks! He only came up with those funny religious papers the cops gave him. Passport must be in the other pocket. But all he could find in the other pocket was his ATM card and a whole lot of cash. Hadn’t he checked for his passport? Or had he decided against it since he didn’t want to travel using his real name?

“A moment, please,” he crooned, trying to keep up appearances. “Left in a bit of a hurry.” Better to escape as far as London under his real name, where he knew many more ways to disappear and would be harder to get to? Or travel within the States with a phony name, if that was even possible? He couldn’t even make up his mind. Flustered, he started emptying the contents of his pockets onto the counter between them as he continued to search for the passport he just must have brought with him. He started with those funny religious papers the cops gave him.

“Here, let me see if I can assist you, sir,” Carol said, looking through the papers, then frowning. “You’re not with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, are you? I mean I love their new blue uniforms…always been a sucker for a blue uniform…but really!”

“What? No.” Martin was hardly paying attention as he dragged every last bill out of his other pocket, and topped the pile with his ATM card, still lost in furious debate over domestic vs. foreign travel. But his pockets were now empty. No passport. It would have to be domestic, if he could even get away with that without ID. He looked up and squinted hard.

Carol’s eyes were widening as she looked at the money.

“Change of plans,” said Martin, looking around quickly. No one seemed to be near. He shoved all the money over the counter where it would presumably land at her feet. “One-way ticket to…Los Angeles.”

Carol darted a quick look at her feet, took a very long pause during which she contemplated the ATM card left on the counter, then tightened her jaw. She seemed to be kicking the bills under the counter while pounding away at her keyboard. “It’ll have to be San Francisco. Flight’s leaving now. I’ve given you special pre-clearance. Got the passenger name…”

“Randolph Barclay,” he interrupted her, pocketing his ATM card.

Carol gave him a sharp look as she leaned on the backspace key, typed, printed, and handed him his boarding pass. “Enjoy your travel, Mr. Barclay.”

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