The Ascot

 

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Rebecca negotiated the enormous cart full of plastic bins around the throngs of nervous travelers. She took them out to the start of the security check point and dropped them off for the travelers to load with metal and electronic items. She returned to her station and gazed dully at the x-rayed insides of carry on suitcases, pulling out the ones that contained aerosol sprays and water bottles.

She tried to ignore the two coworkers that stood behind her gossiping about the people in the crowd. The bald one complained about all the dirty underwear she had to touch that morning. The toothless coworker commented that Rebbeca’s shirt was wrinkled.

Rebecca was about to go to lunch when she saw him across the room. He was standing at the end of another agent’s X-ray belt, looking for his luggage with vaguely concealed panic. He was tall and sharply handsome with thick blond hair that had been carefully tousled to look as though he had just emerged from bed. He was wearing a smug smirk, torn jeans and a silk jacket over a white tee shirt. He was also wearing an ascot.

Rebecca noticed that the agent working his belt did not even pull his luggage or pull him aside for a search. She thought that this was a mistake. They were supposed to search anyone who looked suspicious and there was nothing more suspicious than an ascot. The man collected his luggage and began to head to his gate. Rebecca decided to follow him.

The man walked with a purposeful strut, until he stopped and went into a bookstore. Rebecca stood near a table of books, subtly following his gaze. His intense brown eyes surveyed the magazines. She watched carefully to see which one he would pick up. She was guessing he was either a classical musician, a movie producer or a mental patient. In any case, she thought it best that he was followed.

He reached for a copy of, Vanity Fair, he looked at it for a moment, but decided on Down Beat instead. She smiled to herself; she loved jazz.

He walked to the wine bar and went inside. Rebecca realized she was stuck as she couldn’t drink on the job. She headed for the pretzel stand and watched him from a distance. He ordered a wine and swished it around in his mouth a bit before swallowing it down. Brown mustard dribbled down Rebecca’s chin as she watched him drink and chat with the bar tender.

“God, what a pretentious yutz,” Rebecca thought.

All of a sudden, the man seemed upset. He seemed to be asking the bartender a frantic question. He paid his bill and walked out into the terminal. He looked at the departures and then took a cell phone out of his pocket and made a phone call. He walked right by Rebecca as she quietly gobbled the last bits of pretzel and pretended to read a safety poster.

“Hi, it’s me my flight was canceled….. I’m not sure, the next flight to LA isn’t until 7:00. It looks like it’s Southwest.”

He hung up and headed into the airports day spa. Rebecca returned to work. On her break she told her boss that she would need to take a few days off as she had to go to Los Angeles. She said her only living relative, her aunt was sick. She bought a ticket on the 7:00 p.m. Southwest flight via Travelocity.

She finished her shift and headed to Ross where she quickly obtained a large backpack two blouses and two pairs of jeans and a week’s supply of undies and a toiletry kit.

She headed back to the airport just in time to catch her flight. The man in the ascot was sitting right up front,  flirting with a pretty young stewardess.

She took her seat in back and tried to plan an exit strategy so she would not lose him when the flight ended. She could pull out her badge and tell the stewardess that she needed a passenger list then she could find out the man’s name.

She waited until after the drinks had been distributed. She went up to the stewardess and said she had overheard something in a conversation that might have been suspicious.

She found out the name was Timothy Parker, He lived in West Los Angeles. She said the address over and over again in her head as she went back to her seat.

“Timothy,” she whispered. She was disappointed she had hoped it would be Holden or possibly Miles. She thanked the stewardess and sat down again.

The plane landed and she went to baggage claim in the hopes that he was there, but he was not. She took the train to a Motel 6 in East Hollywood where she enjoyed a sleep and a shower. The next morning, she woke and went to the address that had appeared on Timothy’s driver’s license. It was a gas station.

She stood outside, looking in for a moment. She went inside and bought coffee. She asked the man at the counter if Timothy was around.

“He sets stand up at 10:00.”

She looked at her watch it was 9:55. She went for a short walk and returned to the gas station. She noticed a long line of men standing in front of a brightly colored cart. As she got closer she saw a sign that said, “Ascots $5.99 2 for $12.

She got in the line and waited to get to the window for an hour and a half. She glanced around at the men in the line and noticed that the business had reached a huge demographic.

Burly men in construction hats and undershirts stood in the line sweating in the hot sun. Men who wore business suits over body hugging tee-shirts discussed the merits of this ascot stand verses the other in town. Pimply teen agers stood giggling at text messages and taking pictures of the cart. Rebecca found it odd that there were no hipsters in the line.

When she reached the window, Timothy poked his head out.

“May I help you”

“Yes,” she said. “Charging $12 for 2 ascots is not a discount. If one ascot is $5.99, customers will actually pay two cents more for two.”

“I never said it was a discount,” he said.

“Oh, okay,” she said.

Rebecca got an Uber and went back to the airport. She flew back to Portland and shot herself in the head.