It came to my attention that I should focus on deepening my characters. As it goes, things should actually happen in a story. Funny, because I have known for a while that my personages spend a lot of time thinking. What’s wrong with thinking. That some people don’t want to read it. While everyone wants to read stories where things happen. Can I help it if I am reading a book of essays and poems? Essays and poems don’t need to have things happen. Anyway.
Let’s do an experiment. I will write without exercising any hesitation or second guessing myself. I will simply write, probably not write simply. It will come out like this: each sentence action packed, a chance to write happenings.
The story of an airport arrival.
Mencia had been working airport security for five years when he noticed something out of the ordinary he could not report. To be exact, the five year mark was at the end of the week, but on Monday he had been working four years eleven months and twenty seven days. The thing out of the ordinary was a man wearing a flamingo hat and a toucan vest and a penguin pair of slippers standing at the airport arrivals terminal day after day.
Lamentably, between scanning the halls, and ridding his security car to and fro the terminals, a dork like that — to borrow Mencia’s word — is easily ignored. Flamboyant clothing doesn’t trigger any sentiment in a sturdy security officer. It wasn’t like he was TSA, harassing poor mothers and suspicious looking passengers. Mencia literally worked airport security, he was basically a mall cop, with a gun and a starched shirt.
How could he have missed him? That Monday, he just noticed him for real, but with that eerie recall of feeling it wasn’t for the first time, maybe last Friday he had seen him, payday, but Mencia couldn’t focus due to the government shutdown; did he work that weekend, yes, but no money . . .
Tuesday. The same man stood at arrivals, same bird themed get-up. He stood there and rubbed the print of his thumbs together, hands clasped, elbows to the barricade, as he stared past the automatic glass doors vomiting arriving passengers. Mencia couldn’t capture the sight without a pang in his stomach. What was he waiting for? It couldn’t be a who, Mencia pondered, confused, rubbing the sweat of his hands over his crisp pants. (Payday’s coming up, will he get paid? Damn government shutdown.)
Wednesday. The same man, the same arrival doors, for at least an hour, sometimes two, the same dorky man, with the same pink hat, rainbow vest, and slippers, standing at the barricade, rubbing his thumbs together, a lost gaze in his look, as if gaining a lazy eye just staring at those automatic glass doors. Fatties and dumbies and crooks and hookers and dweebs and doe-doe brains all stepped through the door, but not a single person that struck the bird man in any visible way. It wasn’t even as if he maybe saw the person he was waiting for. Not a single twitch on him. He had that stoic stolid almost malignant look behind his — was Mencia just noticing this? — Tweety bird glasses. He had found some just like it just the other day, unattended — but didn’t bother to look for who had lost them. Government shutdown.
Too busy to care about this bird, either. How poetic: a bird at the airport. Thursday, right? Mencia now rode with excitement. Payday coming up. The bird man coming up, too, the guy bird who never found his arriving lover or partner, or thing, or whatever, but showed up at the same time every day — of course, until . . .
Mencia pulled up to arrivals on his cart, sipped on his extra large water bottle, all he could afford, water. The straw, red, slurping, boring him to his gums, as he stared into the Tweety bird glasses of the man who never found what he wanted. Mencia had what he wanted, just no money. He had a job, for one (no money); had an apartment twenty minutes away from his job (which he would have to pay rent for somehow); had two uniforms, one to wear, the other at the dry cleaners (which he couldn’t pick up), and a pair of sweatpants that he loved (luckily didn’t need to wash). He slurped the last drops of faucet water.
After an hour and thirty minutes, the bird man let out not a sign or gasp or sign of any emotion. He just turned around and left. Mencia followed his gait with security officer eyes, beady, sweaty, confused.
Payday. Friday. But the money didn’t come. Instead, immigration officers from homeland raided the airport and arrested three of Mencia’s coworkers. They didn’t have papers, apparently. Mencia had papers. He didn’t have a girlfriend, a TV, or carpet. But the man had papers. And clothes. No money yet, but . . .
He reached for his gun.
“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!”
Bird man had a bomb strapped to his chest, massive mother fucking thing, with c4 or whatever those things are with and, there’s usually more security at arrivals, but they all got arrested, Mencia was the only guard at this area. It was Mencia, man, just him. And this crazy bird man, with his Tweety little eyes.
Mencia’s gun was raised. He scoped right between his eyes. Sweat everywhere, finger over the trigger.
“LET’S NOT DO ANYTHING STUPID.”
Bird man turned to look at Mencia, a maniacal smile on his grin on his mouth on his face. A cartoonish fuse coiled itself to a detonator in his hand, under that well-rubbed thumb of his. It was only a matter of time. He must have been scoping the place out all this time.
Mencia took a step forward, boldly.
“YOU CAN BE THE HERO TODAY, DROP THE DETONATOR.”
The bird man ruffled his nostrils. His nose shook. It turned into a beak.
He flew away.
Mencia woke up with cold sweat on his brow. He looked at his phone.
Saturday. Fucking Saturday. Still no money. Government shutdown.
He stepped to his closet and pulled out his uniform. Inside, a pair of unused, folded, clean yellow glasses fell onto the floor.