Word Count 500
The 2E Shuffle
By Sam McManus
The low neon lights glowed brighter for a moment, then the hustle and bustle of feet moving past dimmed their vivacity in starts and stops, like lightning bugs trapped in a glass jar. Feet in sneakers, and loafers, and sandals, and even a few high heels, clicked past at a frantic pace, everyone headed somewhere, and not quite fast enough.
Wheeled contrivances sputtered behind and betwixt those pairs of feet, speeding up the pace, or slowing it down, depending on perspective. The bright television screens lorded over the whole procession, announcing arrivals, departures, and minutiae related to those arrivals and departures, but hardly anyone stopped to look at those television screens. There was too much to do, too many places that needed to be filled with waiting passengers, and they couldn’t be waiting if they didn’t arrive at Gate 2A, or 2D, or 2F.
A family of five rode the horizontal escalator, but they weren’t content to let it set the pace. Frank Johnson, a balding man of fifty, led the way, his Nikes scuffed from too many pickup basketball games to remember. Behind him was his oldest daughter, his stepson, then his wife of eight years, and his youngest, Sidney. Sidney was a girl after his own heart, even though she was barely ten years old. She also wore lived-in Nikes, but she had battered hers with the hammer from his tool chest, a proud moment, even though she banged her hand in the process and let out one hell of a “Gosh!”
So even though he set a frenetic pace, he was careful not to move too quickly for fear that she wouldn’t be able to keep up. Theirs was a vacation that was coming to an end, but he was acutely aware that they would miss their connection to JFK if they didn’t hustle. He had never been to Charles de Gaulle airport before, so the change from Gate 2A to Gate 2E was a huge one, especially since none of their little group had bothered to study the boards overhead that highlighted this shift.
When they arrived at 2A they finally saw their error, and they only had five minutes to spare. Hence the three-hundred-yard dash through the terminal. Luckily none of them had any luggage as it had been transported to the new aircraft when they landed. Unluckily none of them had any of their luggage in case they had to spend an impromptu night in Paris. Frank checked his watch once more, as the lights flickered on and off in the concourse, an energy saving feature, but one that served to drive a sane man insane.
The time for their flight had come and gone by the time he eased around the final pillar, gasping and sputtering, hands on hips. His wife, several paces behind, shook her head, knowing it was no use. On the overhead monitors throughout the terminal a notice was displayed: Flight 265 to New York JFK – half an hour delay.