Friday, July 6, 2007
Best of Two Worlds (Prologue)
Rancy Salas inserted his credit card into the ticket machine at the Newark airport and stared at the monitor as two different itineraries appeared under his name. One was a first class ticket to London, the other a coach class ticket to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Both flights left at approximately the same time.
"Good morning, Mr. Salas," a ticket attendant greeted after checking his driver's license. She looked at her own monitor on the other side of the counter. "Oh, it seems you're booked for two different flights," she chanted, and looking up at Rancy, "Which one would you prefer, sir?"
Rancy understood every other word she said. An improvement over the last few weeks. Twelve years of English classes had not prepared him for fast conversations. Either that or he should've paid more attention in class instead of skipping English at least two days a week to play sports with his friends. He wondered how long it would be before he could have a fluent conversation. Enough to convince a pretty girl-like the one in front of him-to go out for drinks, without sounding like an idiot. He forced a smile before returning his stare to the monitor one more time and nodding, more to himself than to her. "Puerto Rico," he said feeling defeated. He would have to go home feeling like a loser. On the up side, it was so much easier to talk to girls there. Besides, New Jersey was cold and gray. London, well, he had no idea.
The attendant looked at him as if urging him to confirm his decision. He noticed her curly dark hair and looked at her name tag. It read Mariely Perez. There was hope after all. "Si, por favor. Puerto Rico."
"Porto-Ricou it is, then," she said and proceeded to complete his check-in process.
She's been here too long, he concluded. Newyorican, I bet.
"Would you like me to check-in that bag for you, sir?" she asked.
He stared at her until she pointed to the round leather case under his left arm. "No, no. Yo…," he patted his chest with his free hand, "with me." The leather case had been a gift from his family when they had last gathered to throw him a good luck party. He opened the bag to show her its content--his basketball.
The flight attendant opened her eyes in recognition. "Oh my gosh, you're that rookie! Great game the other night! I was watching with my father. He was so proud of the team, but then he got so pis… I mean, so angry, and'a…
Rancy smiled, brow furrowed as he tried to follow, until her large brown eyes grew even larger and she suddenly stopped rambling.
"Oh, oh, I see. So you've decided not to go to the Olympics? You're not going to London? Your name's all over the news."
Olympics was a word he easily recognized. It had been in his vocabulary from the time he was three-years-old. He scratched the back of his head and looking down at his shoes he shook his head. "Not for different country," he said. He hadn't been able to sleep the last couple of nights. Not since the offer was given to him. He was tired. He wanted to go home.
Her expression saddened. "But you have to…" It seemed she wanted to say more, but a person who apparently was her supervisor came to see if she needed help. The line behind Rancy was getting longer. The flight attendant reluctantly handed him his ticket and after thanking her, he walked in the direction she pointed, towards gate C-114A.