A few bad forks



phl08.jpg picture by pemerytx



The airline wouldn’t admit it, but the baggage handlers was on strike was the word.  Everything were backed up, it was obvious.  Me and this sea of people was going to be in Philly for a couple of days looked like. 


The airline people was looking everyone in the eye, dead-on, telling them it were a weather situation and therefore it weren’t the airline’s fault and therefore they didn’t have to accommodate anyone, “so please wait in line, because you will lose your place if you leave the line, and it’s first come, first served as flights become available.” 


There was folk who took them seriously and lay down on the stone cold, Terazzo floor right there in the snaking line in front of the ticket counters, but there was no flights.  That airline’s whole operation was seized up, sidelined, and the airline people all knew it.


Some of the airline people was uncomfortable lying, you could tell by how nervous they was.  They looked fevered, glistening with a mist of sweat on their arms and foreheads.  And you could tell by their eyes.  Management must have told them, “Do not break eye contact with the passengers, whatever you do, or you will be fired,” and some of them, their eyes would start to flicker and fade in their heads, like to faint, if eyes could faint. 


But these airline people, they would not look away, whatever they did, whatever you said.  So for us folk it were like looking through the cracked windows of a rundown shack that held only ghosts of the folk that used to live inside.  I’ve been through troubles with the airlines before, so I just left that sickness and went on down the escalator to the baggage area. 


I picked my spot on the beaten-down carpet with all the others who didn’t have enough money for a place to stay overnight.  Or maybe they was too tight or pissed off to pay for a room when it weren’t their fault they was stuck here.  In a few minutes I’d make some phone calls, try to get a flight on a different airline or get a bus or a train or something.  But right now I just wanted to catch a wink of sleep.


I plumped up my duffle bag for a pillow and curled up on my side with my coat as a blanket.  The low hum of voices, broken by the occasional child’s high-pitched giggle or cry, became as a thick snowfall blanketing my ears and brain, muffling reverberating sounds and clouding over visions, until visions became bizarre scenarios, and scenarios became dreamless sleep.  The airport floor or heaven, it were all the same to me.


I woke to a jostling.  Some scared rabbit looking gal was trying to squeeze her cute little behind in between me and the guy next to me.  I picked my head up and looked around.  “Jesus, this place has filled in since I got here,” I said, genuinely surprised.


The scared rabbit drew in a breath sharply, and although it was ridiculous to whisper in this mess of talking people, she whispered urgently, “Oh, sir, I am so sorry to have disturbed you!”


“It ain’t no thing, ma’am,” I said.  I sat up and moved over to give her some room.  Of course this jostled the guy on the other side of me, but he was cool.  “Here you go, Ma’am.  Set yourself down right here,” I said smiling and patting the floor next to me.


The rabbit nervously shifted her weight over to the spot I’d made, spread her things out in front of her like she was setting up for a picnic, and flashed me a grateful glance and a quivering smile.  She couldn’t take it for long, though, looking at me, that is.  I laughed and said to her, “You’d never make it working for the airlines.”


She’d dug a breakfast bar out of her handbag and had started fumbling around trying to open it.  When she heard my airlines comment, she stopped fumbling and shot me a quizzical look.  “Excuse me?” she’d said before going back to the breakfast bar project.  I just shook my head and chuckled.


Finally I asked her, “Ma’am, would you like me to open that for you?  You look mighty nervous.  Ain’t you never been through something like this with the airlines before?”


The rabbit just stopped in her tracks and started to cry.  I patted her shoulder and said, “There, there, now girl.  It’ll be alright.  It always is.”  I reached for the breakfast bar, which she had a death grip on, and gently tugged at it.  I said, “Here, can I take this?  I’ll open it for you.”


She continued to cry, but loosened her grip on the breakfast bar.  I took it and started to open it.  “Geez, I see what you mean.  This wrapper is like my ex-girlfriend, won’t give nothin’ up!”


The rabbit both sighed and chortled at once.  I don’t know how she managed it, but she did.  I handed her the opened package.  She didn’t need to know I’d had to use my teeth to open it.  I don’t have nothing contagious, so I figured what could it hurt.


The rabbit took the breakfast bar with a shaking hand and nervously began to nibble at it.  Then she stopped short.  “Oh!” she exclaimed, one hand over her mouth, “Thank you, sir, for opening this, for your kind words…  You’re so…so kind.  I’m just so…so…”


She looked like she’d start up crying again so I jumped in with a quick, “It ain’t no thing, Ma’am,” and let her nibble her rabbit food in peace.


When she was done with the breakfast bar, she rummaged through another of her bags and pulled out a bottle of acidophilus tablets and a bottle of water.  She washed down one of the tablets with a swig of water and curtly returned the bottles to their rightful places.  She clasped her hands in her lap and sighed.  Her energy seemed to have shifted somehow, and she turned to look at me—she lingered a little longer in my eyes than before—and she asked me, “Do you have any regrets?”


I said, “Regrets?  Naw, Ma’am.  I mean I do, I mean I could.”  I patted her clasped hands and laughed.  I said, “What I’m trying to say is, yeah, I’ve made a bunch of messed up decisions, taken a few bad forks in the road, but when I look back, I see that under each particular set of circumstances, with the knowledge I had at the time, I couldn’t have made a different choice.  I never made a bad choice on purpose!”  I laughed again.


The rabbit looked shaken, just stared straight ahead.


“Ma’am?” I said.


“Where are you going?” she asked.


“To Houston, Ma’am,” I said.  “Where are you going?”


“To Charlotte,” she said.  And then she turned toward me and looked deep into my eyes this time and asked, softly, “Can I go to Houston with you?”


She sure was pretty, but I knew she was a bundle of issues I didn’t need.  So naturally, I told her, “If you want to, Ma’am.  I’ll take care of you right fine.”


She smiled, slipped her little hand into mine, and put her sweet, troubled head on my shoulder.




phl03.jpg picture by pemerytx



Missalister’s “A few bad forks,” copyright © 2009, was spun off the Sunday Scribblings prompt “#148 – Regrets.”  Click here for more on prompt #148 from other Sunday Scribblings participants.


Image hosting by Photobucket





PHL at night snagged form EPCO Group at http://www.epcocorp.com/images/MVC-287.jpg


Bench and Lighted trees found at http://www.photosfan.com/images/beautiful-christmas-lights1.jpg



And another video extra, an Edith Piaf song, here, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” with clips from “La Vie En Rose,” a movie that affected me in a very good way.


“Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”

Translated to English


No! Absolutely nothing…
No! I regret nothing
Neither the good that I’ve done nor the bad
All this is much the same to me!

No! Absolutely nothing…
No! I regret nothing…
It is paid, swept away, forgotten
I don’t care about the past!

With my souvenirs
I lit a fire
My sorrows, my pleasures
I need them no more!

Swept away the love affairs
With their tremors
Swept away forever
I leave with nothing …

No! Absolutely nothing…
No! I regret nothing
Neither the good that I’ve done nor the bad
All this is much the same to me!

No! Absolutely nothing…
No! I regret nothing…
Because my life, because my joys
Today that begins with you!




In French:

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien I Regret Nothing
Non! Rien de rien …
Non! Je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait ni le mal
Tout ça m’est bien égal!

Non! Rien de rien …
Non! Je ne regrette rien…
C’est payé, balayé, oublié
Je me fous du passé!

Avec mes souvenirs
J’ai allumé le feu
Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs
Je n’ai plus besoin d’eux!

Balayés les amours
Avec leurs trémolos
Balayés pour toujours
Je repars à zéro …

Non! Rien de rien …
Non! Je ne regrette rien …
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait ni le mal
Tout ça m’est bien égal!

Non! Rien de rien …
Non! Je ne regrette rien …
Car ma vie, car mes joies
Aujourd’hui ça commence avec toi!

14 responses to “A few bad forks

  1. I like how you snuggled us down into the story before summoning up the “regrets” theme. I kept wondering how bad silverware was going to come into play, until you reminded me of another meaning for “forks.” Kept wondering if our narrator was a Jersey teamster or Texas good ole boy: maybe a Texas teamster.

    So, anyway, I’m all snuggled in when the rabbit shows up, and did I ever enjoy that banter. ‘“Regrets? Naw, Ma’am. I mean I do, I mean I could.”’ Love that last sentence there.

    The next to last paragraph was classic Alister. Insight asserts itself, then gives way to silverware, and the hilarious “So naturally…”

    Left me to wonder how she chose him out of the entire sleeping airport ashram.

    Done any airport traveling lately, Lady A? Love/out.

  2. the stuff of which regrets are made — he shoulda, woulda, coulda, but not! — my feeling has always been that regrets are special mistakes – and none of us ever deliberately does something with a thought to screw ourselves up – none of us volitionally does a thing at a conscious level that we know will be bad for us — that’s the naive idealist in me speaking, maybe, but i don’t recall ever consciously choosing to use a dirty spoon that would fill me with the infections of all my regrets, but i’ve done – yes by god i’ve done done done it!!! — once againe you have brought entrancing words and folk in from left field with ya – good on ya!!!!!

  3. Surprise and delight seem to be the words for this week, and you’re just going to have to add mine to the stack – oh my, this was fun! Thinking about “Regrets? Naw, Ma’am. I mean I do, I mean I could,” is going to keep me smiling all day.

  4. Well, I aint surprised at all, but I am delighted. This guy of yours seems like one of us who have more regrets over things we didn’t do than things we did, even if they did sometimes turn out a little -er dicey. He may never say he regrets take’n her on, but he might think back regretting he didn’t just buy her a cup of coffee and leave it at that. What I mean is, he won’t regret the present ever (or the past that led him there) but he can for damn sure wish he was someplace else. Moral of the story? take the train.

  5. I fear “sleeping themselves back to stupid” may have to share space on the mantel with “I mean I do, I mean I could.” The first is back country observational genius, the latter is back country Dalai Lama. Okay, I’ll shut up now.

    Must be getting my feet – and mouth – back…

  6. Hi Miss. A, You’ve captured that other-worldly, purgatory-like experience of airports so well – with the remote and mechanical personnel, controlled by management and, most likely, protecting themselves from a wrath-driven uprising by passengers. The cowboy and the rabbit are crisp clean characters. I’m draw to caring
    right away. My favorite lines…”I see that under each particular set of circumstances, with the knowledge I had at the time, I couldn’t have made a different choice. I never made a bad choice on purpose”. True that!

  7. Hi Miss A,
    Quite an interesting tale here. I would not have guessed you’d lead me into a rabbit hole. After laying down to sleep, the rest of the story took me by surprise. Characterizing her as a rabbit was a strong move. I also liked the impersonal repetition of “airline people” because that emphasized the plight of you all lumped together. (and to my quirky sense of humor, using “forks” reminded me that rabbits use fingers… ;)

  8. Chica, if Austin ain’t workin’, you must needs get outta Austin, even if she’s completely made of paper. Sometimes the hipness gets downright infernal. Get thee south into the sticks to The Salt Lick for decadent barbecue (this from, as my kids have now anointed me, a confirmed “veg-head”) or pies in Wimberley or just someplace where trees and water can seep in and wash away all the “elegantly wasted” rhumba of the terminally hip.

  9. HEY ALL

    I wasn’t a very gracious host this time around. It’s bad enough this piece was lacking expected elements of story, but it came in the wake of what Pachal’s last comment alludes to, work demands. I’ll be under the gun for the rest of this month. I want to keep up posting as much as possible to keep up the exercise of writing, but the caveat is that it may be only that, exercise, more bad forks. I love responding to comments—that’s a good deal of what blogging’s all about for me—and I also want to keep that up as much as possible. I hope you all bear with me : )

    And PASCHAL, I can only wish hip was the difficulty! When it comes to long distance telecom routes coming into a city, one usually finds oneself where a hobo might—in the less savory parts of town—along the tracks, going through railyards, and through industrial areas and the like. But I’m assuming even Austin’s worst is practically purty. Certainly, on paper, that’s the case here where I am right at this moment, on the UPRR along the N Mo-Pac Expy where Loop 1 and SH 183 get all tangled up. I’ll be wending my way through the industrial parts over to I-35N. Paper BBQ, pie, and trees and water sounds divine, though, and I will make sure to get me some before the month’s out ;-)

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