Malan and Lathal board an international flight to Germany where their honeymoon will begin.
After making her beg for a while, he finally gave in and let her drive his convertible to Dallas. Slapping on his shades, he tapped the plastic bar on the side of the passenger’s seat that caused it to lean back slightly. As he relaxed and enjoyed the ride, he smiled with pleasure seeing his wife behind the wheel of the car he received as a graduation gift from his mother.
Their journey to Texas’ capital city was uneventful save for the lunch hour traffic they ran into on the interstate. On I-35 there was a fender bender that had bumper-to-bumper traffic for 45 minutes to an hour. Despite the delay, they arrived in the central part of Dallas around 1 in the afternoon.
Since they didn’t have to be at the airport until 5 that afternoon, which was two hours before their international flight departed, they decided to kill some time by doing some browsing at some of the stores they didn’t have in Hallow Oaks.
They visited a few retail chain supercenters but they didn’t buy anything until they went into a pet store. There they bought some snacks and a couple bell and ball toys for their cats, Flotsam and Jetsam. Their friend’s daughter, Trinity had enthusiastically and willingly volunteered to babysit their kittens while they were on their honeymoon.
The mistake they made was going inside a bookstore. Without intending to do so, they parted and headed for their favorite sections.
As she walked through the aisles, she hadn’t realized she’d lost track of time. She’d found a few books she wanted to buy. They were all in the romance genre, a couple were paranormal and the others part of series that was a fan. Paperback held lovingly in her hands, she went in search of her absent lover and husband.
Coming around the corner, she found him sitting at a table in the coffee house section of the store. Three books were stacked on the table to his left and a leather bound book was open on the table. His fingers tapped the side of the large cup of cappuccino; he lightly licked his fingers as he turned the page.
She smiled. Her husband certainly was a creature of habit. Quietly approaching him, he glanced up at his wife. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah,” he picked up his books and then took hers, stacking them on top of his.
Their purchases in hand, they left the bookstore, and then they went for a late lunch and early dinner at The Blue Moon Japanese restaurant near the airport. By the time they finished, the sun was starting to set in the sky. The orange, red and pink hues brightened the overcast skies.
Parking his car in long-term parking lot, he removed their luggage and bags from the trunk. She secured her purse straps on her shoulder. Her tote bag hung from her arm as she scanned the ominous clouds with concern. “I hope the rain doesn’t delay our flight.”
“Me too,” he agreed, draping the strap of his camera bag around his neck and slung his backpack over his left shoulder.
The wheels of their suitcases clacked rhythmically as they drug them across the Southwestern style sidewalks leading to the airport entrance. There were still quite a number of travelers at the airport but they both suspected that the place had been busy all day. They took their place in line with the other Continental Airlines passengers.
About 15 minutes later, they stepped up to the counter when it was their turn to check in for their flight. He put her dark blue suitcase on the scale and it was around 40 pounds. Its handle adorned with a white ribbon and her initials, L.H. were painted in red nail polish along its top zipper. It was a sign of seasoned traveler.
He hadn’t thought about everyone having luggage that were similar colors or styles, so it was a smart move to have some sort of personalized feature on their baggage so they could identify it quickly and easily once they reached their destination. She’d put a piece of white yarn on his suitcase handle that he now placed on the scale to be weighed. His bag weighed as much as hers had.
The Continental employee greeted them warmly. “Where are you both travelling to today, Sir?”
His wife handed him her passport; he held her hand in his as he placed his with hers on the counter. “Munich, Germany.”
A look of satisfaction was on his face as he checked their passports and their itinerary on his computer screen. “Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Hamel, you’ll be on Flight 1686 leaving from Gate C36 at 7 this evening, but it may be delayed because the area is under an extreme thunder storm warning until nine tonight.”
With what they’d observed from the dreary, gray horizon as they’d arrived at the airport, they’d figured as much. It didn’t matter too much to them though as long as they arrived in Germany safely.
“That’s fine,” Lathal said favoring the airline worker with a smile.
After tagging their luggage, the airline employee placed them on the conveyor belt where they disappeared with the others bags to be X-rayed for security purposes. Handing them their tickets, the blonde haired preppy employee looked at them apologetically. “I’m afraid that we no longer fly to Munich. Since you booked this flight before we changed our travel destinations, our airline has taken care of the arrangements for you both to take the train from Frankfurt to Munich.”
Once they arrived in Munich, they had tickets to take another train from the Bavarian capital southward to Augsburg where they’d start their honeymoon.
Malan nodded his understanding, and the man pointed out the two security checkpoints nearby and wished them a safe journey.
Again they stood in a long line of travelers traveling to various destinations in the United States and abroad on various airlines. It felt like they were waiting in line for the most popular rollercoaster at well-known amusement park. Except the signs said they had to remove their shoes.
His tennis shoes in his hands, his black socks tread across the worn bluish gray carpet. His wife placed her purse, tote bag and shoes into the big white tub in front of his that bore his camera bag, back pack, wallet, keys and shoes that were scanned by the X-ray. She was ahead of him; she had already gone through the metal detector.
He too went through without incident but a security officer stopped him for reaching for his camera bag and other belongings. Pointing to his camera bag, the officer said, “Sir, you’ll have to come with me for a more detailed inspection because of the suspicious material in this bag.”
His hands, fingers pointing toward his belongings, were about waist level. He remained casual and nonthreatening. “It’s just a video camera, a Nikon camera, lenses and film inside its canisters.”
Looking over at his supervisor who gave him a thumbs up, the employee said. “That’s fine, Sir, but you’ll still have to come with me. You see we have random inspections of travelers and you just happen to be lucky to be one of those subjected to it.”
He rolled his eyes in annoyance but complied as the officer requested that followed the officer over to a corded area. First the man asked if he wanted a private inspection; when the young actor declined the airport official instructed him to put his feet on the mat that had an outline of footprints on it. Out of the corner of his eyes, Malan saw his wife hid her laughter beneath her hand as the officer waved a security wand over his body.
Since nothing suspicious had been found, the officer told him he was free to go and wished him a pleasant trip.
Biting her lips so she wouldn’t laugh, she handed her husband his belongings. He murmured his thanks and she teased them as they walked through the long, winding, round corridors to the gates. Lower her voice to a whisper, she teased, “I didn’t know you were a terrorist.”
“Mmm. I’ll add it as a role I can play on my resume,” he slowed his pace distracted as they passed by a news stand that sold both hot and cold beverages.
“No,” She said softly. Her husband gave her a sorrowful and reluctant look; she gave him a gentle push on the back. “Let’s get our gate. By the time we get there, they’ll be boarding.”
They arrived at their gate a few minutes later. The windows showed the downpour of rain on the planes parked at the terminal and on the runways. An announcement came over the airport public address system, “Due to the severe thunderstorm in the area, Continental Flight 1686 to Frankfurt, Germany, has been delayed until 9 this evening.”
Glancing in his wife’s direction, his eyes had a triumphant gleam in them. She sighed, figuring he wanted to go back to that news stand they’d passed but he surprised her by moving forward and taking a seat in the passenger waiting area. Soldiers and their families, businessmen and other people hung around in the corner where the gate was; from what he saw their flight was full.
Still that didn’t put a damper on the excitement and pleasure that danced in his eyes. He raised his wife’s hands and lightly kissed her fingertips. “I’m looking forward to traipsing all over the places where you spent your teen years.”
“You’re excited, aren’t you?” She beamed at him. His fervor was contagious.
His exuberance and energy showed on his face. He’d visited many cities and states throughout the Southwest, so he didn’t really think he’d really travelled like his wife, a former military dependent, had. This was his first trip abroad.
“Hell, yes!” He slightly leaned over the rail; his hungry mouth sought hers and was rewarded with a passionate kiss. “I feel like I get to make up for the time you were missing in my life.”
She smiled brightly feeling precisely the same way he did.
The sound of the clock gonged when the large clock tower near their gate rang the 9 o’clock hour; the rain still hadn’t relented. There was another announcement over the airport public address system about a weather delay for their flight; Lathal started wondered if their flight was going to be cancelled until the next day. Her husband had his cell phone out as he asked her if he should book them a motel room not far from the airport, but she asked him to wait a half an hour.
As if God had heard her prayers, the storm calmed down to a light drizzle and a broadcast proclamation that the flight would start boarding in a few minutes. His anticipation grew as they called the frequent and first-class flyers and anyone with a disability or travelers with small children to board. They were in the fourth boarding group and their seats were on the aisle in the center of the plane.
Once all the passengers’ carryon bags were properly stowed, a video explained the safety features of the plane. It pointed out that there was an the seat pouch in front of them were magazines focusing on Continental travel destinations and duty-free products. Making their final passes to check through the plane, the stewards and stewardesses passes out head phones for the in-flight movies and TV shows.
After takeoff, the pilot told them information about their flight including their travel time, their approximate arrival in Frankfurt and weather in central Germany. As the passengers read, slept or watched TV, the crew served the meal. There was a choice of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and mixed vegetables or Salisbury steak topped with mushrooms and natural gravy accompanied with potato salad and baked beans. The meal was tasty and satisfying.
The plane smoothly flew in an arc that felt like a cradle rocking them to sleep; he read a little while but he found himself struggling to stay awake. Putting his book away in his backpack, he donned his headphones and tried watch the movie; he still couldn’t keep his eyes open.
The arm separating their seats was up, allowing his wife to lean against him. The warmth and love flowed from her; her head rested on his shoulder and she slid her hands around his arm. For him, it was almost like they were cuddling in bed.
Draping his arm over her shoulder, he slowly moved his mouth to kiss the top of her head, but she tilted her head, lovingly gazing up at him. Her tender, gentle lips gave him a sweet taste of her passion.
His fingers interlaced with hers; her fists lay over his beating heart. She smiled, brazenly brandishing his mouth with honeyed and fiery affections. “I love you, Malan.”
“Mmm, I love you,” he murmured huskily, deepening exchange. His fatigue hit him like it was a boxer who had knocked his opponent in the first round. It wasn’t really that late and he usually was awake a lot later than this on most nights. “I’m sorry. I …” He cringed as he tried to shake his sleepiness off. “I can’t stay awake.”
Her hand caressed his face and chin that still had a light layer of stubble; she gently kissed his rough skin. “It’s okay. Get some rest, Malan.”
His gentle touch brought her head back to his shoulder and then his heavy eyes closed in slumber.
The next thing he remembered was feeling a repetitive but gentle tugging on his shoulder and familiar voice calling his name. “Malan,” his wife’s sweet and tender voice poured into his ear. “Did you want breakfast?” She had an extra tray with croissant, crackers and cheese and hard-boiled egg she set aside for him.
Groaning in protest, he stretched slightly. Pain ripped through his sore, cramped legs that had been in the same spot for too long; he had a mild bout of fibromyalgia on top of it. He swore softly as reached into his backpack for some pain reliever and the milky coating of the medicine remained in his mouth even though he had drank plenty of water.
The harsh aggressive sounds of German mixed with English as the pilot made announcements he couldn’t quite process in his drowsy mind. At that moment, he wished he’d taken German with Lathal their sophomore and junior years of college, but his schedule was already full with theater classes.
He’d taken Spanish and had learned Japanese while he worked as a chef at the Japanese restaurant his last few years of high school and for a few months at the beginning of his freshman year of college. Not that helped him now considering that he was almost in Germany, but he figured he should be given some credit to have had the foresight to bring a German dictionary with him.
From what he saw out the aisle window where she sat, the sky was still dark. “What time is it?”
“It’s 5 in the morning,” she said, lathering a piece of croissant with orange marmalade jam. “We’re about an hour or so from landing in Frankfurt.”
His fist went to his forehead, he felt like he had a pounding headache. He looked at his watch and it was the some ungodly hour back in Hallow Oaks too. He groaned again. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” His tone was both bitter and grouchy. “I don’t think I even slept.”
Lightly kissing his cheek, she patted his shoulder. “That’s why they call it jetlag, Babe.”
Grumbling something sarcastic and nasty about jetlag under his breath, he hurriedly ate his breakfast as they had to return their trays and seats to their upright position since the pilot had announced they were starting their descent into Frankfurt. Dawn has just begun as their plane taxied across the runway. The German skies looked as dreary as they had when they left Texas.
The minute they stepped off the plane, he was assailed by a thousand sights and sounds of words that were both unknown and unfamiliar to him. On top of that he had next to no energy and was could barely function because he was so tired. He looked to his wife, who softly spoke just like a native to a German airport official, and wondered how it was possible for her to not be worn out.
Finding him lagging behind, she came over and took his hand. She gently pulled him along with her as she followed the signs with the German word Zoll (customs), Gepaeckausgabe (baggage claim) and Zug (train) on it. They made their way down a long corridor and came to a medium-sized gray tower that looked like a toll booth. Inside the official looked mean and strict; he supposed Germans were just like that.
An official in a drab black and gray uniform inspected their passports and asked them questions in German. He stared with empty unseeing eyes and was unable to answer; she answered softly. “Amerikanen. Nein … nicht.”
Nodding politely, the man stamped their passports as he returned them to her. “Haben Sie einem schoenen Tag.”
“Danke,” she replied. “Sie auch.”
His head was spinning; he felt like he was going to drop dead from fatigue at any moment. He felt completely lost as if they were walking through some complex maze. Somehow they made it to the baggage claim, and he thanked God that one of them had been blessed with navigation skills on this trip.
As she collected their luggage, that’s when he noticed she was just as weary as he was. Still, he didn’t understand how she was able to cope with the jetlag better than he was.
They took a internal underground tram from the Flugzoghof (airport) to the Bahnhof (train station). Upon arrival, Lathal asked for directions to their platform which was on the second floor. There wasn’t any time to sit down because the train was only a few minutes from departing as they boarded.
The conductor punched their tickets and directed them to their sleeping compartment. In the red curtained and carpeted hallway, Malan saw a blurry vision of a man in a long black trench coat. On the coat sleeve was a patch that looked like two wrestling snakes that looked like the Nazi swastika. Or was it some military insignia? His collar had a couple of golden cluster on it that indicated he held a major’s rank; he assumed the man was either an officer in the American or German military.
The stranger had dark jet black hair and a small black brush of a mustache above his lips. This unknown male passenger looked familiar. He could have sworn he looked like Hitler.
He shook his head. It couldn’t be. He was overly tired and was imagining things.
Lathal handed the train employee a 50-mark bill as a tip. After stowing their luggage in the small closet near the doorway, Malan pulled the curtain on the window closed, but Lathal immediately opened it up again. He closed the curtain again and as she opened the curtains he plopped down like a heavy boulder onto the bed.
She settled herself on the bed next to him. Caressing his arms, she gently instructed, “I know you’re tired, Malan, but you’re not supposed to go to sleep until later.”
Stubbornness and defiance shone in his tired brown eyes as he peeled off his shirt and tossed his shoes under the bed. Falling back onto the comfortable bed, his head hit the pillow and he uttered a murmur of satisfaction and pleasure.
“Malan!” She gently chided, lightly tugging on the belt loops of his pants. “Malan, get up! You can sleep later. He didn’t get up so she knew he had no intention of complying with her requests.
His hand on her back, he gently leaned her closer to him. His lips lightly brushed hers. “Come to bed with me.”
“Malan,” she began but he hushed her with a tender kiss.
It didn’t last long so she looked down at him. He’d fallen asleep, and she didn’t have the heart to wake him.
Slowly rising, she went to the window, closed the curtain and then lay down beside him. Resting her head on his chest, she nestled close to him and after a few minutes fell asleep herself.
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