Second Chance Layover — Part 2 (FREE Holiday Blog Serial)

Sandra Bunino and I have collaborated to bring you a FREE holiday blog serial that runs in 18 parts of usually less than 1000 words for each post—easy reading on your lunch break.

Prefer to read on a Kindle or Nook? No problem, just head over to Smashwords every Wednesday beginning December 4th for the weekly digest to catch up.

Go here to read part 1 to catch up. I’ll wait…

And now, PART 2 of Second Chance Layover (Click title to read a quick summary of the story.):


Chicago O’Hare … it looked the same yet different from the last time I passed through. The bookstore had changed and so too had the fast food restaurants. The latest trendy franchises able to afford the exorbitant airport rental rates turned over with alarming frequency.

New faces were the same in their harried expressions as they moved from point A to point B, towing screaming kids on leashes or pushing them in strollers. Old-timers ambled arm and arm as if enjoying the sights and scenery of the Boardwalk at sunset. No doubt they had arrived at least two hours before their scheduled departure time from the cozy suburbs of Chicago. Crisp businessmen and women deftly side-stepped and dodged all of them with an efficiency borne from too many hours in airports.

I scanned my gate area. More people had arrived and filled in the seats near me. My laptop whirred in silent labor warming my thighs. Time to give the old girl a rest.Meet_Cal

Attention. This is a flight announcement for Eastaway flight 4500 leaving gate A-56. Our airplane has just taken off from New York. Estimated time of arrival is three hours. Please check the monitor for future announcements as we may have a gate change due to weather.

Three hours? My groan formed a chorus with others’ seated near me. I checked my watch. Three o’clock. Assuming the plane arrived at six, and allowing another half hour to clear out the arriving passengers and their messes, I’d be in my assigned seat by six-thirty. If we needed de-icing or O’Hare takeoffs were backed up, I might spend another hour inching toward the head of the runway. Wheels up at seven thirty and a three-hour flight to LaGuardia would put me in at ten thirty. Half hour to get my bag and catch a cab. Another half hour to Will’s house. During the day, I’d allow at least an hour. The half hour savings provided little consolation for the three-hour delay.

I rubbed a hand over my brow pondering my options. I had a long time to mull over my choices. A distraction from my thoughts would be welcome. Maybe a book or magazine and a coffee. Perhaps a movie? I had time for an entire movie on a rented DVD player.

I could also erase my memories over a drink or two or three. No. That wouldn’t work. I had tried it already. The only thing alcohol overdosing did was make me stupid, and then sick. Stupid could strand me at the airport even longer. With my back already sore from the L.A. to Chicago leg, my muscles twitching from inactivity, I dismissed imbibing altogether.

I scanned the area, drinking in the faces of my fellow travelers. An elderly man sat across from me chatting on his cell phone in a voice stripped of all discretion. Two seats over, a teen slumped down in his seat, ear buds firmly in place and his eyes shut. At least I think they were shut. Hard to tell with a canopy of bangs covering most of his face. The only sign of life from the boy was the rhythmic jiggling of a leg. If I cocked an ear in his direction, the faint rumbling bass of his music wormed its way into my brain. Next to him, a bottle blonde, middle-aged woman, probably the boy’s mother, flipped the pages of a celebrity gossip magazine. Her nails flashed by with each turn of the page—zebra print with red tips. Good God. As if the magazine weren’t bad enough.

An old unwelcome wave of anxiety washed over me. I hated those magazines—predatory, vicious, and unforgiving.

No. I wouldn’t think about her. My brain had grooves worn from too many “what if” and “if only” musings. Those types of thoughts did no good, and it was past time to let them go. I would let them go, and making a new home far away from the festering malaise was step one.

A white card near my foot caught my eye. I’d seen them around, stuck in the nooks and crannies of the airport vying for the nanosecond attention spans of by-passers.…the great place and way for busy travelers to meet.

I rolled my eyes and flipped over the card. Say goodbye to airport boredom!

Well, there was that.

A smart code on the corner tempted me to scan it with my phone, to bring up the website…just for shits and giggles. No big whoop. Curiosity. I doubted I would find many women other than barflies, cougars and hookers…mostly hookers. The men were probably the same pervs skulking about the restrooms. No, thank you. I only played on one team and had never been interested in sampling the other.

My phone chimed as it scanned the code and pulled up the website. No harm in setting up an anonymous account just to see how many people participated.Meet-and-Go_barcode

A few keystrokes and BroadwayBoundJD in O’Hare was born. Let the ladies figure that handle out. The smarter ones might guess my occupation as an entertainment lawyer heading for New York City. The larger truth was I had deserted Hollywood for New York’s publishing community, film rights specifically. The much more personal truth was I was fleeing ghosts. I’d never believed in hauntings before. I believed in them now, the ones whose faint sobbing gasps in the still moments between sleeping and waking filled me with crushing guilt. The ones with sad, weary faces who pointed accusing fingers.

I shook off my melancholy. I’d entertained those self-destructive thoughts long enough. They had far overstayed their welcome, and my therapist had warned that dwelling on them did me no good. Like I couldn’t have figured that out on my own versus paying $240 an hour to be given common sense platitudes.


Want more? Tune in on Tuesday for part 3!

Be sure to leave a comment. There **might** be an extra something in it for you later on…like say, an Amazon gift card for one lucky commenter each week. 😉