Chapter 1 – Extract 19 from The Paradise Induction!
Alighting from the plane and arriving in New York, the smell in the air was different from London; almost sweet, like fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
In the huge, spacious, and high-tech airport, Chris knew from experiencing American flight security before to remain calm and collected, no matter how aggressive they appeared.
Reaching the head of the Arrivals queue, a muscled security-screening officer with a buzz hair cut, wearing a short-sleeve shirt called him forward with the flick of his thick, vein riddled forearm and chunky finger.
“Come on, we don’t have all day,” he said as Chris walked up to his booth.
“Hi,” said Chris.
“Passport, boarding pass, immigration form.”
Chris handed him the documents.
“Reason for your stay?” demanded the militant-looking man as he continued surveying the documents that Chris had handed him.
“I’m in transit.”
“Where are you headed?”
“The Pharisee Islands.”
“North side of the Caribbean.”
“Never heard of it.” He looked Chris dead in the eye. “Where’s your next stop?”
It’s on my tickets, Chris thought.
“Put your fingers, then your thumb on the panel when I tell you to, then look at the camera—” he said and paused with a clear intention to ask another question. Chris waited for his signal and placed his fingers, then thumb on the green-lit panel of the booth. He looked at the camera that was facing him. “—and what’s your reason for travelling to the Pharisee Islands?”
“What do you do?”
“I’m going to be a bartender.”
“You mean you are a bartender.”
“No, I’m going to be a bartender. I’ve never been one before.”
The officer looked Chris in the eyes again, shrugged his lips, and nodded. “Why are you wearing a suit?” he continued as he reviewed something on his computer.
“I always wear a suit when I travel.”
“It’s a smart suit.”
“Okay Mr. Charles. Enjoy your new life,” he said, smiling faintly, and handing back Chris’ documents. “Next!”
Entering the massive, busy airport, that reminded Chris of an exceptionally clean-looking mall, he used most of his seven-hour connection time exploring the electronics and gadgets stores that captured his curiosity. He then headed to check-in for his second flight to San Juan.
As he queued in the large line for another round with the metal detectors, he noticed a smile on one of the airport security guy’s faces, making eye contact with him. The tall, thin guy chatted to his co-worker, who looked up with a serious face, scanned the queue, fixed his eyes on Chris, then whispered something back to his fellow employee.
It could have been something. Could have been nothing. But Chris had seen that exact type of smile before—one too many times. He prepared his mind for what he knew it meant.