03 February 2011

Twelve, Part 2

This is Part 2, obviously. If you need to read Part 1, the link is just to the left. Enjoy! -m.

The airport terminal was packed with people. I mean, wow. Tiberon and I pounded through the automatic doors at near-full speed, our bags bouncing over the threshold and landing awkwardly on single wheels. Our acquired driver hadn’t dropped us off in front of our airline, but no matter. It was only a few steps away. We jostled over, cut in line in front of a family of 8 with a pair of harried-looking parents trying to count everybody, and waited.

Tiberon flung his arm around my shoulders and pulled me tight. When I looked up at him, confused, he grinned at me. Ah, yes. The surnames on our passports were the same. Avel wanted us to be man and wife for the time being. I looked down and twirled the simple fake diamond around my left ring finger. It had felt strangely exhilarating when Avel had pulled me aside and put the tiny jewelry box in my hand. I’m pretty sure he got it at Kohl’s or something. I shook the thought out of my mind and focused on the moment; I leaned into Tiberon’s side and wrapped my arm around his waist. We were directly behind a group of sorority chicks in mini skirts and five-inch heels, and in front of them was an insufferably long line of airline patrons.

“Where’re we going?” I whispered. Avel hadn’t wanted me to know until we’d gotten to the airport. I don’t know why. It’s not like I was going to tell anyone.

“Check it out,” Tiberon said, handing me a stapled pair of papers.

I glanced at the first page. It was a printout of a friendly email saying our tickets were booked and all we needed to do was check in with our passports. “Palermo? Why the heck are we going to Palermo?” Tiberon shrugged as we stepped around the corner created by the queue bars, his eyes on the legs of the college girls in front of us.

Palermo is the capital of Sicily, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s also home base to the Italian Mafia. I’d been there a couple of times before, nabbing art and some other things. I thought of the twelve little pills in my front jeans pocket. Avel had always been completely against drug running, but I couldn’t think of what else the pills were.

My mind was exploding; I wanted to ask Tiberon so badly about what he knew we were doing, but there was no way I could do that in the middle of the airport. I would have to wait until we were seated. Standing there was agony, especially since it seemed that the line was hardly moving. I glanced at my watch. We'd only been inside for 10 minutes, but it felt like hours.

Finally, the lady at the desk efficiently took our papers without smiling, printed our passes, and growled at us to put our baggage on the scale. We were dismissed a minute or so later, and Tiberon and I walked quickly around the corner, down the escalator, and into the security zone. I held my breath when I accidentally made eye contact with one of the guards. Years of smuggling things and I still got nervous. Ridiculous. With a tight smile, I looked away and then down at my boarding pass. My passport said that my name was Renee Diebin, Tiberon’s was John Diebin. Avel must have thought it was really funny to give us a last name that, in German, was closely related to the word for “thief”.

Despite being chock full of hundreds of slow-moving travelers, the line wound pretty quickly through the rails, and in almost no time at all I was handing over my boarding pass and photo ID. The woman looked at me shrewdly and I smiled at her. My heart was beating so fast, I thought I was going to pass out. And then someone pinched my butt. I turned halfway to see Tiberon grinning like an idiot behind me. I blushed and smiled back, swatting his next pass away from my backside. I faced the security guard again; she was looking at me with a raised eyebrow.

“My husband,” I said, smiling apologetically. The woman nodded once, handed me back my papers, and ushered me through the scanner.

Nothing beeped on me or Tiberon, and we were seated on the plane just before the pilot addressed the whole plane. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking...”

While the attendants were doing their routine, I pulled a long envelope out of my pocket. Inside was a piece of paper folded in thirds. It was typed on a piece of graphing paper and was remarkably clean, despite the fact that some of the letters had been typed repeatedly, making them darker. Leaning towards the window, I unfolded Avel’s instructions and read them quickly.

I looked up at Tiberon, who was reading over my shoulder. His eyes were easily as wide as mine. He jabbed his finger at the last line on the page.

“Outbursts?” He rumbled in my ear. I raised my shoulders and held them there in an extended shrug.

"Hair dye?" I asked him. This time he shrugged.

"Must be in my bags," he said, adding, "I ain't doin' no babysittin'."

The way he said it made me think that he'd had no idea what Avel had planned. I refolded the paper carefully, reining in the urge to smell it, to see if any traces remained...but no. I slipped it back in the envelope, folded it, and stuffed it in my pocket, trying my best to seem like I didn't care whether I messed up the message or not.

Engines whirred and I heard the flight attendants quietly asking passengers to turn off their cell phones and to buckle their seat belts. Click, click, click! resounded all around the cabin. My stomach dropped as the plane took off. I stared out the window for a few minutes before leaning back and closing my eyes. If I was going to have to drag a little girl halfway across the world, I was going to get as much real sleep as I could, while I could.

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