By Joshua Hale FialkovSitting at the airport at two in the morning,staring quietly waiting for my plane, bleary eyed from a long days work, my red-eye delayed almost two hours. Across the way I see a woman arguing with the people behind the ticket counter, it transfixes me. I missed the closing of all the restaurants and stores almost two hours ago, and now I have nothing to drink except for the tepid water that dribbles from the twin water fountains, one slightly lower than the other, as if to signify boys and girls more so than adult and child. (Even the low one, most children look ridiculous drinking out of. What else could have been the logic?) The woman shouts “Let me on.” And then the whole room seems to notice her at once. The woman behind the counter flips through her paperwork trying to find some sort of answer to give the woman who becomes progressively more and more agitated.
“YOU FUCKING CUNT” she screams, the counter woman freezes for a second. Her eyes shoot to the open doors to the walkway, and like a beacon in a storm, the insane woman sees it as well. It’s a mad dash for the door, the delirious woman barely edging out the counter person. “LET ME ON THIS FUCKING PLANE YOU STUPID FUCKING CUNT” she screams again.
It’s like a dream. One of those moments of heaviness in your head, when the hour gets late, the uncomfortable vinyl seat press against the pain in your lower lumbar region, and that god awful tinny adult contemporary crap blares over the loud speaker.
The other agents swoop in to her aid, as the woman rushes down the hallway, we can distantly here a “thud” as one of the men must have either tackled her, or tripped and fell behind her. I can see one of the agents dialing security on her phone The doors to the hallway slam shut, the plane too quickly backs away from the gate, and the two cleaning ladies take a seat to see what happens.
They watch me watching them as they try to look cavalier flipping through newspapers and giggling about what just transpired. The rest of the people here seemingly return to their dreams and tiny distractions. A few cling to the window hoping for something to happen and attention to be gleaned.
Security men, with an air of finally being called into action, make their way down the hallway, with a strident smile, the leader pulls on the door, which stops short thanks to the security lock. He fumbles with a white key card in his pocket and places it against the sensor on the wall. The other two security guards follow him down the hall to face the mad woman. A fourth stumbles behind, like a forgotten child, one of the cleaning woman leaps up and grabs him by the arm.
“Que Paso, Bobi?” I hear her ask, he whispers something, and continues to the door. Like a bad joke, he too tries the door and can’t get it open, till he remembers his key card. They aren’t used to doing this much “security” even at LAX. It’s the graveyard shift, afterall, and it’s just some crazy lady screaming “Cunt” at some desk clerk, who for all I know, very would could be one.
After the security guards enter the hallway, there’s another collective concentration, just for a split second, I suppose waiting for a gunshot or the crack of skull underneath one of those night sticks they carry.
Meanwhile, a new girl has taken the “cunt’s” place, and it’s as if nothing happened. As if some fat lady wasn’t screaming about getting on the last flight to Newark and calling everyone “cunt.”
It’s a vile word, actually. There’s no playful, nor harmless way to say it. It’s an angry spiteful word, and that’s pretty much that. The “cunt” comes back out to the floor, her hair a mess, and I swear even from the 40 or so feet away I sit, I still see her knees shaking, and the thought of “This is the one I pushed too far” on her face.
But did she push? What causes someone to just up and go nutso like that. I mean there’s got to be some sort of logic or.. no, I suppose not.
The guards walk out, empty handed. I can only imagine they let her on the flight. Which seems unfortunate, at least for us as the stranded audience.
The cleaning ladies have all settled in now, they flip through the discarded newspapers and magazines, one of them bounds off, towards one of the deserted ticket counters, and positions herself behind it. She’s obviously reenacting what just happened.
This was a story. It happened. For everyone in the room, they all will remember it, tell their families, laugh and joke about the crazy woman yelling “cunt” all over the place. It’s one of the few times I’ve felt community with strangers, even if 2/3rds of them were hiding their faces trying to look non-descript and invisible, in case she pulls a gun, I suppose, or calls one of them a cunt. But, we were all there.
The plane taxis away. She must be on board, or, she dropped out the passageway, and ran for it down the runway. One of the two. I like to believe the latter.
Joshua Hale Fialkov Los Angeles, CA 11-24-04