Chase Williams was used to airports of higher calibre than the Tursenia one. Instead of 190 gates and a Starbucks open 24/7 , the little airport of Tursenia only had 6 gates, a tobacco shop and a bar with a small food counter. No Starbucks. Nevertheless, the airport was very crowded: where were all those people going on a Thursday morning of May? There weren’t even enough seats for all the passengers awaiting the flight to London at gate No 4.
Chase had a look at the BBC weather forecast on his smart phone: it was cloudy but warm in London. He very much hoped the weather would last until the following Saturday: a wet bride is a lucky bride, according to the Italian proverb. However, his best friend Laura deserved the warmest and sunniest day of the year for the most important event of her life.
Chase opened La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper to kill time, but he found nothing of interest. There were just a few rugby short columns compared to the fifteen and more pages of national football news: those Italians were maniac only for the round ball. He leafed through the pages to find some international football news, but he caught just some brief updates, nothing related to his Arsenal.
He sighed deeply. His tension had nothing to do with the editorial line of the Gazzetta dello Sport, although this did not improve his mood. He was mad at the young lady at the check-in desk, who had decided to put his hand luggage in the hold.
“Legally we must apply a maximum limit of 8kg for the cabin bag, yours is 8,5kg. I’m sorry but this is a hold bag, you cannot take it on the plane with you.” the simpering girl said.
Chase thought about what he had packed in there: as a matter of fact, the bag only contained his clothes for three days, and a jumper in case of sudden cold. The rest were packs of traditional Tursenian porcino mushrooms and truffle pasta for his mother and friends.
Finally Chase let the lady win; of course, the possibility that they could lose the luggage was exponentially lower than having a dispute with his own father. Chase hadn’t seen or spoken to his father since he (along with his mother) had accompanied him at Gatwick Airport with a one-way ticket to Rome.
When the flight was called, it was only ten minutes late. Chase started to queue and soon noticed that, as per norm in Italy, there wasn’t a proper line, but people tried to get in from the sides, in the hope of overtaking the ones in front.
“Whatever,” thought Chase “The plane will not leave until we are all on board. What difference does it make if I get in before or after them?”
Instead, the Tursenians knew there was a difference: they would have had to get on a narrow shuttle bus with limited seating to get to the plane, so they were hurrying to get to the gate in the hope of being able to find a seat on the bus. Chase ended up standing, in a tight place already overcrowded by hand baggage and their owners.
The shuttle bus proceeded quickly through the aircrafts parking area; a bunch of service vehicles sped up beside the shuttle, while some tank trucks fuelled the planes in the distance.
Another service car with a long trailer tried to overtake the shuttle bus but it was too slow; it was probably loaded with too many suitcases and couldn’t manage it.
Anyway, the bus driver didn’t seem too concerned about this. The driver of the trailer, on the other hand, seemed determined to overtake the shuttle, and with a sharp movement he managed to pick up speed and go beyond Chase’s view.
During that manoeuvre, however, a bag slipped from the trailer, ending up on the ground.
“Can’t blame the poor loser who’ll end up in London without underwear.” Chase laughed to himself while the shuttle slowed down.
When the vehicle stopped, he got out and let a couple of lovely young ladies go ahead; the entrance to the plane was in front of his nose, the wind ruffling his hair.
The trailer was on the other side of the plane, off-loading its cargo. Chase instinctively turned his look away as a tuft of hair hit his eye, and there it was: the bag fallen from the trailer was still there, lying on the ground, all alone. No one had bothered to collect it. Chase shrugged and climbed the stairs of the plane.
Chase had an epiphany in the middle of the flight. As he was reading the volleyball section he spotted a suitcase advert at the bottom of the page and thought back to that bag which had tumbled down the trailer. It was black, swollen and looked like hand luggage: it was similar to his own bag. Then he started thinking: there were certainly hundreds of bags similar to his, but that puffy shape on one side… oh no, it was definitely his suitcase, no doubt.
Talking of losers, he was going to be the loser who would end up in London with no underwear. He began to fidget in his seat, feeling anxious. He should stop thinking about it, maybe it was not his bag after all.
“Of course it was my bag, I would recognise it among thousands. What now?” he thought.
All he could do now was to think about something else, and enjoy the trip instead, which was luckily with no turbulence.
He started reading the newspaper again, but could not take it in: he could still picture his bag rolling along the ground, no one recovering it.
He really needed some distraction and start focussing on something else, something pleasant. His mother, for instance, who had been counting the days until his return to London.
Mrs. Williams knew that acting as a mediator between her son and her husband would not be easy, she would have to take their long faces at the dinner table in her stride.
Chase looked at his boarding pass: the tag with his details presumed his bag was still on the plane. He was getting distracted again.
He began to think about Laura and their past: only a few years earlier he was fully involved in conquering the Scotland Yard homicide department, while Laura was just a nursery teacher with the ambition of opening her own nursery. Who would have imagined that she would have hit her job target and married before him? In reality, many of their friends had had children long before, and the two of them were among the few who were still single, up to recently.
“I can’t be so unlucky, that suitcase can’t be mine”.
Chase bit his tongue: he had to switch topic again. He scratched his head and that was a good one: he wondered what his mother and his friends would have thought about his new hairstyle. They were used to seeing him with short hair, he wondered if they would be shocked, especially his mother, now that his hair were longer.
“Did I bring the comb? Yes, it’s in the suitcase… dammit!”
His mother, again: he ought to think more about the only female presence in his life, copying the mama-boy style of his friend Angelo. Since the rental of his place in Forest Hill had expired, for Chase there was only the option of being hosted by his parents for three days. He would be with his lovely mother. And with his father.
He had tried to contact some friends to ask if he could stay with them for a few days; he tried also his brother Scott, but they were all too far away from Laura’s wedding reception. In the end, the only solution was to stay in the house where he grew up. Where there was definitely a spare suitcase to pack for his way back to Italy.
“Ah, again! Damn bag!”
He needed to focus again on positive thoughts, like Laura’s wedding. He would have seen all his old friends, the old gang will be reunited.
He wondered if Lucy had been invited. His Lucy. No, she wasn’t his Lucy anymore: his Lucy would never have behaved the way she did, and would never have taken that jerk as her new boyfriend.
Maybe she became fat and ugly. And in any case, even if she was as beautiful as ever, she still sucked.
Suddenly, the idea of wallowing in sadness for his lost bag seemed a pleasant option.
Chase did not expect anyone at Heathrow airport, not even his bag. Yet, it was there, swollen and moving on top of the conveyor belt along with its other fellas. Chase had spent some awful moments thinking about all those delicious pasta packs lost forever, instead his bag made its appearance after a 10 minute wait.
“Hey you, there you are!” said Chase grabbing his bag.
After going through customs, in the arrivals hall Chase came across another lady in black: he did not recognise her right away as he did not expect to see her there. She was waving her hands to attract his attention among many taxi drivers holding signs who were shouting names from all over the world. Chase dropped his bag and gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Ciao bella! What a surprise to find you here. You’re supposed to be at home dealing with wedding stuff, aren’t you? Best wishes, by the way!” he exclaimed.
“Don’t behave like the Mr. Cool talking to me in Italian, I don’t understand it!” she replied with a big, happy smile. “Plus, you shouldn’t wish me anything before the wedding, it brings bad luck.”
She grabbed his arm and directed him toward the exit. “Come on, you’ve got a lot of things to tell me.” Laura whispered to Chase’s ear.