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THE AIRPORT CLUBROOM WAS EMPTY. Mary walked in and sat at the bar and ordered a rum and coke.
One in the morning and all flights were cancelled. Rain was coming down in sheets. With the holidays in full swing and nasty weather, most passengers were smart enough to stay away from airports. But not her, she thought. She had one overseas client that could make or break her business. The client did not celebrate the same holidays as the U.S. And, he was willing to listen to her proposal on what her company could do for his company. The meeting was a success. But it had required her to meet with five different people within the company before she got the yes. The meetings had started at eight that morning and ended at eight that night.
Over twelve hours in high heels. Her feet were killing her and swollen. She slipped her shoes off and let them fall to the floor beside her stool. She wiggled her toes and sipped her drink. The bartender had disappeared in the back.
“This seat taken?” a man’s voice asked. Startled, she turned her head to the right. A middle-aged man with a short beard was standing near her. “Don’t want to disturb you.” He held his hands up.
She paused before telling him, “The stool is open.” Expecting and waiting for a pickup line she was prepared to say she was married. The bartender reappeared from the back room. The man ordered a rum and coke. Same drink as hers. She doubted it was coincidence. She glanced at the man as he took a drink from the glass. “So, what takes you out on a night like this? Are you like me? Stranded away from your family?” She hoped mentioning her family would have the man move on without her having to be too direct.
The man put down his drink and smiled at her. “Actually, no,” he said. “I’m not stranded. Not for long.” She glanced at him and took another drink. “I’m actually a massage therapist for the airport.” She was not sure if he was honest. He wore nice pants and a buttoned down shirt. “I’m in the spa just downstairs. I’m officially off for the night. But, I can’t leave because of the weather. See.” He showed her his employee card with his photo on it.
She read it. His name was Larr.
“Yes, you are,” she said. “And I understand. I can’t leave either.” She told him about her flight delays, the bad weather, and her next flight that could be hours away or a day away. Before long they were talking about their families.
“I hope this isn’t too forward,” he said. “I see your shoes are off.” He nodded toward her feet. “I assume aching feet.” She nodded. “We have a great reflexology masseuse on the next floor. You said you may be here for hours or a day. Go see her. Thirty minutes and you’ll feel brand new.” She pursed her lips. “Stranded passengers normally get discounts.”
She paused and thought and took another sip of her drink. “What about you?” she caught herself asking. “You don’t do that kind of massage? Stinky feet scare you?” He told her that was not his specialty. “What is it?” He told her neck and shoulders. She nodded and thought about the time she may have to spend at the airport. “You know what? I think I’ll get a foot massage.” He told her he was heading that way to get his things. “Then I’ll follow you.” She slipped her shoes back on and grimaced when she stood up. They were tight.
They took the escalator down to the next floor. He walked her into the spa and to the receptionist desk. “Is Kerri booked?” he asked.
“She’s gone for the day,” the receptionist said. “And Nicole,” the other reflexology masseuse, “can’t get in because of the weather. We’re short staff.” The receptionist looked at them with a sad face. “Sorry.”
Mary thanked him for trying and said good-bye to them and walked out the door.
“Mary,” Larr said walking toward her. “It’s not my specialty. But, I know how to do it. And if you want, I’ll do my best.” She told him he was off duty. She could not ask him to do that. “I’m stuck here. Same as you.” She paused.
“If you don’t mind,” she said and bit her lip.
“It will be my honor,” he said.
Three months later Mary and Larr met in a motel room near that same airport. They had been meeting once a month. Mary had not been able to explain to her husband her need to have Larr massage her feet once a month. Larr had not been able to tell his wife that he secretly sees Mary once a month to massage her feet.
While they have never kissed or been intimate beyond the foot massages, they know they have a strange connection.
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