A Short Story
Mercifully, the tour bus was parked under a shade tree of the parking lot for the Ming Tombs. The song, "Quantelemero" sung in Spanish, drifted softly through the bus speakers. It seemed odd to be listening to it in Beijing, Emily thought, as she took another sip of Evian from the bottle she carried in her oversized shoulder bag. The driver stood outside, smoking a cigarette, while talking to the driver of another tour bus.
"Waiting, waiting . . . I swear, we spend more time waiting on this trip!" grumbled the elderly Englishman seated across the aisle.
"Yesterday, our China Wall tour ran late while his wife haggled over a price at a souvenir stand, and the clerk did not comprehend a word of English!" his wife answered in a lowered voice, fanning herself with a delicate oriental fan she purchased at one of the stands.
Passengers joined in the complaint, waiting for the umpteenth time on the middle-aged couple from Arizona that had been enjoying their trip at the expense of others in the group.
Emily, and her sister, Doris, the only other Americans on the tour, were continuously embarrassed by the unseemly rude behavior of their fellow citizens.
The small group of thirty-five tourists, were mostly from central Europe, with a few from Italy and Norway.
Listening to conversations among the foreigners, Emily was amazed that most conversed in English, even the Chinese tour guide conducted the tour in English. How odd that Americans did not take more of an interest in learning other languages, she thought.
Leaning her head against the window she closed her eyes to ease the headache developing from the tension in the bus, while Doris read the novel she brought along on this trip. When starting out that morning, Doris stuffed the book in her purse.
"If we are going to play this waiting game at every stop, I might as well catch up on my reading!" Doris said.
Emily remembered how excited they were, when they planned this trip they had dreamed about for years. Now both were widows and decided it was time to make that dream a reality. It was unfortunate that one couple could ruin a trip for so many others.
It began in Hong Kong, when the transport bus picked everyone up for the trip to the airport, and they waited too long at the Arizona couple's hotel for them.
That had caused the problem of missing the flight, and the Tour Guide had to argue to get them on the next one. After the group arrived here, they still had to wait each morning for the same couple. It seemed the man's wife could not get up early and be ready on time.
"Ah! Here they come!" announced the Norwegian, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
"Bloody Yanks," the Elderly man muttered.
"Shh! Not so loud," his wife hissed, glancing over at Emily and her sister.
Emily stared out the window, and Doris concentrated on the book,
both pretending not to hear the remark.
The China trip ended on a sour note when they were again delayed on the return flight to Hong Kong due to a missing carry-on belonging to the Arizona couple. And again at the Customs' checkout line for leaving the Country, because the same couple complained about something else.
Emily and Doris were frazzled when they finally made the connection on the plane bounded for home.
"Good Lord!" Doris murmured and nudged Emily.
"Oh no!" Emily gasped, when she looked up to see the Arizona couple pass them to take seats further back in the plane.
"At least they'll not be able to cause problems while the plane is in the air." Doris whispered back.
A few hours later, that indeed was the case for the rest of the trip. The Arizona couple complained loudly about the air circulation, the baby crying behind them, the food, and the speaker for the headphones didn't work, insisting they be moved to another seat.
"Thank God we are getting off when the plane lands in Hawaii!" Emily said, "I don't think I'd want to be on a plane they might choose for the rest of the flight to L.A.!"
"Only one hour left. I never thought I would be glad to see this
dream vacation end when I had waited so long.," Doris muttered sadly.
The plane landed, as the pilot reported the temperature in Honolulu. The passengers loaded up their carry-ons, along with the assortment of packages, and filed out of the plane and along the passage toward customs.
Just as Emily and Doris entered a narrow hallway, they heard a loud clamor
"Excuse me . . . Excuse me . . . Pardon me . . . let me through, please!" came familiar voices from behind Emily and Doris.
Emily, her arms full with a shopping bag of souvenirs and a carry-on case, started to turn around, when someone pushed by her, causing a tumbling of items from the collision.
"Sorry!" the Arizona man muttered, "We need to make our connection!" as he helped his wife pick up her things, then hurried on ahead.
Emily stood glaring after the rude couple, then began to pick up her spilled items. Doris and a few others had sprung to her aid as they stuffed things into bags.
Just as they were leaving Customs, Emily and Doris heard a commotion at one of the inspection counters. They looked over and saw the Arizona man in a furious argument with an Agent, while his wife was frantically searching through her purse.
"What do you suppose they've done?" Doris asked as they headed for the taxi stand.
"I don't care what it is! I'm just glad to be away from them!" Emily
The taxi driver stored their luggage in the trunk as the two women
seated themselves in the cab, finally glad to be leaving the airport. The
trip to Waikiki was short compared to the time it took from the arrival
gate, claiming the baggage and going through the custom's line.
Emily and Doris checked into the seaside Hotel, and spent the first few moments enjoying the view from their Lanai.
"Shall we go for a walk along that lovely walkway surrounding the beach?" Doris said, pointing to the area below the Lanai.
"Yes, let's do, and then have a quick look at the International Marketplace I've heard so much about," Emily answered.
"Great! I thought I would be tired when we landed, but this air is so refreshing, I just want to make the most of the week left of our trip," Doris said.
"I guess we can unpack the rest when we get back. I don't feel like
going through that yet," Emily said, as she went to find some shorts and
sleeveless top to wear.
The two sisters spent a relaxing afternoon enjoying the sights, then decided on a Luau for the evening entertainment. It was late when they finally arrived back at their hotel, exhausted and ready for bed. Neither felt like unpacking anything except their nightgowns before collapsing on the beds.
They slept late and decided on a brunch at the café in the hotel, went for a walk afterward and arrived back at the hotel later that afternoon.
"Do you have those scarves we picked up at the Hong Kong duty-free shop, in your shopping bag or are they in your carry-on?" Doris asked.
"The bag, I think," Emily answered.
"I want to mail one of them to Carol in Oregon, so she'll have it by the time we get home." Doris said, as she reached for the shopping bag.
"The scarves are in the red box at the bottom," Emily called, as she headed for the bathroom to take a shower. She just stepped inside when she heard Doris yell.
"Oh my God! Emily, come here!" Doris cried.
"What is it?" she asked, hurrying back into the room.
"Look!" Doris said, anxiously, holding up a passport.
"What's your passport doing in my bag?" Emily asked, bemused.
"It's not mine . . . it belongs to that awful person. See? Here's a picture of her in the front of the passport. She must have lost it when she bumped into you and spilled all your things onto the floor," Doris said.
"Let me see," Emily said, taking the passport.
The two sisters looked at each other stunned, then they both started laughing
"That's why they were having trouble in Customs!" Emily said
"Do you think they're still there?" Doris giggled.
"I don't think so, but I've no doubt they've missed that connection they were trying to catch," Emily smirked.
"Oh, what are we going to do?" Doris said, seriously, realizing this wasn't a joking matter.
"Well, we have that woman's passport, and we have to return it." Doris said soberly.
"Yes, but maybe not right away" Emily, said thoughtfully, "What lovely retribution, if she doesn't get if for a while. Who knows? Maybe, a future trip of theirs would have to be postponed."
"Emily! How can you say that?" Doris admonished.
"Easy. I feel they've ruined our trip . . . at least they can suffer a little too."
"I agree, they should know how it feels, but we really have to give it back."
"Oh all right. Did she put her address on the inside of it? We can just drop it in a mailbox and send it to her." Emily said, heading back to the bathroom to take her shower.
"We can't do that!" Doris exclaimed.
"Of course we can," called Emily, "Didn't we get ours in the mail when we first got our passports? If the government can mail them, we can to!"
"Emily!" Doris cried again.
"What now?" Emily said exasperated. She was hot and wanted to take a shower, and the last thing she wanted to do, was worry about that Arizona woman's passport.
"It expired! Look! The date of expiration was two days before we boarded the plane," Doris said, holding up the passport again.
"You're kidding!" Emily said, in disbelief, looking at the passport.
"Even allowing for the time zone difference, it would have expired by the time we landed here, and before she went through customs."
The two sisters sat silently, staring at the passport. Then Emily looked at Doris, as they both came to the same conclusion.
"That was intentional! She bumped into me on purpose!" Emily exclaimed.
"And that ruckus in the Hong Kong Airport was just to distract the person stamping the passport not to notice the date" Doris said, then added, "The line was so backed up, with everybody waiting, as her husband complained about something, and she interrupted constantly, causing the agent to turn his head back and forth between the two of them. I really felt sorry for him."
"It's a wonder that poor man didn't go home with a headache!" Emily said, shaking her head.
"I can't believe there are people like that . . . I mean, that they would deliberately cause others to suffer just to get what they want," Doris said
"Ha! The world is full of that kind. But it's too bad that they had to pick our tour to join . . . not that I'd wish them on anyone else," Emily muttered.
Doris looked at the passport again, as if it would hold the answer to that question.
"Of all the rotten tricks," Emily grumbled, "It was bad enough putting up with them on the tour, without being used as a pawn in their game."
"Oh well," Doris sighed, throwing the passport down on the table, "I guess we'll have to mail it back to them anyhow."
"Oh no, we don"t!" Emily said indignantly.
"Why not? What do you suggest? Throwing it in the trash?" Doris asked, looking at her sister's sullen face.
Emily stared at the passport glumly, then suddenly smiled.
"We will mail it . . . but not to them." Emily said.
"Who then?" Doris asked suspiciously.
"I think it should go to the Customs Department, with a nice friendly letter of concern. Explaining how it came into our possession, and all the circumstances leading up to it from the Hong Kong customs to our own. Of course, I'll just mention the fact that we thought they should note the dates of the stamp and the date of expiration of her passport. Let them come up with there own conclusion on the matter." Emily suggested.
"Yes, a very good idea, Emily,"Doris agreed, "Now, shall we finish
our vacation in a more suitable way? You know what they always say, 'Bad
start - Good ending' and I'd say that we need a very good ending!"
***** The End *****