A Safe Landing
Commotion colored the air with duty, excitement, greetings and reprieve in the Portland International Airport. It was a Friday and Victor was away on pleasure. He’d just arrived in the bustling city, having traveled thousands of miles to reach American west coast.
Los Angeles wasn’t a viable option for Vick. There was always so much sun, and the streets weren’t exactly safe at night. New York was where everyone went. It was the popular location of travel for his little clan, but by now, he knew all he ever wanted to know about New York. In fact, the entire east coast had been overdone, in Vick’s opinion.
That left Vick with only a few options. He could go to Seattle—which wasn’t the worst idea. He could explore Salt Lake City, Denver or Dallas, but he really wanted something closer to the ocean. Plus, as far as he could tell from the research he’d done in his small, isolated community, Portlanders were already a bit strange and the nightlife was grand. He would fit in just swell.
He missed the taste. There was nothing like his local cuisine from back home. He hoped Portland would offer similar delicacies. However, right now, waiting beside a slow-moving conveyor belt for his luggage, all he could smell was Cinnabon and some noodle something, mixed with the sweat, and perfumes, and various odors of the local airport patrons. Had he been raised differently, perhaps Victor would’ve been happy for the sweet and doughy scents. However, like the American people, these things were foreign to him.
Vick had learned English at a young age. It was practically a requirement in his native land to do so—unless you were one of the strange ones, whose dream for adulthood didn’t include inhabiting an American city. Everyone left his community to go somewhere after adolescence. Most chose the United States.
“Don’t you hate waiting for these things?” A woman beside him said. She was slender, with jet black hair and fierce green eyes. She reminded him of home—except for the thick eyeliner above her green eyes, that stared at him through thick framed glasses, and the tan. Her words escaped so simply from her thin, red lips. They moved through the air with a sweet, feminine rasp to curl up into Victor’s ears. A black v-neck tee hugged her small frame above rather bland—though flattering—blue jeans and high-heeled boots.
Victor was speechless. He had expected the energy, the excitement and the adventure, but he hadn’t expected beauty. He stared blankly, his lips slightly parted.
“Do you speak English? Hello?” the woman asked.
“Yes,” Vick replied, trying his hardest to match the distinct American accent by uttering one simple word.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” the woman ascertained.
“You are beautiful,” Vick said.
The woman sighed. “Thanks, guy.” She walked forward toward the conveyor belt and grabbed a suitcase. Walking away, she called out, “See you around, stranger.”
It had been too long since he’d last consumed something. The weight of his suitcase made that fact painfully obvious. It was surprising, however, that he was able to last so long on the plane without wasting away. That reminded him: he needed to get to his hotel, and quickly. The day wouldn’t wait for him. Even if it would, he didn’t think it appropriate to eat in front of all these new faces.
Luckily, the cab driver was willing to be a bit reckless and the basement apartment had already been acquired and furnished by his father, Pieter Draconi, through contacts he’d made on the west coast during his post-adolescent visit there. A key beneath the welcome rug was obvious, but it made for an easy entrance into Victor’s new home.
It was dark, so perfectly dark, just how Victor imagined it would be. His eyes adjusted quickly as he walked inside and shut the door behind him. There wasn’t a window in the entire place. Perhaps that’s why the rent was so cheap.
Vick breathed in deeply through his nose, experiencing the various scents that accompanied his new living quarters. It was the first time he’d ever felt so free. Even the apartment smelled of freedom—and mildew, and dust, and…yes, there was even a hint of blood. Or perhaps that was just his dinner, sending its aroma through the stitches in his luggage.