1st March 2010 - Belfast City Airport
The seasoned commuters look relaxed in the executive lounge. The usual faces are all present for a Monday morning and their jackets have been removed, newspapers and coffee procured and they all sit in their preferred seats. My preferred seat is, thankfully, still available. The disappointment of finding my seat taken on a Monday morning in the executive lounge is a first world problem, but it is a problem that upsets my routine.
Not today though.
The commuters recognise each others and one or two even manage to say hello to each other though they are definitely considered the odd-balls in the group as non-verbal communication is very much the primary means of indicating any form of recognition in this place. "Man Nods" abound!
Amongst the "man nodders" though, there is an outlier. Walter! I don't know if Walter is his name, but he looks like a Walter. I've only ever met one Walter in my life before and hadn't seen him since I left primary school, so any claim that this particular Walter looks like a Walter is probably very unfair on the Walters of this world.
I've named him Walter - in my own mind.
His jacket and coat have not been removed. The lace on his left shoe is undone and will definitely become a tripping hazard if left unattended. Not only is it undone, there has been little attempt at ensuring that the left and right lengths of lace are of approximately equal length! But all who cast their eyes in Walter's direction would definitely be struck by the right leg which is running a sprint of its own accord.
The sprinting right leg (and static left leg) are creating a situation! On his lap, he has his laptop bag which is being kept uncomfortably close despite the abundance of space around him.
Careful consideration of Walter reveals that he is obviously nervous as he eyes up all who surround him. The eyeing up is interrupted every now and again with a swig of the Pepsi he has poured himself. The Pepsi rests on his laptop bag in between sips. Amazingly, despite the disparity in leg movements, it doesn't spill!
Casual observers would merely think him odd. Those that paid more attention would think him decidedly strange and quite some distance along the "spectrum".
The overly protective clutch of the laptop bag would be worrying but for the fact that he had just passed through airport security. It would be easy to imagine that the bag contained an excessive amount of money, drugs or weapons given his protective attitude towards it. No matter what was in the bag, Walter was, and continues to be, nervous.
Most people gain confidence as they age. Twenty-somethings may feel invincible, but they can still display bouts of shyness. Thirty-somethings think they run the world. Forty-somethings know they run the world and Fifty-somethings don't care who runs the world.
Walter's only running was the static kind as a result of the nervousness in his right leg. Indeed, the energy he expended in exercising his right leg so incessantly should really have had the effect of keeping him trim - which he was not! It is not like Walter is fat but he has a chubbiness of feature which makes him seem more rotund that he actually is.
Nobody around him regards him as anything other than a strange little man.
In my head, Walter isn't strange. Walter is a trainee Hit Man and his apparent nervousness is because he is embarking upon his first hit. His laptop bag obviously contains all the elements he needs to undertake his hit. That is blindingly obvious! And his target? Well, that has got to be the Range Rover driving, braces-wearing, coiffed, loud (but inoffensively so), portly gentleman sitting by the window. He's confident and deliberate in all his actions. And Walter hated that!
The flight to London boards in a little under five minutes, and it is now that Walter decides that he needs to go to the little boys' room, presumably to prep his weapons.
I have a meeting to get to at 10:00am. Any hit on the portly gentleman between now and then is going to result in disruption of my Monday morning. And that would be more disappointing that not being able to sit in my preferred seat. I now find myself hoping that I'm wrong about Walter.