He’d managed to secure a seat on a flight back to Venezuela. It wasn’t the one he’d planned on using. That one had, after all, been full, but it hadn’t been much later and would still get him there to comfortably make the connecting flight to Bolivia he was hoping to catch. Having paid for his ticket he’d checked in, handing over his suitcase and keeping only the small black bag he’d travelled out with as hand luggage before going through the Departures entrance with its routine of security checks.

LHRs seemed much more thorough than he’d experienced on his outward flight, or even in the U.S. when travelling between cities. It was probably about the same though if you were taking an international flight from the States’ He couldn’t recall exactly. Most of his work was in Bolivia itself but he did take frequent trips to other locations and such matters had become almost a blur. He never carried anything he shouldn’t into a country so generally didn’t pay much attention to this detail. Getting through the security check was slow, but as he wasn’t hurrying to catch a flight this didn’t frustrate him. He’d long ago learned that if he let it, it would do nothing to speed up the process and would likely just make it seem even longer. He’d have to kill several hours before his own flight was called anyway.

When he was clear he amused himself by visiting several of the shops the lounge. He wasn’t really interested in the duty free items they offered but it passed time to at least look. He did pick up one or two mementos of his visit, as well as another book for the flight back. He spent so long meandering from shop to shop that he realised his feet were beginning to ache. He cast around for somewhere he could get something to eat and drink. He couldn’t see anywhere enclosed, everything seemed to be more of an ‘outdoor café’. All of the choices seemed busy, but one less so than the others so he chose that one. As he approached he saw that tables were being waited on rather than being the ‘self service’ type that many of the others were. Perhaps this was why it wasn’t as busy.

He found an empty table which he seated himself at, and was soon approached by a waitress. She took his order for coffee and went off to get it, giving him more time to look through the triangular plastic menu card he’d picked up from the centre of the table. Most of the choices seemed to be “… and chips” though closer inspection of the smaller print revealed that these could be replaced with a salad or with boiled potatoes if the patron so wished. He chose instead a sweet and sour pork option which came with rice, and waited for the waitress to return with his coffee and to take his order.

She soon did so, and he passed some time watching people as they moved about the lounge or sat at the other tables and around the café. There was a good mix. People going on, or returning from, a vacation with families of various ages in tow, and more smartly dressed people who were probably on business, either flying out to start their appointments the following week or having chosen to extend their trip to spend the weekend in the city. Raoul liked to assign these kind of stories to each of the people he saw. The waitress returned, now carrying the meal he’d ordered and he asked for a glass of lemonade to go with it, having nearly finished the coffee. Bored now with people watching, he pulled his new book from the black bag and started to read.

He stayed there for most of his remaining wait for his flight to be called. When he’d finished the pork dish, he’d followed it with a rich chocolate sponge pudding drowned in lots of cream. When he’d finished this too, he remained at the table, ordering coffees and lemonades as they ran out and continuing to read from his book. When it was approaching time to expect it, he cast occasional looks up at the monitors that displayed the flight and gate numbers of the various departures. His looks got more frequent as the time for his own flight approached. When it did appear near the bottom of the second screen he caught the waitress’s eye, paid for his meal and drinks, and made his way towards gate forty one as the screen had instructed.