The guy sitting by himself near the Gate C sign in an empty waiting area of the airport was running from the FBI. He kept his head down and was careful every few minutes to look from one side of the airport to the other. He was looking for anything out of the ordinary and was ready to run at a moment’s notice.
The woman behind the counter of the small store selling water and sodas, snacks and something to read on the plane was waiting for the day when she could walk into work, give her notice, and fly away on the next flight out to Florida to start a new life. She had been dreaming of that day for the past seven years. She planned to make her move in three more months. By then, she would have enough money saved up for a fresh, new start.
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Finally, the little boy wide-eyed and holding his grandfather’s hand, looking out at the plane unloading passengers, will one day grow up to start his own healthcare company that will find a cure for a rare form of pediatric cancer that kept his older sister home on this trip and will one day kill her.
The latest Steven Spielberg movie? Nah. The hot new streaming series on Netflix? No way. I sat in the Philadelphia Airport, waiting for my flight recently, and watched these passersby. I could see these multi-layered stories play out in my mind as clearly as watching a movie in a theater or on my TV.
I’ve long believed that one of the great things about being a writer is having an active imagination and, oh yes, I have one. Put me in an airport, train station, library, bookstore or even my local coffee shop and I can give you the low down on everyone who walks into the place.
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The funny thing is that it all comes in public places. When I sit at my desk at home, it’s not so fun there. I can’t come up with anything. When I’m out though, I take everything in and give you a story on the spot. I make no claims to accuracy. I may not be right, I may not be anywhere close to the truth, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
A limp. Of course, the guy got it running after his St. Bernard that took off running after the Saturday afternoon ice cream truck. A woman wearing dark sunglasses. Yes, a possible model, but also a spy with state-of-the-art IT glasses that tells the wearer everything about the person viewed through the lenses. The old man sitting across me, holding tight to a mall box. He left his elderly care facility to find his long lost love that he hasn’t seen in 30 years. He plans to propose to her.
Steven Spielberg has nothing on me.