I watched him walk up to several people. He pointed at the gates of the flight I was supposed to be on, in just a mere twenty minutes. He were carrying a black box, wrapped in what seemed to be hideous pleather. Course, he was a white male, in his late 50s, wearing a pressed gray suit. No one really gave them a second glance.
I stood and walked to the nearest vending machine. A coke sounded good right about now, so I pressed the button and listened for the cha-click of the coins inside the machine. It whirred to life and the thunk of the can falling into the dispensing bin caused me to smile.
“Excuse me, Miss? Are you going on that plane? The one to Atlanta boarding through gate A11 in about ten minutes?”
I turned around. He was standing upright, a pained expression on his face. “I am.” I said flatly, then proceeded to push my way around him.
“Will you carry this with you? Please? It’s not illegal. I promise.”
“Please? My wife, she’s in Atlanta and she needs this. But I cannot fly to bring it to her. I have to leave to meet our son in the hospital in Chicago. Please, can you just take this with you? She’ll be waiting at the end of the boarding ramp in Atlanta. It won’t take you any time, please?”
I sighed. “What’s in the box?”
He shifted from foot to foot. I could tell he didn’t want to tell me, but there was no way I was taking it without knowing what it was full of.
He looked into my eyes, then whispered, “Money, her passport, a gold watch and our diamond wedding rings.”
My eyes opened wider. “Why would you give all that to a stranger and hope it makes it to Atlanta?”
He hung his head. “Because I have no other choice.”
My eyes narrowed. “Are they stolen?”
He gasped. “No, they’re not. Please, will you do this for me? To save a life?”
“Who’s life am I saving?”
He sighed. “It’s a long story. But my son’s, with any luck.”
I looked at him. Tears threatened to spill down his cheeks. His cheeks were flushed red with embarrassment as he wiped at his eyes.
“Can I see a picture of him, your son?” I asked.
He handed me the package and pulled out his wallet. “Here, he’s seven.”
I looked at the picture of the boy with the soft brown hair and bright green eyes. He had a grin, and he was on a swing in a playground. There were other kids around, but they weren’t looking at the camera. He was the only one looking that way, and it was eerie how he seemed to be looking straight at me.
“Okay, I’ll do it,” I whispered, handing him back the photo.
“Thank you,” he said, wiping at the tears some more. “I can’t give you anything but my gratitude. Thank you.”
We embraced awkwardly, and he turned and left. I watched him walk down the hall as they called for boarding to begin.