This arti­cle is part 3 of 10 in the series Beijing Acupuncture

“L.T.  It’s no prob­lem for me to get to Lexington.  I’m there a lot any­way so I could meet you or pick you up at the air­port and we could dis­cuss busi­ness some­where.  That might also allow you to make a round trip in one day unless you need­ed to stay over for some rea­son,” I offered, anx­ious to steer Mr. Trane from the idea of meet­ing at my house.

“Yes, that might work out just as well,” he respond­ed.  “Tell you what, let me check on flights into and out of Lexington.  I’ll see if I can arrange same-day trav­el and give you a call back.  Is there a par­tic­u­lar day that would be most suit­able for you?”

“Well, if the com­mis­sion is pret­ty urgent, I guess we should shoot for some time with­in the next two or three days.  Let’s try for the day after tomor­row first and then the day after that to see which one works.  I can be avail­able both days.  You have my number?”

“Yes, it’s on the phone here.  I’ll start check­ing right away.  If I can find some­thing, I’ll call back lat­er today.”

“Fine,” I respond­ed.  “I’ll await your call.”

I heard the famil­iar click from the oth­er end sig­nal­ing a ter­mi­nat­ed con­nec­tion and I replaced the phone in its receiv­er.  Nothing to do now but wait for a call back.

I passed the time doing a bit of read­ing and about an hour lat­er the phone rang again.  Reaching for it, I could see that the phone num­ber began with the area code of Charlotte, 704, so I real­ized that Trane was call­ing back.

“Hello,” I said, plac­ing the phone next to my ear as I did so.

“Michael, this is L.T.,” came the voice I had now come to rec­og­nize.  “I’ve arranged same-day flights, which will be very con­ve­nient for me.  I’ll be arriv­ing at 0950 and my depart­ing flight leaves at 1720.  If you could pick me up at the air­port, we could cer­tain­ly dis­cuss part of the com­mis­sion in the pri­va­cy of your car and then go some­where for a leisure­ly lunch.  I’ll be wear­ing a blue blaz­er with kha­ki pants.  I’ll have a yel­low hand­ker­chief in the breast pock­et and be car­ry­ing a black briefcase.”

“That should work out just fine,” I replied.  I’ll be there wait­ing for you at the bot­tom of the arrivals escalator.”

“Sounds fine. Incidentally, the flights are for tomor­row.  Is that rush­ing you too much?”

“Not at all.  I’ll look for­ward to see­ing you tomorrow.”

Once again, the famil­iar ter­mi­na­tion click, and the con­ver­sa­tion was ended.

I’ll have to hand it to him, he’s effi­cient.  Not so much as a good­bye or “have a nice day”, I thought to myself.

I toyed with the idea of check­ing on where flights were com­ing from to arrive and depart at that time from Bluegrass Field but, know­ing that “L.T.” was­n’t com­ing from Charlotte was suf­fi­cient for me to know at this time. Sometimes it’s bet­ter not to know too much about a client.  However, one thing I knew was that L.T. had been, or cur­rent­ly was, in the mil­i­tary or gov­ern­ment law enforce­ment because civil­ians don’t typ­i­cal­ly use mil­i­tary time in every­day conversation.

I arrived at Bluegrass Field at 0940 (mil­i­tary time makes so much more sense than using a.m. and p.m.), found a con­ve­nient spot in the short term sur­face park­ing lot, and walked into the ter­mi­nal (a real­ly hor­ri­ble term for an air­port build­ing) head­ing for the arrivals area as I checked the tote board to see that the 0950 flight was list­ed as “on time” (although that has lit­tle accu­ra­cy when used by air­lines).  It was quite inter­est­ing that the only flight sched­uled in at 0950 was com­ing from Washington, D.C., not Charlotte, N.C.

I found a fair­ly com­fort­able chair near the arrivals area and sat down to await the appear­ance of L.T.

I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to notice that flight 1313 (an unfor­tu­nate num­ber) had actu­al­ly arrived a few min­utes ear­ly (tail­wind, I sup­pose) and that, at 0953 by the air­port clock, pas­sen­gers were enter­ing the area on the down esca­la­tor, most head­ing for the lug­gage carousel.  Shortly, L.T. appeared in the midst of the crowd, unmis­tak­able in his blue blaz­er and yel­low handkerchief.

I approached him smil­ing and said, “L.T., I pre­sume,” extend­ing my hand.

“Hi, Michael,” he respond­ed as he took my hand in an almost uncom­fort­ably firm grip.  “Good to meet you and I appre­ci­ate you com­ing for me.”

“No prob­lem,” I replied, with­draw­ing my hand from a mild vice grip.  “I assume you have no oth­er luggage?’

“Right.  We can get on out of here if you pre­fer.  Or we could go to the bar for a drink before departing.”

“Little ear­ly for me, L.T.,” I offered. “My car is near­by in the short term lot.  We can walk over and head into town to find a place for lunch.  By that time, a drink might be in the offing.”

“Sounds good,” he said pleas­ant­ly.  “What a beau­ti­ful day here. Is it always like this in Kentucky?”

“Not hard­ly,” I laughed.  “Around here they say ‘If you don’t like the weath­er, just wait.’ ”

We exit­ed the ter­mi­nal, crossed the drop-off area in front of the build­ing, and quick­ly reached the lot where my three-year-old Lexus waited.

L.T. gin­ger­ly tossed his brief­case into the back seat.  I head­ed to the park­ing lot exit, paid the park­ing fee, head­ed out to Man-o-War Boulevard, and turned south.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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