A wave of humid air hit me as I stood in the galley waiting for a family of five to manoeuvre through the door. Welcome back to Dubai. Moisture sprang from every pore as I went down the stairs to the waiting bus. Lucky buggers in business were already on their way and I was nearly the last person off the sodding plane.
Squeezed into the back of the bus I realized I was pressed against the ugly bloke who had been in the loo. He reeked of the free cologne they leave in there. I began to imagine the chic woman had been trying to groom him and in the turbulence tipped the whole bottle on him, well that is what he smelled like. Yet there was something more about his scent but I couldn’t place it.
I felt his phone vibrate in his pocket as we rolled through a turn. Desperately I tried to make room between us as his ham fist went for the phone. I felt my stomach turn. They couldn’t have been doing it in the loo. He was just too revolting unless of course she was a certain type of lady and money had changed hands. That just might explain it but somehow I didn’t think the scenario fit.
The press of people was so great I couldn’t see much until the first lot left at the connections gate then I noticed the woman standing in impossibly high heals. The shoes were exquisite, the type I could only think about in my dreams. Only a woman with ankles that thin could wear an ankle strap with those heals and not appear ridiculous. I tore my eyes from her shoes to study her face. Porcelain features of an Asian doll looked past me to rear window of the bus. She didn’t seem to notice my scrutiny. I couldn’t place where in Asia she was from. Her suit could be Channel or maybe a good knock off which it must be otherwise why had she been in economy as I knew business wasn’t full.
The woman created more question than answers as I watched her push open her phone and dial. Those nails bothered me. I longed to get close to see if she bit them. I don’t know why this was so important but I just felt that everything about her was right except those short pink nails.
The phone rang beside me again. The oaf spoke.
He was Russian? Now, that I hadn’t expected. I tried to piece together what he was saying but it was mostly numbers which made no sense. I wondered he was in the economy cabin of the plane. Most of the Russians visiting Dubai were very wealthy.
He hung up with out saying good bye. The bus lurched to a halt at arrivals and I prepared my self for the mad dash through the hall to the e-gate section. Modern technology at it’s finest – the e-gate. No queues just a finger print scan and I would be standing in Duty free stocking up.
My elegant woman had put her phone away and swung her Louis Vuitton bag over her shoulder. I wondered if she was just a visitor or was she a resident.
The two Indonesian women pushed past me across the hall. I had forgotten about them. They didn’t detour to the visa desk as I expected but joined the long immigration line. I swung past them and my phone rang.
“Tom.” My stomach flipped and knotted. What comes next I wondered. What does one say to ones husband at one in the morning when you told him you hated him as you left days before? I didn’t have a script for this one. I thought there would be a text but a call caught me off guard. He shouldn’t be awake he had to be work today. Maybe Oliver was sick?
“Yes.” I sounded breathless. Was it from the dash or just hearing his voice?
“Good. We have been missing you.”
“Have you really?” I tried to keep sarcasm from my voice. Why didn’t I believe him? If he was calling me at one am then just might be.
“Yes, Sam. Where are you?”
“About to go through e-gate and you?”
“Waiting for you outside.”
“Yes, don’t sound so surprised. I love you.”
“That might be a good question for later but not for now. See you in a few minutes.”
The phone went dead. I fumbled with my card and the gates swished open. I tried to remember which finger was required. Eventually I got it right and was released through the other side. My mind stayed with Tom. Did he really love me or after all these years were we just going through the motions to afraid to let go. Then of course there was Oliver. He was the glue that held us together. Was there anything else?
On autopilot I filled my basket with the requisite bottles of gin and whiskey. The joys of the expats life in Dubai accumulating your liquor supply without the 30% tax on alcohol.
My head shot up as I bumped into the chic woman.
“Sorry.” I was stunned by her flawless English accent. I was presented with a puzzle where the pieces were the wrong shape. The suit was genuine but the bag was not.
“How will you be paying?”
I looked up at the cashier and handed over my Dirhams. I stole a glance at what the woman had in her basket - four bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.
I moved toward the exit and one of the Indonesian women from the plane was watching me. I glanced around me and looked back at her. She quickly averted her gaze. I wondered was it me they were looking at or the elegant woman behind me.