Terminal #3

The rain came down in the smallest misty droplets. The shrill and strained voices of those inside, echoed off the windows and tall, high ceilings of the terminal. At the same time, a man, not yelling, just outside the door, pointed up at the great wooden beams that supported the roof and said to the woman beside him–maybe his wife and maybe his girlfriends and maybe just a work associate, “look hot those are beveled and so they fit together just right.”

Inside the terminal the echoes continued. You have to wear a mask, said the ferry worker, but it was lost in the shouts.

What about liberty?

Free country.

Don’t have to.

Outside in the loading lot where people in waited in cars waiting to be loaded, a white Tesla paid fare and then drove into the back of a lane. The loud speakers chimed with a thin metallic voice. Will the white Tesla that pulled into the end of lane five please move to lane one. I’ll repeat, the white Tesla must move from lane five to lane one. The announcement flies around the crowded terminal without the potential passenger or the ferry worker hearing it.

The other passengers who wear masks buy tickets amid the hubbub. They shoot glances at the yelling men. A young family hustle quickly past them. The little girls hold their hands over their ears. Entering directly after the family are a pair of state troops. Each are white with close cut hair, one down right bold, and the other has a reddish beard. The ferryman backs away, shaking his head. The yelling man turns around to see the police officers.

On the ferry that is docking a passenger stands on the front of the boat. As the transport nears the dock a ferry worker approaches.

I’m going to ask you to step back. And please pull up your mask to cover your nose when you go inside.

The passenger is a girl, no older than 21 and maybe younger. She does what is asked of her. There is no conflict her. She stands behind the webbing the ferry worker sets up to obscure the walk way. The ferry worker has a partially shaved head and a swath of blond hair streaking the top of her head, pulled back in a pony tale. She unlocked the gate so the passenger bridge can lower.

Under the water where the propellers are, the water churns as the front propellers are engaged, slowing the boat.

Terminal #2

In this place of transition, a place that proceeds the going and coming of people to one place to another via water, air, or land, the air is thick with impatience.

The Terminal here is a water crossing, with a hydraulic passenger bridge that leads to the upper deck of the ferry. You must have a ticket to ride. You scan your ticket to open a little gate, then there is a door and then the bridge and then you are on the ferry.

A gaggle of 7th graders from the middle school up the hill are on a fieldtrip and enter the Terminal. They can’t be quiet and their voices echo off the floor and walls and high ceiling. They WoW and OoOo and laugh and can’t keep their hands to themselves.

Keep your mask on, their teacher keeps saying, then goes and speaks with the ferry worker who lets them through a locked door rather than through the little automated gates.

Before there was automated gates there was a person who was paid to take tickets from people. That job no longer exists. The person who had that job now works at the coffee kiosk down the block and makes a third of the salary they once had. It’s the little things you don’t notice.

To get the 7th graders out of the Terminal proper, the ferry worker lets them stand on the fore bridge that leads to the hydraulic one. The ferry has not arrived quite yet. It is in the middle of the crossing. Most of the students watch it slowly slide across the water. The water is calm and light shines off it in diamonds. One of the students wanders over to look at the bridge where the cars transfer from the land to the boat. It looks like any other road or bridge. There is a honking in the car lot loading area. It could be an alarm, but it is also too sporadic to be an alarm.

Get away from the rail, says the teacher to his students.

There is a roaring and the children have wide eyes and are looking around. Their heads spiraling.

The car is honking over and over as it rounds the corner and heads onto the ramp. The girl that was looking down sees the flash of the car, bright red, a haze exiting the tailpipe, burning oil. There is no ferry docked. Tires screech and then the car is in the air, flying outward. Flying downward.

The girl watches it. Her classmates are screaming. The teacher is shouting. She is still. The car is still. hanging in midair, it’s tires still spinning. Then the nose angles down, it’s tail up. It begins to fall. And once it begins everything speeds back up again.

Cartwaith #2

Behind the trollie the extravagant lady rode atop, bumped and jostled a two wheeled trailer. Cartwaith couldn’t help but watch the woman drive, bumping and bopping all the way down the hill and over the uneven road.

“Whose that?” said little Blith, her raven curls wetted straight.

“Don’t know,” said her father. “But sure is a funny horse she rides, ain’t it?”

“Not a horse,” said Blith. “It’s a trollie, silly.”

“Same function as a horse though, ain’t it–get you from here to there, right?”

Blith turned away from her father for a moment, “Sure. I guess.”

“How’s it then, not a horse?” asked Cartwaith.

The little girl shrugged and her father grabbed her up hugged he close and told her not to try and outsmart her Da, because she’d not do that until she were older. Then he asked, “Where’s Smaeth?”

Blith pointed across the bridge that spanned the gap of the brook and continued along the road that led up the hill–the same one the woman on her trollie was trundling down. Cartwaith could see his son, running along the road toward the trollie with a few of the other children.

“What’s he done?” asked Cartwaith.

From afar and across the brook, he watched his son with the other children cluster around the trollie, and then begin to trot along beside it. It reminded Cartwaith of the honor guard he’d seen when Principal Argyles passed through Vestil last winter. Wasn’t often you got a Principal coming through a small town like Vestil, but Cartwaith supposed when somebody wants to get somewhere easiest way to do is by ways and means well explored and trodden.

“You believe,” said Cartwaith to his daughter, “that out in San Francisco they say they got those trollies like that on every street. H’aint not more horses and carts no more. Just trollies pulling darn near everything.”

“Thought you’d say’d it’s a horse,” said Blith.

“Sa, did,” said Cartwaith, scoffing. “Go ’bouts and grab Smaeth for me and get him away from that trollie. Whatever that red light is from it’s behind can’t be good nobody.”

Blith giggled at the mention of the trollies behind, then sprang up and scampered along the east bank of the brook until she came to the bridge and crossed to meet the trollie and other children. Cartwaith watched he talk to Smaeth, who was two years older, and he could see that the boy spoke back to her. Then the woman in the dark and red dress with the ostentatious hat let one hand go of the stack jutted from the floor in front of her, and pulled a cane where there had been no cane, from beside her on the seat.