last post of the night. 16 hours and 4,000 words in, and my hands are cramping, my wrists are sore and my ankles ache. dave's curled up by the big cold windows, watching planes take off and land until sleep comes. i'll wake him up in the morning.
Peter is probably the only chaplain who funds his ministry by selling knives. Lighters and scissors, too. Ipods and digital cameras also bring in some cash.
Dave discovered this as Peter pushed a cart of cardboard boxes past him. Dave was fading, spiraling downward on a coffee crash, but the sight of the knife-selling chaplain perked him up.
Peter explained no one paid for a chapel and chaplain at the airport, so he had to fundraise for the position. The airport donated all of the unclaimed confiscated items, plus the lost and found, to the chapel. The annual Christmas auction was just wrapping up – hence the boxes.
“It really brings people together,” Peter smiled, “and we generate income for the chapel.”
He was dressed casually – jeans and a button-up shirt. No dog collar for him.
Dave had seen him before, during his previous nine Christmases at the Airport, but hadn’t spoken to him. That was odd, as Peter was a sort of spiritual Batman, responding to emergencies when the authorities called, and Dave was in a perpetual state of emergency.
“It’s walking the walk with people – hearing their stories and being part of their life. Just listening,” Peter said of his work. “It’s a really interesting place. You’re immersed in it.”
Dave was considering a career change, until Peter spoke over his shoulder as he continued on his way: “It’s always good when you’re not needed.”
Dave’s smile died. His intestines wrenched. He put down his pen.
It was late. Most of the shops were shuttered up. The birds had stopped chirping. A half a dozen people lounged in the lobby, waiting on a few late-night flights from the west.
Dave was not doing well. The old fear was coming back. He’d long known about the Big Bang – the universe being created in a monstrous explosion from a minuscule singularity – but his recent discovery of the Big Rip had unnerved him.
The problem was that the universe was too light. If it were heavier, the Bang would eventually run out of steam and gravity would win the day, pulling the cosmos back in on itself. Time would run backwards, so that everybody would relive every moment of their lives, in reverse. Ditto for the dinosaurs and whatever came before them.
That pleased Dave – it suggested life meant something. Why else do it twice?
But then he discovered the Big Rip.
This said that the insubstantial universe would keep exploding outwards until it spread itself so thin that the fabric of the cosmos was ripped to shreds. Frozen, lightless space would one day be all that remained of everything.
Dave felt a chill. He wandered back to the observation window and curled up on the bench. He watched the soft white snow bury everything. He counted planes until he fell asleep.