AT THE RUNWAY’S END, the arriving plane bit pavement, put on the brakes, and exploded.
The hotel’s manager, Hector, who happened to be walking through the lobby, saw the explosion and switched channels, worried the image might disturb his guests. As the burning metal carcass changed to a soccer game, he straightened his tie. Leaving through the main entrance of the hotel, Hector looked up and down the street without glancing towards the airport, which lay just across the bridge.
The fish in the lobby swam like flight formations. They seemed infantile, without purpose, counting laps. One hundred, two hundred, two thousand. Their mouths opened and closed, making o shapes. They shot away when Maya, a guest at the hotel, approached, sending them diving, scurrying, and shimmying. When Maya was on the other side of the pond, the fish swam their original paths, no more aware of the danger than before. The fish only had to swim fast when the danger is near. When humans aren’t near, some other fish are in peril; there’s no need to worry.
At three o’clock the concierge’s shift ended. After personally taking another bottle to Hector’s room he began to walk home. He hadn’t entered Hector’s room, but left the bottle outside. The streets near the airport were closed and traffic around the hotel was at a standstill. He arrived at the bridge, and found some men his age smoking cigarettes, watching the other plume of smoke from the airplane. He lit his own cigarette and leaned on the bridge’s edge. None were speaking, which was welcoming. He’d been the one to explain to the young American girls not to play in the pond, and he felt like a Nazi. Now he wanted to join this somewhat disrespectful activity, along with some like-minded strangers.