Excerpt for State the Nature by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

State the Nature

By Nathaniel Patterson

Edited by Jacob Edwards

©2017 Second Look Scripts, Portland Oregon

“Welcome to California!” The attendant’s false smile hits me like a polident brick as I walk out into the international terminal. Awake or flying for the last thirty hours takes a toll on the human body. The long flight from Tokyo built my hangover from severe to throbbing. Hangovers hurt more when you cross the international date line. Turbulence along the way helped to churn up my roaring gut. Doing blow and downing shots of Suntory all night in the Ginza, celebrating closing the deal of my career. Still high and drunk when I boarded the flight, now wretched and hungover upon landing. A trans Pacific flight represents a terrible way to ease into a hangover.

My eyes, bleary and raw, my suit, a bespoke handmade pinstripe number clings to me like a filthy second skin. Wearing the same clothes for over thirty hours also not good when travelling across sixteen time zones and the international date line. Another nine hours until I return to Manhattan. Another nine hours until I can shower and sleep. I need a Xanax. I need an Oxy, or four, and I need a drink.

The airport here in Frisco stuns me with how modern it looks. I flew out of Narita and this place makes Narita look like it had been built by twelve North Koreans on a small budget in a hurry. The terminal stands gleaming bright. My eyes snap shut in response; my head throbbing. I can feel my temples pulsing pure misery through the length of my skull. Glass panels show shifting images of the city and happy people doing happy things. Frisco had long characterized a playground of the super rich, much to ever loudening wails of the poor. That’s capitalism. Separating fools from money and the rich from the dumb. I look up to see massive glass and carbon fiber skylights, each one with images of wildlife, nebulae or crashing waves. Each image soothing and beautiful. My brain only thinks of pain. Water crashing at Big Sur does not ease a splitting hangover. I need oxy. I need a Bloody Mary. My eyeballs palpitate from the brightness, and they sting when I close them. I need some blow. Anything to edge off this nightmare of a headache. I’d even take an aspirin if I can find one.

I raged all night in Tokyo, Godzilla style. Took my clients out after we closed the biggest deal of my career. Trump’s in office now, and the Japanese want good terms with the ol’ US of A. Yamashiro Tower will soon symbolize the crown jewel in the skyline of Osaka. A glittering sixty story skyscraper with retail, office, and residential living. Total height 1046 feet. The final number 160 billion yen; 1.5 billion dollars. We celebrated with blow, oxy and Suntory. Even picked up a few girls and celebrated with them, too. I need a shower, desperately. I smell like booze, sweat, unagi, sex, and business class. It’s a heady combination of rancid.

My god this place is modern! Drones zip across the terminal in every direction. Little choppers depositing food containers in front of waiting hungry travelers. My stomach gurgles demands to my brain.

“I need to invest some of my commission money in drone tech.” I mutter to myself as I look at those same travellers. Each one fit, sexy and rich, sitting in spacious chairs. Their clothes shimmer. Hair absolutely without fault. Do any original teeth exist in California? Not in this airport. I feel almost out of place, and I’m wearing a twelve hundred dollar Thom Browne suit. Why does no one have their phone out?

Absently, I check mine. The screen, blank. Battery must have died enroute. I’ll have to charge it once I’m past customs.

I arrive at the customs line, glad that it’s not to long, and begin the wait. I have no distractions thanks to the dead phone. No distractions aside from the pounding in my head, and the need to pop an oxy to make the pounding go away. The line creeps forward as traveller after traveller arrives at the customs kiosk. A giant “Welcome to California” sign made of screens displays, above the four agents working the line, images of the Golden State and its main export (lifestyle) flash up at irregular intervals. I attempt to wipe the crud from my bloodshot eyes. It’s finally my turn as one agent waves me over.

“Welcome to California. Please, state the nature of your travel.” The agent smiles blankly as he looks at me. An average man with an average face, thinning salt and pepper hair with crows feet on his tan face. His false smile bright. His uniform sharp. A crisp dark blue, not the hideous electric blue of the TSA, he looks like an authority, not a glorified security guard. I glance at his nametag, the name Gray stands etched into it.

“Business.” I reply calmly. I attempt a smile through my headache.

“Passport please.” His ungloved hand extended. I hand him my blue US passport, the agent pauses as he sees it. “American? How long do you intend to stay in California?” His tone turning serious.

“Only a few hours.”

“Very good, Mister Whitley. Please inform the Canadian Consulate if you intend to stay longer than twenty four hours.”

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