No Snakes

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Reg closed the quarterly report on his tablet and declined a third FaceTime request from his kids. A muffled automated voice from the terminal's overhead speakers announced a string of safety warnings and asked the passengers to report anything suspicious to Tampa's airport security.

Only an hour until boarding. Not ready to ride the tram to go through airport security, he adjusted himself in the uncomfortable chair outside the elevators. Why did they always pick him for the pat down?

A text soon followed from The Wife.

When does your flight arrive?

Too soon, he almost answered. Instead, he typed a short response saying again that his flight would be on time. It wasn't like she had to pick him up from the airport, but he'd hear a litany of offenses charged against him anyway. He didn't look forward to the all-too-familiar guilt trip she'd try to shove down his throat.

He'd only been at the work retreat in Tampa five short days. And it was work, not like a paid vacation to Tahiti. How hard was handling their two kids by herself for a week? Not a question he'd voice out loud without the accompanied backlash. An inclement weather delay would be a gift from the gods that usually punished him, but the bright morning sun glinted off the airplanes that moved in and out of the tarmac. He'd miss the warm Florida weather. It worked wonders on his aching joints.

A gas bubble worked its way through his throat, the silent burp escaping from his lips before he could cover it. At least that one didn't smell like burritos. Reg patted his stomach. His last company mandated physical hadn't gone well, and the doctor had presented him a new diet and exercise regimen. Stress and fast food would kill him, the doc had said. More like nagging and spoiled children would take him to his maker.

The familiar burning started at the base of his throat. How many Tums could a person take in one day?

He picked at the edge of the tablet's cover. His boss needed him to run the numbers on the quarterly report again, but the abundance of strangers hovering made it hard to concentrate. The FaceTime request buzzed again, and he slipped the tablet into his laptop bag. When it jutted out on one side, he pulled out several of the items in the bottom of the bag to make room. Corporate gifts they'd been called. They never offered more than a one-and-a-half percent raise, but retreats and overpriced electronics fit into their budget without issue.

He opened one of the gifts, a wristlet fitness monitor, and tried once again to attach it to his wrist. Apparently they didn't come in "large bone" size.

"I have that model."

A soft voice pulled his attention to the surrounding seatmates. A blonde in a dark blue dress smiled.

She moved to the seat beside him. "Mine came with a small and large band."

Reg covered the fitness band with his hand, embarrassed the attractive woman had been watching him struggle. Her strong perfume tickled his nostrils, but he refused to scratch his nose with her watching. "I really don't know how it works."

Her smile brightened, and she held out her well-manicured hand. "I can help you with it. Let me see the package it came in."

"I don't want to bother you," he said.

"I have an hour before my flight boards so it's no bother. By the way, my name is Amy."

He dug out the original box for the fitness band and handed it to her. "I'm Reg."

She pulled out a compartment at the bottom of the box and revealed another band. "If I had to guess, I'd say you're here on a business trip."

"My tie and computer bag give me away, huh?"

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