I struggled with my backpack, which seemed to be getting heavier and heavier by the minute, and walked outside to the taxicab line. I pulled my hotel confirmation papers out of the inner pocket of my backpack. Wait.... wait! I raced back inside the cool terminal building and snatched my suitcase off a pile of luggage that was waiting to be transported to the "Late Baggage" office, aka the Point of No Return, where the poor passengers never see their luggage again, usually. I knew there was something I had been forgetting.
Retake, Scene Who Knows. Back to the taxi line in the hot, muggy Atlanta air. The businessman in front of me handed his small suitcase to a turbined taxi driver and got into the bright yellow vehicle. Another taxi pulled up. I gave the driver my suitcase and slid slowly into the backseat, happy for the cool air wafting onto my face. Giving the driver my hotel instructions and leaving him to decipher them amidst my doodles, my last thoughts before I fell asleep were, "You know you're desperate when you're thanking God for air conditioning."
I was shaken awake by the taxi driver, who was looking at me with concern that either meant, "Why is she all alone with no parents?" or "Why did she fall asleep in the middle of the day?" Having no time to answer either, I got my backpack and suitcase and handed the man a wad of bills which I thought was the fare, but my mind was too jumbled to sort it. If the way he sped off happily was any indication, I think I overpaid him.
I dragged the suitcase which I had begun to loathe up the steps to the Sheraton. I also thanked God for the doorman that was there waiting to help me in his crisp, pressed uniform, because I knew if it was up to me, that door would probably not get opened. In the lobby I ignored a woman's glare and dumped my stuff on one of the comfy plush recliners that were scattered around the room that I desperately wanted to fall asleep in and walked up to the front desk.
"Hi, I booked a room," I said to the receptionist, giving her the confirmation slip and waiting as she peered at it over her glasses. She typed something into the computer and then turned to me. I swear I could see a smile dart across her heavily made-up face.
"We don't have a room booked under your name," she said.
What? What???? I had booked the room just a few days ago online!!! "Could you please check again, I don't understand," I said, my head swirling. Suddenly I just felt so dizzy that all I wanted to do was lie down.
"We don't have a room under this name, and we don't have any other available rooms. Why don't you try the Marriot? Next in line please!" she called, and a woman toting about ten bags nearly pushed me out of the way to get to the front of the line.
I collapsed on a bench and desperately tried to push away the tears that were threatening to spring to my eyelids. All this way, and I was cast out on the street. I stood up and began to walk, just walk, away and away, not even realizing where my backpack was. I just kept walking. My arms seemed like they were freezing, despite the heat, and I tried to put a hand to my forehead, but couldn't. My arms were numb and limp, and wouldn't move. I knew I had a fever, and suddenly, I had an idea. I would sleep. My legs wouldn't hold me anymore, and I collapsed, unbeknownst to me, in the middle of the street. I heard a squealing of brakes, but I didn't care, I just lay there, tired and wanting to sleep.
There were running footsteps, and a person, felt my forehead, and cried, "She's got a fever!"
"I knew that," I tried to mumble, but everything was blurry and I was too tired to speak. I saw a form standing over me through my blurred vision, and male voices were calling, "Gee, is she okay?" The person near me was yelling for help, and I heard camera flashes and people calling, "Mr. Way, Mr. Way!"
Where I had I heard that name before? I knew I had, but I was too tired to think of where. "Just a minute," I mumbled. "I'm sleeping." The last thing I remember before everything went black was that name that I remembered from somewhere, and a song........