The mug of coffee sits hot between my hands, sitting window-side in the cafe. The quiet conversation, jazz music, and banging of the baristas behind the counter fuse into that old familiar rhythm which keeps me coming here time and again.
Out the window, I am watching the airplanes. More than that; I am counting them. There goes one... and another two... and two more... there's one...
Over a half hour, I tally the flights rising up from the airport just to the northeast, watching the planes nose up into the south wind. I count 30 in as many minutes, give or take a couple; chalk that up to this caffeine buzz and my imperfect attention to what passes beyond the window. The endless traffic on Main Street and the intersecting Airport Freeway distracts me. So many cars, so many faces, so many utter strangers whom I will never know, never meet, never see again. And one plane every minute. Every minute!
Hundreds of souls foreign to me hurtle through the sky, leaving only a haze of spreading contrails behind, as the roads outside fill with a flow of glass and steel and exhaust and noise, never absent, never returning.
Tired of this sordid game, I return to my mug, now cooler and half empty; back to my book with a slight shake of my head, as unable as anyone to ponder long on these subtly frightening realities. Averted eyes are our only answer to this madness.