After spending 2 weeks with my daughter Liz and granddaughter Mikaila; it was time for me to go home. We had stopped at McDonald’s for a last meal together before Liz dropped me off at Chicago’s Union Station. Union Station has everything imaginable inside; hotel, bars, magnificent food court, movie theatre, etc. Liz and Mikaila exited the car with me and we gave each other our last goodbyes. I then pulled my ticket out and walked across the street towards the station.
As I approached the escalators, an Asian security guard stopped me and took my drink out of my hand.
“Drinks are no longer allowed in Union Station from outside vendors.”
My response, “I didn’t know the policy changed in the past two weeks, but I need to take medication once I get to my gate and I have a medical card stating that I need something to drink at all times due to my medications.”
I then proceeded to take my ID, Medical ID and my wallet copy of my DD214 out (not sure why I grabbed my DD214, but my gut said to have it in hand!). The guard also asked to see my prescriptions to verify that they belonged to me. The whole time, more and more people are entering and leaving Union Station. No one stopping them.
I then decided to inquire why I was singled out. “I see many individuals walking in with drinks from outside vendors! It has been 20 minutes now, as an American Citizen and Veteran, I am now DEMANDING to know why I am being detained!”
“Can you PROVE that you are a Veteran? Because I don’t see any proof in the ID you have given to me.”
“Of course I can! You see that Yellow Star on my State ID? That is my proof. Any LEO would know this!”
The look on his face showed he didn’t like my answer. And then he looked puzzled as to why I assumed he was a Leo.
“Who are you to assume that I am a Leo?”
“Well aren’t you considered a Law Enforcement Officer?”
“Yes, but what does that have to do with the Astrological sign?
I was now irritated with this sorry excuse for a Rent-a-Cop. And I was an Armed Security Officer at one time myself! So I took a deep breath, counted to ten, and calmly replied, “Law… Enforcement… Officer. L…E...O, LEO. The look on his puzzled face read that he still didn’t understand, so I handed him my wallet copy of my DD214. To PROVE I am a Veteran.
Now that he had all of my identification, he still wouldn’t let me have my drink. Another 20 minutes has now passed and I was still the only one detained. I was just about to inquire, again, why it was taking so long. The guard handed me my drink and said I could now take my pills but I couldn’t leave just yet. I took my cup and had my pills ready in my hand to take. My cup was now fuller than when I had left Liz and Mikaila. I took a quick sip to wet my mouth but my Coca-Cola tasted funny. Not the watered down funny or ratio of syrup to water funny. This had an acrid taste that turned my nose. I looked between the guards around me and they all had evil grins. I dropped my things and started running. Down the escalator (thank God no one was on it in front of me) I went. Once I reached the bottom, I went towards the food court. Hoping I would get lost in the crowd,
I briefly glanced behind me to see how many men were following me. I couldn’t see anyone, but I knew that didn’t mean there wasn’t anyone there. I saw an empty kiosk and ducked under it. A quick thought entered my mind that I STILL hadn’t taken my pills yet! My thought was interrupted by a woman coming into the kiosk, apparently back from break. I remained still and kept my breathing under control. Thinking she had a customer in which she was speaking to;
“It’s nice to finally meet you!”
No response to her statement came.
“I am sorry you were detained for so long with our sorry excuse for security. We were assured that the Chicago Police would have taken over at the beginning of the month. But you know politicians and how fast they work!”
I still kept quiet. I was in disbelief and didn’t know what to think. As though this woman could read my mind,
“I know you are scared and in disbelief, but I am here to help you get to your destination safely. Your husband has threatened the guillotine if you were not safely on that train and out of Chicago TODAY!”
I quickly responded, “I’m not married. I think this might be mistaken Identity. My husband died 10 years ago.” As soon as those words exited my mouth, I immediately got scared and curled myself into a ball under the kiosk. The woman did not attempt to look for me. I started to silently cry. Not knowing if I would ever see my Rose (Annabelle Rose, or Belle), Mikaila, Liz or Katy ever again, the tears just pooled onto my jeans.
The woman kept talking to me, “Mrs. Conaway, your husband is alive and well. He wanted me to tell you that ’your dragon may be 20 years old, but you will always be 20 to him.”
“How do you know what only my husband has ever said to me about my dragon?” I asked her as smoothly as possible. I knew it was in reference to my tattoo I got after I was discharged from the Army.
“Mrs. Conaway, I told you, your husband is still alive. As added proof, He was with Liz as she laid Emma to rest. He also sent word to leave Liz alone and to quit bashing her. She will ALWAYS be Emma’s mom and Jeremy’s family is not the only family grieving.”
Tears now streamed down my face uncontrollably. Wesley had been there all along. Now I had many questions flooding my mind. Why did I have a funeral for my husband? Why was I told he had died? What kind of work did he REALLY do? Why did he have to keep it from me? I was his wife! I lay next to him each and every night for five years before he had died!!! I take that back, before he disappeared! The tears had now stopped. I was infuriated! I needed to see my husband, and I needed to see him NOW!
“Mrs. Conaway, we have to get you to your train but we cannot get you there as you are. We must disguise you. Do you see the restroom behind me? In the handicap stall is a bag with a change of clothes, new identification, your medication and new phone with only one number programmed.” The kiosk woman said to me. She also added that she would be bringing me a Coca-Cola, unopened!
When she said the all clear, I quickly made my way to the restroom. Now cautiously aware of my surroundings, I kept my head down but scanned the shoes and sounds around me for anything out of sort. I went into the handicap stall and sure enough, a bag was on the back of the door. A Nun’s Habit, black loafers, a “Class A” style purse (G.I. purse issued to female soldiers) with new identification and my prescriptions in my new name. I looked at the phone and the number programmed. Wesley’s name was there but not the number I had memorized from ten years ago. Despite the thoughts going through my mind, I changed my clothes as quickly as I could. I wanted to call the number programmed so badly. I wanted to hear my dear Wesley’s voice for the past decade. Now more than ever did I want to hear him on the other end of that line, but I thought against calling, in fear of cussing him out and jeopardizing my chance to get home to Katy and Rose. I flushed the toilet and exited the stall. I had the bag with my clothes in hand and went to wash my hands as if I had actually used the bathroom. I exited the restroom and met the kiosk woman face to face now. She was a beautiful Latina with crimson hair draping her back. Her eyes were green and kind. With the color of her hair and eyes, she reminded me of a dragon; green eyes with hair the color of the flames being breathed out of its mouth.
“Sister, you look like you could use something cold to drink? Would you care for an ice-cold Coca-Cola?”
“Thank you, my child (trying to act the part). How much do I owe you?” I asked.
Her response, “This one is on me, Sister. Do you need any assistance getting to your gate?”
“No, thank you dear. The pop is more than enough for me. If you could just direct me to gate C though; I am afraid I am all turned around. A lot of work has been done here in the past few years.”
The kind woman gave me directions to my gate. I thanked her for her help and went on my way.