A soft ping echoed through the hull of the aeroplane. Graham Miller opened his eyes to see the light of the seatbelt fastening symbol glow in a tack yellow light. A moment later the crackle of the intercom pierced through the speakers unforgivingly.
"Uh, this is the Captain speaking. We are beginning out descend to the runway. Welcome to London. Flight Attendants, please fasten your seatbelt's."
Graham slowly opened the oval window shade only to be blinded by the hot yellow morning sun. He could see a miniature Big Ben and buildings occupying the busy city.
For the last ten hours and ten minutes, Graham had contemplated his sanity. It was about six hours into the flight that the adrenalin and courage drained from his body. Now, he sat in his own silence wondering and praying to whoever is listening that he wasn't completely out of his mind.
"Shit." He muttered under his breath with a tinge of resentment.
Graham followed the herd of confused and aggravated couples, families on their summer vacation. Graham looked down at a young teenage boy with shaggy brown hair looking as miserable as he. His eyes travelled down to the sweater the teen was sporting. It was grey with prints of images of London straight off of ClipArt. Shit, no wonder the kid is miserable.
The teen felt Graham's eyes watching him carefully. He turned his head meeting the stare. They shared a brief mutual understanding and sympathy.
Graham averted his eyes and carried on, dodging the loud McCallister-like family. He adjusted the Army issued duffle bag over his shoulder and swiftly walked through the airport until making outside. The brisk air hit his face. Foolishly, Graham never looked up the average weather temperatures in England. It was always brisk like autumn or San Francisco.
He placed the duffle bag down and untangled his distressed brown leather jacket to put it on.
A black taxicab rolled up against the curb with a horn honk getting Graham's attention. The driver's side window rolled down a window. A crooked toothed man with a dark shaded beard poked out his head.
"'Ello mate, you need a ride?" The cab driver asked as he flicked the cigarette butt from between his fingers.
"Yeah, thanks." Graham opened the back door and slid across the back seat.
"Where to, mate?" The driver asked looking at Graham in the rearview mirror.
Graham dug a hand into his front jean pocket in search of a crumpled piece of paper with an address scribbled down on it. "Here." He passed the address to the front.
The driver glanced down at the paper then back at Graham through the rearview mirror. "Is 'his ye'r idea of a joke, mate?"
With genuine confusion, Graham stared at the driver. "Why would I joke?"
The driver turned around to really look at Graham. "Well, for starters, mate, don't ya think ye'r a bit old to be chasin' young tit like that?"
"Ye're a good-looking guy and all that, mate, but, can't ya get a girl ye'r own age?"
Graham fought the urge to scratch his head. "Huh?"
"You want me to drive you to an all-girls school."
With a scoffed mixed with insult and foolishness, Graham shook his head. "Job interview. I'm goin' for a job. Not to chase… young tit."
The driver scrutinisingly stared at Graham for a moment longer. With a shrug, he turned back around then put the cab in gear. "Righty-o mate, off we go." He pulled the taxicab out into the moving traffic heading towards the airport exit.
"I wish I was the brakeman,
On a hurtlin' fevered train,
Crashing a-headlong into the heartland,
Like a canon in the rain,"
Staring out the window at the tall buildings that seemed to be almost identical in every city, Graham looked at the back of the drivers head and decided to break the silence. "What do you know about this place?"
The driver turned the volume dial lower. "Err — not much, mate. I know a lot of wealthy folks attend there. It's not "officially" an all-girls school but the majority of students happen to be female. Don't get me wrong, mate, they won't just let any 'ole bloke off the street attend. Nah, you gotta be pretty bloody special, you follow, mate?"
Graham turned his head from the window meeting the driver's eyes in the rearview mirror. "Yeah, I follow." A brief silence lulled between them. "What do you know about the Head Master?"
"The Head Mistress you mean, mate. It's a woman that runs the joint. I drove her once I'll have you know. Picked her up just like you. She was a gorgeous creature with yellow flowing hair and the saddest eyes ye'r ever seen."
"She was sad?" Graham asked with keen interest.
"Aye, mate, I think so. She started out the bloody window the entire trip. Her gorgeous, doe-eyed face held this… serene, thoughtful expression. Ya just knew 'here was more goin' on with 'er. I couldn't put my finger on it. But a pretty young bird 'he is." He chuckled.
Graham eyed the back of the drivers head and then looked back out the window making her perfectly clear picture of yellow-haired, doe-eyed woman the driver described sitting in the back seat just like him.
The taxicab pulled around the large circular driveway to a complete stop in front of large old wooden doors.
Both Graham and the driver looked out the window at the massive academy.
With a whistle, the driver said, "Well, bloody hell, mate. This place looks like the bloody Lyme Park estate. Just more… gothic, I reckon." he couldn't tear his eyes away.
Graham released a deep breath, "Yeah." He started to get out of the cab with the duffle bag in hand. Graham faced the driver and handed him his fair.
"Thanks a lot, mate." The driver said with a smile as Graham turned away gathering the strength to enter through those heavy doors. "Oh, and mate?"
Graham looked at the driver. "Yeah?"
With a snicker, the driver sped off leaving pebbles flying and a could of dust in the air.
Graham turned his attention back to the enormous doors and swallowed nervously. "Thanks," he muttered under his breath.
Taking one dirt stained stone step at a time, Graham stood tall once reaching the large doors. He reached out to the eloquent door handles then slowly opened the door stepping inside.
There was no turning back now, Graham realised. This was it. This was his one and only chance.
No turning back.
Song Used: "Fisherman's Blues" The Waterboys, 1998