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I could easily abort mission in Chicago, he mutters to himself, headphones clamped to his head, with Cecilia Bartoli in full cry. A taxi from O'Hare downtown, check in to the shabby elegance of the Congress Plaza, a quick twilight nap in room 1172, an old favourite from dirty weekends past, a late surf and turf dinner somewhere just off the Magnificent Mile, drinks in the basement bar at the Drake and then bed. Tomorrow morning he wakes up and flies back home to Detroit, as if that was what he had in mind all along.
Or why not go all the way to the coast? I know a great place in Santa Monica, the Cal-Mar, with big suites and a kidney shaped pool shaded by a giant palm. "C'est sexy le ciel de Californie," he mutters to himself absentmindedly.
Not enough courage. Inevitability has the upper hand. The doctor sips the last of his drink and crunches the husk of an ice cube. Vodka puts him in a meditative frame of mind. How could it not when you're six miles from earth in a stifling cigar tube?
Chicago swells up from the ground, a colossus of boxed steel and glass..Hail gibberish from the cockpit, all the stops pulled out on a Dixie drawl. The tower has finally cleared us for landing, thanks so much for your patience, this terrible heat-wave is almost over, tough it out, enjoy your stay, think of us the next time you fly. Seats back, trays up, laptops off. The engines begin to whine, hungry for oxygen. The plane bucks and pitches as it wrestles a squall of thermals, confident, defiant. Commuter jets give you a thrill whether you want it or not. Minutes from now the doctor will be stalking the halls of the terminal to unwind. Then he will retire to the cocktail lounge to medicate himself for a new boarding gate. .