Demeter was up early the next morning, unwilling to miss any Jagged Journeys developments. When Zeus signed on he asked Mercury for an update.
“Good Morning, Zeus, Isis. A lot hinges on the next few minutes. Jane’s in line at the counter and whatever she finds out will determine the fate of this trip.”
Isis wanted to know about the weather.
“A glorious day in New York,” Mercury reported. “It’s hard to believe the storm even happened, but the airport is busier than usual.”
“Did you follow Bill and Jane to their hotel last night?” Isis asked.
“Yes, I did. The taxi driver charged them an exorbitant amount to go to Long Island and when they arrived at the motel, the check-in clerk heaped a pile of surcharges on to the quoted price. The isolated hotel didn’t have any food service after 10 PM and nothing was open in the area – not even pizza delivery. The motel did have some vending machines, but they weren’t working.”
Zeus said, “Sounds like they ate some more cookies from the carry-on bag.”
“That’s right,” Mercury continued, “And in the near dark, because only half of the light fixtures had bulbs and half of them were burned out.”
“So much for no surprises,” Zeus interjected.
“Even the TV was substandard. Only a couple of fuzzy stations and no volume control. And the bed was uncomfortable, too.” Mercury added.
Zeus asked, “What about the luggage? Did the hang-up bag have anything useful?”
“Only formal attire for the wedding ceremony and the carry-on’s were pretty useless, too. Primarily, electronics and shoes.”
With an unattractive eagerness, Zeus asked if they argued, but Mercury said, “Not exactly, but Bill did give Jane a lecture on packing. She gained back some points for avoiding a fight. Finally, they both took showers and got into bed with nothing but their birthday suits and two thousands points on the board. Which was a good thing, because the score’s seesawed all over the place this morning. Bill got on the phone and chewed out half the lost luggage department. Then Jane earned a boatload of points for cajoling Bill into giving her a shot at it. She ignored the luggage problem and called Tammy’s travel agent. He found a place for them on a flight to Europe – not to Frankfort, but at least on the right side of the pond.”
“And now Bill and Jane are in line at the airport, so everything turned out OK,” Isis said.
Mercury replied, “Not exactly. The travel agent told them to go to the airport immediately, but Bill wanted breakfast first. Then he dilly-dallied around trying to avoid another $85 taxi fare. The judges have said that if Bill and Jane actually get on a flight to Europe, they’ll be awarded points for arranging to share a shuttle, but if they end up going home, they’ll lose all their points.”
Zeus said, “I only see Jane in the line. Where’s Bill?”
“Well, he’s wandering around the terminal. The guy in front of Jane is not getting good news,” Mercury said, “They told him there were no seats on any flight, even in first class. He offered the lady a bribe, but it backfired. He might be stuck in New York for a really long time.”
The screen honed in on Jane as she stepped up to the counter, “Hi, I’m Jane Sadek. Leif Schwartzkat, our travel agent, said you were holding tickets for us…to The Netherlands.”
The ticket clerk brightened, “Let me see what we have Ms. Sadek. How do you spell your last name?”
“And how many are in your party?”
“Two, my husband Bill and I.”
“If your travel agent is right, then…Ah, we do have them. May I see your identification?”
Isis exulted, “Zeus, did you hear that? Our travelers are bound for The Netherlands!”
“That’s good news,” Zeus agreed.
“Not good enough,” Mercury said, “They don’t know where to go when they get to The Netherlands. The wedding invitation and trip itinerary are in one of their missing suitcases.”
Isis said, “Surely Bill and Jane have a phone list or something with them.”
“Not so much as the groom’s business card. Since they expected to connect with Tammy in New York, they thought their paperwork would be safer in the suitcase,” Mercury explained, “They discussed it over breakfast.”
“Let me make sure I understand this,” Zeus said, “Bill and Jane are supposed to fly The Netherlands, but they don’t know where the wedding will be”
“That’s right, Zeus. They’re supposed to catch a train, but they haven’t got a clue to where.”
“How did this happen,” Isis lamented.
“Well,” Zeus said, “all mortals are capable of making mistakes. In fact, many of our fellow Olympians have made errors of judgment.”
“Are you speaking from personal experience?” Isis asked the king of the gods.
Zeus admitted, “I’ve made my share of mistakes, Isis, just like you. Hera and I have our difficulties, but no one’s ever kidnapped her and sealed her in a box – you know – the way Set did Osiris.”
Isis turned a few shades of red, “You’re right, Zeus. Mistakes can happen to the best of us and they are certainly costing Bill and Jane right now. They’re down to 545 points. They’ll soon be at the mercy of our pranksters.”