A Near-Death Experience


Dateline — Denver Airport, August 29

I’m going to try not to complain about that stupid little one-quart Zip-Loc bag that TSA, the airport security people, make you jam all your liquids and aerosols and gels into. (Note to self: ask around to find out many terrorist acts this ridiculous rule has stopped.) But bear in mind that all of the post-9/11 security regulations were put into place by a presidential administration that also brought us Katrina recovery and, frankly, 9/11 — but that’s another subject. . .

Anyway . . . because of the one-quart Zip-Loc bag rule — I’m not checking any luggage on this tour, at Lee Child’s suggestion — I’ve run out of some basic necessities. Like toothpaste. So the folks at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver give me directions to a Walgreen’s a few blocks away. The concierge tells me it’s located on a “pedestrian mall” on 16th Street.

Red-eyed and inadequately caffeinated and not seeing too well, I stroll along the pedestrian mall, admiring the variety of shops (Jamba Juice — my favorite! Time for a double wheatgrass shot!) and the abundant outdoor seating.

Suddenly there’s a blast of a horn, and I’m almost hit by a bus. It scrapes my shoulder and the side of my face.

When they told me this was a “pedestrian mall,” they forgot to mention the shuttle buses — hybrid-electric buses that zoom along quietly, and apparently don’t stop for pedestrians.

My Starbucks venti coffee is all over the ground, but otherwise, no harm done.

An enjoyable appearance at High Crimes, the mystery bookstore in Boulder, owned by one of the leading mystery mavens, Cynthia Nye.

Borders has moved POWER PLAY to their Major New table at 30% off — a big step up from last week. It’s really selling there, too.

Another ridiculously early flight the next morning. The night before, I put in a wake-up call for 5:15 a.m.

The call never came. I find myself scrambling around, trying to get some coffee in me, enough to pack up. Yes, the glamorous life of an author on tour. Where’s my stretch lizine?

The Denver airport has a shuttle that runs between terminals and plays honky-tonk piano music at intervals. It also has a recorded message, a woman’s voice chiding passengers, “You are delaying the departure of this train!” This is not good for Denver’s friendly image. Someone should do something about that.