“Would you like a drink before takeoff, Mr. Bryson?” asked the lovely blond flight attendant with blue eyes and conquettish smile.
“Do we have time?” flicking my eyes a few times in answer to the smile.
“Sure. We have a bunch of planes lined up for takeoff. I figure you for Vodka, stirred, her sexy voice just above a whisper. You do look a lot like James Bond, you know?”
“Which one?” playing the game.
“Pierce Brosnan, of course. The others couldn’t come close… Be right back with your drink,” and she turned and dipped her hips in walking away.
Ah, could be an interesting flight. Guess I’ll just leave the laptop in the overhead compartment.
I’m Travis Bryson and I now only fly first class since my company accomodates my heavy travel schedule. It likely sounds phony, but I’m an Executive V-P for CCC, a facilitator of sorts, bringing our national branches up to date on some new software for Webinars… Hey, it’s only exciting stuff for geeks like me and my comrades in the field. You’ve met our types. We really love what we do.
Now, don’t get me wrong about the flirting – I’m not married (anymore) so I’m not a bad guy and I’m legal. I’ve got a thick crop of black hair. I’m six-feet tall, work out each day and so far keep that middle paunch non-existent. I’m forty-two years old – that’s the new thirty-two, I’m told – and work out of my hometown in Phoenix, Arizona… That’s where this plane is heading, hopefully after I finish that Vodka Martini. (Speaking of which, here it comes, but, confesssion time, my eyes are really on the ‘Stew’, that face and body with the small tray in her hand. Again, don’t get me wrong… Oh, hell, you’ve got me right. There is nothing in life more beautiful than a woman, that is, a woman who has it all together. The guys know of what I speak, and one of them just arrived at my seat with a ‘James Bond Special’. I’m not sexist. I’m not any of those annoying PC words or phrases. I just appreciate beauty in all its forms.
“Hope this is as you like it, Mr. Bryson. If it isn’t I won’t charge you for it…” This, followed by one more coy flash of the eyes and a snicker. “Oh, by the way, what does CCC stand for?”
“’Command Centers Conglomerate’… Okay, look, I know you’ve got another drink there to deliver, but is it okay if I call you Paula, as in Paula Jinx? We are going to be talking, and it’s a long flight from Atlanta to Phoenix. My name is Travis Bryson, as you already know, so call me by my surname, or, Trav…off you go now to deliver your next drink order.”
She spoke as she headed toward the back of the first-class cabin. “I’m impressed you noticed my name tag, Travis.”
Okay, it’s Friday, I’ve been on the road for two weeks, and I have no one waiting for me in the valley of the sun. I was going to get some laptop work done for Monday’s Executive Meeting at the office, bur it can wait. I’m feeling frisky and I’m betting Paula just might be staying over in Phoenix…why, she might be home-based in Phoenix. This flight ends in Phoenix so, at the very least, she will be staying overnight.
The flight is filled and no ‘stand-bys’ made it on the plane. The seat next to me is occupied by a stout bespectacled gentleman in his sixties, earplugs in, listening to music, and reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. My seat row partner has impeccable reading tastes – I did read and love Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. The man is a superb storyteller, and I am eager to read the other aforementioned book. Anyway, the gentleman next to me by the window is lost in his book and couldn’t care less about my flirting ability.
During the flight Paula served me three ‘stirrred martinis’ and I turned down the fourth, making some silly rejoinder, ‘I have three of those and I can feel it. If I have four, anybody can feel it!’
After meals were served and all plates, silverware were picked up, the cabin passengers were reading, sleeping, or using the facilities. Paula and I traded playful quips for awhile. Then, as Phoenix got nearer, I thought I should make my move.
“You based in Phoenix by any chance, Paula?” The three martinis wired me for this conversation. I was ready for action. Two weeks on the road and planes can make you that way. ‘All work, no play’ kind of thing.
“Yes, I am. Is Phoenix your home base as well?” It seemed the smile did not leave her face during the entire flight.
“It is, and I’m thinking maybe we should get together this evening, or, soon. Now, I notice you wearing no wedding ring, so I’m brazen enough to ask.” I paused, waited for her to respond.
“That’s sweet, Travis, So sweet! But I can’t.” She touched me softly on the shoulder.
“So, you’re married and don’t wear your rings, right?”
“Not quite, Trav, but you’re close.”
“You’re separated or getting a divorce and want to wait. Is that it?”
“Not divorced. Not getting a divorce. There’s another reason…”
Not giving her a chance to go on, I suggested, “You and your boyfriend are broken up and you want some space. I can understand that. I’ve been there, done that!” I smiled inanely. This lovely creature was turning me down, and I’m ready to ‘bet the store’ we will be in a few hours warm and cozy in my apartment.
“No, Travis, it’s not like that. You’re a handsome man and most girls would be happy to connect with you. It’s just – well, someone is picking me up at Sky Harbor Airport, and you and I are not a possibility, tonight or ever…”
“Ah, no break-up! You have a steady boyfriend. Well, I can tell you this, Paula, the airline trains you well because I really thought we had something going.”
“No, Travis, you still have it wrong – well, mostly, the airline does train us to be nice and friendly with our flying customers. But there is no boyfriend…” She looked down at the aisleway and sadly smiled.
Then, like a middle linebacker laying me flat out on the football field, it hit me. “You’re…”
“Yes, Travis, I’m gay!”
“Pretty, lovely Paula, will you please bring me one more ‘James Bond Special’? And, will you alert the airline to bring me a wheelchair to the arrival gate?”
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – February 19, 2016
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