Flight 147Mature

          Henry jerked awake out of a light sleep. The familiar sound of his cell phone alarm rang in his pocket and vibrated against his seat telling him it was time to catch his flight. The time read 10:30 p.m. June 14, 2009; another normal day. Henry’s flight was scheduled to take-off at 10:50 leaving him with hardly any time to board. He couldn’t miss this flight. Henry had to be in London by noon the next day to seal a business deal with some suits that ran his company’s British branch. This deal would net Henry sixteen-million dollars but cause fifteen-hundred people to lose their jobs. He did it all the time. He didn’t care. Life was about money. So when it came to ruining people’s lives to make a quick buck, Henry was all in.

          “If not me then someone else” he would always think to himself.

          Henry left his seat and began to make a hustle toward his loading dock. The airport seemed like it was bustling for it being 10:32 at night. A bit too crowded for Henry’s taste. Henry was a socialite; he knew all the right people, could talk his way into millions a week, and he did, but Henry was a misanthropist. Henry had a sense of entitlement that conflicted with the world and everyone in it. As far as Henry was concerned, he owned the air those pathetic blue collars breathed. Henry never lost a bit of sleep over putting his common man out of house and home. He lived the life of luxury by putting others into poverty.

          10:35 read Henry’s cell phone. He began to shuffle it back into his pocket; he was having a hard time keeping his pace and carrying his briefcase. In and out, in and out. Henry weaved between the slalom of pedestrians, all the while keeping an eye out for flight 147.

          144. 145. Henry could see 147 in the distance. He fixed his stare on 147, not giving 146 a first glance. The momentum Henry had picked up in his haste created enough force to knock down an elderly woman in his way.

         The little white-haired woman fell to the floor, spilling her purse. She was all wrapped up in her soft pink cardigan, confused at what had hit her.

          “Shit!” yelled Henry, realizing he had knocked an old woman to the floor.

          Henry reached down to help the woman off the ground. She stood for a second and gained her composure. Henry reached into his wallet and began fumbling for a few Benjamins to offer to the woman in hopes of a lawless resolution.

          “Look ma’am, my flight is about to leave. Take this to cover any damages I may have caused. “

          Henry reached out a handful of dollars, five-hundred of them, and offered them to the woman. He began to spout at the mouth.

          “Even if you’re fine, take it. Get yourself a nice new coat or something. Look, I don’t need any trouble right now. I’ve gotta’ catch my flight.”

          “Young man, young man.” The woman intervened to calm Henry down. “It was only an accident. I may be old but I’m not broken.” A kind smile ran from cheek to cheek across her wrinkly face. “There is no need for reparations. This old body has suffered far worse.”

          “You mean we’re good then? I have to catch this flight. I don’t have time to spare. Would you like the money? ”

          “Yes, young man, I am fine. Hurry along: you mustn’t miss your flight.

          “Great. That's just great, lady. Thanks.”

          Henry didn’t say another word and made off toward his loading bay. He was going to make it, but barely. It was 10:43, leaving him with enough time to check in and board.

          Henry boarded his flight without any trouble and found his seat. He sat down and fastened his belt; his hands were shaking. As often as Henry made international business trips, he hated flying. Nothing terrified him more than being strapped into a metal bullet being hurled through the sky miles above the ground at speeds that bested those of cars. He never looked out the window. His eyes were always fixated on his laptop. It was the best distraction he had.

          The woman sitting next to him in the window seat was older, around seventy, perhaps. She wore a crucifix around her neck and Henry took immediate notice.

          “For fuck’s sake” he thought to himself. “This is going to be a long trip.”

          Henry opened his briefcase and pulled out his laptop. He flipped the screen up and turned it on. He started reading through his e-mails as the plane began to start and take-off. Henry gripped his seat; his knuckles turning red, his face a sickly white.

          “I do this all the time. Nothing bad ever happens. I’ll make some money and turn around and come home. I’ll go out once I get back and have a night out. It’ll be ok. It’ll all be ok.”

          “Is this your first time flying?” The woman turned and broke the silence starting the ill-awaited conversation.

          “No, I fly all the time. I just get nervous sometimes. I’m not a big fan of heights.”

           The woman could sense the nervousness in his voice.

          “Anywhere you travel with the Lord, you travel in safety.”

          There it was. Henry knew it was coming. It wasn’t a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’. Maybe it was Henry’s religious parents who spoon fed him Bible verses and hymns for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They never listened to Henry’s word, just the good word of the Lord. He had heard it all before and he was sick of hearing it.

          “Yes, I know that.”

          Henry shrugged off the woman’s attempts at generosity and plugged in his headphones to further ignore his on-flight companion. He began reading through his e-mails again. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed that the woman was reading his e-mails along with him. Henry slammed his laptop shut and glared spitefully at the woman.

          “Do you mind? This is my personal business, not yours. Keep your nose out of my business!”

          “I apologize” the woman said, startled at Henry’s outrage. “My eyes were just wandering. I meant no harm of it.”

          Henry ignored the woman’s apology and went back to his work. The flight was going smoothly; the plane hadn’t endured even a slight bump of turbulence. Perhaps the flight wasn’t so bad he thought. If only he had booked another seat.

          A few hours had passed and the flight attendants were making their ways up and down the aisle.

          “I’ll have a drink and we’ll just ride this son-of-a-bitch right into London and I’ll have a nice hot Jacuzzi bath waiting for me when I arrive to my hotel. I’ll order up some food and I’ll kick off my shoes and watch some television. This flight isn’t so bad.

          The flight attendant made her way to Henry. She was a pretty girl, her hair was as golden as King Midas' daughter, piercing sea-blue eyes and a shining smile from ear to ear.

          “Might I get you anything sir?”

          “Yes, I’ll take a whiskey on the rocks please.”

          “Would you like anything else?”

          “Did I order anything else? No, the whiskey is fine. Thank you.”

          The “thank you” was rude and sarcastic. Anyone sitting within a twenty-foot radius would have agreed.

          “You’re welcome” the flight attendant responded, biting her tongue and moving on down the line.

          “That was a bit rude, don’t you think?”

          Henry turned to the woman, the fire in his eye hot enough to melt steel. Henry made it a point to annunciate each and every next word he spoke.

          “I don’t give a goddamn.” He knew this would shut the old woman up. This would undoubtedly shock her into keeping quiet the rest of the flight. The woman just looked at him with a mortified look on her face. Henry could tell that blasphemous remark really hit home.

          The woman looked away from Henry and out the window. She began to talk, and Henry knew it was directed at him.

          “Someday you’ll beg the Lord for help and forgiveness. You turn your back on the Lord now, but someday you’ll need him to be at your side. Just hope he doesn’t turn his back on you as you’ve done so to him.”

          These words crept up Henry’s spine and dug themselves straight into his head. He felt tingly and got that sinking feeling in his stomach. He just needed his drink; that’s all. It had been a long flight and he was restless. That had to be it, certainly not this religious babble; this holy mumbo jumbo. The flight would take all night, and the only rest he had gotten was the quick nap before his flight.

          The flight attendant returned with his drink; a whiskey on the rocks, just as he ordered.

          “At least she’s competent enough not to fuck up a plain whiskey.”

          The woman once again turned to face Henry.

          “My husband used to drink. I didn’t like the way it made him think and act. He would stay up during the night and curse his life. It made him abusive and short with me and the children. I thought he was happy, but a whole ‘nother side came out when he was drinking that filthy stuff. So I told him one night, I said ‘it’s us or the alcohol.’ He chose both. He would leave home during the night and go to a bar. I didn’t want him drinking so he did it outside the house. One night he went out to blow off some steam after we had got done fighting and he never came back. He was drunk and stumbled in front of a bus. The Lord took him away from us that day. He’s in a much better place now. I just wished that I’d gotten to spend a few more happy years with him, a few more sober years. You should give it up while you’re still young and have the chance.”

          “Look lady, I’m a big boy and I can drink any kinda juice I wanna drink. I’ve got a taste for good suits and good hooch. Maybe your husband was drinking some cheap booze? I don’t know. But you’re not going to sit here and tell me I can’t have a few drinks while I’m stuck on this flight all night. It’s not gonna happen.”

          The woman turned back in her seat and looked out the window at the night sky. Henry turned to her and began attempting to apologize.

          “I. Uh. Could you close that window? I hate being able to see outside.”

          The woman ignored him, leaving the window open intentionally opposing his request. The woman just sat and stared at the lights on the ground miles below.

          “Could you please close the window?”

          The woman continued to ignore Henry so he raised his voice.

          “Please, close that window!”

          A flight attendant overheard Henry and came to settle the commotion.

          “Is there a problem?”

          “This woman won’t close the window though I’ve asked her politely multiple times.”

          “Ma’am would you mind if he closed the window?”

          “No, no. Not at all.”

          The woman closed the window and pretended to be completely cooperative. The flight attendant returned to her station.

          “I know you heard me” Henry sneered at the old woman.

          The woman just stared ahead and continued ignoring Henry. This drove him nuts inside, though he tried and let it seem otherwise on the outside.

          “Fine. I’ve been wishing you’d keep quiet the entire trip. It’s about time I get some peace and quiet without hearing your babbling.”

          The woman was again shocked by the rudeness spewing from her neighbors’ mouth. She kept her composure none-the-less.

          “I can only be afraid for what’s to become of you when the Lord sorts out the good from the bad.”

          Henry flipped open his laptop and began working on some business figures. Of course it would be some religious comeback that she would resort to. With every fighting breath this woman seemed to throw out some statement of her religion. Why was she doing this?

          Another hour passed and the woman said nothing. He was starting to feel even more unsettled. At least when the woman was talking to him, he had company and a distraction. Now, being suspended in the air was all he could think about, that and the things the woman had been saying.

          The pilot came over the intercom to alert the passengers of current flight updates.

          “Right now we’re flying over the Atlantic Ocean and we should be arriving within the next three hours. We will be experiencing a bit of turbulence but it should be nothing out of the ordinary.”

          “Turbulence? It was going so perfectly. Why now? The pilot said it should be fine. It should be fine. It’s only a little turbulence.

          The plane began to rumble and shake. Henry once again gripped the seat and braced himself as if launching into space in a rocket. He had been through turbulence before, but this turbulence was more ferocious than any turbulence he had ever experienced. His heart began beating strong, almost hard enough to beat out of his chest. The pilot came over the intercom again.

          “At this time we would like everyone to remain in their seat and fasten their seatbelts. We should be through this turbulence in no time. It’s about to get a bit bumpier but we should be fine and we’ll be through it in a few minutes.”

          The plane began to violently shake through the clouds. Henry looked around and noticed passengers beginning to become uncomfortable and anxious. This made his fear all the more real because he could see that others were feeling the same way.

          BOOM!

          A loud explosion came from the right side of the plane. Many passengers in the plane let out a loud scream. Henry jumped in his seat. He knew this was it. All of his fears were becoming true right here in the middle of the sky miles above an icy ocean below. The pilot came over the intercom once more to give alarming news.

          “It seems one of our engines has gone out and we’ll be forced to make a landing in the water. We need everyone to remain calm and seated. In the cupboards overhead…”

          Henry knew what the announcement had to say. Grab the oxygen masks. Place them on your face. Yada yada yada. He started to panic. The plane was really going down. Nothing he could’ve done would have prepared him for this moment. The screams of his fellow passengers were agonizing, tearing at him like a buzzsaw. No one was keeping calm, no one but the woman sitting next to Henry.

          The woman next to Henry began to recite some religious chants that Henry recognized. She was deep in thought. She wasn’t oblivious to the fact either. Her Lord was here to do his work, to sort the good from the bad.

          “By the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit….”

          Henry turned to the woman, tears beginning to stream down his face, his entire body being thrown about in his seat.

          “You old hag, do something! Don’t sit there and pray, we’re going to die!”

          The woman ignored Henry’s screaming and continued reciting prayers she knew and had taken to heart.

          Henry opened the window and peered out to see his impending doom. It was pitch black out the window. Henry couldn’t see a thing.

          “Any minute. Here it comes. It’s all over. I don’t want to die. Not like this. I’m too important to…

          Henry jerked awake out of a light sleep. His cell phone alarm was ringing in his pocket. The phone read 10:30 p.m. June 14, 2009. His flight was to leave within the next twenty minutes. If he missed the flight, he would miss out on the sixteen-million dollars that was waiting for him when he arrived.

          Henry hustled to catch his flight; boarding was always a pain in the ass and he knew he would need a few spare minutes to board appropriately and to find his seat before the plane took-off. Henry pushed through the crowd to get to his plane. Time was running out.

          144. 145. Henry was looking for flight 147 and could see it down at the end of the lounge. Henry wasn’t paying attention to where he was darting and knocked over an old woman in his way.

          “Shit” yelled Henry, seeing the old woman he had just put on the floor.

          Henry reached down to help the woman off the floor. He reached into his billfold and pulled out some crisp, clean hundred dollar bills and offered them to the woman.

          “Look ma’am, my flight is about to leave. Take this to cover any damages I may have caused. “

          He extended the money in front of her face, as if the smell would cause her to cave and accept his offer.

          “Even if you’re fine, take it. Get yourself a nice new coat or something. Look, I don’t need any trouble right now. I’ve gotta’ catch my flight.”

          “Young man, young man. It was only an accident. I may be old but I’m not broken.”

          Henry thought that her face looked familiar; he just couldn’t place exactly where he knew her from.

          “There is no need for reparations. This old body has suffered far worse” the woman said.

          “You mean we’re good then? I have to catch this flight. I don’t have time to spare. Would you like the money? ”

          “Young man, I am fine. Hurry along; you mustn’t miss your flight.

          “Great. That's just great, lady. Thanks.”

          Henry left the old woman and rushed to catch his flight. The last few passengers were stepping onto the plane. He had made it just in the nick of time. Henry flashed his boarding pass to the flight attendant and was escorted onto the plane, the loading bay closing behind him.

          Henry wandered around the plane and found his seat. He noticed that his neighbor passenger was an older woman, and that she wore a cross on her necklace.

          “This is going to be a fun trip.

          Henry sat down in his seat and retrieved his laptop from his briefcase. He couldn’t help but shake the odd feeling that he had seen the woman sitting next to him before as well. Again, like the first woman, he couldn’t think of how he knew her, just that he did know her from somewhere.

          The plane’s engines started and Henry sat back in his seat, grinding his teeth and gripping his seat.

          “Is this your first time flying?” the woman asked understandingly attempting to comfort Henry.

          “No, I fly all the time. I just get nervous sometimes. I’m not a big fan of heights.”

          The plane began to take-off down the runway.

          “Anywhere you travel with the Lord, you travel in safety.”

          Henry’s spine tingled. The woman’s words were meant to comfort Henry, but they did anything but that.

          “Yes, I know” Henry replied, sitting back in his seat, the plane lifting off the ground.

          Henry plugged in his headphones to block out the world and face the long trip he had in store for him.

The End

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