Wing and a Prayer

DB Rhys

Does typing on a phone’s small keyboard in the memos application about your frame of mind and Last Will hold up in a probate dispute between angry relatives after they’ve learned you’ve hermitted and mizered your ass off to the tune of millions—and none of them were on your favorite person’s list?

I love you. Wink, wink.

Standing before a black dress wearing judge leaning back in his or her leather-clad chair pondering, attorneys genuflect and launch arguments why your death wish rights should be violated like a trafficking victim. And the corner bar, the Moan Back, doesn’t deserve a huge payout simply for being able to make a proper margarita; one-ounce real lime juice, one ounce Cointreau, two ounces top-self silver tequila, shaken vigorously with chipped ice then strained or gated into a lightly salt-rimmed glass.

The judge would ask, or should at least, about who specifically at the bar is mentioned in the Will.

Why that would be Jessica of course.

What can I say about her? Long black hair, charcoal black, but shiny, and straight. She wears it long, falling past her shoulder blades unless it’s one of those busy Wednesday women drink for half price nights. On those nights, with all the widows and past middle-aged silver and blue-haired drinking machines, she wears it in a tight ponytail. Sometimes it’s even braided and garnished with unique oriental dangly ties that look like miniature red-tasseled lawn darts.

Jessica, the not so secret, secret love of my life. The judge would agree, Jessica looks like a deserving soul, would probably want to meet her in their private chambers themselves. I certainly wouldn’t hold it against them if they did. She’s the type who makes you want to break vows.

See, it’s the important things on takeoffs that get me, not the bumpy landings. Sign the cross, cite a rosary, do a quick shout out to the universal karma gods so they can check any good deeds off the naughty list—all while staring out a little window and silently chanting, “crash, crash, crash”. It’s not reverse psychology.

You’re not supposed to have that on,” the lady sitting next to me by the window says motioning to my phone with her lips.

I look into her eyes for a long second, frown and roll my eyes before staring back down at the blinking vertical cursor.

On these little puddle-jumper dual prop planes, the stewardess’ tend to be in training or on the verge to being put out to pasture. This one has two unsure trainees who will be crashing into me pushing the beverage cart up and down the aisle and one grumpy old-timer on her way to kicking down the doors to retirement.

Ladies and gentlemen,” the senior citizen stewardess says into an off-white phone beside the main cabin door, “buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

The engines wind. The pitch grows louder. The vibrations reverberating through the seats intensify. The old lady next to me is close, real close to speaking in another tongue after I accidentally let slip out loud one of the crash chants when we’re pushed into the seatbacks as the plane speeds forward down the runway.

Her eyes are weirdo wide, head turned right at me not even trying to hide her appalled contempt. Joke or no joke, she’s obviously thinking it’s not very funny to chant ‘crash’ as our little duct-taped plane is struggling with its two out of date turbo-props to lift us higher off the ground by the second.

She may be right. It may very well not be a funny thing. At least, I think we can agree, it’s low rent to do it but some things money can’t buy. The look on her face is at the top of the pile. Shock, terror, disgust by an otherwise classy looking mid-forties boardroom broad is oddly gratifying.

Small wins are still wins even if no one around understands, appreciates or is aware to begin with there’s a good possibility of their negative outcome. They know, don’t be fooled by the silence. They just aren’t aware someone’s always keeping a tally.

In front of me and pissing me off for no other reason than she has an empty seat next to her is a tiny micro woman. She got a win. I got the “L”. The “L”, the loss, was made more prevalent when the stewardess informed me from the beginning I would not, repeat, would not be changing seats. It all adds up, if you’re keeping track. If you’re the sort who does those sorts of things, keeping score. Chanters never get the win.

The plane hasn’t even made it halfway to our cruising altitude yet and the boardroom broad is pushing the button for assistance. Beep, beep, beep is heard all through the cabin a good five, seven, ten times before the head stewardess with aggravation on her face unbuckles and walks off-balanced to our row.

Yes, Ma’am,” she says to the boardroom broad, “what can I possibly help you with during the middle of our takeoff?”

Boardroom thought it would be a good idea to chat it up at the exact wrong time, with the exact wrong person, about the exact wrong topic. But now the cat’s come over to play with her, the middle-aged freaked out grandma of nineteen has lost her tongue or at least her ability to talk.

I watch her head nodding and bobbing in my direction like I’m not even sitting here. Her wild eyes being reflected back at me through the reflective surface of the stewardess’ glasses. But the stewardess isn’t understanding what the past-her-prime-time lady is trying to tell her and she isn’t patient enough to play mime games or twenty questions.

What is it, Ma’am?”

I’ve learned over the years planes are deceptively and incredibly loud during ascents. So as the boardroom broad whispers at the stewardess I take it as a small win from the karma gods I’m not the one being misunderstood for a change.

I’m sorry, Ma’am, I can’t hear you.”

Now the boardroom broad has just about flipped her lid. First, the stewardess didn’t understand charades. Then, she couldn’t hear whispers. Stacks get blown for less. Road rage has nothing on air rage. I once saw an old lady slap the backside of a guy’s head for taking too long to put his bag in the overhead compartment. It’s not uncommon, but the fact she had to be in her nineties just blew me away.

Marshal! Is there a goddamned marshal on this fucking flight?” She yells to the stewardess.

What? Why do you need to see the marshal?” Senior Stewardess Ida, from her name tag, last name—something or other asks, her mouth turned down in a frown and brows pinched together, one raised higher than the other.

Boardroom points a rigid finger at me to explain to Ida Something or other. “Because this psychopathic person has been praying and chanting for our plane to crash!”

I interject and blurt out, “Praying has not yet been criminalized.”

That’s it. Ida puts cold a stop to my fun. “He is the marshal,” she tells the boardroom broad. She turns, grabs hold of the seatbacks as she struggles to walk back up to her crew member’s crash seat and buckles in. Eyes roll. All the while in my head I’m screaming, crash!

I look down at my phone. Aside from the blinking vertical cursor, the screen is blank. I guess today Jessica isn’t going to inherit a windfall. A shame really, but here’s to hoping the landing is a little more than predictable and they serve margaritas in heaven.