Life is like a game in which God shuffles the cards, the devil deals them and we have to play the trumps. – Yugoslav proverb
Come Fly With Me
Everyone watched. A few people muttered and a businessman clapped sarcastically as the big man finally arrived. While he didn’t actually delay their departure, Guy Carnac boarded the plane twenty minutes after everyone else.
“Ladies and gentlemen, now that all passengers are on board we’ll be getting underway. It’ll just be another minute or two,” the captain’s voice soothed.
Guy found his seat, swallowed another pill, and pulled down the shade. He didn’t have a seat behind the bulkhead with legroom, but at least he had a solid wall to lean against. Too bad it had a window.
He tried to settle down, and in. He almost convinced himself that he was ready, doing fine – and ping! The fasten seatbelts lights blinked on. Guy buckled his belt and like the signal for a race, his heart began an adrenaline gallop.
The plane moved away from the gate with the slightest of jolts.
Systematic desensitization, Guy. The laws of aerodynamics will keep the plane in the sky. Calm breathing! But, he reminded himself, you know better than most people that planes crash all the time.…
He breathed faster. Get a grip! The facts, doctor, the facts! Fiercely he recited, My name is Dr. Guy Carnac, I’m a respected – highly respected – Seattle-based therapist, I’m a fifty-four year-old male, maybe overweight, maybe my hair’s thinning, but my libido is still intact and not thinning, thank you very much. I’m heading to an international conference of my peers. What’s there to fear?
What’s to fear? For starters, what happens when we can’t lift off? The plane’ll keep rolling, too fast to stop. And we’ll hit a building, or cars on the freeway, or another plane as it taxies in.… Smoke will billow as we’re all engulfed in a fireball. He gripped the seat arms. I’m wheezing. I can’t breathe, is there oxygen? Should I pull down a mask? Why haven’t the meds kicked in? Is it too late to turn back? Can’t they halt the plane? DON’T THE PILOTS REALIZE THEY HAVE TO STOP THIS FLIGHT, RIGHT NOW? Oh God oh God oh God Oh Godohgodohdgodgodgodgod.
The little girl in the middle seat eyed him as she whispered with her mother. Guy closed his eyes and pushed his head hard against the side of the plane. Machinery vibrated under his temple as they accelerated. He whimpered. They left the ground: Breathe!
For the next ten minutes he was afraid he’d pass out or vomit. He fought a need to do both and kept his eyes firmly closed.
Something scratched his right arm.
Guy opened his eyes and blue candy ribbons, pink ponies, and tiny hearts swam in his vision. For a few startled seconds he was sure he was hallucinating. The child in the next seat wore colored barrettes in her braids and a serious expression.
She looked down. Guy followed her pointing finger and saw that he’d wrapped his right hand completely around the seat arm separating their seats.
He unclamped his fingers as they continued to hurtle through space. Was that the start of a nosedive we’re going down I’m trapped really trapped even if I make it out of this seat I’m stuck on this goddamned plane until we crash and – He yanked his thoughts hard from the eventual, inevitable spiral. Guy closed his eyes and began to pray.
The scratching returned, more insistent. “Mister?”
He peeked cautiously.
The child patted his forearm and then his hand for good measure. “I’m scared to fly, too. This is my first time. If you want, you can have my medicine. I aksed my mommy and she says yes. I told her, this guy needs it and I don’t! He’s more of a ‘fraidy cat than me!”
“Than I, Tia. Asked, not ‘aksed’. And we don’t call people names!” Tia’s mother leaned across her daughter and took Guy’s clammy hand in her own warm brown one. “I’m sorry, a little six-year-old here is excited to fly but still learning about verbal filters. This is Tia, and I’m Denice. But the offer is real. Tia was scared about such a long time up in the sky so her doctor suggested we bring along Benadryl, just in case. Somehow I think she’s not going to need it.” The little girl wasn’t listening, her attention focused on the flight magazine page that listed cartoon offerings.
Guy looked at Denice. She was dressed not in loose terry cloth ‘jogging clothes’ but rather in a flowing skirt for comfort, pretty slip-off shoes on her feet and a soft scarf around her neck. Denice smiled, and her aura grounded him.
He loosed his grip on her palm. “I’m Guy Carnac. Thanks!” His smile wobbled. “I’d sure love to take you up on that Benadryl. My own anxiety pills never kicked in.”
“Glad to. It’s in my carry on, Guy, so you just hang on til the all clear to get up. I’ll get it for you.”
Tia had followed their conversation and now she turned back to him. “Your name is Guy, and you’re a guy. You’re funny!”
“Tia! Remember what we tell you about how to address people who are older than you, namely, with respect? This is Mr. Carnac.”
“Thanks for the comment about respect, Denice. I’m not sure I deserve a whole lot right now! How about Tia calls me, Mr. Guy?”
Tia patted Guy’s forearm with her little hand again and gave him a wide grin. “Hey, Mr. Guy, smile. This plane’s not going down!”
Prepare to meet a hero with dangerous fantasies. A young woman trapped in a cult. A person who dreams other people’s futures. A man drinking glühwein at a Christmas Market as he waits for disaster. And Lynn, the connecting thread, taking a train trip with a seductive stranger. I’ll be posting the first pages to each chapter.
Committing my characters to an appearance on this blog makes them real. As of tonight, they exist beyond my imagination.
Here are the opening pages to my novel Tsunami Cowboys. This fourth chapter is titled, What A Guy.
Tsunami Cowboys will publish with Amazon in December, 2014.