story in rtf format
The old man with the wandering, wide-eyed gaze and melted wax features
stumbles down the aisle. He carries an over-sized plaid handbag out
before him. He stops in front of me-~wide, heavy, and swaying~-breathing
heavily. "Is this 15A?"
I make to move. "Yes. You have the window
He shakes his head. "I might need access to
the aisle." Straining, the man hefts the bag upwards and slides it
halfway into the overhead. The flight attendant, who walks unsteadily
because her navy skirt is too tight around the knees, comes to help
push it in.
"I can handle it, sir," she says from his
The man persists~-pulling out someone's coat
to make room. The flight attendant draws a flat smile for him, takes
the coat, and asks him to please get comfortable.
the coat into the overhead and, after a brief struggle, hands him
a baggage claim ticket.
"Just wait outside the plane once we get to
The old man settles in beside me, too big
to be flying in a plane this small where the flight attendants can't
push the beverage cart down the aisle without bumping people's elbows.
He goes for the armrest, and I reach for a Sky Mall magazine.
massage chairs are something else, aren't they," he says over my shoulder.
I can feel his warm breath on the side of my face.
"Yup." I turn the page. Across the aisle,
a forty-something woman with wiry brown hair leans over, pulls a half-finished
paperback out of her carry-on, tucks its bookmark behind her ear,
and kicks the bag underneath the seat.