Wallace Page 3
of him as far as they can reach, and the seatbelt is stuffed up under his belly like a tourniquet. In a way, he looks peaceful. It takes me a moment to realize that something is off. A big man like him would normally be shaking the cabin with his foghorn snore, but he is silent. His belly quivers with the airplane, but otherwise he's still. My stomach drops and then rises slowly into my throat.
    It takes me a several minutes before I attract the flight attendant's attention, and she takes her time getting down the aisle. "Yes, sir?" The woman across the aisle looks up from her book and peeks around the flight attendant.
    "I think there's something wrong with the man sitting next to me."
    She watches the old man for a second, her face paling, a controlled panic settling into her eyes. "I'll alert the captain."

   A moment later, the captain comes on the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, we're just an hour outside of

Chicago. Conditions are good out here-beautiful day to fly. It has come to my attention that a request has been made for any passenger who is a medical doctor to please notify the flight attendant. Thank you."
    I pop up over the seat, scanning the tops of heads for a doctor. I see the flight attendant come out of the cabin, close the door quietly behind her, and walk past me to the back of the cabin. I watch her lips move as she whispers to someone in an aisle seat, and then a short, balding man stands up and follows her up the aisle.
    Approaching my row, he nods in my direction and then watches the old man. "He's not breathing~-that's no good," he says.
    "Please keep your voice down, sir," says the flight attendant, smoothing her tight skirt over her knees.
The doctor seizes the man's flopping wrist, holds his finger underneath it for a long minute. He shrugs. Leaning over, he feels for a pulse on the man's swollen neck.