14 July 2023

969, or How the New World Order Faced Lucretia and Failed - The Fourth Episode: Flight

In all of her years of work, she had never found herself so flustered. She had used up all the time that could be stolen from her duties in the crew rest compartments. She sighed deeply and slapped another nicotine patch over her collarbone but so much wanted a long drag from a cigarette a few thousand miles away. She heaved herself up and slogged her way back to her assigned station.

She hated being called a flight attendant. Once upon a time, she was a stewardess with a miniskirt on smoke-filled planes full of businessmen, choosing her next boytoy from among them, secure in the fact that her looks and charm claimed every eye and opened every wallet. She has seen rooms and laid in beds in every airport hotel on two continents. It went without saying that every woman on every plane either loathed her or wanted to be her. Those were happy times.

She still stays fit with aerobics and no one suspects with her east asian perfection that she is now something over 40 years old. She would have never felt the need to break this cardinal rule in the past but something ruins her sultry composure today and she has spitefully checked the itinerary of the female passenger in 32B. The journey this passenger is taking simply makes no sense and that makes the flight attendant hate her all the more.

Everyone near row 32 let out yet another collective groan as the sound of heaving and the splatter of vomit hitting the bottom of yet another air-sickness bag. A previously sallow-faced young man is now white as a sheet except for a green sheen about the eyes and mouth. If there was ever a way to escape the dreaded window seat and distance himself from the woman to his side, he would have paid any price. From the look on everyones’ faces, no one is willing to accept the offer.

The flight attendant squeezed her mascaraed eyes shut and took in a slow breath as she took another small stack of sickness bags to row 32. She was the vision of graciousness by the time she leaned over the bulky bear of a man that occupied the aisle seat and exchanged the empties for newly-filled bags. The bear had been talking non-stop since San Francisco in a none-too-quiet voice and surely there were a close passenger or two who could quote several statistics from the humanprogress.org database as he was on his way to Pitcairn to expand its deficient data entry. She deserved a finely-sculpted Adonis but the full-bearded and thickly pony-tailed beast steadfastly ignored her in favor of the hated woman in 32B, far too engrossed in a book to be listening to her seatmate. The former stewardess only snarled slightly and threw a packet of peanuts into the transiting woman’s lap and moved off.

“In spite of all the press from child abuse cases, there have also been reports of an expanded access to the internet,” the bear offered to the interest of no one in particular. “They even enticed a man to move in and set up shop.” His voice never modulated past a slight Scandinavian accent. “Our data needs to better reflect current conditions, so I need to do a survey from the ground as it were.”

Lucretia responded by turning a page in her book. She will be connecting at Papeete to a puddle-jumper to Noumea in New Caledonia, allowing both the men in her row to move on with their lives. A further ticket is held there going to Auckland then Kuala Lumpur. There was a direct flight between San Francisco and Kuala Lumpur, but the woman (or rather Antonio) must like hanging out in seedy backwater transit lounges, because she won’t be seeing much else on this bizarrely elongated voyage. One book to read is probably insufficient.

This is irrational, the stewardess tells herself. This bag-woman who looked incapable of buying a ticket to Tahiti should have been easily overlooked by the smoothly automated labor of serving drinks and showing off safety features. Yet, there was no denying the prickly hatred, as if this creature was some sort of competition to her man-hunting.

“The boat ride will be nearly two weeks and I haven’t done a boat for a while. I hope I don’t have much sea-sickness,” the big man said under his breath. As if to punctuate the sentiment, the man on the far side of Lucretia heaves again. To the joy of all, the stomach of the man in the window seat is finally empty and dry-heaves are heard instead.

Our flight attendant shuts her eyes again with spasms of anger and spins about on her stylish heels, racing back to the drinks station. She nearly throws aside a woman coming out of the lavatory, locks it fast behind her and tears out a packet lodged under her bra. Swearing quietly, she shakily lights up a hidden cigarette with her secreted lighter and thanks the gods of flight that the sound of the misaligned auto-flush mechanism’s near-constant and useless triggering was covering the noise of her hyper-ventilations and some considerate passenger had already dismantled the toilet smoke alarm.