Two Stories

Long Flight

It’s a long flight, I tell the blonde with the aisle seat.

Her fingers turn white from gripping the cell phone hard.

It may be, she whispers.

The black eyeliner puddles around her eyes like a Euro-trash movie.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to United airlines. We hope you enjoy the films selected by your crew.

As the co-pilot describes the feature film, a hostess clicks and un-clicks the demo seat-belt. The blonde does not look up from the phone. The ambient noise is excessive. I feel sorry for the trembling blonde if she plans to make a last-minute call.

The phone is held at selfie distance. A green button beeps. She is making a movie.

I can feel her shoulders shake as she speaks. Telling someone how much. She loves him. Does he know? A tear falls on the buckled portion of her seat belt. She could be on a cloud or a magic carpet. She is only talking to the man who is missing.

My lips are parched. I don't want to disturb the blonde who is crying and whispering as the passengers go about their getting-settled business. I don't want to overhear the broken chords, the staccato if-I-die. Those things he should remember. If anything can happen. When it does.

I have flown enough to know what not to mention.

Still, I wonder if she ran her finger over the send button. Or maybe she saved it to her cloud.

When the hostess takes our drink orders, we both request spicy tomato juice.

The blonde composes herself with the posture of a professional. She has written briefs about Somali child soldiers. She has slept in trees with indigenous persons.

Do you fly often?

I say I do. I fly frequently.

The blonde asks how often.

I fly enough to press send and hope it doesn't reach her.

Warlock vs. Cognitive Therapy

I told the warlock he wasn’t scary. There was this thing called cognitive behavioral therapy that enabled humans to counteract even the most intense fears. It was a shield against warlocks.

“See,” I said, “even that grimace right there does nothing for me.”

Since he wasn’t entirely vile, we chatted for a spell.

“I feel as if the fun things in life are gone,” I confessed. “Remember Hot or Not-- that online game with the photos?”

“Of course,” he growled. “But that’s old-school play. Facebook is like Hot or Not times twenty. You can judge an appearance based on entire albums of photos.”

I could not ignore the warlock's latent enthusiasm. My latex allergies make me wary of multiple harmless things.

“I suppose you’re a techie warlock who appreciates the hidden pictures puzzles in Highlights magazines,” I replied. The tone in my voice condescended a little.

“I am,” the warlock admitted. “But I am also your friend on Facebook.”

I didn’t remember adding a warlock as a friend. The absence of memory made me uncomfortable. For a moment, I felt that if I could do something so absurd and not remember, there might be other awful things I’d done unwittingly.

“Well,” I announced, “I’m going to have to unfriend you then. On principle. Because I don’t like the way you treat digital images.”

The warlock winced. “Can we still be friends in real life?” he asked.

“Of course. Why not? It’s not the same world at all, is it?”

He wasn’t even a scary warlock. That’s how I felt until he noticed the ring on my finger and started to drool salaciously.

“You’re married,” he shuddered, his face contorting into violent, unspeakable shapes. The cast of his eyes turned fierce.

“So what if I am?” I waged a secret battle against the goosebumps rising on my fore-arms, the hair growing on my legs.

The warlock looked as if he might destroy me.

“Haaa-ha. Ha,” he roared. “They don’t call it wed-lock for nothing!”

And then he chuckled, that sick, nauseating chortle snort sequence, and swallowed the key. I will never recover.  

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