Elizabeth, the high flyer
The two of us met on a redeye from Newark to Madrid. I was the flight attendant with a navy bowtie and a cart full of complimentary cocktails, which I had been raiding with much aplomb well before takeoff. Elizabeth was the senior partner of an international architecture firm flying business class with a green and gold scarf and an insatiable thirst for scotch, which she had been indulging in from the moment she sat down.
Unable to take my eyes off of her porcelain face – and admiring her uncanny ability to knock one back on top of another – I found myself hovering around her aisle seat like a yellow jacket at a Labor Day picnic, refilling both of our glasses with great excitement. Rather than step on me or shoo me away, Elizabeth kept me around by making small talk.
“Knox Dupree, huh?” she asked, eyeing my nametag. “What are you, gay or French?”
“What if I told you neither?” my face reddened, feeling slightly stung by the remark.
“I’d say you were full of shit.”
“What if I told you both?”
“I’d say that’d be a great disappointment.” She looked down at her drink and stirred it with her index finger. Then she slowly placed her finger in her mouth.
“You fly much?” I asked, trying to gather my bearings, which had suddenly scattered like cockroaches in a lighted kitchen.
“I was just about to ask you the same thing.”
Topping off her fifth or sixth scotch I was beginning to feel either a little too bold or a little too tipsy. After placing the drink down on the tray table in front of her I lifted my hand toward the scarf around her neck and ran my fingers across it.
“That’s a very nice scarf,” I marveled. “Is it alpaca?”
“Try again, Romeo.” she snorted, then sighing to herself and leaning back in her seat.
“So that there’s no hard feelings, this drink’s on me. Okay?”
“It better be, Knox.” Elizabeth shot up, her glass spilling on the passenger sitting to her right. “They’re fucking free!”
“That’s a very good point.”
Ten minutes later I dimmed the overhead lights and retreated to the standing area over by first class, where I sat down and closed my eyes for about a half hour. When I opened them Elizabeth was standing over me, breathing heavily through her nose. The two of us then snuck off into a lavatory. She showed me how to smoke a joint without making the detector go off, keeping her head hovering above the toilet and flushing with each exhale. Once the two of us were pleasantly stoned she showed me what it took to be a member of the Mile High Club.
“Jesus. Do you do this often?” I asked, barely able to contain my delight. Her back was smushed above the toilet seat, both her legs draped over my shoulders, both her hands greedily grabbing for my belt.
“What kind of bonehead question is that?”
“Beats the hell out of me.” Though I had known her for such a short period of time I could already feel the awe set in. Elizabeth was fierce, feisty, and practically feral. She drank straight booze, dressed smart, and probably had a lavishly decorated home. Her power over me was spontaneous, instant, and unyielding, but at the same time unwieldy, which is probably why it was so seductive.
Unfortunately, we were never able to act out our feverish impulse. When the smoke detector went off my legs instantly buckled and the both of us toppled over. I split my forehead open on the sink and Elizabeth bruised her tailbone pretty bad during the fall.
As she deplaned in Madrid, I gave her a what-can-you-do? half-smirk as she walked passed through the door. She slapped me in the face, hard, knocking me back against the cockpit door. The co-pilot, who was standing next to me at the time asked me what that was all about.
“Some women,” I said, “Are just too fucked up to begin with.”
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