Thursday, March 27, 2008
by Jane Volker
As the plane taxied to the gate, Brandon stood up, opened the overhead compartment and started pulling out our carry-ons. He huffed and glared at me, but I refused to help. A stewardess rushed up to him from the back of the cabin, calling out, "Please, sir, return to your seat and keep your seatbelt fastened until the pilot has turned off the seatbelt sign!"
I couldn't hear the response he growled at her, but it must have been a doozy. She signaled to someone in the back, and almost instantaneously a male flight attendant from Business Class appeared. He repeated the "please remain seated" speech. His stance made clear that it wasn't a request.
I almost laughed aloud as Brandon picked up his carry-on from his seat and then sat down gingerly. I didn't want to be on this trip any more than he did, but his attitude wasn't going to help matters any.
“I will remind you again Sir, for your own safety and the safety of the other passengers, please fasten your seatbelt.”
Brandon did as he was told but I could see his jaw visibly tighten. His gazed fixed on the back of the seat in front of him he clicked the buckle back into place. This air steward was obviously not employed for his genius with re-constituted food and instant lattes. Breathing in deliberately and puffing out his (not insubstantial) chest he repeated again, this time with just a soupcon of a threat,
“Please do not UN-fasten your seatbelt until instructed to do so by the Pilot.”
Flight Attendant ..er... Doug I think, remained at attention looking forward, his genitals, right in front of Brandon’s increasingly uncomfortable face. Five seconds turned into ten turned into fifteen. Brandon began to squirm. Just as his levels of discomfiture reached an unbearable climax, Doug looked down, smiled a mouthful of pearly whites at him and said,
“Thank you Sir, for your compliance with the safety and security regulations of this airline. Have a nice day.”
Then he turned in the direction of Business Class and marched off.
“This is all your fault,” Brandon spat furiously. “I told you to stop all contact with my mother but Oh No! You had to keep in touch. And look where we are now! A half hour from the clutches of the spawn of Satan.”
“I told you before, I just sent her an email once a month to let her know you were alive. I did NOT give her our address. Don’t blame me because you got suckered in by all that guilt-trip BS about her having cancer. The decision to come here was yours!”
“No, you just mentioned where I worked, she managed to wangle our address out of the Temp on the front desk. That won’t happen again. I have laminated instructions on ‘what to say when Maisy calls’ for all temporary employees now. You know we’re going to have to move house!”
“I know. I know.”
A lifetime of bitterness and bile at the hands of the most hateful woman alive, finally forced Brandon to cut off all contact with his mother just after our wedding three years before. I could be wrong but I think it was her speech, which began, “It broke my heart when Brandon told me he was going to marry this White Trash....” that finally did it.
Having her in your life, he’d said, was like living with a disease. Sometimes it was necessary to cut it out in order to survive.
And yet she was so convincing in her letter. We were suckered in by the promise of a terminal illness. It wasn’t until we were seated on the plane and I was absent-mindedly looking at the tickets she’d sent us that I realized the date. April 1st. No doubt now, she’d been lying – it was a sick prank. And Brandon’s behavior was becoming increasingly erratic.
“I can’t do this! I can’t do this!”
He was really beginning to irritate me.
Then I saw it. That look he gets when he’s plotting. It hovered for the briefest millisecond and then it disappeared. The last time he’d had it I ended up moving house and job, dumping my cell phone and practically getting a new identity. I knew there’d be trouble.
“Where does that guy get off telling me what to do! Asshole! It’s not like I HAVE A BOMB!”
I keep replaying what happened next in slow motion but it’s always the same. First he says the word ‘BOMB’ really loud and the very next shaving of a second Doug’s pointing a gun in his face.
“SUR! SLOWLY put the bag on the floor and put your hands on your head!”
The plane had barely stopped at the gate when we were boarded by six men in flack jackets and helmets carrying an armored box into which they carefully inserted the hold-all containing our pajamas and toiletries. I have never seen a box sealed so quickly. Then they disappeared in a puff of testosterone while Brandon was being cuffed and read his rights. At least I think it was his rights – do suspected terrorists get those? As he was shoved off the plane, before the Captain had even turned off the seatbelt sign, I saw him grinning.
Apparently even Guantanamo is preferable to Brandon’s Ma.