Last night, I had a dream we flew Pacific Northwest again. But we never can.
I suppose I should introduce myself, but I won’t; suffice to say, you’d probably pronounce my name wrong.
Certainly they did when I first boarded that plane, all those years ago: “Hello, Miss” an incomprehensible murmur. Nowadays, I would have called them an imbecile, slapped them in the face with my boarding pass and demanded to be seated in First Class as compensation. But back then, I was such a meagre little creature that I nodded, bobbed a courtsey and then took my place among the cheap seats. I was at least seated in the aisle, that was something.
I immediately noticed one of the flight attendants, skulking in the shadows of their little station and giving me the evil eye. I would later learn, from the pilot’s announcement, that his name was Denvers and that he was, in fact, the head steward of the plane; at the time, I thought he was just a regular jobsworth. I gave him a nervous little wave and he raised his nose even higher in the air and then drew the curtain shut dramatically.
The plane took off; during the safety demonstration, I fancied I saw Denvers catch my eye and then point to one of the windows, miming diving out of it, as though this should be how I would disembark the plane. What a silly fancy. To try and take my mind off things, I decided to put a film on the entertainment-o-tron. It was X-men 2 and it was quite rightly included in the classics section.
Just as the blue-skinned Mystique sashayed her way on-screen, I felt breath on my neck and turned to see Denvers standing behind me, his eyes locked in a state that made it look as if he were ensorcelled. I paused the screen in shock, right at the moment that Mystique- played by the indomitable Rebecca Romjin- was standing in her full, cyan, naked glory, the camera gazing at her, terrified and awe-struck by her beauty.
“Isn’t she perfect?” Denvers whispered, his breath on my neck cold as a nun’s left bosom. It took me a moment to realise he meant the actress on the screen. He continued, “We had her on a flight once, you know. Rebecca.” Here he reached out and ran his fingers lovingly along her image, slowly and carefully, stopping just at her hoo-ha. “That was back when I was a mere boy, just a lowly attendant.” Here he straightened his back, pushing his chest out proud, “Not like today. Head Attendant.” He looked back at the screen and his eyes filled with tears, “I was too nervous to talk to her. And she wasn’t sat in my quarter. I could’ve gone to her, of course, invented some excuse, but I was kept busy by people like you.” He narrowed his eyes and folded his arms, “And now, of course, I’ll never get the chance. She’s dead.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think she is.”
His nostrils flared and his voice went low and soft, “Don’t ever correct me.”
I pulled my phone out of my pocket, “Well if we just google it, I’m sure-”
He grabbed the phone from my hand and, in quite a display of force, crushed it in his hand, “No mobile devices!” He shrieked.
“I thought that was just something you said-” I began to explain but then he slapped me hard across the face.
“This passenger just lost her entertainment privileges!” Denvers explained to the plane at large, “Freeze her entertainment-o-tron!” He commanded some unseen underling, and indeed the image stuck permanently, like a silly face made by a child when the wind changes and for the rest of the flight, I was stuck looking at Rebecca; cold, dispassionate and, most of all, victorious.
Denvers and I clashed again when it came to the meals.
“Fish,” he declared, with no small amount of rancor, while placing the tiny tin box in front of me.
“I would prefer the beef wellington,” I said. Actually, I would have preferred anything resembling real food, but I’m afraid that wasn’t an option.
“Rebecca always had the fish,” he explained, “with sauce on the side.” He poured some velouté onto my left sleeve. And then he slapped me again, for good measure.
Maybe it was my imagination, but now Rebecca seemed to be smiling slightly.
I had somehow managed to drift off, where I dreamed of cyan smoke, crashing planes, shattering glass, monomaniacal laughter and a voluptuous rubber duck in a mauve top hat. I awoke, my neck sore, for Denvers had confiscated my travel pillow- “Rebecca didn’t need one”- and my mouth dry as a nun’s left bosom. I went to turn on the light for assistance, but before my hand had moved half an inch, Denvers was standing beside me, a plastic up of water in hand, an obsequious smile on his face. “Here you are, ma’am,” he handed it to me, fondled my hair a little and then manually shut my eyelids with his little finger.
I drifted back off almost immediately.
I awoke some hours later, and Denvers was hovering nearby once more, only this time, he didn’t even acknowledge me. He only had eyes for her. He was sketching her, without even looking down at the pad; he seemed to know her figure off by heart. It was quite a good likeness, except in the drawing she was wearing a flight attendant’s uniform and carrying a cat-o-nine-tales. I pointed out these incongruities to him and he murmured something about unnatural relations with my mother.
I decided to allow him to continue sketching.
I’d managed to scrounge a book off a fellow passenger in return for initiating him into the Mile High Club and this was when all hell broke loose. When he saw me reading a book, Denvers stormed over and grabbed the tome out of my hand.
“How dare you!” He shook the book in my face, “How dare you try and distract yourself when you have that to look upon!” He gestured wildly at the screen. “Rebecca! My Rebecca! How dare you insult her!”
“Rebecca’s dead,” I snarled. “I think,” I added, to just to be polite.
“No!” He shook me, “No, she can’t be!” He shook me again, tears streaming down his face.
“She’s not,” another passenger piped up, “she actually just starred in-”
“Quiet!” He screamed, drawing a pistol from his belt and firing blearily at the man. He missed, naturally, and ended up puncturing one of the windows instead. The one he’d pointed to for me at the beginning of the flight. The window cracked and then shattered and an almighty wind possessed the cabin. It swirled and rushed around us, quite ruining my hairstyle. Of course, those of us wearing seatbelts were alright, but Denvers was absolutely picked up and carried out of the vessel by the wind, crying and laughing in equal measure. I got up to watch him fall, having always been morbidly curious to watch a man plummet twenty thousand feet, but as he fell, he pulled a chord and suddenly a massive parachute deployed, emblazoned with his beloved Rebecca’s face.
But then the parachute caught fire, and the strings snapped and he fell, and all the fabric burned away into so much ash, except Rebecca’s eyes, which gazed up at us as they drifted down, and eventually became his shroud.