Larry sits at an oval window and looks out at the tarmac, where a seated baggage hauler shoots out of plain view. He wonders how different the tarmac will look when the plane reaches its destination? Or what Tina will look like in the flesh? He pulls out a tattered paperback by Harlan Ellison and begins to read. The words are like eye candy as they fill his head with self-taught linguistic hypnotism.
A cute stewardess throws him a quick glance, as she cruises by his seat; the cop swears he sees her take a glance at his hand—to see if he wears a wedding ring. His senses find a higher state of awareness in the sweet, seductive scent of the woman’s fine perfume.
Larry raises his nose from the book and sees a skinny, airline uniformed body, short skirt, and a smile that lights up the cabin. All the things lead him to wonder, what’s her voice like? He finds out, shortly, when the blonde stewardess demonstrates the use and location of various airplane safety items, emergency items, and tells passengers to turn off and stow away any electronic devices.
The old-fashioned woman holds more sway over Larry, much farther away, and she is as much a physical mystery to be explored.
“What a babe!” A college kid comments, sitting in a belted seat beside Larry.
“I wonder if she logs her own frequent flyer miles?”
“She could fly my friendly skies any time she wishes!”
The woman they ogled pulls the front hatch of the airplane closed with a force that deceives both their eyes. She walks over to an empty seat at the front of the large airplane, and straps herself in. The pilot comes onto the cabin loudspeaker. “It is two thirty-two and sixty-nine degrees in Reno. Skies are partly cloudy.”
Larry sits back and takes in the feeling of the large plane taking flight.
“You from Reno?” Larry asks his fellow passenger.
“Naw. I’m from Vermont.”
“Do much fishing there?”
“Mainly for chicks.”
Larry drops back into his book to take the edge off his nerves. Reading keeps his mind occupied. Before he knows it, the foxy stewardess walks beside his new young friend pushing a stainless-steel serving cart.
The blonde looks over at Larry. “Would you like a beverage, sir?”
Larry feels like a nerd transfixed by a beautiful girl speaking his way.
“A Sprite…. Please.”
The woman pops the top on a midget can of Sprite, pours its contents into a plastic cup, and hands it swiftly to Larry.
“Thank you.” He tells her.
The woman smiles through her blue eyes, before moving to the next row of seats.
The college kid gives him a wink.
“I think she likes you!”
“Nah. She’s just doing her job.” Larry adds, “She probably has three or four men a week hit on her.”
“I wonder how many passengers she’s screwed?”
Larry chuckles, self-consciously, before forming an answer.
“You’d be surprised—I’m sure.”
“Only if I was one of the chosen few!”
Larry turns back to the small oval window and examines the clouds, dessert terrain, and several moving objects below the airborne aircraft. For the first time in his life, something better clings to his heart, begs him to seek and find, and warms him with steadfast fate. An hour before, Larry remembered hearing servos and watching hydraulics do their stuff, as large rods and pulleys moved various important mechanical parts of the plane’s wing into proper position for takeoff. Baby…Don’t fail me now. He thinks.
The stewardess breaks this train of thought with a question. “Sir, you want more drink?”
“Yes. More Sprite.”
The fit woman pours more Sprite into his cup, and notices the man checks a small wad of rolled bills. She hands Larry his drink, and playfully reaches for a piece of the green wad.
The woman looks elated when Larry says, “I was going to give it to you anyway!”
Larry doesn’t immediately realize the connotation that can be applied to the short phrase. But the blonde woman smiles, as if to humor him. At the same time, the stewardess wonders if the man is generous enough with his money to take care of her.
Larry puts on some headphones. He easily falls asleep to rhythm and blues. The stewardess gets up, often, if to do nothing more than watch him sleep.
The pilot’s voice returns to the overhead speaker. “We’re entering clear skies over DIA. Temperature on the ground is sixty-seven degrees. We are beginning our approach. We will touch down in approximately twenty minutes. Around four-ten Denver time. All of us at Delta Airlines hope you have enjoyed your flight and return to fly with us again—at a later date.”
Larry frees a ten-dollar bill from the wad he had rubber-banded together and slides it back into his shirt pocket. Nerves begin to take hold of him, upon thinking about his net-pal—for the very first time—in the flesh. The intercom announces…For your own safety, we urge you to buckle your seat belts and return your tray tables to their upright and locked positions!
The plane descends, rapidly. Larry pictures the large bird crashing, the plane disintegrating, and never getting a chance to meet Tina. What kind of experience would that be for her? Truth be told. Larry was so unlucky with most things in his life, he hardly would find such an event ironic. He finds his catastrophic fears pointless because the crash does not come to pass.
It is not my destiny to be eliminated in an exploding fireball of ignited metal and debris! In fact, Larry barely feels the landing gear deploy or touch the runway.
Once on the ground, butterflies begin to fill the man’s dense stomach. He fails to realize that happiness resides in the contrast and point at which his attitude changes. He never thought one woman could make up for thousands of cultural dating games and societal rituals ingrained in its members’ brains. Hundreds of women he had met hid superficially behind cliché phrases such as: You will make a good husband—someday (or) You would not be a challenge (or) You’re not my type (or) It’s not you—it’s me. (or) There’s someone out there for you (or) You’re too nice (or) I have a boyfriend. Or slight psychological variations mixing all the above. His mother’s words enter his head. This woman may be different. You can’t say all women are like that! Larry thinks his mother was right, as he waits for the passengers ahead of him to depart the plane.
A real sinking feeling hits him when he thinks…What if Tina pulls a no-show, after I bought the tickets and dedicated a week of my vacation to meeting her? He somehow comes to grips with the reality that she wouldn’t do such a thing, because he knows where she lives.
Larry is relieved when the unloading finally gets up to his row of seats. He grabs a bag out of an overhead compartment, and inches his way towards the front of the plane, knowing his destiny awaits—somewhere beyond the service gate.
When Larry gets up to the flirty stewardess, he reaches into his pocket and fishes out the ten-dollar bill. The woman’s face reflects joyous intrigue.
“I told you I was going to give it to you—anyway!”
“Why thank you, sir.” The stewardess replies.
An unforced smile illuminates the woman’s light complexioned face. She will later recall a nice booty. Larry steps out the door of the airplane and into the airport walkway, which twists this way and that way towards his destiny.
The first thing Larry notices, upon stepping off the plane, is that Tina looks even better than her portrait portrayed. The second thing he notices is that she holds a bouquet of flowers for him; it is an act he never encountered in any dating realm he had found himself thrust into. For once, flowers really mean something, they are not an expectation of a rote dating ritual. No…They offer the man a real kind surprise.
Her eyes light up, as she replies, “Hi, honey!”
The woman almost explodes with human excitement.
“How was your trip, Larry?”
“These are for you.” The woman says as she hands him the bouquet of flowers.
“Why, thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” the woman says, before seeking his arm.
Larry finds comfort in the woman’s engaging smile, and finds it fuels his own. Both are so excited they can barely wait for Larry’s luggage to arrive at baggage claim. They both desire to get to a quiet place where they can discover more. Up to that point, the only sense of the other each possessed depended on a mind connection. In letters, Tina referred to her car as Thor.
Larry meets Thor for the first time, upon tossing a suitcase and a carry-on into his large hatch. Larry impresses the woman when he does not offer to jump behind the wheel.
Tina enters a toll gate, pays the attendant for not making it out in under an hour, and drives out the shoot before the gate closes. Her foot finds the accelerator and they fly through multiple lanes of traffic.
Larry looks over at the woman. “I can tell you have driven in a big city.”
“You have to be what I call defensively aggressive here.”
Soon they are cruising down Tower Road, until it connects to 104th Avenue.
“Would you have ever guessed you would meet someone on the net?”
“No. Definitely not something substantial.”
A few seconds later Tina adds, “Just think, if we didn’t have the net, how would we have met?”
Both net pals are intrigued as well as are moved by a deep, initial conversation. And both wonder about the possibility of more of everything their lives once lacked. Somehow, the boiling ball they both call a sun will appear brighter in the morning.