Story Go Round 10/19/2001, round 3, #4


The plane bucked and sputtered. Kathy felt the lurch in her stomach. The priest next to her interrupted his snore. How lucky to be next to a priest, she thought sardonically. This plane crash will be meaningful, at least.

The stewardess pushed through the aisle stoically. She didn't feel stoic, but she was used to faking it. She took the used napkins and crumpled up peanut bags from each passenger and shoved them carelessly into the waste bag. She and Kathy weren't talking to each other. They had tried, several times even, but Larry kept coming between them. He'd been out of both their lives, locked up in Sing Sing for one too many robbery, but they still felt his presence.

The small resort plane continued its somewhat daunted push through the storm. The trips back and forth to the mainland were so regular that the pilots often braved the weather just to satisfy schedule. Kathy and Larry had been part of that routine, every summer, until he met Suzie. Suzie had slowly-but-surely seduced him to a life of crime. I wonder if Barbie-doll stewardess knows about Suzie, Kathy thought. She flinched with guilt, remembering the priest beside her.

Suzie had triggered a chapter of weirdness in Kathy's life she didn't care to reflect on. She knew in an objective way that Suzie was a down-at-the-heels petty criminal, shoplifting to feed her kids and habit and probably couldn't read a Dr. Seuss book from cover to cover. She needed help. But Kathy's rage at losing Larry had pushed her to do weird things. Crazy things. Things five years of therapy hadn't helped her come to terms with. It wasn't that she really blamed Suzie; she had just thought Larry was better than that. And now he was locked away while his mentor strutted freely down airplane corridors and went on with her life of small time sin.

While that was Kathy's view, Suzie's life had a different tenor in reality. When she met Larry she had been a recreational Ultrum user. It was something fun to help pass a week-end lay-over in NY. But after her first party at Larry's little yacht, where drinking games became Ultrum games and liquor ran like water, the tiny white pills were no longer an option. On the exhausting transatlantic flights, it might take three. The frowns on the faces of passengers would drop by half with each dose. Even pillow turning could send her without them. Entrusted with some coral reef souvenirs from a flyer searching for someone, she flushed them down the john in spite. That was the end. Larry deserved all the bad karma he could bear for initiating her into the dark world of Ultrum.

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange