Inside the plane the Walter was behind Susan as they went to their seats. Susan had evidently checked her bag. As she put her valise in the overhead compartment Walter did the same with his backpack at the aisle seat opposite, and they came into momentary brushing contact once or twice. Susan removed the file folder, a device and headphones. Both took their seats, exchanging glances. Susan quickly looked forward, opening her seat tray, while Walter’s glance lingered a moment.
Walter removed his device and poked at it. The bustle on the plane was neutral, although rather loud. Susan had her headphones on and was holding papers and pen. Walter glanced furtively, repeatedly at the striking woman. She was working on a form, the kind with questions and multiple answers, where one or more answer is to be checked off or circled. She was working busily, methodically. Walter, pretending not to look, shifted as far as possible into the aisle so that, when the moment came, he could more easily look.
Mixed with the bustle of the plane and announcements that takeoff was imminent, faint music could be heard, tinny, as if coming from earphones across an aisle. Walter poked at his device, glanced across the aisle, poked and glanced again. A last minute passenger or two bustling by interrupted his discreet look at Susan and her form.
Now, as she shifted in her seat and moved the papers closer to him he could read some of the questions: “Would you recommend Folding Wings to your friends?” “On a scale of one to five (one least effective in treating addiction/alcoholism , five most effective) how would you rate Folding Wings?)”. Faint pop music was now a little more audible as the door was closed and the plane began to taxi.
Walter had a few minutes before he would be instructed to power down his device. Google quickly led him to the site of Folding Wings Rehabilitation Centers, with a location not far from the airport.
He quickly navigated the site. It was alcohol – oriented, but would accept addicts. It had more than twenty locations in the U. S. It emphasized recovery through the Twelve Steps – and, he discovered with a moment of joy, Folding Wings was seeking volunteers to work with recently discharged patients. There was a form. A smile came to his face. Walter quickly filled it out:
Q. How long have you been in recovery? A. 15 years.
Q. Are you available to meet with recent Folding Wings patients and go with them to meetings? A. Yes.
Q. What is your email address; etc, etc.
The engines were revving up. We saw Susan raise her tray and place her papers in her bag, placing the bag under the seat ahead of her. The plane was taking off. Walter turned off the wide area network on his device and put it in the pouch on the back of the seat ahead of him. Susan kept her headphones on and we could hear, in spite of the increased noise, pop music coming from the direction of her head, faint and tinny.
Now the flight attendants were serving drinks and refreshments from carts in the aisle, and as Walter’s view was obstructed while Susan was ordering he was momentarily relieved by not having to hide his continual glances at her.
They served him coffee, and as he looked over at Susan the pop music suddenly changed and became crystal clear. She was drinking the first of two small bottles of wine she had ordered.
Within five minutes she had downed both bottles and was asleep, or passed out, headphones still on, slumped toward the aisle, tray table holding the empties. The high fidelity music continued, without content, pop, fast, inexorable…
Copyright (c) 2016, William J. Spurlin, all rights reserved.