A young woman gets on a small feeder plane in Peoria, a real old-timey number, a DC something, the aisle so steep that she has to grab on to the seats and pull her way up. The lights on the wall are pale yellow. “Smoking or no smoking?” The stewardess, flight attendant that is, laughs, because there is only one other passenger on the plane, a big bald-headed man. The woman chooses a seat behind him and on the other side. She picks up an open magazine to return it to the pouch in the back of the seat ahead. Something catches her eye —a full-page ad for a honeymoon spa in the Poconos. A perfect, not to say plastic, young couple are standing chest-deep in an oak tub, drinking champagne. Elsewhere on the page are shots of bedrooms, tennis courts, a glittering discotheque, etc. The woman sticks the magazine in the pouch. The heads of the newlyweds poke up above the rim of the tub like the mischievous children of a giant marsupial.

“Passenger Whitcomb?” says the flight attendant, half a question, half a greeting.


“Welcome aboard, Ms. Whitcomb. Would you care for a Coke?” The flight attendant is wearing a red and white neckerchief and has a hard face though only thirtyish.

“No thank you.” 

“All right. Please fasten your seat belt. We’ll be taking off shortly.” The flight attendant goes forward to the cockpit, opens the hatch, and disappears inside.

Meanwhile the ground crew are closing the passenger door and dogging it tight. There are voices. The tail rocks perceptibly and then all is quiet.