A gentle sea breeze caresses me as a light appears in the distance, piercing the dark night. Some time later it is directly abreast; I see the ship glowing with lights and hear the faint sound of music. I spot a person waving at our ship—maybe even at me. Minutes pass and the light turns to a glow in the distance and then disappears.
I reflect whether that waving person could have been the one—my best friend, my lover, my world. I will never know the answer—we were two ships passing in the night.
Yet, at unexpected times, in the right place, at exactly the right time, with the right two people, a tiny spontaneous spark ignites an emotion. Whether that tiny flame instantly vanishes or becomes a roaring fire of love is in the hands of the gods... and in ourselves.
Kai Tak International Airport in Hong Kong was even worse than its usual disaster—crowded with people perspiring from the heat they had just left, or the stress of arriving late. The floor was dirty from the thousands of people who had walked its floors. The smells from oils and strange spices used in the food kiosks added to the ugliness. The picture was complete when you mixed in the incredible noise from announcements and people shouting to one another.
I was first to board the giant Boeing 747 when they finally made the announcement. I turned left into the first class section and found my window seat on the right side of the cabin. The flight attendant took my coat and offered me the choice of champagne, white wine or orange juice. I politely passed and quickly took off my shoes and put on the slipper socks supplied by the airline, grabbed my book, and settled into my seat.
My name is Dave Williams. I'm five-foot-eleven, brown hair, brown eyes and weigh about 180 pounds. My job required a lot of traveling. Fortunately, when I received my last promotion I negotiated the deal that I would travel first class as part of my compensation. In a moment of weakness my company agreed and henceforth I rode in the front of the bus.
The noise of the first class cabin filling was background clutter as I started reading the first of the five paperback books that I had bought to escape the boredom of the thirteen-hour flight back San Francisco. I felt the seat shake as another passenger sat down next to me.
Shit! I was really hoping the seat would stay empty.
I refused to look at my fellow passenger. From past bad experiences, I knew that if you were too friendly up front and your neighbor was a talker, you could be in for a miserable, torturous flight.
The cabin door closed in preparation for the push back, and a stewardess swished by in the aisle toward the front of the cabin for the safety demo. I looked up, not for the demo, but to check out the female giving it; however, my eyes never made it to the front of the cabin.
My nose had caught a whiff of some tantalizing perfume, and instantly I knew that my fellow passenger was a female. From what I could see of her, and trying not to get caught staring, she was absolutely beautiful.
You asshole—old Mr. Unsociable, sitting next to a beautiful woman, and not even knowing it. How dumb can you be?
I guessed this beauty to be about five-foot-seven, short-cut blonde hair, high cheek bones and slim legs. She had on a pants suit that must have cost in the hundreds. The stewardess had taken her coat; she sat there in a white blouse with the top two buttons undone so just a touch of skin was showing. Her breasts pushed against the silken blouse and teased at what pleasures the material was hiding.
She must have sensed my staring as she turned to me; green eyes—beautiful deep emerald-green eyes that left me stunned—and said, "I hope we aren't delayed. I've been in this monstrosity of an airport for over two hours and it was absolutely horrible."
I answered, "I think we're in pretty good shape. This airport is really small with only the one main runway, so once they push you back they really want the plane to leave quickly to free up space for incoming planes."
She nodded her understanding and went back to reading her magazine. I sat there trying to calculate some way to restart the conversation when the stewardess approached our seats. Looking at her sheet she asked, "Mr. Williams? Would you like a drink after take off?"
I answered, "A very light screwdriver would be great."
Again checking her sheet she said, "Mrs. MacMillan? What can I get for you?"
She answered, "Just a white wine; whatever you have open."
The plane had taxied to the end of the runway and was slowly turning to get into position for takeoff.
"This is the Captain ladies and gentlemen. After take off I will be speaking to you about our trip to San Francisco this afternoon. Right now I want to mention that we are going to execute a 'full power' take off. It's a perfectly normal procedure we use when we are at maximum weight.
"The runway length at Kai Tak is within legal tolerance, but just a little bit short of what would be ideal. To get us in the air faster, I'll be applying power to the engines while keeping the brakes on. As we approach full power, I'll disengage the brakes and we'll be off. Please settle back and I'll be talking to you again in a few minutes."
The engines ran up and after a few moments I felt the plane bounce forward as the pilot released the brakes. Regulations state that a runway must be long enough so that when the wheels lift, there is still fifty percent of the runway left so that if the plane has engine failure, there is enough room to set it back down. Hong Kong had somehow pulled a pass. From experience I knew seventy-five percent or more of the runway would be behind us before we left the ground. The plane gathered speed, raced down the runway, and finally lifted.
I watched the nearby apartments that border the end of the runway gradually become smaller as the 747 made a soft bank to the left. Just as I was about to return to my book, I heard a bump.
"Heard a bump" is a strange phrase to use to describe an event in a large jet aircraft. You might "feel" bumps during a flight, but you do not "hear" bumps when flying in a safe plane. I looked up instantly and saw the nearest stewardess. Her face had turned white. My fellow passenger asked, "What was that noise... is something wrong?"
I answered without taking my eyes off the stewardess, "We heard a bump; I think something blew on takeoff." Looking outside the window quickly I continued, "And we aren't going up any more; we should still be climbing."
Just then the pilot came on and said very quickly, "Please be calm everyone. We don't have a major problem... yet. I will be back to you shortly."
The "yet" did it. One of the other woman passengers started to cry. Then I felt someone grabbing me. I looked at my seat companion and saw absolute, complete terror in her eyes. She was gripping my arm and pulling it and gasped, "I hate flying... I hate it. Why do I ever get on one of these things when they scare the hell out of me? Are we going to crash?"
I replied, "I think we're all right so far. We obviously have a problem that the pilot is trying to fix, but the main thing is that we aren't going down."
I didn't mention that, on the other hand, we weren't going up either. My left arm was still inside her right arm, and she had not released my hand. I squeezed her hand and said, "I'm guessing we'll know what's up pretty quick."
I could feel her breast push against my arm as she frantically clutched me. We might be seconds from death, but my body ignored the danger as the feel of her soft breast made me instantly hard. I decided to enjoy it—I knew that there was no way she was going to let go of someone who was able to be somewhat calm in a situation where death was a distinct possibility.
We sat in silence for about three minutes. When a bit of turbulence bumped the plane, she yelped and pressed harder into me—she was terrified.
The pilot finally came back on the intercom and said, "Well folks, sorry about that problem. We are safe, but here is the situation. We blew one of our four engines at about two thousand feet. The bump you heard was the engine exploding. We immediately turned it off and reconfigured the plane to fly on three engines, which it is fully capable of doing. Actually, this 747 could still fly to San Francisco if we had no choice. However, safety regulations and common sense dictate that we return to Hong Kong and repair or replace the engine.
"Unfortunately, we are fully loaded with fuel. If we landed right away, there is a good chance the wings would snap off from the weight of the fuel. So the solution is that we will circle for about three hours dropping fuel, and then land back at Hong Kong. Our representatives will meet us on arrival and take care of you from there. So relax and enjoy three hours of circles. Obviously, the no smoking sign will be on until we land."
I looked at my hand-holding seat companion. She finally realized she was still clutching my arm and hand. She let go and stammered, "I'm sorry to be such a wimp. Flying just scares the hell out of me, and every time I'm required to fly, I'm still petrified. Thanks for being my hand holder. My name is Jill MacMillan."
"I'm Dave Williams. I enjoyed holding your hand—feel free to hold it some more if you want to—but can I ask, if flying upsets you so much, why do you fly?"
Jill gave me a sheepish, little grin and answered, "Money... sometimes my job requires flying; if I don't fly, I don't make any money."
I asked, "What job forces you to fly?"
.... There is more of this story ...