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Flight or Fight
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Ken Orford

Romantic Fiction



With this fixed grin smile, I think I’m more like a synchronised swimmer than an Air Hostie. And smiling is just about the last thing I want to do right now. I don’t know whether to burst into tears or just go and beat the crap out of the bastard that’s sitting about twenty feet away. It’s a good job for him that there’s a bullet proof, anti hijacker door between us.

I normally like welcoming the passengers on board, you get good at spotting the troublemakers, the nice people and the stroppy people. And it’s always great to guess the mile highers. Believe me there are always surprises – I’ll never forget that pair of pensioners off on a second honeymoon….Suzie and I cracked up.

Oh my God, look at this lot. A Rugby Tour off to Canada – they are going to be a real handful. And speaking of handfuls, I’d like to get a handful of Alan’s balls right now - or maybe a stiletto would be better.

“Are you okay love? You don’t seem to be yourself?”

That’s Suzie, best friend. Excellent drinking partner when on overnighters. We’ve looked out for each other ever since we were on the same induction course.

“Yeah, Alan and I had a fight, that’s all!”

Good grief, look at this bloke – he must be 20 stone – I pity the poor bugger sitting next to him.

“Yes, sir 23C is the aisle seat on the left hand side – down the first aisle”

This is definitely going to be one of those flights, not only have I got to scratch Alan’s eyes out, but I’ve only got this flight to do it in. I’ve got a double shift, and so I’m working on the return leg but Alan’s staying.


I hope the public – and by that I mean the two hundred and ninety four people who are at this moment piling onto this Airbus A340-300 – never find out just how redundant we pilots are. Here I am doing this pre flight check, and all the time the onboard computers have completed it within minutes – and probably made a better job of it than me. Thank heaven that Jim’s with me today – he’s one of the better guys to fly with. Seriously conscientious. There’s a fallacy that the RAF’s best pilots get to fly fighters. The RAF’s best of the best get to fly the Queen’s planes. That’s what Jimmy boy here did.

In fact, today the computers definitely made a better job of it than me. Goodness only knows what boxes I checked and what buttons I clicked. All I can think of is Debs, and how I can sort it out with her. I’ve just got to get to her and make her listen so I can explain everything. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much. What do I mean “normally”, we’ve hardly ever raised our voices at each other before, and now I think she’d like to roast me on a spit. Anyway, normally I’d sort it out in Toronto, but Debs has pulled a double shifter and is going straight back.

“What’s the matter mate? You seem a bit distracted? You ok?”

“Just a bit hacked off with Debs. She’s gone off on one and won’t let me explain. Ahh, forget it. I’ll tell you later, I think we’d better check in with ATC.”


We were all sooo glad when the airline introduced the video safety announcement. We still do a bit arm waving and exit pointing, but not like the old days – thank God. Time to wander down and look at seatbelts - or the “crotch watch” as Suzie and I call it. I’ll bet a week’s wages right now that the rugby player in 19D says “seen something you like the look of love?” or something like that.

Ah there he goes… the week’s wages are safe again – what I really want to say is “Yes, but never that small!” – but I let it go with the synchronised swimming smile. What a professional I am. Good job too, because I am so mad at Alan that I’m tempted to take it out on someone else.

Now here’s an interesting couple. I glance across and catch Suzie’s eye – I give her the wink that says here’s a couple of likely candidates for the Mile High Club. They look to be both in their twenties – her hair is similar to mine, short and blonde. She’s wearing a pink FCUK tee shirt and a denim skirt. Almost identical to what I was wearing when Alan proposed to me. And old muggings here only went and accepted. Hmm, come to think of it this diamond he gave me might do a bit of damage if I smash it into his cheating, smug face!


The world seems a much more peaceful place at 39,000 ft. Good old Jim just delivered the spiel – only six and a half hours and we’ll be on the tarmac in Canada. Then there’ll be no chance of talking to Debs. I’ll have to grab her after they’ve served up lunch and done the duty free run. Don’t want to wait that long – I’ll see if I can go see her now.

“I’m just going to do the PR thing and smile at the passengers – back in ten.”

“What you really mean is I’m just off to grovel to Debbie, no?”

I smile, rumbled. “Don’t forget to lock me out.”

I walk slowly through Business Class, smiling at the passengers who aren’t either watching a movie or have their noses buried in their laptops. I know Debs is in Economy this trip – that’s another thing that will cheer her up – not! I sweep the curtain aside, and there she is halfway down the cabin. Her short blonde hair is immaculate, her white blouse accentuates her breasts. And the blue knee length skirt hugs her figure. She is absolutely gorgeous, and I love her to bits. She’s rightly proud of that figure and worked really hard to get it back after Emma was born. In fact, looking at her, she’s probably got the best body of any of the Air Hostie’s on this flight. And in two weeks she’ll be my wife – well that was the plan, but all of a sudden I’m not so sure.

Oh I’m sure I want to marry her, but not at all sure the reverse is true. I can see she’s dealing with a passenger, a huge bloke. Though maybe not, I think it’s the person next to him she’s talking to.

“Afternoon, I’m Captain Williams, anything I can help with?”

Debs turns to me and I see a flash of anger in those wonderful blue eyes, but she’s a pro. She explains that Ms Dhariwahl in 23B next to Buddha here is finding it “difficult to get comfortable”. I’m not surprised – she’s got about six inches of seat to squeeze into by the time the flab has flopped over into her seat.

“I was just about to see if there’s a free seat in Business Class, as there aren’t any in Economy.”

“I know there is,” I smile, and I offer to lead the way.

As the Michelin man gets up to follow us, I can tell by her voice that Debs is taking great pleasure in explaining that it’s the rather good looking Ms Dhariwahl that’s being upgraded. I could have sworn I just heard her whispering something about staying and suffering. I hope that was referring to our body mass challenged friend and not me.

The delectable Ms D is now installed in Business Class and thanks us profusely. I steer Debs into the thankfully empty kitchen.


“Don’t you listen me, you cheating bloody snake. I’m going t..”

I grab her elbows..

“Debs, it’s not what you think…”

“I don’t need to think anything – I saw it all – that bitch of an ex wife of yours all over you! I suppose ‘visiting the kids’ is the latest euphemism for getting a legover with my ex! Was it any good? What’s the matter – is she better than me? Is that it?”

“Debs, it’s not like that …”

“Oh I see, it’s not a regular thing – just a quick shag for old times sake..”

Before I can get a word in, a passenger stumbles in and, very apologetically, asks Debs if she could come and help as some drinks have spilled. She smiles what she calls her synchronised swimmer smile, and asks him to lead the way. As she leaves she turns to me and the smile breaks, and she bears her teeth, her nostrils flare and the blue eyes pierce my soul in a look of pure anger. Then the smile returns, and she’s gone.


Dear old 26F doesn’t realise he probably just saved the captain’s life – well, at least he saved him from serious physical injury. Mind you it would be a shame to ruin those looks – a thirty-five year old Prince Harry with Daniel Craig’s body. All that with a naughty little boy grin. The bastard!

What possible explanation could he have? I saw him, and the bitch. I really thought it was all going to be brilliant – I don’t think we’ve ever even argued before – but this? Come on, get a grip on yourself and calm down.

Ah well, time to hit the microwaves and feed the hungry hordes. I wonder how Mr Blobby will do with just one of our deliciously nutritious meals. He’ll probably eat the plastic cutlery too. Maybe the carry on bag he’s got with him is a food stash. As I’m loading up the trolley, Suzie gives me a nudge:

“Hey babe, how was Captain Fantastic? I overheard a bit of a discussion.”

“”Don’t talk to me about that bloody snake – if there had been anything sharper than a plastic knife on board, he’d be missing a couple of round objects by now.”

“My God, what did he do? Shag Jayne?”

I turn and stare at her, unspeaking.

“Oh no babe! Alan isn’t that stupid, he can’t have. She’s a complete cow. I’m sure there’s an explanation. So what happened?”

I manage to swallow away some tears that have been building up for the last couple of hours. The taste is bitter in my mouth.

“I was just walking out of the car park at the terminal, and I see bitch face’s car roll up, the twins are in the back and the bastard’s in the passenger seat. He’d told me the cow was going to be out last night and he was spending some quality time babysitting the dynamic duo.”

“So she gave him a lift to work, what’s the problem?”

I look at her. I can feel the tears creeping up, and the lump growing in my throat like a cancer. Once again I take a deep breath and fight them away.

“Oh it’s not the lift that worries me. While he’s giving the twins high fives and hugs, bitch face Jayne gets out of the car and walks round to him. Then she whispers something to him and gives him a massive hug and a huge kiss on the lips.”

Silence from Suzie, just a look of sympathy in her eyes. As she gives me a friendly hug, I can feel those damn tears coming for the third time. This time I’m not sure I can stop them.

In my mind all I can see is Alan and Jayne putting the twins to bed, then hopping between the sheets themselves, shagging each other senseless – and he is pretty good at that I must say. And then, as she drops him off she’s whispering “thank you for a wonderful night” into his ear. Bloody men, why do they always think with their dicks and not their brains!


Bloody women, why do they always think with their hormones and not their brains! My God, I hope she’s calmed down a bit – we’ll be on finals in a couple of hours, and then I won’t get the chance to explain before we go our separate ways for 3 days. I take a deep breath and head back into battle. Only I don’t want a battle, I want to hold her, stroke her face and kiss her. And more than anything else I want to marry her. God, I’m going to kill Jayne.

I walk into the kitchen; she’s there with Suzie and Geoffrey, the Chief Steward.  Suzie suddenly remembers that she and Geoffrey have to go and sort out a sticking door. She drags him off with a puzzled look on his face. I look her in the eyes, gorgeous blue eyes, that are looking a bit red – my fault. I reach up and stroke her face, I hold her head in my hands, and touch the corners of her eyes with my thumb. I want to say sorry, but the truth is I don’t have anything to be sorry about. Through the tears that I’m gently rubbing away, she whispers:

“Tell me one good reason that I should bother turning up a week on Saturday?”

“I’ll give you two. Most important is that I love you to bits – and secondly, nothing happened last night – Jayne came home this morning as agreed, and gave me a lift so the horrors could wave me off.”

“But I saw you – and her …”

“What you saw was an ambush – as we were pulling up to drop me off, she saw you and said ‘Oh look, there’s your little tart’”

“But what did she whisper so lovingly in your ear?”

“You want to know? She said ‘I wonder what the tart thinks I’m saying to you now. I know exactly what she’ll think when I do this’” … I had my bags in my hand and was pinned against the car. I couldn’t do anything when she kissed me. Then she smiled at me and said ‘Enjoy explaining that to your slut!’ – and she left.”

There’s a click and the lavatory door opens. A flushed looking blonde girl in pink tee shirt and denim skirt comes cautiously out. She sees us and stops, Debs turns round to see what I’m looking at.


I want to cry again, different tears though this time. I turn my head to see who Alan’s looking at, and grin. I give her a wink and smile, and mouth “it’s okay”. She drags out her partner in crime, who has a combination of sheepish and smug written on his face. I wish we had certificates to give out.

Alan and I would already have one of course – a flight to Capetown, the plane was three quarters empty. I look into his eyes, and can see for the first time today that his boyish grin is back. We look at each other, then at the open lavatory door …

© Ken Orford, 2007

©, 2010