The captain walked down the aisle, slowly, stopping to talk with a few people before she reached the cluster of flight attendants. Step one – evaluate the emergency. She took a deep breath, moved in as the wall parted for her. Harris. What was her name? Pamela, she thought, the latest addition to her crew. She leaned toward her.
“He seems distraught, Captain. We were worried. He isn’t talking, he just seems really upset.”
She nodded, knelt in front of the passenger. His face was a little red, but there were none of the life-threatening signs she’d been trained to look for. Tears were flowing down his face, which he seemed unconcerned with.
“Mister…” She looked over at Pamela.
“Wilson,” She whispered. “Peter Wilson. Listed as Doctor.”
“Doctor Wilson – we’re concerned because you seem to be in distress. Is there something we could do to make you more comfortable?”
She felt uneasy – she knew the name from somewhere, she was positive of that. He shook his head.
“It’s just that I… I had an unusual experience at a conference and I’m having a hard time integrating my experience with the theories I’ve developed over a lifetime. I’ll be all right, honest, Captain. It is just a difficult time in my life.”
Oh, great. A fruitcake.
“Well, Doctor Wilson, we do want you to be comfortable. Please let any of the girls know if there’s anything you need?”
He nodded and moved in his seat.
He winced. She was worried. She didn’t want to have to land and drop him off, but…
“Doctor, are you in physical pain?”
He shook his head, then stared at her.
“Well, a little. That was part of the… epiphany I had.”
His face got redder.
“Not exactly, but.. well… sort of.”
She wasn’t sure – he didn’t look like he was in danger.
“You’re okay, then?”
“Please. I don’t want to be a bother, Captain. I’ll be fine.”
She nodded. He didn’t seem to be a danger to anyone else, or to the aircraft or aircrew.
“All right then. Please let us know if anything changes.”
She whispered in Pamela’s ear.
“Let me know the slightest thing about him if he changes.”
During the hike back to the cockpit she turned the name over in her mind. Peter Wilson. Doctor Peter Wilson. Professor Peter Wilson. She was sure she had heard it before, was positive. She keyed the door access pad, walked in. Jana turned.
“So how’s the sickie?”
She wormed her way into the left hand set, connected herself.
‘Not a sickie exactly…”
“I know him from somewhere, I mean, I know his name, at least. He’s not sick. I think he might have a screw loose, but he’s not a threat to the passengers, aircraft, or aircrew. He is just having some sort of personal issue.”
She took a deep breath.
“I could set down and push him off but I hate to do that if I can avoid it. It doesn’t reflect too well on me… I lose points in the ‘able to handle unexpected situations’ evaluation thing.”
“Whatever you do affects us all. This is the only all-girl crew.”
“I know. I just wish I could remember where I know him from.”
* * *
The flight continued, uneventful until the intercom buzzed.
The lead flight attendant was as competent as they came.
“Our problem boy just got up and went to the bathroom, and he seems to be oozing something. At least his seat is pretty wet. One of the girls went to clean up while he was gone and noticed it.”
“Thanks Mar. I’ll notify ground.”
She switched the radio.
“Chicago, this is company one four seven.”
The voice was metallic in her headphones.
“We have a passenger with some distress. You’ll need to clean or preferably replace the cushion for seat three four charlie.”
There was a brief chuckle on the frequency before her contact came back.
“Yes Ma’am. Shit his pants, did he?”
She couldn’t help laughing.
“No, not that bad. And we don’t think he peed either. Some liquid, NEC. Just be ready.”
The voice straightened.
“Yes Ma’am. We’ll fix it.”
“One four seven out.”
The nagging voice in the back of her head continued. She knew that name…
* * *
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to make our final approach into Chicago O’Hare. Please put your seats and tray tables in the full upright and locked position. The girls will be by to collect any last minute waste items.”
She smiled. She was pretty sure she was the only captain who could get away with calling them girls.
“Thank you for flying with us today. Crew, prepare for landing.”
The intercom buzzed ten seconds later.
“I can’t get that son of a bitch out of the bathroom.”
She took a deep breath.
“Calm down, Pamela. Who, exactly?”
“Thirty four C, the sick guy. He went in there just before descent and I can’t get him out. I’m sorry. When he does come out, I’m going to…”
“Calm down. I’ll be right back.”
She turned to Jana.
“Land this damn thing, whether I’m here or not. I’m not going to let this prick mess up our record. If I’m not back here call Marlene up to read off the checklist items.”
The look on Jana’s face was priceless, and under other circumstances she’d have loved the experience of stressing her unflappable first officer. Right now she didn’t have the luxury. Jana nodded.
“Send her up here, just in case.”
Bonnie ran down the aisle, grabbing seatbacks to steady herself against the movements of an airplane working its way down the descent path. Finally she stood in front of the lavatory next to Pamela. She rapped her knuckles gently against the door.
“Doctor Wilson, I need you to come out, right now. If you don’t I’ll have to come in after you, and that will be far more embarrassing to you. Not only that but I’ll have no choice but to report you and you’ll be arrested once we’re on the ground. Do you understand?”
The voice was weak.
“Unlock the door, regardless of your state of undress. Or else.”
She heard the latch slide and. as she’d been trained, she pushed in, against the short chubby man sitting on the toilet, pants down. She grabbed his arm and pulled him up – the fact that she was bigger and stronger helped. Pamela gasped behind her as his reflection showed in the mirror – his bottom was black and blue.
“Pull up your trousers, Doctor Wilson, and we’ll get you to your seat.”
He complied, which amazed her, and followed her down the aisle. Bonnie wiped her forehead and ran back to the cockpit door, buzzed herself in, and dropped into her seat as Marlene jumped out of the way. Jana started to lift her hands to give over the airplane but Bonnie shook her head.
“We’ll log this one as a training landing. You’re doing great.”
* * *
It took forever to finish all the paperwork needed to close out a flight on a modern aircraft. Sometimes she envied the Wright brothers. She walked slowly into the terminal, accompanied by her crew. The girls. She was proud of them. They were headed for the crew bus when suddenly an image broke through and she stopped dead. That Peter Wilson.
“You guys go on without me. I’ll catch up later.”
She walked to the gate agent, trying to maintain her composure.
“We had a sick patient. Did the on-call doc check him out?”
“Yeah. He’s fine. Just a little shaken up by something personal, but he cleared the airline.”
That would have been standard procedure.
“Did he say where he was going?”
She tried to keep the interest out of her voice.
“The Blackhawk, I think. Let me check.”
The woman flipped through screens on a computer.
“Yeah – at least that’s what shows as his destination.”
Bonnie changed in the ladies room to her emergency dress, a thin nondescript thing she tucked in the corner of her nav bag, just in case she met Ms. Right on a flight. She took a moment to convert from Captain Bonnie McClure to a generic slutty-looking unknown, makeup to match. She was ready. She found a cab.
“Blackhawk Hotel, please.”
* * *
Thank God her nav bag had rollers – she took off all the crew tags and tucked them inside. It could pass as a working executive’s attaché case – if she were a lawyer. She laughed at the thought. She pulled it behind her, found a seat at the bar. If she was right, she suspected her boy Peter would be down to case the territory. He just seemed the type. She didn’t dare drink. The image of Tricia’s white face haunted her, as real as the day she’d found her…
It took half a bottle of Perrier before she saw him sidle in, looking far different from the wimp on the plane. She forced herself to calm, demanded it of herself. Tricia deserved it. She watched, sticking to water, while he worked his way through several drinks, scotch she thought. Finally she decided he was sufficiently mellow. She flagged her waiter.
“Please buy that gentleman over there whatever he’s having. You can let him know it’s from me.”
He looked up and smiled at her. It was only a few minutes before he was standing at her table.
‘Do you mind if I join you?”
“Not at all.”
He stared at her.
“I feel like I know you…”
She smiled her thousand watt smile.
“I don’t think so. I’d remember someone as handsome as you,”
She tried not to gag. It took exactly twenty two minutes, according to her watch, before he propositioned her. Well, he didn’t exactly proposition her – he merely suggested that he was well off and that if she could see her way clear to going upstairs to his room he would ensure that she was taken care of. She sighed. Of course.
They stood in the elevator, her bag behind her.
“That’s a big bag.”
He was the slightest bit tipsy.
“Yes, I’m afraid my work requires that I carry it around.”
“What’s in it?”
“Oh, this and that. Nothing you have to worry about.”
They both laughed and the bell rang for his floor right then, so she was spared from any more cover up.
* * *
As they sat on the bed he looked at her.
”Sure thought I knew you.”
She shook her head.
“Want to take off those clothes? They must be awfully uncomfortable.”
It took that one sentence for him to shuck off everything. He kept his face to her, which, she realized, would make her task difficult.
“I got… I got in a bad situation with this bitch. She… took advantage of me. And it’s kind of embarrassing.”
She smiled sweetly.
“She… Uh… she paddled me. She didn’t like some of my professional papers and…It’s hard to explain.”
“So you were a bad boy?”
“No. Like I said, she took advantage of me.”
“Let me see.”
He stood, holding still for a long time. Finally he turned around. She knew what to expect.
“Looks to me like you got a spanking for being a bad little boy. Honey, girls like me don’t mind.”
“What kind of girl are you, anyway?”
Saccharin was in her voice.
“The kind you dream of, sweetie. Put your hands back here.”
He hesitated, then slowly put his hands behind his back.
‘This is how I got in trouble the last time. I trusted her…”
Bonnie had never been so glad she’d been issued handcuffs to subdue difficult passengers, along with the training to use them. They closed over his wrists with a satisfying click. Two very satisfying clicks.
“So you are the famous Doctor Peter Wilson, psychiatric author and counsellor?”
“How do you know me? I don’t recall…”
“Shut up. You don’t recall anything. Do you remember a patient named Tricia Snow?”
“Snow… Snow… Tricia…”
He looked up.
“Tricia or Patricia?”
“I don’t know what her birth certificate said, but no one ever called her anything but Tricia. Not and lived, anyway.”
He seemed to be mentally paging through patient files.
“Yes… Yes, Tricia Snow. A very, very sick girl. Yes, A sad case.”
“So you remember. Why was she so sick?”
He brightened up, secure in his academic castle.
“She was a member of the lifestyle, of course. She was a member of the S&M community. Of course she was sick, she was hardly worth trying to save.”
Bonnie tried not to gag.
“Trying to save?”
“Yes, she was so committed to it. I tried to educate her, to correct her, but she was so insistent. I finally pointed out to her that she couldn’t possibly survive that way.”
Bonnie was having a hard time not passing out.
“Of course. All those types become suicidal.”
She took a deep breath.
“Did it ever occur to you that she might have been suicidal because of your work?”
It was quiet for some time. He struggled briefly against his cuffs, then fell back against the bed. Perspiration rose on her forehead, and she tensed just as he spoke.
“Well, I just don’t think that’s possible. I was right. I’m still right.”
Bonnie walked across the room. Being close to him tore at her self-control.
“Do you know what she did for a living?”
“No, she never mentioned it.”
“She was a combat pilot, one of the few women combat pilots in the air force. You didn’t know that?”
He was quiet.
“Would it have made any difference to your diagnosis?”
“Probably not. People like that are just… beyond saving, really.”
“And how about you?”
He looked perplexed.
“What do you mean?”
“People like you who hurt people and cause them to….”
She had a very hard time getting out the next words.
“Cause them to kill themselves because of your diagnosis. How about you?”
He stared at her.
“Is that what this is about?”
She smiled, the smile of the headsman lifting his ax.
“Yes, it is. You convinced my lover to kill herself, a beautiful woman in the prime of life, because of some incredibly stupid notion of sanity, which you clearly lack. Did she ever tell you about what our assignment was in Iraq?”
He shook his head slowly.
“We both flew close air support for Special Forces. You know, the guys who go back there and do bad stuff? Sometimes we did for the Seals too.”
He continued shaking his head.
“Do you know, one time we had a mission where we saved a whole bunch of them from the bad guys and do you know what they did to show their gratitude?”
His eyes bulged, the size of dinner plates. She reached in her nav bag and pulled out a knife, long, dull-finished, sharp. He shivered – she could see his body shake.
“They taught us how to kill. Her and me, a couple of girls who just wanted to fly airplanes. Imagine that. I… We… learned how to kill. I’m good at it. Do you know that? They told me I was.”
He was still shaking his head when she grabbed his chin and turned his head, pulled the blade across his throat. She dropped him and his eyes swiftly went from bright to dull, exactly what Robert and Mike and Gomez had prepared her for. She wiped the knife on his shirt, walked into the shower and stripped, all her clothes going into the laundry bag. After washing she let the water run for a long time. They’d told her to wash all her skin cells down for five minutes at least.
She was naked under her uniform when she rejoined her crew in the bar. They’d be gone at six in the morning – she doubted the maid would have even found Peter by then. The laundry bag had been dropped into the incinerator at the hotel – she’d watched it burn – and there was no other evidence that she knew of. They’d taught her well.
And if there was…She looked up to the sky. Tricia, I’m so sorry I wasn’t enough for you, but I got the bastard. She looked down at her feet. Whoever the lady was who had beaten him, who had brought him into her sphere, unknown, whoever she was. Thank you.
Revenge is a dish best served cold…
This is part of the #wankwednesday group run by Ruby Kiddell. To look at all the entries look here