I am going on a journey and I am afraid. Five foot two inch me, brought up pacifist, never even touched a weapon, has agreed to commit murder. I’m either going to have to follow through or die.
In my own defense, I’m trying to save my life.
Am I a coward to have agreed to do it? I’m not sure I know the answer yet. But here I am, plane ticket in hand and silent muscular goon with his hand possessively on my shoulder. What if I have to go to the bathroom? I’m not sure he’d let me out of his sight even then.
I relinquish my ticket at the gate and we find our seats, I at the window and he on the aisle. I am trying to figure out how I got myself into this mess. I live alone and like it. I’ve had a lovely boring life. Sometimes I’ve longed for more, but most of the time I’m aware of the incredible benefits of a boring life, little pain, few tears, no traumas. There are no fights to referee or weather. I am safe, as there is no one interested enough to hurt me, until now of course.
Of all the people in the world to choose from, they chose me to do this job for them. They spotted me on the street and said, “She’s the one.”
On the bright side, they tell me the man I’m supposed to murder is the devil incarnate – if the information I’ve received is correct of course. They tell me he has killed and tortured many. If anyone deserves death before his time, this guy is the one.
Announcements are made and the plane shudders and makes its ascent. When the stewardess comes by I select a spring water and my goon selects the first of many cups of coffee in which he mixes four creams and five packets of sugar. They chose me, they said, because I look like someone he knows, someone gentle, ineffective and dowdy. Dowdy? In work clothes I’m practically invisible and don’t have to handle unwanted advances or even work too hard. What makes them think I am not those things and could effectively do the job?
All around me people are sleeping, but not my watcher and not me. I discard plan after plan to escape this fate and go back to cataloging my purse’s contents. Yes, I still have my purse. It’s wallet size on a strap that crosses over my body. The goon took the cell phone from the outside pocket immediately but didn’t check the rest of its contents. Guess he figured I couldn’t fit much in a purse this size. I have the usual credit cards, drivers license, birth certificate, sixty dollars, a lipstick, and two spoons from two day’s worth of yogurt lunches at work. They got the small pocket knife I carried on my key chain but I don`t think poking a giant with a tiny blade would have gotten me anything more than a large angry hulk. My head is aching in the dry recirculated air and I wonder if I dare take an ibuprofen or an allergy pill. Then finally a ray of inspiration and hope creeps into my mind. As my thoughts race, I adjust my face to show only timidity and ask to go to the bathroom.
The goon accompanies me and fixes the door so it can be closed but not locked. I quickly use the facilities and then make bathroom sounds with my mouth while emptying the lipstick into the trash receptacle, drying the holder with toilet tissue and then crushing all of my ibuprofen and allergy pills with the spoons. I get the powdered pills into the lipstick holder put it in my front pocket for easy access. I am washing my hands when the goon opens the door and squeezes in with me for his turn to pee. He doesn’t wash his hands and we squeeze out together to the amusement of the next person in line. I guess they think we’re part of the mile high club, the very thought of that with him makes me queasy.
As soon as we are seated the goon waves the stewardess over for yet another cup of coffee. If I had drunk so much coffee I’d be shaking uncontrollably but he shows no effect at all. I hope twenty-six allergy pills are enough. As she pours the coffee I point to the window and say quietly, intensely, “Oh my God look!”
As the stewardess and the goon bend over to look, I dump the powdered pills into his coffee.
As they straighten I say excitedly “Did you see that bird sitting on the wing. I think it fell off. Do you think it’s okay? Does that sort of thing happen often?”
The stewardess was rude enough to look at the goon and make the crazy sign before saying, “You must have been mistaken, ma’am. We’re up too high and going too fast for a bird to be sitting on the wing.”
“Poor bird,” I muttered. I hoped I hadn’t overplayed it. The goon squeezed my arm so hard my eyes crossed from the effort of not screaming so I stopped talking and watched as he poured four creamers and five sugars into his coffee and drank it without stopping.
Nothing happened. Forty minutes later when the plane began its descent and we were welcomed to Texas the goon didn’t look shaky or spaced out the way I feel when I take a single over-the-counter antihistamine. The goon waited until we were the last ones seated and then pushed me ahead of him off the plane into the deserted waiting area. When he started falling, I managed to steer him into a chair and stealthily relieved him of his wallet and a fat envelope I found in his jacket. In the ladies’ room I transferred the thirty-eight hundred dollar bills and change to my purse. The goons’ name was Jim Collins. In the envelope, there was a passport, driver’s license, and credit card for a Shirley Jones and another set for Tonette Smith. I didn’t know if they were safe to use but I kept them both just in case and flushed everything else down the toilet. In an airport shop I bought the brightest, tightest, sexiest dress I could find, added red sandals, a large red purse and a hat and headed back to the bathroom to change clothes. I took a taxi to a branch of my bank here in Dallas and closed my account, all sixty-eight thousand dollars worth of it. It didn’t seem healthy to go home and really I had nothing to go home to except a shabby apartment, a boring job and a family I grew apart from long ago. Maybe I’d had enough of boring.
I flagged down another taxi headed for the train station and Mexico.