The middle-aged business man wished he’d never met the men last year wanting to use his skills. They took him to a place he’d never been before, physically and mentally, and now there was no turning back. It was done. They’d probably celebrate this victory.
He walked the long endless trek to find the gate; before he reached his last destination on U.S. soil his eyes looked up briefly to view the television set placed up near the ceiling of the southern airport. The sun shone bright through the windows from both sides. He was surrounded in light, yet, inside a fire ignited and he was unsure he could put it out. Tiny beads of sweat formed on his forehead near his hairline. He pulled a paper napkin from the hotel room and wiped this wetness before it reached his eyes, then dropped it in a close by garbage can.
He’d arrived at the gate, his business completed in a month before summer. He’d be air-born and routed for the next twenty one hours or so, then arrive at home nearly two days from now.
Repeatedly, he exclaimed silently to himself, “This would please them. I’m out!”
With his business briefcase held close and nerves shredding on the inside, he could only hope his life would be spared upon return to his native country. No accidents. He thought of ending it twenty four hours ago, but his ticket had already been purchased. It was then he glanced up again at the screen. Success. Dread. He wished he was dead.
A month earlier, husbands and wives, newlyweds, lovers, friends and family boarded the dinner cruise for an eight hour night of fun on the seas! The four of them were celebrating a wedding, unofficially, of course, after a small beach affair afforded an idyllic setting from earlier in the day. It was the spring of 1996 and the young couples set out to celebrate love and togetherness aboard the cruise ship. There would be gambling, dinner, dancing, and cruising for eight glorious hours.
Upon boarding pictures were taken off to the side in a room filled with balloons which lightened the darkness setting in. The sun would set exactly as the ship cruised from the harbor out onto the ocean. Dark blue-black was the color of the ocean swells tonight. Glorious. “What a life!” exclaimed one person as they looked out upon the endless body.
There were no children aboard tonight, save for a few that one could not part with or find a sitter. Music flowed out through the small passage ways and reached the decks. Those strolling in fine attire after dinner could find their way to the rail and look upon the vast beauty. Greatness and strength of mere liquid infused into the souls which allowed the perfusion of such. A stroll along the deck could be mesmerizing, fulfilling or enlightening-all at once.
The hard labors of life washed away and for eight hours one knew of nothing finer. No one wanted to run into anyone they knew because that might ground them on this voyage and the passengers wanted only to be somewhere new, somewhere light, somewhere magical. They wanted to find that lightness in the soul that carried them away to drift upon clouds of love and hope.
One could hear Ave Maria sung as they passed by the Library Bar aboard the ship. This further gave them hope to any slighting one suffered in life. The childless couple paused and leaned back against the wall to listen and soak in the very solitude of this moment.
Later both couples made their way to the stern of the ship. One could say goodbye to anything one wanted. Champagne toasts to the recent wedding on the beach delighted the revelers as the wind swept past them and swirls of water said goodbye to the magnificent splendor of the seas.
A return to the present month of May.
“Did you see the tragedy on the news?” asked her friend.
“I just saw. Horrible beyond anything.”
“Unbelievable and they don’t know why. Most importantly, they can not find it!” The friend exclaimed over the phone.
“Yes, so weird. Strange. Families will never see them again.”
“Awful. I just realized that was the same flight we took last month!”
“Yes. Oh my. It could have been us. Terrible.”
“I wonder if they knew they were going down?”
“Probably, yes,” she replied.
“Oh. I’m so glad it wasn’t you guys.”
Meanwhile the businessman sweated through the first hour of his return flight home. He never saw the light of day after he departed twenty one hours later. No move. No money. No time with his wife and family. No word. Disappeared.
Flash Fiction written for Chuck Wendig’s random prompts.
#4. Accident which might not be an accident.
Word count: 794