He was screaming at a girl a bit older than him, trying to hit her with the sweatshirt that he lassoed awfully close to other travelers. The zipper pull was flying all too close to passenger eyes, but who was I to say anything? And that scream: shrill enough to make you wish a fingernail on a chalkboard would drown it out. Meanwhile, she was tossing Cheetos at him, the orange crumbs on the carpet proof of an ongoing feud.
Every now and again a frumpy middle-aged woman grabbed his arm and spoke to him in a menacing whisper, although I couldn’t hear the words she said. I could read her body language like a Psych 101 textbook. I watched for a while, pretending to be vacantly staring into space, afraid of catching his eye and therefore his wrath, but unable to look away. More Cheetos were thrown, the sweatshirt swung, the woman threatened. Fellow passengers looked for empty seats away from this ring, moving away if they could.
Eventually the storm moved on and the call to board was announced. In the shuffle of gathering luggage and jackets, I lost sight of little Satan. I was awash in relief that perhaps he would not be seated next to me, and that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t even be on board our plane. Reassured and confident of a quiet flight, I actually exhaled a sigh of relief as I waited my turn to get on. When my row was finally called, however, there he was, seated in first class. Naturally.
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