Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pleasant Company

The plane was actually on time for once, no last minute mechanical failures, no delays.  Damian squeezed into his seat with a grimace, wedging his legs and stowing his carry-on safely beneath the seat.  He didn't want to be harassed by the flight attendant if he could help it.  The pilot was already waggling the wings in preparation of take-off, and they were prowling the narrow aisles like hungry mountain lions.

Damian had nearly missed boarding.  He'd spent so much time cleaning up all the damage in his room, that he had to skip his usual morning coffee.  That put him in a bad mood.  It was even worse having to push past two other passengers and cram into the window seat.  At least the plan was on time and he wouldn't have to sit long on the tarmac.  He'd certainly had worse luck before.  Hadn't everyone?

"They don't really make these seats for us tall guys, do they."  It was the man next to him that had leaned in to speak.

Damian flashed him a token smile.  "No, they don't."

"At least you're not fat," the man observed.

Damian wasn't quite sure how to respond to the comment.  He certainly was not fat - too skinny, if he were to be the judge - and neither was his riding companion.  In fact, the man appeared to be in great shape.  His obviously expensive suit hung perfectly on a frame that filled out the shoulders, but not the waist.  Wavy blond hair was combed just so, topping a handsome, clean-shaven face.  Sky blue eyes stared back at him.

"I'll be honest, on any flights from the states, I generally end up next to some real porkers."  He flashed a brilliant smile.

Damian return and unsure, lopsided grin of his own.  "Yeah," he replied.

What else was there to say?  He didn't particularly like the usage of "porker", but they were going to be on this plane for a long time.  He didn't want to make it uncomfortable.  Well... any more than it already was.

"Sonny Hass, Energy Broker."  The man held out his hand.

Damian shook it.  "Damian Gardner, Software Engineer."

"You have business in Vienna?" the man asked.  That was the destination of the flight, after all.

"Yeah," Damian answered.

The man settled back into his chair.  "If you don't mind me asking, what sort of business?"

Damian shrugged.  There was no harm in telling this man.  "I work for a small company, Softsync.  We write banking software used all over the world.  One of our Austrian customers requested support, and I'm sort of the guy."

The man fixed him with an icy stare.  "Sort of?  Either you, or you aren't, Damian.  Which is it?  If there's one thing I hate, it's uncertainty in one's self."

Damian froze.  What's up with this guy?  The uncomfortable silence stretched.

"I'm just joking with you!"  Sonny broke out into another smile.  "Geeze, lighten up.  Of course you're the guy.  They wouldn't send you if you're weren't!  Trust me, I work with clients all over the world.  It's big money to send someone across the pond."

Damain gave him a sheepish smile.  "Sorry.  I'm a little cranky this morning, I guess."

"Rough night last night?"  Sonny asked.

"You could say that."

"Was there a lady involved?"  His smile was conspiratorial this time.

Damian reddened.  He didn't really want to talk about it.  "So... ah... what's an Energy Broker do?"

Sonny laughed.  "I see how it is."  He winked.  "Your secret's safe with me."  A few more chuckles burst out of him before he returned to Damian's question.  "Futures.  I deal in futures, Damian."

Whatever that means.  Damian simply nodded.

I don't like this gentlemen, Inigo piped up.

There was a hairsbreadth of silence before Sonny filled it again.  "You know what else I hate, Damian?  Government agencies.  Who really knows what these guys are up to, am I right?  Think about it.  They could show up at your door, two suited strangers, come in, kill you in your sleep... who would know?  You don't live with anyone do you?"

Both the topic and question caught Damian off guard.  "N-no," he choked out.

Sonny went right on, unaffected.  "Didn't think so.  Me neither.  So you understand.  Whack!  Dead.  No one the wiser. They'll say it was a robbery gone wrong or something... if it even gets out.  All I'm saying, is who watches the watchers?  You feel me?"

Damian nodded, but Sonny was already on to the next topic.

"It's like the TSA.  They can just feel up whoever they want, whenever they want.  It's not that I mind profiling, mind you.  I get it.  I do.  But do I look like a terrorist to you?  Do I?  I mean, come on.  Go after those bearded freaks, not me.  You know what I mean?  Maybe squeeze in a hot chick or two.  But I don't want some dude's hands all over me.  I'm not a fag, y'know?  And don't even get me started about Homeland Defense..."

Damian sunk deeper into his seat, but Sonny was on a roll now.  Much like the plane.  He silently prayed that the man would tire himself out and fall asleep.

I'm not all that fond of him either, Inigo....


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