The plane engines roared ready for take off, Dick looked out of the window, entranced by the science of it all. It was bigger than a bus, but somehow it flew in the air like a bird. He just couldn’t wrap his head around it. Why didn’t it fall out of the sky? Was Isaac Einstein really, honestly right about this whole gravity bollocks, or was he just high on drugs? This was his thirteenth plane journey in total and Dick was no closer to finding the truth.
He wondered what films might be showing on the flight, he loved action movies and romantic comedies. His dream was to star in a love story where he could also kill people by punching them over a cliff or firing machine guns at them. It had felt like a pipe dream for so long, but now it felt real somehow, almost tangible. Dick didn’t know what tangible meant.
“LA is going to blow your nut sack clean off my friend,” whispered Troyston into Dick’s ear, having leant clumsily over Kate Turtledove and a stylist called Nivea to do so. He was wearing his trademark mirrored shades and drinking a glass of white wine despite it being really early in the morning and the drinks trolley hadn’t even done its rounds yet. Some of you might wonder how he got a glass of white wine in that case, but put it this way, Troyston could always get what he wanted. He was weighing up which girls he should have sex with during the flight – Los Angeles looked a long way from London on the map he had on the wall of his open plan kitchen/bedroom. He looked at his huge watch, and momentarily wondered about reading a book. He laughed out loud (LOL’d). What a stupid idea, he didn’t even have a book. No, he’d have sex instead.
“So Dick, tell me more about yourself, what makes you tick?” said Kate, putting the Having Conversations module from her Writing Magazines degree to good use.
Dick looked at her, turning a surprising amount of himself around in a plane seat to fix her dead in the eye. His plan was to say something alluring. He knew from that first moment he saw her, when he walked into the office of whichever magazine she worked on again, that he would really love to see her boobs outside her top.
“I enjoy going cinema,” he started. “And watching films.”
He didn’t know what to say next, so he just smiled and said nothing, enjoying what, for him, was a meaningful, sensual silence. For her, it seemed unusual to finish such an open question so soon.
“What kind of films?” she probed.
“… wouldn’t you like to know,” he replied, charming her socks off, and then going totally silent again.
Troyston fidgeted a few seats down, mixing the ice cube in his double vodka martini with his finger, wondering whether some over-the-shirt stuff with Nivea might be a decent way to kill time. He wasn’t good a sitting still, dithering, and even the memories of the previous night’s fourway – which Dick had turned down for personal reasons – couldn’t settle his addled mind. Troyston was a doer, not a sitter, and so far this transatlantic journey was 37 minutes old, and he felt like scratching his own face off. He wondered whether he should start writing his memoirs.
“I also have a question for you,” said Dick, looking directly at Kate Turtledove’s face.
“What…” he began, trying desperately to think of a question he could ask. “Is…” he continued, really stretching it out as she looked on attentively. Kate was normally pretty astute with people, but for once in her life she had no idea what was coming next. Dick had already proved himself to be something of a Random Thought Generator, so this could go in any possible direction.
“What…” he started again, inwardly panicking. “What does being a journalism feel like?”
Kate immediately regretted taking a sip of her water, as she spluttered and spurted it out directly onto the headrest in front of her. For what seemed like a lifetime the entire row of seats – home to Dick, Kate, Nivea, and Troyston – were smoggy with a mist cloud of regurgitated mineral water that was like a twisted human fountain. She’d taken a pretty comprehensive gulp too, and none of it was staying in. The optimist in Dick hoped that Kate’s reaction was down to the question being shockingly profound. But the uncontrollable laughter that immediately followed the watery explosion confirmed his worst fears – he’d, as he puts it, “done a stupid”.
“Oh god, have I done a stupid?” he asked.
Kate’s laughter only intensified. If this continued, she wouldn’t make it through the flight alive…
But of course, she did make it alive. Make it alive and then some. Dick would often ruminate on that flight whenever he found the downtime in between making wheelbarrows of money in LA. Like how if you have enough monkeys with typewriters, eventually they’ll compose a Shakespeare play by accident, if you gave Dick long enough in a conversation, eventually he might say something that made sense. Or, in this case, not even just sense. In amongst the dimwit answers and agonisingly uncomfortable silences, Dick had stumbled through an unlikely chain of events that cast him in a whole new light, at least as far as Kate Turtledove was concerned. He had, somehow, said something incredibly lovely.
“I think I’m as stupid as you are beautiful!” he honked, unwittingly disarming the journalist with the nicest compliment she had ever received on a plane.
“I wish I could charm you with my cleverness,” he continued, “but I’m not clever, I was rubbish at school, I’m too stupid for you, I don’t even have my English GMCE. You’re so out of my league.”
She was taken aback. This was a time before Twitter came along, when the act of self-deprecation would become a popular seduction tool in its own right. At this stage in the history of the world, introspection on any level was done in private, and certainly never revealed in the early stages of flirtation.
Kate Turtledove had danced through mundane conversations with numerous male models, and not once had they deviated from their favourite topic, which was obviously “themselves”. But even the previous evening, when they’d met momentarily in the club – before she’d had to dash back to the office to make some amends to her 342 Ways to Shag Yourself Happy autumn listicle – Kate had sensed that Dick mightn’t be like other men. There was a curious sensitivity about him, a smiling kindness that you can only really find in truly thick people. Almost as though he wasn’t remotely aware of how hot he was.
Now without wanting to go into too graphic detail at this stage, suffice to say that Cupid fired two arrows that Wednesday morning. One at Kate Turtledove’s heart, and then another slightly bigger cock-shaped one in the direction of her knickers, because – and there is no polite way of putting this – Kate was frankly rock hard for Dick Litt. Hence somewhere over the mid-Atlantic they consummated their friendship with the lion’s share of her generous buttocks in the sink, and two thirds of her left boob in Dick’s right hand, as he profusely thanked her while having half-decent intercourse. Outside the door, Troyston chatted up a flight attendant with his arm up against a wall, real casual.
Dick would sometimes close his eyes really tight to remember that passionate encounter. He’d never felt so alive or so loved, and he was head over heels with that girl. Even many years from now, he’d look back at Flight whatever-number-it-was, and he’d insist that it hadn’t just stopped in LAX that afternoon, it had gone via Heaven – and then he’d overstate the point by explaining the metaphor.
But in many ways their relationship did peak on that flight. Dick unaware that Turtledove was promised to another, and Kate lost in the moment, but all too aware that she had a pending marriage proposal that she hadn’t yet answered. Question was, was she in the midst of an existential bout of cold feet? Or was she meant to be with someone else? Someone like Dick who made her feel like a superhero. Simon, her boyfriend, worked in the city and had charmed her friends and family with his easy manner and excessive wealth. It was just a shame he was such an unthinkable penis to go out with.
(TO BE CONTINUED)