“Look,” Don said, and then sighed before he continued. “I’m sorry I turned you in to the flight attendant, but you know how I get on planes.”

“Well, this is our what, fifth flight in the last two months?” Gene ticked the flights off with his fingers. “KC to Phoenix, Phoenix to Portland, Portland to Dallas, Dallas to Chicago, and now Chicago to Winston-Salem. I guess in all that time I was unaware of your issue with air travel. Why didn’t you tell me, like seventeen million times?”

“Okay, funny guy, I know sarcasm when I hear it.”

“Good, then we’re making progress.”

Gene went back to tapping on his tablet and Don noticed that Furious Fowl no longer occupied the screen.

“Last stop,” Don said. “One more week and you’ll be home.”

“Yeah,” Gene said as he flicked through pictures of his family.

This was typically the time when the guilt would kick in and Don would start feeling like crap. It had been the routine now for the past few weeks, pretty much starting the day they left home.

“I still don’t understand why you came,” Don said.

“Look, had I stayed home you would have been stuck with Stu, the Human Bag of Gas, for a month. You owe me big, pal.”

“Yeah, I dodged a bullet there alright,” and Don smiled.

Just then a lurching thump had sounded from below followed by a rapid reduction in speed. They were down, but Don wasn’t quite ready to breathe just yet. Gene had helped by distracting him; he’d have to give the guy that.

“Frankly I think it has less to do with flying and more to do with control,” said Gene.

“What does?”

“This thing that turns you into whatever this is sitting next to me,” said Gene.

“What are you talking about?”

“Well,” said Gene. “You have to admit that normally, you’re the brave one and I’m the coward.”

“You aren’t a coward,” Don said.

“Sure I am,” Gene said. “You know me better than that. I avoid confrontation like a Vulcan avoids hugs. Face it, pal. On the ground, you’re the first one in the fight.”

“Fight?” Don said. “We work for a call center. I’m a trainer. You’re in IT. We aren’t warriors.”

“Figuratively speaking,” said Gene with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I’m just saying, on the ground you’re Captain Action. In the air you’re the Cowardly Lion.”

Don made a feeble attempt at interjection, but Gene waved it away.

“But here’s the thing,” said Gene. “I don’t think it has anything to do with flying.”

“No?” Don said, his eyebrows rising in mock interest. “Tell me then, Super Brain, just what is my fear all about?”

“Well, like I said. Control.”

“Control?” Don frowned.

“You don’t like it when you aren’t in control. It’s why we always take your car, because you have to be the one behind the wheel, in control.”

Don had no reply. He tried. He gave it his best shot. The only sounds that issued from his mouth were a few staccato sputters and a slight stammering of the letter I.

“The Prosecution rests,” Gene said. “And just in time too, there’s the gate.”

Looking out through the window to Gene’s left; Don could see the appendage-like jetway growing larger as the plane taxied near. He sighed in relief.

“Safe and sound,” said Gene as the plane came to rest. “We made it. We’re alive.”

Don smiled as he unbuckled. Then he turned to Gene and said: “We still have the trip home. There’s plenty of chances to die yet.”

“You’re a real ray of sunshine, Donny. A freaking ray.”

The two rose, gathered their carry-on bags, and began the long shuffle out of the plane and into the airport.

In the terminal, at the end of the jetway, they were met by a pair of EMTs with a gurney.

“That’s the last of them,” said a flight attendant from behind Don and Gene.

The EMTs, waiting for their cue, bustled past with efficient urgency.

“Guy must have been sicker than they let on,” Gene said watching them scramble off up the jetway.

“Guess so,” Don replied. He tried not to give it too much thought.

Instead he checked his watch. It was 10:36 PM, Kansas time. He’d have to remember to move his watch ahead an hour now that he was in North Carolina.

Here ends Chapter Two.

That's another chapter done. I decided to post this on Friday instead of waiting till Tuesday of next week so that you could have a full chapter in one week.

In fact, when I can, I'm not going to stick to a regular schedule if I can give you a chapter in a week. I want to try and avoid chapters stretching out over more than one week. I may not be able to avoid it at times, but when I can help it, then I'll make sure that you'll get a chapter a week.

Thanks for reading!

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