“I fucking told him,” a deep voice with a thick New York accent says, filling up the plane, “that’s your last chance. You pull that shit again and—“
I rush out of the galley, wiping the corners of my mouth to get rid of any chocolate, and smile at the guests as they walk up the stairs.
“—you’ll be on my permanent shit list.”
The first guy in stops and frowns when he sees me smiling at him. “Where’s Tracy?”
I push my shoulders back and force out a smile. “Unfortunately, Tracy was sick. I’m Molly and I’ll be replacing her.”
He looks me up and down with a deeper frown, huffs out a frustrated breath, and then marches into the back.
The next six guys do the same, all giving me the evil eye as they pass.
They look like they’re straight off the set of The Sopranos. Some of them are wearing tracksuits with gold chains and the others are wearing weird suits with big ties and shiny shoes.
Are they… the mob?
I roll my eyes and shake my head. Not all Italian-Americans are mobsters, I say to myself. Don’t be racist.
They really do look like mobsters. The way they talk in hushed whispers, always leaning into each other’s ears like they’re afraid of being recorded, the big gold chains and expensive watches, and the way they take up space and project a tough intimidating image like high school bullies who never grew out of that horrible phase. All they’re missing are the pin-stripe suits, bowler hats, and Tommy guns.
I close and seal the door as I keep an eye on them. The old man with the gray slicked-back hair and thick glasses seems to be the boss. Whenever he says a word, everyone shuts up and turns to listen. They’re all showing submissive body language whenever they interact with him—bowing their heads when he’s whispering in their ears and keeping their shoulders lowered. It’s subtle, but it’s there.
He must be Mr. Salvatore Brambilla. I want to google him, but I have a lot to do before we take off.
The cockpit door opens and the two asshole pilots walk out with big fake smiles and open arms.
“Mr. Brambilla!” the one with the thin mustache says as he shakes his hand like a serf shaking the hand of a king.
Mr. Brambilla doesn’t get up or smile as he lets the man shake his hand.
“Where’s Tracy, Dante?”
The pilot’s smile withers away. He looks like he’s going to be sick.
“She has the flu,” he says as he starts visibly sweating. “Has it real bad.”
“And this one,” Mr. Brambilla says, motioning to me with his big balding head. “Did you check her for a wire?”
A wire?! Yup, these guys are definitely mobsters.
I quickly head into the galley with my cheeks burning and my pulse racing.
“It’s okay,” I whisper to myself as I prepare for the takeoff. I rub down the counter with extra force, trying not to freak out. “They’re just customers. They’re not going to shoot you.”
“Who’s shooting who?”
The pilot’s voice is right behind me. I spin around, nearly having a heart attack for the second time today.
“I said shooing,” I say, quickly recovering. “Shooing the bugs away.”
He frowns at me and then heads back into the cockpit with his grumpy co-pilot. “Just get the plane ready for takeoff. We’re leaving in five.”
I get everything set and then take a deep breath as I head back into the cabin to make sure everyone’s seatbelts are fastened.
They’re playing poker on one of the tables. Geez… There’s more money on that table than what my parents made in a decade. Huge stacks of cash sit in front of each player.
“We’re, um… getting ready for takeoff,” I say in a shaky voice. They all ignore me. “Please get to your seats and fasten your seatbelts.”
“Hey, doll, get me a scotch will ya?” one of them asks without looking up from his cards. “Neat.”
“Espresso. It better be hot.”
God, they’re like cavemen.
“Drinks will be served after the takeoff,” I say, trying to project a calm confident voice. It’s not working so well. “Please get ready for liftoff.”
Again, none of them even pretend to care about what I’m saying.
The plane starts rolling and I head to my seat. I can’t force these man-children to behave, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to follow FAA regulations. I snap my belt in as the plane taxis to the runway.
I gaze out the window at all of the ground crew moving around like worker bees, buzzing around the hive in their bright orange gear. A strong desire to ask the pilots to stop the plane so I can get out comes out of nowhere, but I push it down and try to ignore it. I’d get fired for sure and I really like this job. Well, at least I do when I’m serving normal people.