"...a relief." Rico was talking out loud, but he didn't think anyone heard him, their feet moving around his head, shouting somewhere far above him, Rico couldn't understand what, but it didn't matter, what Marie had said was right, everything was going to be okay.
Marie had been talking him through the whole thing, getting on the plane and the drink service, all of it, "We're starting to land," she'd said, "just twenty minutes and we'll be on the ground," she seemed to think he was nervous, but it was Marie who was scared when she found out he'd missed his dose this morning. Rico was just rolling back, away from all the noise and colors and realness, like a camera dollying back from the action, and it was turning into a movie, a dream, Rico just sitting back where it was safe and quiet, watching himself bouncing his knees, bumping them up against the tray table, watching his shoulders twitch inside his new blue shirt.
"We just have to get through customs ... We're going to be home soon, and everything will be all right," Marie had her hand over his while they stood, stooping, at their seat, watching the other passengers bunch up in the aisle.
From his far-off spot, Rico saw one of the passengers - the guy with wet strings of hair pulled over the top of his head - look hard at Rico, he was looking at him and thinking Terrorist, Rico could smell it, he smelled what the bald guy was thinking, he looked at Rico and saw a terrorist.
Rico moved his backpack around to his front, it made him feel safer from the man who saw a terrorist, it made him feel strong, he could lift his arms out to the side and look down at it, it looked good, it looked powerful. It looked like it could be real, could be dangerous, could be a bomb.
The man moved his head, jerking it to the side. Rico watched himself flinch back, watched himself break for the aisle, he could see a panic on his face, the Rico he saw had to get out, Marie left behind, he just had to get out out fast.
He didn't see the man in the Hawaiian shirt, though, not until after the shots yanked him right back inside his head, the man standing over him. Did he hear me thinking? wondered Rico. Did he hear me thinking about my backpack, how it could be a bomb?
It didn't really matter, thought Rico, blood slipping from between his lips. Everything was okay, just like Marie said. We'll be home soon.