I am on a short flight from Boston to New York. We're past the solid layer of cloud over Boston, and below fluffs of white I can see green fields and black lakes. Little houses with bright blue-green swimming pools. Chlorine blue.
The stewardess who looks like Jackie Brown pours me a soft drink. She doesn't give me the whole can. She presses a white paper bag into my hand, her French manicure dragging across the paper.
I should have asked for the can.
I open the bag to the wonders inside. There are crackers shaped like butterflies. Cheese. Ranch dressing and a little baggie of tiny carrots. A fun-size Almond Joy. A white packet that tells me it contains a moist towelette. I can use this towelette, it informs me in serious black serif font, to clean and refresh my hands without soap and water.
Isn't there soap and water in the moist towelette?
I eat the cheese and crackers and drink my soft drink, wishing I had the whole can. I can't eat carrots or almonds. At first, the inside of my mouth would itch. Then my throat would swell until my breath was sealed off. I would flail for my Epipen dropping it on the floor. The plane would bank, sending my salvation rolling through the aisles as I slid off my seat and into oblivion on the industrial carpeting of a Delta shuttle.
If Mr. Billy were here, I would have offered him tiny carrots and Almond Joy. I would have watched doll fingers of orange disappear behind his white teeth. But Mr. Billy isn't here. The deadly snacks stay behind in the white paper bag.
We're out over water now.
I pull open the white packet containing the moist towelette and unfold it. It is thick and soft, not like the thin, papery towelettes I remember from Kentucky Fried Chicken in the days before it was KFC. In those days, they were wet-naps, bringing to mind visions of dirty diapers and drooly babies.
The Jackie Brown stewardess saunters lusciously down the aisle, checking that our seat backs are in the upright and locked position and our tray tables are closed. I see tall New York buildings below.
I take pleasure in the neat little rectangles created by the folds in the moist towelette. I wonder if the factory has a folding machine, or if a person folded this very towelette with her small hands.
The plane tilts at a very bad angle. Buildings that should be below are directly in front of me, above me. We are going to die in a screaming ball of fire. Me and a planeful of shining businessmen and -women in black suits.
I wrap the moist towelette gently over my hands, sliding it over my skin. I will go to my death with clean, refreshed hands.
The plane rights itself, and slides in to land, the wet-nap crumpled in the palm of my clean right hand.
No soap, no water.