The severely blonde flight attendant wrestled impatiently with her serving cart while making halting progress along the narrow aisle between banks of cramped gray seats in a Lufthansa Airbus high above the Atlantic Ocean. Turning from side to side she grimly dealt out pre-packaged dinner trays to the restless passengers.
Although her icy pale hair and crisp blue uniform remained unruffled, the stewardess was obviously near the end of her tether from long hours of forced congeniality with the fretful mass of economy-class passengers assigned to her care.
A creased and crumpled, though still dignified, elderly man, inching back to his seat from a thoroughly disheartening visit to the claustrophobic restroom, inadvertently blocked the attendant’s forward progress.
Peremptorily rapping the old fellow’s shoulder, she hissed sharply with Prussian authority, “You must not block the aisles! Return to your seat, immediately.”
With a gasp, the man recoiled, stumbled and landed without ceremony in the soft lap of a petite middle-aged woman.
Mortified, he attempted to scramble to his feet, but the serving cart bumped him back onto his startled seat mate.
The old gentleman creaked stiffly to his feet as soon after the flight attendant’s passing as possible, trembling with humiliation and repressed rage.
“Please excuse me, madam. I am so terribly sorry. Have I injured you?”
The man addressed his fellow victim in very slightly accented English as he attempted to regain his composure.
“Oh, no, not at all. I’m fine. Really. Don’t worry about it. That certainly wasn’t your fault. Brünnhilde’s assault would have done in a lesser man, I assure you. You are lucky to have survived.”
Bunny Elder replied with a wry smile, as she straightened her khaki skirt and pushed a lock of graying blonde hair back into place behind one ear.
“Yes, well, it would appear there are reasons why this particular airline was never touted as part of the ‘friendly skies.’ Thank you for being so gracious. My name is Parma, by the way, Anthony Parma.”
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