“I Know I’m Supposed to Keep This a Secret, But …”

The plane lifted off the runway and into the air. The person next to you turns and quietly whispers in your ear, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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158 thoughts on ““I Know I’m Supposed to Keep This a Secret, But …”

  1. bilbobaggins321

    I was halfway across the Pacific ocean on some rusted metal contraption with only one bathroom. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I was trying hard to prevent myself from grabbing one of those parachutes in the corner and fleeing for my life.
    Let’s just say that I’m a world traveler who enjoys recent technology and with insider links into particular companies overseas. Yes, let’s put it nicely. On the other hand, what if I was to tell you that I was a secret agent for the CIA? Now that’ll put a shiver up your spine.
    I was trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, with my casual clthing, baseball hat, and bulky breifcase that I used for my “paperwork”. My agency had gone too far on that one, piling me on some 1950’s plane to cross the Pacific with these tourists. My destination? China.

    While the tourists were busy snapping pictures of empty ocean, I pulled out my cell and dialed the number for my headquarters. “Password,” some gruff voice said demandingly. I punched it in, and I got my briefing done. Apparently I was going deep into the Chinese new nuclear system, the “Banzai Plan.” Just as I finished, some random guy in a ballcap pulled impossibly low slid up next to my seat.
    “I just can’t help myself. There’s something urgent that I need to say,” he said low.
    I couldn’t even see who this guy was, but my curiosity drove me on. “Continue,” I said.
    After a long pause, where he looked around warily, he continued.
    “This plane is not safe. The Chinese managed to follow you. They are determined to make sure that-”
    A solid, crisp gunshot resonated, and the guy in the ballcap slumped over in his seat.

    End of Part One- Please Comment

  2. Haley

    Don’t Tell Anyone
    The plane lifts off the runway and into the air. The person next to me turns and quietly whispers. “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone. It wouldn’t be fair to you, dear, if I didn’t”
    I look down into the sweet old ladies face. Her muted grey eyes wrinkle deeply in the corners as she smiles politely and waits for me to acknowledge that she’s spoken. I set my book down gently on my lap and smile back at her, encouraging her to go on. What possible secret could she have? Did she smuggle some Pepto Bismol on board?
    “Well, my dear.” She says, “I’m a lover of exotic animals, but they’re just so hard to find locally.”
    “Uh huh.” I nod to fake my interest. I’m paying more attention to the way she’s erratically jerking and wriggling and she speaks to me. Poor old lady, it must be so hard to grow old and lose control of yourself like that.”
    “So once or twice a year,” She continues, “I take a little trip to visit my friends.”
    “Ohhh-kaaaaay.” I reply. My eyes widen as I notice movement within her paisley-printed dress.
    “…and occasionally”, she shrieks very excitedly now, “I SMUGGLE A FEW HOME WITH ME!!”
    Suddenly a red, black and yellow snake peeks from the armpit of her dress. Its piercing eyes fixed on me as its tongue darts in and out of its mouth. I throw myself back against my seat in fear and stare helplessly at the tiny window. I have no means of escape. A second snake slithers out from beneath the ladies beige, knitted shawl and I begin to hyperventilate.
    My heart starts racing and I begin sweating profusely when I spot a large, hairy tarantula in the woman’s purse and two tiny, bright blue, frogs peering out from her pockets. My book falls from my lap with a thud as I pass out and slump over in my seat. It lands face up. “How to Get Over Your Fear of Snakes and other Creatures”.
    When I come to, the “sweet” little old lady is patting my shoulder as the flight attendants prepare to take me to the sick room. “You’ll be ok dear. Everyone gets a little nervous when they fly.”
    “Whaaat?” I croak. My eyes quickly scan her over as I’m hoisted up by two flight attendants. There isn’t a single snake or critter on her. As they begin to carry me down the aisle, I watch the little old lady slide nonchalantly into my seat. She winks at me and quietly whispers, “I always did prefer the window seat dear.”

  3. InsanelyMe

    I shifted around in the uncomfortable seats of the cheapest airplane I could find, wishing with a passion that I wasn’t so lower-middle class. I attempted to tuck my outrageously inexpensive carry on bag under the seat, but only managed to anger the woman (at least I think it was a woman) sitting behind me so I gave up.

    As I turned back around to face forward, the plane lifted off with a shudder and a concerning squeak, and I became aware of a very sickly looking man buckling himself into the seat adjoined to mine. When he caught me staring, he flashed me a toothy grin and leaned over, mumbling something.

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that, can you repeat it?” I asked him. He obliged, and said in a considerably louder voice, “I know I’m suppose to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.” I looked at him and he looked back at me expectantly.

    I sighed. “And what would that be?”

    “I’m a vampire.”

    I squeezed my eyes shut and massaged the bridge of my nose. “One day, I’ll get it through my thick head to stop being such a churl.”

  4. demigirl12345

    As the plane lifted off the runway, I settled back in my seat hoping for a pleasant and peaceful flight. I glanced around at the other people on the plane. There were a lot of buisness people and elderly. As I looked across the isle I saw three children. The oldest was staring out the window and the two younger children were talking quietly. I saw no adult with them so I leaned across the isle and whispered to the youngest child, “Honey, where are your parents?”
    She looked at me and smiled timidly. “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret,” she said slowly,”but I have to tell someone.” she grinned sheepishly and looked behind her to make sure her older sisters weren’t listening. I waited.
    “We are running away. My older syblings have been planning this for months. My mom . . .”
    Just then her older sister turned to talk to her. I quickly leaned back into my seat. I sat there a few moments stunned. Then when the older sister got up to go to the bathroom, I followed her down the aisle. On her way back I sat beside her in one of the open seats. ” I was told by your younger sister that you are running away. I want to know where you are going and if there is any way possible I can help you.”
    She cringed. “No one was supposed to know. My mother is a drunk and she abused me and my sisters. My father . . . well, I don’t know him. We are going to London to try to start again. I’ll be sixteen in two months and then I can get a job and provide for my sisters.” She looked down shamefully. I gave her a hug and sent her back to her seat. Later in the flight I passed her a note. It read, “Listen, I know you and your sisters probably wont have a place to stay. I just bought a house in London. I’ve never had kids, but you are welcome to stay with me. My name is Hannah.” She smiled as she looked up and nodded at me. She wrote back, “My name is Kelsie. My two sisters names are Gabby and Thalia. We would love to stay with you. Thank you.” I smiled at her. When the plane finally landed, her sisters grabbed my hands and she followed me as we walked off the plane and into the afternoon sunlight together.

  5. CJKEats

    The plane lifted off. I was in the middle seat in economy class, not the aisle seat in business class, as was the norm for me. Nonetheless, I prepared myself for food service and the morning paper. Then I noticed the attractive woman sitting in the window seat. Her long blonde hair cascaded smoothly down her back. She wore impeccable makeup, which was not immediately visible—I liked that. She appeared to be in her mid twenties. Her obviously lithe young body filled out a stylish blue blouse that matched her piercing eyes … I caught myself staring.
    This might actually be a pleasant flight.
    The plane leveled out. As if on cue she leaned in provocatively and quietly whispered in my ear, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”
    Ignoring the tingling sensation suddenly creeping from my ear lobe down my neck and into my stomach, I managed to get out a strangled “R-really?”
    “Yes … really,” she whispered with a conspiratorial wink. She puckered her eyebrows in a tiny, pretty frown, motioning with her hands that I should speak lower. Instantly I had an image of how I might appear to her: eyes eager and wide, mouth gaping, grinning inanely, possibly even drooling a little. I shook off that unflattering self-portrait, and assumed a look that I imagined conveyed complicity in her subterfuge—one eye squinting slightly, opposite brow raised—then nodded and whispered back: “What is it?”
    She shivered slightly, made a delicate moue, reclined in her seat and said at regular volume, “Ooh, now I’m conflicted! Maybe I really shouldn’t say.”
    Now I simply had to know.
    “Oh come on,” I pleaded, “you can’t leave it at that! You can’t pique my curiousity and then just hang me out to dry!”
    “Oh … can’t I?” she asked, tilting her head to look at me coolly.
    “No. It isn’t fair. You get me interested and then don’t deliver. That’s cruel. Unless …”
    “Unless …?”
    “Unless you’re trying to pass the time on the flight, and enjoy a little game you can run on a schmuck like me.” I said angrily. “I get it, don’t worry. Yes, you are beautiful, everybody wants you, but nobody can have you, especially good old Mr. Average Businessman. Well I have some news for you, darlin’: I don’t actually want you. I am quite happy the way I am.” I was nearly shouting. “I don’t need to know this little secret of yours, anyway. In fact … you can shove it where—”
    I didn’t get a chance to finish describing where her secret would end up, as there was a loud bang, and the plane suddenly dropped. Weightless for a split second, I crashed back in the seat painfully on one hip. Oxygen masks popped down from the overhead bin, but neither of us grabbed for them. My eyes locked on hers. I grimaced in pain and fear. She smiled triumphantly. I was about to learn all about her little secret.

  6. Mackie

    Sitting happily in 3a – 3b unoccupied beside me – I relish the chance to stretch out for the three hour flight. I scan the aisle to check for late arrivals. Just as the gate is about to close, a guy suddenly enters the plane with lots of huffing and puffing; a real oddity, but not in any malign sense – just strange. He is of average height, pot-bellied, with a face as round as a soccer ball. Seated on his balding head, but slightly askew, is a black toupee, my impression aggravated by his suit of yellow polyester, matching waistcoat, and white loafers. Aha, I thought, a Time Traveler from the 1970’s. My uncharitable notion is amply rewarded when he plopped his bottom into 3b.

    He brandished a paper bag in front of my face. “Just in case I am sick,“ and chuckles, but then leans in conspiratorially to whisper, “I know I’m supposed to keep this secret, but I absolutely must tell someone. It’s about my fate.” What could I do? I was strapped in with a nutcase beside me, the plane soon to speed down the runway for take-off..

    “It goes like this,” he said, assuming the silence an invitation to continue, “A while ago I was at a fair. The usual thing,” he added, “carnival rides, cotton candy, a hundred ways to lose money. Pretty boring, except for this old tent set off in a lonely spot, ‘Madam Zorkowski, Teller of Fortunes,’ a sign said. It only cost me 20 bucks.

    I was about to suggest that it was better to burn a 20 dollar note – at least it’ll give off heat – when he resumed. “She was a strange old bird who looked me up and down, glanced at my palm, and asks, “So you are the hero?” and laughs. “In death?” I asked my fellow passenger with a hopeful tone, but he misses the sarcasm. “Nope!” he said with a grin that shifts his toupee downward, “In a plane crash where everyone survives!”

    I started to reach for the call button for the flight attendant – time to change my seat – but my seat-buddy discerned my intentions and said, “Look, I’m not a maniac. I mean no harm. But there’s one thing I need to know. The old fortune teller also said that I wouldn’t be the only hero on the day; there is also someone else. She gave me information about this person, which I wrote down. I wonder if she’s on the plane?”

    A piece of paper was pushed over to me, which I read. There, in neat print, was my name, address, age, and occupation – the whole nine yards – dead on the mark.

    Chilled suddenly, I looked around the plane, scanning to see if there were any empty seats near an emergency exit. My fellow hero, I knew, would stick to me like glue.

  7. Dennie756

    I stared across the empty seat watching the bar cart roll to a stop in front of me. The flight attendant smiled graciously.
    “Can I get you something to drink?”
    I hesitated momentarily.
    “I’ll just have a Diet Coke, please.”
    Sipping from the small cup, I remembered when a couple of those tiny bottles of the good Captain enhanced my beverage. Sighing, I looked out the window, watching the setting sun transform clouds into puffs of spun gold.
    Feeling movement beside me, I glanced over to see a young woman settling herself into the empty seat. She gave me a shy smile.
    “Sorry to disturb you. My mother says I’m like a bull in a china shop.”
    “You’re fine, you didn’t disturb me.”
    “Oh, good,” she said. “I don’t think the flight attendant is of the same opinion, though. She sure gave me a dirty look when I bumped into her cart.”
    “You just missed her,” I said. “If you want a drink, I’m sure she’ll stop on her way back.”
    “Oh!” Her face suddenly blushed deep red. “I don’t want a drink. In fact, I hope she doesn’t even ask me.”
    The young woman looked at me as if she had something to say. I smiled at her and sipped my Coke.
    “I know I’m supposed to keep this secret, but I absolutely must tell someone. I don’t know you, but something about you seems so nice and well, I thought what better time than now, and I’ll probably never see you again anyway.”
    Suddenly, I had the feeling I knew where she was going with this. She inhaled deeply, closed her eyes and breathed out.
    “My name is Natalie. And I’m an alcoholic. God, it feels so weird for me to say that! I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it. As she turned in her seat to look at me, her eyes filled with tears.
    “I was an awful person when I was drinking. I hurt so many people, and did so many shameful things….oh, God; I don’t even know why I’m telling you this…this is a mistake.”
    I touched her arm.
    “It’s okay, go ahead.”
    I nodded. And so for the remainder of the flight, Natalie spilled out all of her secrets, her dishonors, disgraces and her shame to me. Recanting stories of her years of drinking seemed to exhaust her and when she was finished, she looked at me and sighed in deflation.
    “That was a very brave thing you just did, Natalie.” I smiled at her. “I remember how it felt for me when I finally let go of my secrets. It’s very liberating.”
    As Natalie stared at me, open mouthed, I reached into my purse
    “There are no coincidences, Natalie. I’ve been keeping this for you.”
    I pressed into her hand the first coin I’d received in sobriety, some fourteen years earlier.
    “Your journey has only begun,” I said, smiling. “Enjoy the ride.”

  8. Krillb

    Please feel free to comment:

    British Airways Flight No.977 lifted off the runway and rose majestically into the air.
    Gordon realised his nightmare was unfolding. Forced into economy thanks to a ‘system error’, sat next to him was the worst stereotype of an American Tourist. Almost absurdly obese, the man was wedged into the seat so tightly that his fat created two raised arm-rests. A garish clothing combination also helped conjure an image to horrify most Americans, let alone a po-faced English gentleman such as Gordon.
    ‘I shoulda bought two seats, huh?’ said the American.
    ‘Patently’ replied Gordon, looking straight ahead.
    ‘Hi, I’m Steve’ continued the man, blissfully ignorant, ‘We’re going home after a great week over here. It was pukka, as you Brits say.’
    The Englishman’s eyes widened, he was mortified at such condescension. He continued to look ahead.
    So where are you headed, mate ?’
    Gordon’s eyes narrowed as he turned to his tormentor. ‘New York, unless the pilot’s got other ideas.’ He reached for the in-flight magazine. Surely this buffoon would take the hint now?
    Apparently not.
    ‘That’s my family sat over there,’ said Steve, grinning. ‘My wife Terri, and my kids Corey and Diana. We named our daughter after your Lady Diana.’
    Gordon shuddered. ‘How dignified of you’ he said. Christ, he thought, the girl only looks twelve. The stupid bint’s death must have really affected this lot. Buy the record, get a brat’s name free.
    ‘Do you want to know why we named her after Diana?’ asked Steve.
    Gordon snapped.
    ‘No, I fucking well don’t! ‘ he whispered loudly, ’What is it with you people, why do you feel you have to ram your vacuous little existences down the throats of everyone within a mile radius? I have a meeting in eight hours where millions of my pounds are at stake, your little sob story couldn’t be further down my list if you traded down with ‘remember to cut my toenails’! ‘
    Gordon slid back in his seat like a snake recoiling from a strike.
    Steve leaned away, then gritted his teeth.
    ‘She’s called Diana because your Princess Di was patron of a charity for a condition that only affects 4000 people worldwide. My Diana has that condition. ‘
    Gordon blanched.
    ‘Now’, said Steve, ’can you keep a secret? I just have to tell someone.’
    ‘Go on’ said Gordon, still pale.
    ‘Diana always dreamed of being a dancer at the Olympics, you know, with the ribbon. The Good Lord decided she couldn’t. For her sixteenth birthday I’ve saved enough to get her to London, to see these gymnasts dance. It’s a surprise. Sir, she doesn’t have many months left. Please don’t be angry, I’m just proud of my little girl.’
    Gordon blanched again.
    ‘Steve, here’s my card. Phone me in two weeks, I promise to help make your trip to London very special indeed. Little expense spared. Just one condition though,’ said Gordon, half smiling.
    ‘What’s that?’ replied Steve, stunned.

    ‘Don’t talk to me for the rest of the flight’

  9. jessik

    We had just taken off the runway and my eardrums were doing that thing where they try to turn violently inside out, like those little rubber popper toys my brother was always setting up to startle me. I was leaning back against my seat trying not to think about “Lost,” into which I had gotten 4 seasons deep (in three weeks) on Netflix, and the lines were starting to blur between Kate’s life and my own.

    The man in the seat next to me leaned in slowly. I tried to pretend I didn’t notice; I don’t like people in my space, and I don’t know how to handle it when they insist. He didn’t move, though. He waited patiently, inappropriately close to my face, while I pretended to remember something, and then spent almost 2 minutes pretending to consider the very important thing I had just remembered. He was still there when I ran out of things to consider, so I turned my head slightly, and put on a big show of surprise to see that he was waiting to catch my attention.

    “Oh! Sorry, did you need something? I was just trying to.. think about.. I can’t remember, cuz for.. something I was supposed to do.”

    This is why I hated strangers. They made me sound like an idiot. Inside my head, I’m capable, tough, and intelligent. But put someone in front of me that I’ve never met before (or even someone I’ve met lots of times, for that matter) and I sound like a stroke victim on marijuana.

    The man spoke in a really quiet, surprisingly sexy voice.
    “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”

    My imagination went beserk. We were going to crash… there was a serial killer on board… I was pregnant… The Matrix was real… he was going to rape me… I was adopted… I hated this guy. He had no way of knowing, but while I’m pretty normal-looking on the outside, my wild thoughts had a way of holding me captive, and stimulus like being trapped on a plane with a secretive stranger had the potential to send me into a full blown panic attack or monkhood or who knows what.

    “Oh. Yeah?”

    The man seemed painfully unaware of how much I wanted to get up and run away, not hear his stupid secret, get off this plane, become a hermit, never talk to anyone ever again. I waited, with what I hoped a normal look of human interest on my face.

    “Yeah. See, I’m really bad at… people. And I joined this… thing. Club. Like a…talking to people club.”
    His voice was gravelly and low, and he was shifting in his seat, like it caused him physical pain to get this out.

    “So, its our first assignment.. We have to… meet someone. On the plane home. But here’s the thing.. I don’t want to meet you. You… I like your… think you’re pretty, and probably have… really interesting too, but.. I don’t want to meet you.” Deep breath. “Ok?”

    I broke out into a wide grin. He looked shocked, and afraid of what I might do.
    “I would love it if we didn’t meet. I’m terrible at… people.” He looked immensely relieved.

    I asked about this club of his, and he started telling me all about it.
    And that’s how I met my husband.

  10. J K Lovelace

    Ten minutes into Clarence’s flight home, he watched the stranger seated next to him in seat 12a power up a small notebook PC and begin typing. Clarence couldn’t help but glance at the man’s screen. One memo began, “Re: Nuclear Iran,” followed by a memo listing dates, each followed by a three letter acronym. A new blank memo opened up and the stranger typed the words, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone. Can I trust you? If yes, cross your arms.”

    Caught in the act, Clarence’s face turned red. What the hell, he thought, and crossed his arms.

    “Good. Now whatever you do, don’t acknowledge our communication, we are being watched. They want me dead and will kill you too if they suspect you know anything. The person sitting behind me is one of them.”

    Clarence turned toward the stranger just enough to glance through the crack between the seats at the executive looking woman with black hair in 13A. His neighbor pounded on the keyboard, “DON’T LOOK YOU IDIOT! I think she might try to kill me through my seat. If she does I need you to pass the following message to my handler, code name ‘Gazebo,’ at Langley. Memorize this phrase, ‘The geese flew south.’ He will know. Whatever you do, leave my body alone, pretend I’m sleeping, and exit the plane as fast as possible…”

    The corner of Clarence’s eye caught movement between the seats. 13A appeared to reach forward and lower her tray table, but his neighbor’s body stiffened, then shuddered with chest convulsions. Clarence pretended to play with the air vent above his seat, which afforded a clearer peripheral view of his neighbor. The stranger’s head rested, eyes closed, against the window. His dark three day beard framed a mouth hanging partially open. To all appearances, the man slept, but Clarence knew better.

    For the rest of the flight Clarence sat stalk still. Sweat soaked through his shirt until his corduroy sport coat and his hair hung cold and dripping, as though Clarence just emerged, fully clothed, from a swimming pool.

    “Are you alright sir?” asked the flight attendant as she made her final trip through the cabin.

    “Yes, fine, I…I just have a severe fear of flying,” lied Clarence.

    The moment the door opened, Clarence darted off the plane. As soon as he got home, he googled the news, but found no mention of any bodies discovered at the airport. Finally, he googled the phrase at the top of the stranger’s first memo.” A link entitled “Nuclear Iran – Dates” appeared. Clarence’s heart raced as he clicked. A website for a new indie band called “Nuclear Iran” opened on the screen. He recognized the bass player. Beneath the heading, “Tour Dates” he found his city next to tonight’s date.

    Clarence clicked on the link entitled “Tour Blog,” and found the most recent entry, posted only minutes earlier.

    “…and to the soggy man in 12B, after I woke up from my nap I never laughed so hard in my life. Sorry about screwing with you, but that’ll teach you to keep your prying eyes to yourself. But hey, mention that secret phrase to the ticket office tonight, and I’ll comp you two tickets.”

  11. SED826

    “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.” The old man, a desperate rasp to his voice, clutched Nick Andretti’s arm as the plane lurched again.
    “Look, buddy, I ain’t the kinda guy you wanna be tellin’ secrets to.” He wasn’t warm and fuzzy and didn’t want an intimate conversation with a stranger. Plus, the man had a touch of halitosis. Nick leaned away.
    “You’re sitting next to me. It’s you or no one. I have to tell.” His accent had a Scandinavian inflection.
    “This ain’t a confessional.” Nick had secrets and if anyone needed confessing, it was Nick.
    “I’ve done something amazing.” The old man’s watery blue eyes begged from behind frameless bifocals.
    Nick shrugged. His mind was focused on another problem. Minutes before, the pilot announced a patch of turbulence. Nick was smart, observant. A guy in his profession didn’t make it long if he wasn’t. There were noises, as if the plane were groaning in pain, and if it were routine turbulence, the flight attendants would still be walking up and down the aisle, handing out drinks and telling people to take their seats. Instead, they were in strapped in their own seats.
    “I’m Dr. Lars Andreason.” The old man stuck his hand out. Nick gave it a good pump, surprised by the man’s grip. He looked frail but his hand was solid.
    “Nick Andretti.”
    “Interesting. Our names are similar.”
    “What a coinkidink.” Nick didn’t believe in coincidences. He understood why the man wanted to talk, though. This was the end. They both knew it. As if to reinforce that thought, the plane shook, moaned, and dipped from side to side.
    “So, what amazing thing did you do?” Nick figured his last few minutes on earth could be spent indulging an old man.
    “Maybe you should go first.”
    “I don’t intend to divulge any secrets.”
    “You thought first of confession. There must be something you feel the need to confess,” the man said.
    As a hit man for the mob, Nick had killed 43 people and was on his way to Chicago to do in #44. “Ain’t nothin’ I’m gonna say out loud. You might as well tell your secret.”
    Andreason nodded and began talking again. “I’m a scientist.”
    He paused and looked at his laptop, running a wrinkled hand over the plastic case. “All my life’s work is right here, on this computer.”
    “No backups?” Nick wasn’t an expert but he knew enough not to have a backup.
    “I always backup.” He pulled a portable hard-drive from inside his coat. “I’ve kept this on me since I started my research. I thought it’d be safer if I kept it with me. Now, however, I see the fault in my thought process.”
    The plane jumped again, emitting a grinding noise, metal on metal twisting in the wrong direction.
    Andeason continued, “I found it. I finally found it.”
    “What? What did you find?” Nick asked, intrigued at last.
    “I’ve discovered…

  12. markfaith

    Any feedback is appreciated, Thanks, Mark

    “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone” the gray haired woman leaned into me and whispered as she removed her eyeglasses and seated herself next to me while the plane lifted off the runway.
    I had just successfully delivered my quarry, Leo (aka “The Wind”), to a bondsman one hour before. He payed me in cash, the grand sum of one-hundred thousand dollars, which was unusual but if he wrote a check for over fifty-thousand dollars it would require his partners signature and that would have delayed my departure. I hadn’t slept for over forty-eight hours and my brain cells were bashing up against one another like bumper cars. I reclined my seat and at the risk of being rude lowered my Mets cap over my face. The lack of sound from her seat was deafening.
    I tilted the barrier off of my face and peeked at her. She was leaning back looking straight ahead. She wore a two-button camel coat, with tan cuffed pants, brown leather penny loafers and a fringed red neck scarf embroidered with cats. A blue nylon duffel bag was on her lap. She turned her gaze toward me and smiled halfheartedly. Her face beamed kindness in spite of my callousness. She was a portrait of my grandmother(God bless her soul). She reminded me of oatmeal cookies and bedtime stories. This impression penetrated my armor and I reluctantly gave in to whatever trace of energy still existed within me.
    “Secrets are like vampires. They suck the life out of you, but they can only survive in the darkness” I said. “Are you sure you want to tell me?”
    Her smile widened, displaying some state-of-the-art bridgework. She casually placed her hand on mine.
    “My name is Angeline but my friends call me Angie.”
    “Pleased to meet you. My name is Derek, my friends call me Dare.”
    She positioned a blue duffel bag on her lap and rested her arms on top of it.
    “Can you be trusted not to let the world in on our little secret?” she said.
    The hair stood up like tiny soldiers on the back of my neck. This always happened first, before the left eye tic, then the twitching in my left leg. It was my early warning system, more reliable than native drums beating in the distance.
    “I’m a bounty hunter. We have all sorts of secrets,” I said.
    “I don’t know about that. Unless your a kind one. The ones I see on T V cuss a lot. Like Hog the Bounty Hunter.” She looked across the aisle. I thought she wanted to share her secret with someone else.
    “That’s DOG the Bounty Hunter.” I said as I reclined again and pulled my cap over my face.
    My cash reward was hidden inside my carry-on which was padlocked and cuffed to my wrist. Someone would have to amputate my hand in order to make off with the money. I was on the verge of dozing off when she piped in.
    “Some one is following me,” she said.
    I lifted my cap to see a worried look on her face. “What did you say? I asked.
    “Some one is following me,” she repeated. “Three rows back on the right, window seat.”
    I turned and saw a gentleman staring back. He looked away and stared out the window.
    “He was outside of my townhouse when I left this morning. I don’t know who he is but I know he is following me.”
    “Why would someone be following you?”

    She looked around the plane and unzipped a duffel bag which appeared to hold at least one-hundred thousand dollars.
    “Where did you get that?”
    “It’s my life savings. All that I have. If I invest it in gold through a High Yield Investment Program I can more than triple my money in just a few months. I know it sounds risky but I have to help my grand daughter who has a rare cancer and my daughter’s health insurance won’t pay for a new life saving treatment in Mexico. I’m traveling to Des Moines to invest the cash before time runs out for her.”
    “I am sorry about your grand daughter’s illness, but I need to warn you against dumping your life savings into something that sounds too good to be true.” I said. “Besides what do you know about these people?”
    “They did tell me to keep it a secret and now there is that man following me. I’m afraid he is going to rob me!”
    “I’ll keep an eye on you. Once we get to Des Moines I’ll take you to a bank and you can wire the cash back to your account. You’ll think of some better way to help your grand daughter.”
    She sat back in her seat and wedged the duffel bag between us.
    “Thank you,” she said.
    My body craved sleep so I gave up my battle with staying awake. I thought that Angie would be safe until we reached the airport. I would escort her off the plane and go with her to the bank. Later I woke up to the instruction of the flight attendant informing passengers to prepare for landing. I panicked when I did not see Angie. The man who was following her was gone also. I asked the flight attendant where the woman who was sitting next to me had gone. She looked at me quizzically for a few seconds then told me that no one had sat in that seat. I tried to shake the sleep from my brain. Was it all a dream? Had I been so exhausted that my mind played a trick on me?
    I sat in my seat until the plane was cleared of passengers. The flight attendant came out of the lavatory carrying some clothes; a two-button camel coat, a pair of tan cuffed pants, a pair of brown leather penny loafers along with a red fringed scarf embroidered with cats. Hair stood up on the back of my neck as I unlocked my duffel bag. I was relieved to see that there were stacks of money in the bag. My early warning system continued with my left eye tic and my left leg twitching. I picked some money out of the bag and fanned it through my fingers. I repeated this ten times. Each stack had been replaced by paper with a counterfeit bill on top.

  13. pop

    It reminded me of an automotive garage. The smell of stale motor oil. The dingy, mustard colored cement block walls decorated with aged, dusty photos of single engine Cessnas and last year’s calendar, hanging slightly askew. Atop the cracked, circa 1972 orange Formica countertop sat only a rather dated electric adding machine, complete with grimy keys, a yellow No. 2 pencil, and a receipt book. The second hand of the wall clock tick, ticked into the otherwise silent room. Two-twenty pm. Or, shouldn’t I say, fourteen hundred twenty. My nervousness was slowly morphing into mild irritation as I waited to, as the brochure said, “take off on one of the greatest adventures of a lifetime.” I was here to extend my horizons, find new challenges, etc., etc. “Hello…hello?” I peered again through the doorway under the clock; the tick was really starting to annoy me. The adjoining hanger was as dark and quiet as it was 10 minutes earlier. Just as I was mentally composing my refund request letter, I heard a door open, the echoing clank of a dropped tool, and the sound of wheels headed my way. A man pushed a metal mop pail right past the doorway, then startled, backed-up. “Oh hello – are you here for a lesson?”
    He was thirtyish and trim in his dark blue coveralls with the name “Ted” embroidered over the left pocket. He indeed appeared “most friendly and experienced” just as the brochure had promised. Reassured that things were looking up, we walked the tarmac to a very, very small looking Cessna 182 as he regaled me with stories of his jumps. “You know, I find that my students are hooked after one flight. I mean, you are actually going to fly this plane today!” Exhilarated, I climbed in. “I’ve already completed the pre-flight checks – I’ll run you through all that after.” Within 10 minutes, I had been oriented to the gauges, the foot pedals and I was in control of the plane, taxiing down the runway. Unbelievable! We gained the necessary speed for take off and we were airborne! The altimeter climbed and climbed as the buildings and trees shrunk beneath us. Ted mentioned something about an “adequate AGL” but I was so focused on the instrumentation that I barely noticed. He had slipped on a funny looking backpack. For some reason he had cracked the door. He slid off his earphones, leaned toward me and lifted mine. Above the din he yelled, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone. I am not really a flight instructor.” And then, he was gone.

  14. Kobi

    As the plane taxied towards the runway for takeoff, my palms were sweating profusely under the jacket draped over my hands and forearms. I was wedged into the center seat between my male traveling companion to my right and a morbidly obese man in a cheap suit to my left.

    The attendant glanced cautiously toward our area as she proceeded to her seat after spouting her pre-flight announcements. I calmly grinned back as she scurried up the aisle.

    My shoulder ached as the rotund gentleman to my left leaned into my ear and whispered “I know I probably shouldh’t say anything ma’am, but I just have to tell someone . . . . ” his voice trailed off as I broke in. “Really, sir, I’d much rather just kick back and rest during the flight.”

    ” . . . . but . . . ” he insisted. “The feds are supposed to be transporting a maniac fugitive on this flight. Going to Folsom to be executed tomorrow!”

    “Oh really?” I questioned, as I tried to lean closer to my companion, who had slumped into his window seat. Cheap Suit’s breath smelled of rotten garlic. “I can’t believe they would transport a killer on a commercial flight”

    “Oh I know”, continued Mr. Cheap Suit, as he scanned back and forth along the seats. “I wonder what he looks like. I heard that he’s killed three or four people.”

    “Hmmm, dunno.” I replied, as I fidgeted with the hidden handcuff key.

  15. TEMiranda

    My parents always manage to have all five of us sit together on a flight, so today when I sat by myself at a window seat behind my dad I did everything possible to hide my joy so I wouldn’t hurt their feelings.

    My dad sat in front of me in the two-seater isle and my mom in front of him, each with one of my baby twin sisters. For the first time I felt like being the odd one out worked in my favor. The seat next to mine was empty until a little freckled boy with blond curls squealed “Hi!” at me. His big round glasses reflected the sun shining through the window. “My name is Harold. I am five.”

    Harold’s mom apologizes for his behavior. Although I didn’t quite understand why I just accepted her apology and introduced myself back in a high-pitched voice, dragging on each word. “Hi Harold, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Gracie. I am ten.”

    When the plane takes off Harold stretches across the aisle to poke his mom in the shoulder. She does not move. Harold giggles and whispers, “She’s asleep.” I smile and we giggle at our private joke. I stare at the dimples on his cheeks and the two buck teeth overlapping his bottom lip. He’s so adorable in a geeky-little-boy sort of way.

    “I have a secret I’m not supposed to tell. Want to hear it?” He whispers.

    “Sure.” I whisper back.

    “I can see what’s going to happen later.”

    “You mean you can see into the future?”


    “Really? Are you sure? It’s not nice to lie.”

    “For real.” He smiled and nodded with excitement.

    After battling him with a smirk, I remind myself that Harold is only five and decide to play along. “Ok. Show me. What’s going to happen to me?”

    Harold looks up into the air and blinks a dozen times. “You are going to cut your hair short.”

    My hand could not stifle the giggles bursting out of my mouth. “That will never happen. I love my hair.”

    “I just see you with short black hair.”

    “Ok. When will it happen?”

    “Today,” he frowns, “and you are crying about it.”

    “Will never happen.” I roll my eyes.

    “You’ll see.”

    Four hours later, after my dad managed me through the double doors of the airport salon with my long black hair tangled in the blades of a small, plastic desk fan from Baggage Claim Office, the hair stylist mumbled the words I was afraid to hear, “We have to cut it.”

    “If I had known that fan was right behind Gracie’s head I would have never complained to the woman about how stuffy it was in that office.” My mom whispered with a frown.

    “Honey, no one could have known this would happen to Gracie.”

    I whimpered, “Harold knew.”

  16. Jamie

    The plane lifted off the runway and into the air. The man next to me turned and quietly whispered in my ear, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”
    My eyes popped open as I turned to him and asked the loaded question, “What?”
    “The president is scheduled to die today,” he whispered.
    My jaw dropped, and with shocked indignation I asked, “Excuse me?” As a presidential aide, this was a very touchy subject for me.
    My eyes scanned the man, trying to profile him into one terrorist group or another. I found no flaws. Literally. He was dressed in a crisp navy-blue business suit with a tidy knot in his pale-blue tie. Not a blond hair out of place on his head. Even his shoes were polished to a shine.
    His eyes darted around the cabin, then he leaned in again, whispering, “It’s a government plan. He’s destroying the country with his policies and forced beliefs, so he’s being taken out. They don’t want to rely on citizens to vote him out.”
    I was utterly appalled by what this man was saying. How could he think our government would take out our president? He must have been crazy, a mental patient of some kind.
    Deciding this was the logical explanation for the man’s ludicrous claim, I laid my head back and closed my eyes. It was a short flight to DC. I could just lose myself in the music streaming from my iPod. Maybe the wacko would leave me alone if I pretended to be asleep.

    Once in DC, I met my contact, Joseph, at the baggage claim. Wacko was there, too, bypassing the luggage belt about twenty feet behind me. I wasn’t the paranoid type, this guy had my nerves tingling.
    Joseph and I walked in silence until we were inside the armored sedan waiting at the curb. Wacko waved to me as the door closed.
    “Friend of yours?” Joseph asked.
    “No. Just some wacko I sat next to on the plane,” I said.
    “Yeah. He thinks someone is going to kill the president today.”
    “Oh,” he said, “One of those.”
    We started going over everything that was to be done that day. What was on schedule. What wasn’t. All in all, everything seemed to be running smoothly. We were meeting with the head of the president’s personal Secret Service guards in a few minutes. We would notify him of what the crazy man said. After that, it was out of our hands.

    Hours later, I attended the president and his wife at a meeting with some worldly ambassador. The vial in my pocket would disintagrate in water, leaving no trace, but my job was complete as I placed the president’s drink in front of him, standing back to watch as he took a healthy swallow.
    Maybe that guy wasn’t so crazy after all.

    All comments welcome. Thank you.