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The rich old guy feigns modesty and ignorance. He lowers his glasses to get a better look at the tiny monitor, and he says, "How did these get on there? I thought I erased all of those." His girlfriend-child with the wavy chestnut hair buries her face in his armpit and shoulder and, muffled by his shirt, screams, "Ron! I told you to delete those!"

"Ha ha ha," he chortles and winks at me. He likes springing nudie pictures of her on the unsuspecting. His girlfriend and the housefrau are still giggling and blushing.

Speakers heavy with signal and flight noise pop alive. "For those of you making connecting flights, we're right on time," an even-toned male voice fills the cabin. "It's 84 degrees on the ground. This has been Southwest Flight 2063 from San Diego to Vegas. Good luck, and thanks for flying." The speakers pop closed, and the cockpit noise and static is clear from the air.

The rectangles of sunlight on the overhead compartments start to crawl around, and the pit of my stomach sinks a little as the plane banks into a turn. The sun flashes in the window and sends blades of blue and gold through the open right side of my sunglasses and then disappears from the window. Then, it hovers in the window on the opposite side of the row, over the old guy's shoulder.

As the plane drops and drops, the feeling of vertigo subsides. Out the window, I see streetlights flying past like fenceposts on a highway. The runway gets closer and closer to our window. Woosh! We pass a baggage truck. I can see paint on the asphalt. The nose of the plane rises briefly, then my seatbelt pulls me backward as the rear wheels -- chuff! chuff! -- and the nose drops and the front wheel calls out its attendance -- chuff! The cabin is filled with the roar of the engines as they're thrown in reverse and throttled up and it's LOUD! Our seats shake. The girls next to me and the rectangular window and the seatbacks in front of me go blurry and wobbly from all the shaking.

Then everything stops. Ding! The little light-up icons of seatbelts and cigarettes and stewardesses above our heads extinguish and the jets die down. The plane cruises slow enough so that I can see little stones and divots in the tarmac. We jostle in our seats as we bump over little humps and the plane eases to a stop. A door seal is breeched with a tearing sound, and more light streams in from the far side of a wall that's covered in the same blue fabric as the seats. Embroidered in the blue fabric on the wall is a copper set of wings and a white heart.

"Thank you for flying," a chipper young lady's voice pops over the intercom. "Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada. It's a lovely day outside. From the crew of Flight 2063 from San Diego, I'd like to wish you all good luck."

"Good luck, girls," I tell Jessica and Rebecca.

"Thanks. Good luck," they say. "Hey, you should come out to see us tonight."

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