December 16th, 1990
Flight from LHR – PHL
The flight over was made all the more pleasant by Richard’s visits to the rear galley, all of which were met with raised eyebrows from our fellow crew members and no doubt got a few tongues wagging, which I imagine continued when Richard grabbed the seat next to mine on the crew bus.
Speaking out of the side of his mouth, he uttered, “Seems the Captain is insisting we make our way to his so called favourite sports bar.”
“Ugh,” I replied, not looking at him. “Not exactly my cup of tea.”
“We don’t have to follow the crowd.”
“I know but if we don’t make an appearance, I imagine tomorrow’s flight will be rather unpleasant for you.”
“Yes, I do believe so.”
“Ok, in that case, let’s just go.”
He turned to me and mouthed, “Thank you.”
Richard perched his slim frame on the stool next to me and as is typical in such a setting, we each carried on several conversations with other members of our crew but as the time wore on everyone split into groups, leaving just the two of us.
“There’s something I’d like to ask you,” he said.
“No pressure to answer if you don’t feel comfortable.”
I motioned for him to continue.
“What happened with your chap in LA?”
“He told me he’s gay.”
Richard’s head dropped in an expression of disbelief. “You’re serious?”
“Good gracious! What happened?”
“He came to the room to pick me up, or so I thought and instead he broke down and told me he met someone else.”
“Gosh, I really wasn’t expecting that.”
“Nor was I.”
He stared at me and reached his hand over to cover mine. “I’m so sorry. That must have been a dreadful-”
We were interrupted by Fiona, who, by the look of it, had clearly imbibed a tad more than us.
Standing behind Richard, she pressed her ample bosom into his back then draped her arms over his shoulders, dangling them over his chest. He shot me a look that screamed, “Help!” as she swayed and whispered something in his ear. His eyes darted in my direction again and I was both amused and thrilled by his obvious lack of interest in her.
“Actually,” he stated in his pilot PA voice, peeling Fiona’s arms off him as he turned. “Karen and I are about to go for a brisk walk.” He threw a pleading look my way.
“Yes, yes, we are,” I said, standing up. “Needless to say, Fiona, you’re welcome to join us. As long as we bundle up, we shouldn’t freeze too much.”
Fiona slurred something in her plummy accent about, “Ree main ing he are,” then slithered her way over to join a group of what looked like college age guys, sitting around a table.
“How do you feel about country and western music?” Richard asked once we were outside.
“I have mixed feelings, why?”
“There’s a super little place not far from here, they usually have a band and I thought perhaps we could have a bit of a boogie.”
I cracked up laughing. “Richard, you do know it’s nineteen ninety, don’t you?”
The bar reminded me of the place I went to in Florida with Gabriel last year but this time I didn’t mistake my drink for a soft one and down it in one. The band consisted of a dark-haired singer with a smoky voice and sultry look, accompanied by two pale men in Stetson’s.
We danced several times but when the music kicked up it seemed we were the only two people who hadn’t mastered line dancing, so we gave up and continued talking and drinking.
We walked hand in hand back to the hotel in the bitter cold and had our first kiss in the lift. The kiss was tender but purposeful and with my eyes shut, I wanted more but when I opened them, I longed to see David’s face, which is why I didn’t invite Richard to my room for a night cap.