"I'm sorry to bother you, sir, but you're eligible for a complementary upgrade." I raised a quizzical eyebrow.
"I'm in First Class Premier Premium Plus already."
"I understand that, sir. However, Squib-Co stock went up two points today. You're now a billionaire." I nodded coolly. I wasn't surprised by this. I'd know early on that investing in that social networking sight linking well-to-do pedophiles with children in need of school supplies was win-win-win (boy, do those NAMBLA guys click on ads for 'Nick Jr!') What I was surprised at was her knowing my personal worth.
"You would know that how?" I was worried for a moment ex-Mrs. Squib number three was trying to serve me with papers again. She can have alimony when she returns one of those implants I paid for. She gets half of mine, I'll get half of hers.
"We track the life progress of all of our First Class Premier Premium Plus members, Mr. Squib."
"What sort of upgrade?" She had my attention. Upgrades are important.
"Mr. Squib, you're now eligible to fly in 'Genuine Class.' If you'd follow me, please?" I returned the SkyMall to the seat-back pocket and followed her to the front of the cabin, making a mental note to purchase those solid gold shoehorns I'd been looking at (if you haven't used a gold shoehorn before, you're basically putting your shoes on like a serf; I highly recommend them.) She led me to the cockpit door. The rest of the passengers stared in obvious envy. They were right to notice me. Still, the cockpit?
"Oh... no, thank you. I'd rather not sit in the cockpit," I said. I wasn't in the mood for practical jokes, not with so many shoehorns left unpurchased.
"Sir, we haven't had pilots since the Regan Administration. The cockpit is just a hologram to make the lower class feel more comfortable.
"So who's flying the plane?"
"We pay South Korean kids a dollar an hour to fly our jets remotely."
"No unions.... no benefits...."
I was impressed.
"Only guilds, but they tend to fight with themselves more than us. Also, they're easily mollified by anyone with a vagina."
"You know, you're all right... for a flight attendant."
"Mr. Squib, in Genuine Class, I'm a stewardess." She took my hand and led me through the hologram. There was a sudden gust of wind that blew my just-enough-gray-to-look-distinguished hair back.
"Temporal distortion," she said with a smile, "don't mind it." The cockpit expanded into a larger room. It was decorated with antique wood, floor to ceiling book cases, and a bar filled with scotch and bourbon. The heads of various endangered species covered one wall- my first time seeing a Sasquatch or a unicorn actually, apart from the Illuminati's Zoo Sixteen. (You've never heard of it; you have to be worth at least five-hundred million even to see one of their 'Sky-Max' nature films.) Leather high-backed airline chairs as large as a mall Santa's chair were spaced comfortably around a roaring fire.
The flight attendant's (-no, "stewardess'") uniform had grown more form fitting and low cut, and her name tag had changed from "Tracy" to "Trixy."
"If I can do anything for you Mr. Squib, don't hesitate to ask," she whispered throatily.
"And a cigar?" She touched my wrist suggestively.
"You can smoke in here?!"
"Yes, in this room. California billionaires go to a different room."
"Then yes, a cigar would be quite nice."
"But what about the embargo?"
"The Federal government has no jurisdiction in Genuine Class, Mr. Squib." I smiled at that thought, pushing the recline button. To my pleasant surprise it reclined all the way back, and I was looking up at a kindly old bearded man in a crisp apron. He knew better than to make direct eye contact, which I appreciated.
"Shave, sir?" He asked.
"And a trim. Not too-"
"'Short on the sides, and mind the part.'" The old man said.
I was impressed again.
He went to work, shaving me carefully as Sean Hannity's velvet voice crooned softly from the Bose Prestige Quantum Stereo. Two malnourished Haitian boys crawled into the room on their hands and knees to go to work on my shoes with shine-rags.
Trixie returned, lighting the cigar between her own pouty lips like an unspoken double entendre, before putting it into between mine. She gave me my scotch (rocks; I like my scotch like I like my women:, bitter, wet, and at least sixteen years old) and then proceeded to fellate me expertly as I was shaved and trimmed by the kindly old gentleman. He hummed a jaunty little Rodgers and Hammerstein tune as I blew careful smoke rings; rolling my tumbler of scotch in my hand and studying the ice cubes. I was appropriately, nonchalantly bored.
And as I finished both my shave and the other at exactly the same instant, I had a moment of perfect clarity.
"I deserve this," I thought to myself.
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