"Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew."
The sound of an unhappy cat being carried through an airport.. Too many sights, too much movement, too many smells. Squeak was not a happy cat in his carrier.
"Are you sure he'll be okay without food for that long?"" asked Bekka.
"Sure I'm sure. Look, he was starving when we found him, so he's used to going without food for long periods of time. That, and we don't want him crapping all over the place once we're on the plane."
We had an hour before boarding, so we grabbed magazines and tapped our feet in rhythm to Squeak's peeps. Luggage had been checked, drugs had been secreted, and we were ready to travel.
On the subject of drugs.... Bekka and I had decided to trade what was left of the cocaine for our leftover meth. That way each coast got a taste of what they normally didn't. So this trip, Bekka had a snatch full of coke instead of speed.
"Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew."
Bekka pulled Squeak out of the carrier and cuddled him, quieting him down. From behind us a voice said, "Thank Christ, it does shut up."
I swiveled my head to see some businessman asshole giving Bekka the stink-eye. He was an important person --- just ask him --- and didn't need interruptions like the sound of a kitten crying. We were disturbing his reading of Forbes, for chrissake.
I caught his eye and smiled. "Meet our kitten Squeak. He's in a whole new environment right now and he's scared. I suggest cutting him some slack. After all, how noisy can a kitten be?"
"Noisy enough to distract me. Keep that thing shut up."
My hackles were up. "Or?" I asked.
"I'll have you thrown off your flight, and your cat impounded for thirty days."
"Wrong. We have all his vaccination papers right here. And where are you going, anyway?"
"I'm headed to Dallas on flight 1077, United Air."
"welcome, cabin-mate! We're on the same plane, only we transfer and continue on to San Diego. You and Squeak can become good friends."
"That cat bugs me and I'll kill it."
Bekka handed me Squeak and stood up, facing the captain of industry. "You touch my cat and I will castrate you twice."
"I'll sharpen the knives," I said happily.
The businessman picked up his briefcase and magazine and stomped off.
"Well. What a dick," I commented. Squeak purred against my chest. Just then the boarding call came over the loudspeaker, so Squeak went in his carrier, I grabbed our carry-on bag, and we headed out.
I handled the takeoff with much more grace than I had the first couple. Squeak dealt with it well himself, remaining silent the whole time. As soon as we leveled off Bekka took Squeak out of his carrier and cuddled him, engaging in the standard baby talk that everyone does when confronted with a kitten. Wherever business-boy was on the plane, it was nowhere near us.
Or so we thought. From four rows behind us came the words, "Put that animal back in its cage!" One of the flight attendants came up and said that sadly, Squeak would have to remain in his carrier....
.... Where he promptly began to cry. I set the carrier on Bekka's lap, but it didn't help. He wanted out. Business-boy yelled, "Shut that thing up!"
My buttons had been pushed. Ignoring the seat belt sign, I got out of my seat and walked back to business-boy's location. I told him, "Motherfucker, we're gonna be on the ground sooner or later, and I'm gonna see how fast you run in wingtips. Shut up." Then I went back to my seat.
A half hour later the captain approached me. "Sir, is there a problem?"
"Not with me. I'm doing just fine."
"Because it's been reported you've threatened another passenger."
"Oh! You must mean the idiot who threatened to kill my kitten back at the airport, and was yelling for a frightened animal to shut up. In so many words, I told him to fuck off. Is there a problem with this?"
The captain cleared his throat and said, "I'll be advising the other passenger to be quiet and ignore any noise from up here. Fair enough?"
"That's all I ever wanted. Thank you." And Squeak continued to mew from his carrier.
The captain's word carried weight, because there were no more protests from behind us. I kept my promise and didn't dismantle the guy where he sat. Various flight attendants came by to coo over Squeak, who blinked and purred at the attention. Various passengers did the same thing.
We hit the ground, and everyone gathered up their belongings, shuffling into the aisle. From behind me I heard a voice say, "I'm gonna kill that cat."
I turned around and said, "You know, you're proof of my theory that all businessmen are psychopaths. Happy?"
"I'm not scared of you at all."
"Good. I like a challenge."
We went up the gangway and Bekka and I were immediately accosted by Air Marshals. So was business-boy. "Please come this way, we have a few questions for you." And we were placed in a small windowless room.
The Air Marshal said, "We understand you tried to pick a fight with another passenger. Is this true?"
"Yeah, I threatened the guy, but only after he said he was gonna kill my kitten. The dude's a psycho, class A. All this goes back to the Fort Lauderdale airport, when homeboy started bitching about a kitten making too much noise. It only got worse from there."
"Did you ever lay hands on him?"
"Did you directly threaten him with physical harm?"
"Please wait here."
We sat in the blank room and waited for something to happen. After ten minutes, the Air Marshal came in and said we had time to make our connecting flight, if we hurried. Before we left, the Air Marshal chuckled and said, "That guy really was unbalanced."
We jogged to the correct gate and got in line. This flight seemed to be made up of little old ladies, all wearing red hats. Squeak was an instant hit. We boarded and gave a sigh of relief: the flight was only half full. We could stretch out. Bekka and I set Squeak on the floor and began one of our marathon gin rummy games. The red hat ladies were chanting for beverage service to begin.
It was a good honeymoon. We never ceased to be entertained.