“The passenger manifest reports 145 passengers, almost full capacity. We have a flyer with a Service dog in the flight,” the stewardess informed her colleague. “The front row seats are assigned to a family with infant twins. We need to assist the visually-impaired woman in negotiating the aisle.”
When she spotted the aforementioned flyer, she moved in to help. The woman carried an orange stick and held a leash. A black Labrador Retriever, wearing a neon-green vest with ‘Service Dog’ printed on it, trotted next to her. The stewardess helped the flyer to settle in her seat 21F, folding the cane and handing it over. Buddy, the dog, seemed cramped in the space between two seats but wagged his tail when petted.
“Ma’am, I will be here to assist you when we land. We will disembark at the end.”
“That is perfect. Thank you for your help, dear,” the blind woman said as she turned to keep her cane on the next seat.
The stewardess started the security announcements when everyone was seated.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to flight AA1163 from O’Hare airport to Los Angeles airport. We are currently waiting for the take-off signal. This is a special flight as we have an Assistance Dog, Buddy, on board with us, a fully-trained …”
It was an uneventful flight. They landed ten minutes before their scheduled arrival.
“Welcome to Los Angeles airport. The outside temperature is a sunny 81F. Thank you for flying with us,” the stewardess spoke into the communication device.
The two air hostesses were standing by the exit, bidding farewell to the flyers. It was their personal ritual to count the passengers as they exited. It kept boredom at bay.
Except for the visually-challenged woman, the last flyer to exit was a handsome man. His ice-blue eyes with purple irises twinkled as he swaggered. He doffed his invisible hat when he approached them.
145…no, wait…146 counting the blind lady. The manifest reported 145. Did I goof-up? the stewardess wondered.
“It was a pleasure to be on-board with such beautiful ladies,” he drawled. His perfect white teeth with their sharp incisors peeped out as his sensuous lips smiled.
Ugh, those teeth.
“Who IS the hunk?” whispered her partner when he left.
The stewardess squinted, “Can’t say I remember him. Did you serve him during the flight?”
A scream cut their conversation short. They rushed towards the sobbing blind woman.
“Buddy! Where is Buddy? My dog is missing!”
Tears fell from her sightless eyes. A still-fastened collar lay at her feet, the coiled leash next to it.
“Someone has taken Buddy.”
Where is Buddy? Could it …? No, not possible.
She turned towards the empty aisle. A chill went down her spine.
At the O’Hare airport, a ground-staff asked his colleague, “Whose dog is this? He was loitering unattended in the departure zone. The tag says, Buddy.”
On hearing his name, Buddy wagged his tail.
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