Friday, August 3, 2012

episode 1, plane watchers

Oppressive scenarios vanished from Lohbado's mind as the jet plane accelerated on the runway and heaved into the sky. Lohbado sank  back in the seat and gazed at the rectangles and lines of city below. A stab of pain hit between the eyes. Lohbado took a couple pain killers.

The plane went above the clouds. Thick clouds blocked out the earth. After six years in the Secret Desert, Lohbado grew to enjoy bleak, spacious desolation, vast panoramas with few forms. On windy days, sand flowed in horizontal streams, blurring the horizon and creating a dreamlike effect. He almost got used to the extreme solitude of living in the Cha Region of the Poh Valley in the Secret Desert. 

Lohbado closed his eyes and dreamed about meeting an adult friend in Yamaville. He wanted a woman for conversation, shared interests and intimacy. They could do things as a couple and talk about themselves as "we". Lohbado yearned to experience the sweetness of love again, to ease the pain of loneliness and to feel new zest and zeal. Lohbado wished to have the social status of being able to talk about him and his partner, strength in numbers. Two is double one. Together they would set up a home and face the future. Together they would actualize potential.

He fell asleep, imagining a woman greeting him as he got off the plane. He dreamed about falling in love with someone and starting over again. Lohbado had a letter of recommendation from District Administrator Seth Poule. Seth was a big toad in a small pond. His croak had some weight in the pool of regional headquarters, but meant very little in the big city. Lohbado had painstakingly altered the letter, using Photoshop, to change the mediocre reference into a glowing recommendation. It wasn't likely that anyone in the big city would bother to contact someone from a remote region. They were likely too busy to check out a small fish like Lohbado or to phone a hen like Seth Poule.

Things went as planned. A few days after arriving in Yamaville, Lohbado obtained an appointment to meet Director Harry Stone. Lohbado walked into the waiting room of the director's office. The administrator's wife, Esmerelda Stone, worked as his secretary. She joked how her job was to sit there and look beautiful. She didn't look away when Lohbado gazed into her warm dark eyes. Lohbado handed her the Seth Poule referral letter. She immediately took an interest in him. It wasn't every day a man from the Cha Region of the Poh Valley walked in to the director's suite.

"You're a real survivor," said Esmerelda, taking off her reading glasses, "I can't believe you actually lasted six years in the Dome."

Lohbado appreciated her interest.

"My husband is a very busy man," said Esmerelda Stone, "I can't remember the last time he wined and dined me. Some people think you're all set up once you get married. Truth is, I haven't been more lonely. I'd give a lot to have a little stimulating conversation."

"You can talk to me," said Lohbado, pulling up a chair to the edge of her desk.

"I like your frankness," she replied, turning red, "I have an idea. Harry Stone is in a bad mood right now. Perhaps you could see him tomorrow. Why don't we go for a drink? I've heard so many horror stories about the goings on in the Poh Valley and about the radiation leak in the Dome."

"Yeah, it's been causing bizarre behaviour."

"But you look so healthy."

"Too healthy," Lohbado replied, "It made them uncomfortable. That's one reason they asked me to leave."

"I'm going to insist my husband give you a job. I won't let him blow you off."

Lohbado knew the friendliness was a game, which could either be an invitation, or a way of keeping him at a distance. Esmerelda shut down the computer, went to the mirror beside the closet and removed pins from her shiny black hair. She shook her head. Thick hair flowed to her shoulders. She applied red lipstick and dusted her eye lids with a little sea green shadow and brushed her long black eye lashes.

"How do I look?" she asked.

"Absolutely fabulous!"

"Harry is too busy to appreciate my efforts to keep up appearances. As the director's wife, I have to look glamorous."

"You're a natural."

"I rarely receive compliments anymore. The men are so damaged and the women so jealous, there's too much scheming. I'll spare you the details. Let's pretend we're going on a date. I want to feel sexy. I want you to sweep me off my feet. I'm so tired of room temperature men."

Esmerelda communicated enthusiasm via a sparkle in the eye and the way she breathed quickly as she playfully flirted with Lohbado. She talked about her desire to spend a week at the seaside villa. Her husband kept putting her off. She knew he had a mistress and billed escorts to the department. Their marriage was a sham, for photo ops.

She was fed up and wanted to have a little fun. Her last affair, with a man from the department, was a disaster. Fortunately, Harry was too preoccupied with unwanted media attention to pay attention to his wife's adventures. Lohbado might be all right. She would check him out over lunch.

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