As the engines relaxed from the accent, the overhead speakers crackled in Dutch-tinged English; . . .
“ Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your pilot, Captain Dierck van Vlieg. Welcome to KLM Flight sixty – sixty two enroute to Amsterdam. We’ve reached our assigned cruising altitude of thirty three thousand feet and – – – “
While the boilerplate announcement droned on, Manny’s brain drifted back into the revolving reflection and imagery of what had brought him here, how he had gotten here and the foggy vision of what if anything might happen next.
Since the aircraft had reached cruising altitude and leveled off the seat belt sign also went off. The woman in the aisle seat of row 35 turned to her right and said,
“ Hi. I’m Selma Edelstein . I’m going to Amsterdam for a vacation. What’s your story? “
Her question and the melody of her voice jerked Manny back to the reality of the moment.
“ uh . . . No story actually. My name is Lauren Marrano and I’m going to Amsterdam on business, . . . family business. Well that’s not exactly right, I don’t have family there now and I’m not in business. It’s kind of complicated. What makes you ask? uh . . . Can I call you Selma? “
“Of course. What can I call you, Mr. Marrano?”
“ Manny works for me, Selma. My middle name is Emmanuel. But I’ve always thought that it sounds bit pretentious. ”
“ OK, Manny it is and thanks for the biblical reference. That reminds me that one of my covert reasons for visiting Amsterdam is to indulge myself in some post-graduate research. It’s a hot bed of culture and a veritable mine of historical and philosophical stuff. “
Although most of the multi-syllabic sounds blasted past his ears without sinking in, he was charmed by her manic and enthusiastic manner of speech and her good looks.