Louisiana Latte by Rebecca Henry
Deb hasn’t flown in a plane for over twenty years. In 1989, at the age of twenty-two, Deb was enrolled in Embry Riddle aeronautical school, learning to fly commercial planes, but somewhere between dating her yuppie fiancé and planning their wedding in Chicago, Deb developed both agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces and claustrophobia, fear of closed spaces. I blame the yuppie. On their way from Syracuse NY to Chicago, the yuppie placed so much pressure on Deb with wedding arrangements and meeting the wealthy stuck-up family that Deb’s chest began to tighten. The cabin crew were preparing for their takeoff announcements as Deb began to feel trapped. The Boeing 737 was transforming into a metal tin can with wings. Deb took Adam’s hand, seeking comfort. He sat motionless in his neatly pressed J Crew shirt and ironed jeans. His face was freshly shaven, and he smelled of sex and desire. Deb sighed loudly as her seatbelt began to dig into her skinny lap. She tried loosening the strap, but her hands trembled with anxiety. She placed a manicured finger to her neck; her throat was beginning to tighten. Adam the yuppie was staring at Deb as she fidgeted with the belt. “What are you doing?” he said, annoyed. “Just leave it alone.”Deb began to take deep breaths, exhaling as she fanned herself with her hands.“Deb, stop that. People are looking at you,” Adam growled. He hated scenes and cared highly what strangers thought of him. Deb looked at the man she was going to marry and said, “Nope! Not flying today!”Adam became agitated, annoyed by Deb’s sudden display of theatrics. “Sit down and calm down, Deb!” He ran a hand through his black hair. “Jesus, you fly planes for Christ’s sakes, don’t give me this shit that you’re suddenly afraid to fly.” He grabbed Deb by the arm as she tried to stand up from her seat.“Look Adam, I don’t know what’s going on...I just know I need to get off,” Deb said in the most forced pleasant tone she could muster. Deb raised her hand to the flight attendant who was walking down the aisle. “Hi there, sweetie! Excuse me!” Deb called, as she stood up, releasing her grasp from Adam’s controlling hand. Her three carat diamond ring flashed the flight attendant in the eye. “Hi, sweetie. I’m so sorry to do this now, right before takeoff but...I got to get off.” Deb reached for the overhead compartment, grabbing her coach bag, her butt accidentally hitting the man next to her. “Oh, so sorry, sweetie,” she said to the passenger.“Not much room on this thing.” Deb patted her clammy chest, which was beginning to break out in a cold sweat. “God, can you feel it, it’s getting hot in here. Oh boy...it’s time for me to go.” The flight attendant looked down at Adam who was now in a full rage.“Deb, will you stop this nonsense and sit back down.” His voice was stern, a father directing a child.“Nope, don’t think I will. But I’ll meet you outside, okay babe!” Deb pleasantly pushed past the flight attendant, excusing herself as she made her way to the exit. She was wearing her first pair of Gucci stilettos and was making sure to tiptoe gracefully as she raced down the speckled blue carpet. The flight attendant quickly scurried in front of Deb as she approached the exit door.“Ma’am, please take your seat. You are not supposed to be out of your seat before takeoff.” Deb eyed the flight attendant’s name tag. “Donna, I need you to listen very carefully to me, okay sweetie. I have to get off this plane.” Deb was pushing down the edges of her miniskirt. She could feel the cabin closing in, the plane was shrinking.Donna stretched out her arms, blocking Deb. “Ma’am, you can’t get off this plane. You must return to your seat and I will come around to speak with you momentarily.” Deb glanced at Donna’s bad dye job; black roots were showing through her bleached hair. Donna’s face had a perfect ring along her jawline where the foundation stopped. Deb wanted to give her a quick crash course in fundamental foundation rules on applying makeup, but Donna’s face began to swirl as Deb’s nausea began to rise. Deb placed a hand on her forehead, trying to steady the swaying.“Donna, I can’t go back to my seat, I can’t stay on this plane.” Donna raised an eyebrow at Deb.“What I need to do, Donna, is get off. So, if you would be a doll and just scoot over so I can fit through the aisle and make my way to the door, I would appreciate it.”Donna glanced at the other flight attendant standing behind Deb. “Ma’am, the engines have started.” Donna pointed in the air. “Can’t you hear? I cannot let you off the plane.”Deb began to panic. A burning sensation was rising up from her stomach, scorching her arms, making its way to her head. She felt hot all over. The cabin was closing in, crunching her.“Donna, just go talk to the pilot, explain to him I need to get off. He’ll understand and open the doors so I can leave.”Donna braced her arms against Deb’s body. “Ma’am, I will not tell you again. You need to go back to your seat, and someone will be with you shortly to talk you through this.”Deb pressed her face against the window. She could see the wheels on the plane moving. An intense fear struck Deb, she realized she had to get off that second. “Talk to me!” Deb’s voice was frantic, growing louder with each syllable. “What the hell is talking going to do for me? I’M IN FEAR! I HAVE FEAR! I need to get off and either you will remove yourself from my path or go get the pilot!”“The pilot? You want me to go speak to the pilot?” That’s when Donna realized Deb had lost her rabbit ass mind.
Louisiana Latte was not quite what I expected. The synopsis leads one to think that there might be a little bit of mystery or suspense in this story. What you get instead is a great start to a story about Deb, a trained commercial pilot, who suddenly finds herself screaming to be let off the plane as it taxis down the runway in preparation for takeoff. We immediately fast forward 20 years where Deb and her sister are traveling to a business convention in Louisiana, during which they reminisce about their past.
Despite the book not turning out to be what I had expected, it was a good read. The author does a wonderful job of describing the characters and giving them a life of their own. A book full of humorous situations makes this a fun read.
I was provided a free copy of this book for the purposes of this review.