Thursday, January 8, 2009

Character Sketch: F.

is terribly flamboyant.
His jet black hair clashes with his navy blue flight attendant uniform. His nails are shiny with perfectly rounded edges and clipped cuticles. F's an itinerant person. He shaves his face every day in airport restrooms. If stubble grows he thinks his smile lines look like small streaks of granite.
He lives each day for "Hello," but by the end of a flight he's ready to say "Goodbye." Another city, another lay over. F. watches herds of people and misses his boyfriend, Jeff. L.A.X used to be F's least favorite airport but now it's the closest thing to home.
F. sleeps at Jeff's house when he's not in the sky so he never stops living out of a suitcase. One night, he was on the toilet, shitting and reading, when the shower curtain moved and startled F. He slowly pulled the curtain back and there was a cat. Jeff never had a cat before. F. eased himself through the crack in the bedroom door. He heard mumbles from the closet and stood silently next to the nightstand. "I couldn't," said Jeff. "But I will. He'll be devastated," said Jeff. "I'll see you when he heads to Atlanta," said Jeff, "I love you too."
F. felt like a mouse, in a dark room, avoiding that black cat who has long since slipped out the door. Vengeance grew in him as if he were a child again and a bully broke his favorite toy. The next day, F. went to the pharmacy and bought the darkest, cheapest off-brand of self-tanner he cold find. While Jeff was out tailoring his slacks, F. poured out all of Jeff's expensive lotions then replaced them with the tangy tanner. He took permanent marker to the bathroom mirror: "You were never a good lover. You were never even a good friend. You are self-absorbed and I hate myself for having adored you." F. also left the front door open when he walked out. He watched the bathtub cat claw her way up a tree as he got into the cab.
Somewhere between Iowa and Indiana, he joined the Mile High Club. F. had flirted with a dark black man in 16C and this man actually flirted back. After the sixth or seventh complimentary vodka, 16C got up from his seat, shuffled down the isle, winked at F. and entered the bathroom. The green "vacant" never clicked over to red "occupied." F. poked his head out of the snack cubbyhole and saw the other flight attendant in first class, then scooted into the bathroom and slid the lock over. The two men filled the space and it wasn't a fairytale, it wasn't romance. It was raw and quick.
F. flashed back to his first crush, an ugly Puerto Rican senior who always smelled amazing. He would scurry across the crowded high school hallway just to take a deep whiff as they passed each other. F. flashed to his father's fist flying toward his face after finding him in bed with Rick, the Puerto Rican. Rick screamed that he wasn't gay as he came and again as F.'s father slugged him. The two avoided each other's black eyes in the hall.
16C finished on the wall next to the toilet paper dispenser and F. cleaned it. After all the "Goodbyes" and "Thank yous," F. made his way through the Atlanta airport and found a close-to-empty restroom. He took out his shaving kit, released the blade from the razor and stood holding it in his shaking palm. He could feel his ears pop and his heart pound in his finger tips. F. went into the handicap stall and pulled up his sleeve. Just as the silver blade touched his skin, his cell phone rang. L.A area code. F. hit silent and breathed in the bleach smell of the clean restroom. Three small beads of blood ran down the staircase of scars that climbed up his arm and dropped into the porcelain bowl. They spread in the water like cream in coffee--more like a negative exposure of the cup. F. cleaned his perfect cuts and opened the stall. The toilet flushed automatically. He still had an hour before his next flight.


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