was the cuff link that caught my eye.
He was the
last passenger to board Flight 537 from Baltimore to Houston, and,
in retrospect, I realize that the plane was probably held a few
extra minutes for him. The seat next to me was the only one empty,
and he gave me a small, courteous nod as he sat down, putting a
thick briefcase at his feet.
The sun was
only a glimmer in the west as Flight 537 took off and gained altitude.
When we rose into the clouds, the man in 22-B reached up with his
left hand and pushed the button on the overhead light. It clicked
and, like a small, perfectly aimed spotlight, illuminated his cuff
link. Set into the round, black onyx was a single, gold word: Guilty.
to surreptitiously look at someone sitting close to you, so I leaned
forward slightly, as if I was looking across the aisle and out the
window at the far end. The man in 22-B was in his mid-50s, wearing
a button-down shirt and striped tie. He had the clean-shaven appearance
of a businessman, but there was no hurry or worry about him.
I usually avoid
in-flight conversations, but there are a few youve got to
me, I said, and pointed at his left sleeve. What did
He gave me
a questioning look.
He raised his
right hand. The right cuff link, identical in color and shape, had
two gold words: Not Guilty.
(End of excerpt)