There were 81 passengers in total on the British Airways flight. Most were crammed into coach. There were three business class passengers and four first-class passengers. The flight was non-stop from LA to Toronto. An hour and a half into the flight I and two other attendants began beverage service. As I was pouring tomato juice into a plastic cup turbulence shook the plane. The red liquid sloshed onto my hand. I smiled at the passenger and poured more into the glass and handed it to him.
“Is that normal?” asked the passenger.
“Turbulence? Of course.” I wiped my hand with a square napkin. The fasten seatbelt light flashed. When I saw it blink I heard a piercing scream. I locked the beverage cart and rushed down the aisle. A woman was slumped outside the bathroom. There was a butcher knife in her chest. Blood dribbled from her mouth. She wasn’t quite dead. Her lips were moving. I leaned close to her.
“What are you saying?” I asked frantically.
“Devil.” It came out as a sigh and then her eyes closed. I knew she was dead. Margot, one of the attendants, was standing to the side with a hand clamped over her mouth. A few passengers were curious and when they saw the dead body there was rising panic on the plane. I phoned the pilot.
“We’ll do an emergency landing in Denver,” he said.
“How much further?”
“Twenty minutes. I’ll phone for clearance. Meanwhile, someone on this plane committed the crime. Check the manifest. Count the passengers.”
And so I counted the scared passengers. I started in first class and went all the way to the end of coach. I counted 82 passengers including the dead woman. I told Margot and she redid the count. She came up with 82 passengers.
“This is impossible,” I said. “We started with 81.” I told the pilot and he was concerned.
“What did the victim whisper to you?” he asked.
“I believe I heard the word, Devil.” The pilot was quiet and I became wrapped up in my own thoughts. What if the Devil was a secret passenger on this flight? And if he is, it means one of the 82 passengers is the Devil. The Devil will disembark in Denver. I had a cousin in Denver. I had this wild notion of calling her and warning her. I stayed in the kitchen area and didn’t try to calm the passengers. I was too afraid I might talk to the Devil.