“When you say he’s ‘volatile,’ what exactly do you mean?” asked Meghan.

“Well, there’s a story–and stop me if you’ve heard it–about the time he had to be in Australia for business,” said Thad. “One of the longest flights in the world, as I’m sure you know. Well it so happens that Vandermuir’s a pretty heavy smoker, and a ten hour flight plus an hour on the tarmac had him in a bad way. So two hours before landing he took the spork from his meal to the bathroom and lit up.”

“I thought they had smoke detectors,” Meghan said. “Not to mention how hard it would be to get a lighter on an international flight.”

“He opened the smoke detector with his spork and hotwired it to produce a spark to light the cigarette before yanking the thing’s guts out and flushing them. Then he chainsmoked an entire pack of duty-free Parliaments as the stewardesses and eventually an air marshall pounded on the door. Before they knocked dowm the door and dragged him out, he completely removed what was left of the detector, smashed it with his boots, and flushed it too.”

“And yet I don’t remember reading about Vandermuir being dinged for that,” Meghan said.

“Oh, he got off scott-free. His lawyer argued that the pre-flight briefing instructed passengers not to ‘tamper with, disable, or destroy smoke detectors. His client tampered with, disabled, and destroyed it. That little grammatical difference got him acquitted and he won a countersuit against the airline for legal fees.”

“And let me guess: the jurors mysteriously received free trips to the Bahamas soon after.”

“Bermuda, actually,” Thad said.

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