Mikhail Federov fancied himself a philosopher. He was an amateur philosopher, of course, if, in fact, he was a philosopher at all. Professionally, he was a cop. He had started out as a cop, walking a beat like any cop. However, his style of street justice was apparently very successful, because he climbed through the ranks in the force more rapidly than most recruits did. At the age of 34, he was a senior vice detective.
We met on a plane. The circumstances were unusual. We were the only two passengers on a huge, otherwise empty Lockheed 1011. There was one steward plus three flight attendants for just us two passengers. I felt awkward, being so visible, a woman alone with this large, powerful-looking man seated across the aisle from me.
“It’s a long flight to home,” he said after he had settled into his seat. “It’s good to fly through the night in the middle of the week. One can relax on a plane that’s empty, except for one pretty lady.” He thrust his massive hand at me. I hesitated a moment before I put my hand in his. His hand was warm and dry, and it completely enveloped mine.
“I’m Mikhail Federov. Who are you, traveling alone in the night?” He held my hand for a moment before he let me withdraw it.
“My name is Sondra Kirsch,” I said. “I’m going home from a work assignment.”
“What do you do?” he asked.
“I’m a journalist. What do you do?”
“I’m a vice detective,” he said.
“Are you checking me out?” I laughed.
“Yes,” he said.
“That’s not at all nice,” I said. Without a word, I stood up and went to the washroom. He said not a word at my back.
When I returned to my seat, he had moved to a seat on the far side. I always sit over the wing, on the aisle. The wing area is the most stable, and I prefer to be able to get up easily, without disturbing a seatmate. Of course, there were no seatmates on this flight.
I moved to the center block of seats where there were six across. I turned up all the armrests and stretched out across them to sleep the night away. The flight attendant brought me a pillow and blanket. I was tired from a tough week, and went right to sleep.
When I awoke, we were still an hour out from our destination. “Mike Fedora” as he asked me to call him, came over to me after I’d been to the washroom. I’d attempted in vain to straightened out my slept-in clothing and returned to my seat feeling defeated. Mikhail Fedorov had returned to the seat across the aisle from mine. He leaned toward me.
“Did you ever notice the trust of dogs and kids?” he said.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“You offer a wiener to a dog, she will come to you to get it. If you ask her to come along with you to get more wieners, she will likely do it. If you offer a candy to a kid, she’ll be the same as the dog.”
“What’s your point,” I said. I was becoming annoyed.
“Sometimes, the dog or the kid gets more candy and wiener,” he smiled. “Sometimes they get into a lot of trouble, but they never know until they try.”
The flight attendant came over and asked us to buckle up, as we would soon be landing.
Later, I saw Big Mike in the airport, he smiled and winked at me.
“Think about it,” he said, and he was gone.