The scene opens on a cramped flight somewhere in the sky above Mexico, the low hum of the plane engine ever-present in the background as several air stewardesses interact with the passengers. Curled up in a window seat is Nathan Paradine, his eyes hidden behind his sunglasses and headphones jammed over his head to block out the surrounding noise. Blessfully, both of the seats beside him are empty, at least until-
Stewardess: "Discúlpeme señor?" (Excuse me, sir?)
Paradine turns his head and frowns at the stewardess, who is motioning towards the empty seat beside him.
Nathan Paradine: "What? I don't understand."
Stewardess: "Necesitamos este asiento." (We need this seat.)
Nathan Paradine: "What? I don't speak Spanish. NO SPEAK, comprende?"
The stewardess kneels down and leans in close, a sickly sweet smile on her face.
Stewardess: "We need chair, sir."
Nathan Paradine: "No, no, bloody no-"
Despite his protestations, the stewardess takes a step back and motions for someone to step forward and take a seat in the chair. Paradine's eyes widen in displeasure as a portly, middle-aged man shuffles into the seat beside him while a slobbering corgi jumps into the aisle chair. Paradine looks from the man to the dog, his jaw hanging open.
Nathan Paradine: "What the bloody hell is this?"
Stewardess: "Es un... therapy dog."
The stewardess flashes him another smile and walks away. Paradine, still open mouthed, looks at the corgi who is now panting happily in its chair. He then looks at the owner, who has already settled in and is now snoring gently, errant grey nose hairs wavering with each exhaled breath. Paradine closes his mouth and grinds his teeth together in frustration.
Nathan Paradine: "Son of a bitch. Literally, in your case."
The corgi licks its lips and gives him a quizzical stare.
Nathan Paradine: "It isn't enough that I have to deal with a man who dresses like a dog. Now I have to deal with an actual bloody dog on this dodgy budget class airline the CWF booked for me. What's the joke, anyway? I bet some of those other jokers on the roster don't fly economy."
Paradine settles back into his chair and places his headphones back onto his head. A few moments pass in silence before the corgi gives a whine, evidently unimpressed at being ignored. Paradine ignores it, but the corgi suddenly gives an insistent yip that causes him to slide his headphones off his head and give the dog as scowl.
Nathan Paradine: "Lay off, mutt. I actually paid for my seat, got it?"
He attempts to settle back down in his chair but the dog gives another yip. A passenger behind them mutters about "shutting the damn dog up", and Paradine glares at the corgi again. The owner of the dog sniffs in his sleep.
Nathan Paradine: "Oi you, pup. Shut up. I don't want to deal with two dogs this week, you hear me? That being said... at least you're an actual dog, I guess. You're not wearing a mask, or a tail. You don't following this old coot around like some slavering mutt, I bet. That's what I have to deal with. Some guy under the thumb of his psycho wife... or girlfriend, or something. She makes him dress like you, would you believe it? He even begs for treats from her! And you know what the real kicker of the whole thing is?"
Paradine leans in close to the corgi, speaking in a conspiratorial whisper.
Nathan Paradine: "The woman is bloody pregnant! The kid is going to be so, so screwed up. Imagine, will they treat it like a puppy or a child? What the hell are the going to do when the kid is in school, and other students dig up videos of his dad acting like a dog? The bullying will be fucking relentless. Tom Marrow, that's his name. Or Benji, that's his dog name. What about you? Do you have a dumb dog name like Benji?"
Paradine peers closely at the corgi's collar; engraved on a blue metal disc is the name "Otis". Paradine looks at the corgi, who looks nonplussed.
Nathan Paradine: "Well at least Otis sounds like the sort of name a dog would have I guess. Benji sounds like the sort of name an anti-vaxxer would give to their child, if you ask me. And as for my match with Benji at Paradine? I could do it in my sleep. Touch four corners of the ring? Piss easy. I'm going to beat this guy like the mongrel he is. He's got a few screws loose already and I'll be happy to knock a few more. Maybe he'll see some sense after our match. Or maybe he'll cock his leg and piss on the turnbuckle, I'd say its a fifty-fifty chance at this stage."
Otis the corgi lays down in his chair, resting his head on the armrest to continue looking at Paradine. The Australian Submission Machine shakes his head and folds his headphones, giving up entirely on listening to music.
Nathan Paradine: "I don't suppose you can talk, can you? It'd be nice not to have a completely one sided conversation."
Otis looks up at Paradine, who sighs in response.
Nathan Paradine: "Didn't think so. This is going to be one hell of a long flight."
The scene comes to an end as Paradine turns his head to look out the window of the plane, unimpressed by his luck in travelling companions. At Paradise, will he succeed in taking Tom Marrow to the doghouse? Or will his bark prove to be worse than his bite...