Tag Archives: flying

Jumper

Dakota had been telling Chev for years to come out and find him if he needed help or a place to stay. Of course, the only catch was he couldn’t use anymore. So, it came as a shock when he heard a raspy, shivering voice over the phone.

“I need a place to stay.”

Dakota paused. “Chev?”

“Yeah. Who’d you think it was?”

“I’m sorry. You just sound… are you all right?”

At the end of a trail of coughs, Chev says that he’s not.

“I just tried to hang myself with a shoelace. It snapped”

Dakota wanted to laugh and cry all at once. He sounded so embarrassed. Chev was always impulsive but at least he wasn’t dead yet and for that, Dakota was thankful. The girls, and Seamus too, had all given up on Chev after what he’d done to Dizzie. Dakota kind of hoped he could salvage the old Chev.

“I’ll have a plane ticket ready for you if you want it.”

The line was quiet and Dakota thought the call had been dropped. “Hello? Chev?” He heard a sniff, like the person on the other line had been crying.

“Can I leave tonight?”

“Sure. I mean, but don’t you need to pack or something?”

“I don’t have anything. My dad kicked me out months ago.”

“Where have you been living?” Dakota asked, though he kind of guessed at the answer but it still surprised him when Chev spoke.

“Nowhere. A shelter.”

Dakota weighed his next words. “Do you have a way of getting to the airport?”

“I’m in walking distance.”

“How long?”

“Two hours, maybe three?”

Dakota sighed. “I’ll see what I can do. Can you call me when you get there?”

“Yeah. Don’t have a charger for this phone, though. It’s, uh, not mine.”

“Turn it off while you’re walking, then,” Dakota said, but he remembered something. “Chev! Promise me  you’ll go through with this. You’re going to go straight to the airport, right?”

“…yeah.”

* * *

After their talk, Dakota had called everyone he knew. It would take a lot more than just one friend to take care of and keep an eye on Chev.

Dakota shifted from one foot to the other. Chev finally came out of the airport and he looked like Hell. He was dangerously thin and painful to look at. He’d always had some weight on him but now it wasn’t even the same Chev. Dakota was worried that the Chev he knew had been peeled away.

“How was your flight?”

“Landing was a bitch. Security practically buttfucked me.”

“But at least you’re here.”

“Yeah. Fuckin’ cold, though.”

Dakota handed Chev a coat.

“What’s this?” Chev asked, eyeing the garment suspiciously.

“Just a jumper.”

“A what?”

“A sweater. You know, to keep warm.”

Chev took it without saying anything. He put it over his shoulders. It was too big but he kept it there.

“I’m tired,” he said.

Dakota wanted to laugh. Or cry.

“Let’s get you home.”

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Filed under Novel, Session XIX

Flight of the Bumbleguy

“Tennis. Tennis,” the child begs, pulling on his mother’s skirts and you wonder why. You start to think about the back-and-forths of life. “Like chains,” the boy says, and you wonder if the world has gone mad or it’s only you. You’re heading in that direction like a bumblebee heading for a pollen fix. “It’s probably just baby babble,” you tell yourself.

“Are we gonna board?” interjects the Southern woman sitting behind you. When she says “board,” it sounds like it should have a “W” between the “O” and the “A”. That bothers you. “I thought it was an hour before we boward,” she says to her husband. You grip your duffel bag with your feet to make sure it’s still there.

Another child, maybe five years old in red coveralls, starts saying “Six six six” over and over while convulsing. You begin to doubt your mind again and stop yourself. He’s probably just bored. “Look, Mommy. I see a booger. I see them everywhere.” He reminds you of the kid from The Sixth Sense, only a fewer fries short of a Happy Meal. You continue reading Crash (the name doesn’t bother you as much as the fact that you thought it was Snow Crash when you picked it up) as people start lining up to get on the plane. You don’t see the point since they’re still calling for first class anyway. All this moving around is making you nervous.

When you looked at the flight information, you were sure you saw that the plane was a P-something. You’ve flown on everything that begins and ends with a 7, but you’re not sure about this p-thingy. It looks much newer than any plane you’ve been on and when the plane starts rolling down down the airplane driveway, it lights up underneath the wing like some kind of sci-fi hovercraft. The pilot tells the score of the Eagles game before you take off. You’re not into sports but you wonder how many people who TiVOed the game are pissed off about his loose lips (hopefully not sinking ships).

The woman next to you calls her boyfriend. She loves him and misses him. That’s the message. At least one in this couple, you think, is really clingy, but then you notice the three-pound engagement ring on her finger. It’s almost obscene how many diamonds are on that thing. You consider hitting on her.

The p-thingy’s gear sounds like an alarm going off. Just BRRT BRRT BRRT and then it launches. It’s not angled high enough for take-off. Likely, it’s going to crash and you’re going to die. Nobody else is panicking. Are they really all going to die without knowing? Maybe you should tell them.

When you look out the window and see that you’re not falling, you decide that you’re safe, but  you can’t relax. That girl sitting next to you is dressed so nice with a coat and all in black, always clutching her designer purse. You think about talking to her, but you don’t want to bother her for the whole rest of the flight if she doesn’t want to be bothered. Maybe you could act like a gay man. That way you wouldn’t seem like a creeper. Women love gay men. Especially drag queens. That host on the Travel Channel just loved that drag queen. But you don’t have any make-up to put on. That might be a little weird. Just have to have a little accent but don’t overdo it. It’s more about the non-verbal gestures.

But no. It’s probably just better to leave her alone. There’s a buzz in your head that tells you that you might be the one racing for madness. You ignore it and read your book.

By the end of the flight, the plane dips too much, not even jerking down at all. It’s too smooth to be a landing. And the air vents suddenly silenced themselves. You must be crashing. You look out the window. Still clouds. You look up and around the aisles but there’s still not a single person panicking. Maybe it’s just you. You’ll be fine. Silently, you turn off your light and stare out the window. Without the buzz of your light, the whooshing of the vents, or the babble of other passengers, you bask in the pure silence of the plane. Outside the window, there is blue twilight. Two stars glimmer across from each other. There’s a plane in between them, racing from one celestial body to the other.

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Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction

Flight of the Bumbleguy

“Tennis. Tennis,” the child says and you wonder why. You start to think about the back-and-forths of life. “Like chains,” he says, and you wonder if the world has gone mad or if you’re heading in that direction like a bumblebee heading for a pollen fix. It’s probably just baby babble.

“Are we gonna board,” says a Southern woman sitting behind you. When she says “board,” it sounds like it should have a “W” somewhere in there. That bothers you. “I thought it was an hour before we board.”

Another child, maybe five years old in red coveralls, starts saying “Six six six” over and over while convulsing. You begin to wonder again and stop yourself. He’s probably just bored. “Look, Mommy. I see a booger. I see them everywhere.” This reminds you of The Sixth Sense. You continue reading your book. Until they call for the rest of the schmucks not riding in first class.

When you looked at the flight information, you saw that the plane was a P-something. You’ve flied everything that begins and ends with a 7, but you’re not sure about this p-thingy. It looks much newer than any plane you’ve been on and when the plane starts rolling down down the airplane driveway, it lights up underneath the wing like some kind of sci-fi hovercraft. The pilot tells the score of the Eagles game before you take off. You’re not into sports but you wonder how many people who TiVOed the game are pissed off about his loose lips (hopefully not sinking ships).

The woman next to you calls her boyfriend, saying that she loves him and misses him. At least one in this couple, you think, is really clingy. But that’s before you notice the three-pound engagement ring on her finger. It’s almost obscene how many diamonds are on that thing.

The p-thingy’s gear sounds like an alarm going off. Just BRRT BRRT BRRT and then it launches. It’s not angled high enough for take-off. You’re used to being pressed against your seat. Likely, it’s going to crash and you’re going to die. When you look out the window and see that you’re not falling, you decide that you’re safe, but  you can’t relax. That girl sitting next to you is dressed so nice with a coat and all in black, always clutching that designer purse. You think about talking to her, but you don’t want to bother her for the whole rest of the flight if she doesn’t want to be bothered. Maybe you could act like a gay man. Women love gay men. Especially drag queens. That host on the Travel Channel just loved that drag queen. But you don’t have any make-up to put on. That might be a little weird. Just have to have a little accent but don’t overdo it. It’s more about the non-verbal gestures. But no. It’s probably just better to leave her alone. There’s a buzz in your head that tells you that you might be the one racing for madness. You ignore it and read your book.

By the end of the flight, the plane dips too much, not even jerking down at all. It’s too smooth to be a landing. And the air vents suddenly silenced themselves. You must be crashing. You look out the window. Still clouds. Then you look up and around the aisles but there’s not a single person panicking. Maybe it’s just you. You’ll be fine. Silently, you turn off your light and stare out the window for the rest of the flight. There are two stars completely parralel to each other and a plane in between them, racing from one to the other.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session VIII

Detour

After we crash-landed in the stormy Pacific ocean, I was cursing my luck that I was seated by an emergency exit. No one really expects to have to fulfill those duties that are the price of an inch more of leg room. We were lucky: our pilot was old but he was experienced. The flight attendant, an older blonde woman, assisted the emergency exit with me. All I did was pat people on the back, push them out into the water. I didn’t really feel like I was helping, and I really wasn’t sure that the guy from business class with the concussion was going to make it. But still, I reassured him and pushed him out into the water, just like everyone else. After a minute of this, the flight attendant had had enough. She leaped out with her yellow flotation device, surfing on a seat cushion. Good for her. I mean, you can’t really blame her for not wanting to go down with the plane. Then, I wondered to myself, “why should I go down with the plane?” I let a panicked Hispanic woman and her child push past me, then I elbowed the guy behind her, leaping out to freedom. God, I hope that wasn’t her husband.

Incidentally, “freedom” felt a lot like getting beaten against the side of a plane by choppy waves. I held my breath, like I always do in difficult situations—people say I’m very patient. When I inhaled again, I kept breathing in water mixed with salt and the leavings of whatever plant and animal life that lives around the Pacific. The trick, I found, was timing my breaths. It was a pain in the ass but much better than swallowing phytoplankton and fish urine. In my efforts to find a breath of air without breathing sea spray, too, I saw that Hispanic woman wrestling with her kid. She was having a much rougher time of it than I was. I held my breath again and paddled, grasping to my cushion like an ass-scented surfboard.

“Hand me the kid!” I yelled and spit and some water that snuck into my open mouth.

“What?”

“Hand me the kid!” I yelled again, but the kid was swallowing too much seawater and the mother was just drowning her by pulling her close like that. I pulled the kid from her mother’s arms and placed her on my head, wearing her like a coonskin cap. The mother screamed when I took her, but she almost slipped off her cushion, so she just held tight with both hands and stared at me, looking wild like only a new mother can.

“It’s okay! I got big shoulders! I was a football player in high school.”

“How long ago was that?”

“It’s been a few years, I suppose.” Thirteen.

She eased a little, apparently deciding that I was doing a better job holding the squirming toddler. The little girl was wailing, but the constant drone could have easily been the rain or the waves. After a few hours and thousands of swells, the rain let up and the sea became less rocky. The woman told me her name was Carmen and her little girl was Sophia. The man I elbowed was not her husband, thank God, though I hadn’t seen him in the crowd of drifting bodies. She was actually unmarried, which I found strangely refreshing. Somehow, independent women make me feel that all is well in the world. But then I always think that they’re probably independent just based on their situation and really it was the man who left them nine months ago. They’re afraid and alone and spend most of their time dropping the kid off at their parents house so they can find the kid another daddy. But rather than dwell on that, I’d rather think of the independent woman and pump my fist like a moron, shouting “you go girl!” Carmen seemed nice, though, and her kid was a good hat—didn’t squirm much.

Pretty soon after the rain let up, the choppers managed to find us. We were let on in a basket, the injured going first. I was lucky enough to get picked up with Carmen, Concussion Guy, and Sophia, though probably because I was wearing the kid. I was happy to see that Concussion Guy had made it all right, even though I’m not sure how. Maybe he could write a book about it if he hadn’t had retroactive amnesia from the head trauma. Even more surprisingly, it turned out that Carmen lived close to me and I agreed to babysit for her. It’s really amazing what kind of connections you can make when you talk with your fellow passengers.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session VII