By John Tellegen
It was the shrimp; the goddamned shrimp. My flight to Denver had been delayed an hour so I decided to grab a bite at the airport Panda Express across from the gate. I knew when I looked at those little sea-buggers they had diarrhea written all over them but I figured if I doused them in soy sauce and washed them back with a Dr. Pepper I would be fine. The needle pain shooting through my ass reminded me I was wrong.
Now, at 30,000 feet, I was cringing and grasping the VacuToilet like a woman birthing twins without the courtesy of an epidural. And it was a bumpy flight! I never liked flying, wouldn’t say I was afraid of it, but the idea of screaming through the skies in a Lysol can pretending that the only thing to worry about was the crying baby two rows back never sat well. Didn’t these people realize we were a lazy air traffic controller away from certain death?
There was one blessing to air travel: the engine roar created just enough white noise to drown out my pained cries to the gods. With every excruciating contraction an explosion from my undercarriage left my teeth grinding and sweat beading on my forehead.
And then, things took a turn for the worse…
“This is your Captain speaking,” the PA echoed, “we are experiencing some technical issues in the cockpit and request that you all return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts.”
Oh fuck. How could I go back to my seat? I wasn’t even close to the finish line. I hadn’t been able to unroll my toes for ten minutes. And why was the Captain’s cadence so cavalier? Obviously technical issues in the cockpit should warrant a bit more trepidation in his voice but instead he sounded like a McDonalds drive-thru attendant reading back my order.
And then the turbulence hit. And it hit hard. The first big bump actually lifted me off the seat and smashed my head into the ceiling. I could hear passengers in the cabin gasping and a few people actually screamed. I was dumped back on the throne like a pooping Raggedy Andy only now I was half-covered in blue sanitizer with a splash of Sweet and Sour Shrimp. I tried to steady myself by pushing against the walls with my arms but my stomach was flipping and flopping, telling me that we were losing altitude fast. I was scared.
Suddenly, there were three quick bangs on the door. “You have to return to your seat!” the flight attendant demanded. “Didn’t you hear the announcement?”
“Yes,” I shrieked, “but I can’t!”
“It’s not a request!” she barked.
“If you don’t get back to your seat—“
At that moment, the plane pitched to the right so dramatically that the wings almost went perpendicular to the ground. I heard a loud thump, like the sound of a bossy flight attendant slamming against the exit door. She didn’t say much after that.
“Bet you never thought it would end like this?” Patrick Swayze said, perched on the sink in front of me with his boot flush against the wall. “But at least it’s a rush!”
“What the fuck?” I muttered terrified, covered in poop and starting to cry. “You would think that in times of extreme fear my stupid PSD would KEEP ITS FUCKING MOUTH SHUT!”
“Whoa, don’t blame me bro. I ain’t flying the plane. This actually reminds me a little of Point Break only we had parachutes—“
“Spare me your filmography, Swayze! I’m not ready to die!”
Three more bangs on the door were followed by a male flight attendant barking orders at me, “Listen, now is not the time to be joining the mile high club! You and whoever you’re talking too need to get back to your seats!”
Swayze smiled that little smile that made him millions. “If he only knew.”
The fear was overtaking me. I felt that at any moment we were going to hit the ground in a fiery crash. “I’m not ready to die!” I pleaded again.
“You think I was ready? You think any of those passengers are? What makes you so special Kyle?”
I didn’t know the answer but I wasn’t about to lose an argument to a figment of my sick imagination. “I’m just starting to figure out who I am. Now that Shelby left I can finally focus solely on me. Her leaving is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“You are so full of shit. You miss her everyday and if she asked you to come back you’d go running like a puppy.”
“Wait a minute, you’re my fuckin’ ghost,” I sniped, “whose side are you on?”
“I just want you to start being honest with yourself,” Swayze said as the plane bumped and tossed.
“Now??? Right before I die!”
“Now is as good a time as any.”
“What do you want me to say,” I pleaded, “that I’m a screw-up? A loser? That the girl I thought I loved left me holding my dick!”
“What’s in Denver?” Swayze asked.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Sure it does. It’s the last decision you’ll ever make, I mean besides the shrimp. By the way, both are ending pretty badly,” Swayze said, pleased with himself.
“If you must know, I’m meeting a girl I met online. Well, was meeting a girl I met online. Her screen name is Platinum Angel.”
“Oh, Kyle. I would think that working in an electronics store you would be more savvy. Most of those ‘girls’ are really dudes. You’re actually lucky, this plane crash just saved you from an embarrassing face to face with Harry Rogers the Internet troll.”
“You’re probably right. I suck.”
Swayze cocked his head, “Are you done feeling sorry for yourself?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know.”
“What you need is a hero moment.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It’s a moment in a movie, or in this case your life, when you stand up and face the adversity that’s trying to kill you.”
“This plane is trying to kill me. How do I face that?”
“I’m a certified pilot,” Swayze remarked, “I could talk you through the landing.”
I took a moment to consider the possibility. Did I have a hero living inside me that needed to be unleashed? Could I really save the day?
“Or you can be a little bitch-boy the rest of your life,” Swayze said, with a disappointed scowl.
My eyes sharpened and my fists clenched, “Fine. I’ll do it! I’ll save the fucking day!”
I burst out of the lavatory with a bump on my head and my pants soaked in poop and I declared, “Everybody stay calm! I got this under control! Me and Patrick Swayze are going to land this sucker even if it kills us all!”
The passengers around me covered their noses from my smell as the five-year-old little boy sitting next to me wiped a booger on my shirt.
Then the Captain got on the PA again, “This is your Captain speaking. We have fixed the problem and anticipate smooth skies all the way to Denver so I’m turning off the fasten seatbelt sign. Feel free to move about the cabin.”
Before I could blink I was struck from behind and tackled by three heroic goons. One of them grabbed my balls like it was a sack of marbles. The rest of the flight didn’t look to be as smooth for me.
As I was led off the plane in handcuffs by the TSA, I passed a gorgeous girl with legs that resembled French Vanilla ice cream. She was holding a sign that read, I am Platinum Angel.
As I passed, she wrinkled her nose from my offensive odor. I didn’t say a word.
I figured I would let my heroism speak for itself.