The Unfortunate Times of Tom Whitmore

I look out the window staring at the open water below. No land in sight. I guess crashing into the ocean would be better than land. If you survive the crash all you have to do is make it through the crowd of panicking people that have gone from being a polite young man or smiling stewardess into a blood thirsty monster. If you can get through that and out of the emergency exit and to the surface of the water you may just make it. All you have to do after that is hold onto a life jacket or floating seat, until it becomes water logged. Once its water logged you'll have to find someone to grab onto or tread water for the remaining time. It will be several hours before they become water logged though. So you'll only have to tread water for an hour or so. Unfortunately I can't swim. Thank you, mom and dad.

The man beside me resembles John Candy, if John Candy had lived to be one hundred and five years old. His wrinkled face looks like Yoda in Empire Strikes Back, minus the ears. He is reading the in flight magazine. An article entitled, Living a Healthy life. As if this article will be the one thing he needs to end a century worth of bad habits. He looks like he's actually learning something. What are the odds he doesn't know he's unhealthy. Maybe he thought it was OK to eat himself to the size of a small whale and this article will finally set him straight. His large belly rolls up and down with each breath. As he breaths in it gently touches the back of the seat in front of him. My path to the bath room blocked, the effort it will take him to get in and out of his seat isn't even worth it. (Later speak of how your bladder has filled.)

My arm starts to itch. I can't scratch it. The cast covers from my wrist to the elbow. When they asked me at the hospital why I was standing in the middle of the street I told them, nobody told me not to. Well, they didn't. (Change this last line. It must be more cynical.)

I better tell you my name, it's Tom Whitmore. I'm a writer for the Midwestern Literary Magazine. I'm telling you this because I've taken about ten pain killers in the last two hours and I'm starting to feel them. I just want to warn you in case I start to impersonate Jack Nicholson later on. I've been known to do that. Also Nixon, I don't know why I don't have any affiliation with him nor know anything about his politics. I wasn't even alive when he was in office. He had me by at least a decade.

The in flight movie comes on and I tear my eyes away from the wheezing carcass beside me. I look up at the screen. I'm watching an animated movie about a dog trying to find a young girl. Every adult on the plane finds themselves staring up at this children's movie with the same confused, tired, miserable look. The few kids on the plane don't care about the movie. They're listening to an ipod or coloring in their books. I'm wondering who the movie is being played for. No one else seems to care, only me. There's one thing that is bothering me about this movie. Forget the fact that the dog is singing and speaking to humans. That it dances its way down the street talking to the birds and cats. The only thing that catches my attention is the fact that it knows to stop at red lights. I thought dogs are color blind. Now I'm upset.

Meals come next. The stewardess, who's wearing a plastic smile, hands me my meal. This is the best part of my day. I look at my plate, frozen fish head. And it just keeps getting better. She doesn't acknowledge that there was ever anything to choose from. Like I won't notice that everyone before 22 A had the choice between ham sandwich, chicken breast and fish head. It's evident what they didn't choose.

I look up for the utensils, and she hands me a plastic spoon. I smile, "This may be a little difficult, have you got anything else?"

Wearing her blue dress and scarf she smiles, "I'm sorry all we have is spoons."

I look down at my frozen carp head and back up at her with a confused look.

She goes on, "You look worried."

"I'm worried because I think you're actually serious."

She is taken aback and blushes, then moves on to hand out the rest of the meals.

My buddy devours his fish using his hands. Mine sits on the plate untouched. Yoda stares at it and then at me. I do him a favor and ignore him.

We're only two hours into an eight hour flight. That's four more movies about dogs that aren't color blind. Six hours of listening to the monster on my left breath in and out. This is supposed to be my vacation. I was told to go relax. Here's a tip for anyone who's listening, if you're told to go find somewhere to relax don't get on an eight hour plane ride. My excuse...nobody told me not to. (More cynical)

The pain killers are going full throttle now. I can feel myself starting to drift to sleep.

I wake up to the same smiling stewardess telling me that the captain has put on the fasten seat belt sign. I put it on. Seat belts at 13,000 feet; talk about an illusion of safety. My pal next to me has some trouble fitting it across his stomach. I look the other way.

It's pouring outside and in the distance there are flashes of lightning from behind dark clouds. A baby starts to cry. Here we go.

The plane plummets twenty feet. The lights turn off and there's a loud crack behind me. Screams erupt from all over. The sweat is glistening on the baby whale's forehead. Suddenly the high from the pain killers is gone; pain and fear take over my senses.

The plane levels out and the lights return. I turn in my seat to see the smiling stewardess lying unconscious in the aisle. Another stewardess, a male, I guess that makes him a steward; same thing. He is running up to help her. He checks Ms. Spoons breathing and pulse. He turns to the crowd and announces that she's OK, just a bump on the head. Everyone looks around at each other trying to convince themselves and everybody else that they didn't just shit themselves.

There's another flash of lightning right outside my window. We start to fall.