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“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for choosing to fly with Northeastern Airlines. We’ll be arriving in sunny Pasadena in a few short hours.”
Yeah. Well, those hours will turn into seconds. Thank you sleeping pills! I laugh at my own joke. Luckily for me, I have the only empty seat in what appears to be a full plane next to me in the third row of business class seats.
“Wait! Wait! Sonny, don’t shut that door!” I hear a woman’s voice call to the flight attendant. An older woman who looks to be in her eighties tells the flight attendant, all of first class and the first two rows of business class. “Phew! I thought I was going to miss the flight. You know, I’ve never missed a flight in all my years of flying.”
“It’s all right ma’am. Can I help you find your seat? The flight’s about to take off.” The flight attendant tells her.
Okay. If she sits down, in this seat, I swear to God I am going to open the window mid-flight and jump out of it. Oh God! Keep walking! Keep walking! Don’t stop! Oh, crap! She stopped.
“Well, aren’t you a handsome boy!” She exclaims, pinching my cheek.
“I’m thirty-six.” I grumble.
“Oh my! By my standards, you’re still a boy.” She laughs. “My name is Dorothy Robison, but any boy as cute as you can just call me Grandma Dot!” She states.
I’d rather not.
“Ma’am, you need to take you seat.” The flight attendant says.
“Oh yes! Of course. Silly little me, holding up this flight. Excuse me dear.” Somehow, she manages to slip into her seat, while breaking my big toe, knocking over open bottle of sleeping pills, and giving me a concussion by whacking me in the head about ten times with her knitting bag. “There we are, all settled in. Now dear, I’ve shown you my credentials, now what about yours?” The old lady asks.
“My name’s Ryan Fuller. I’m an accountant in Chicago, and I hate flying, so if you excuse me, there are some sleeping pills calling my name.” I mumble, as I lean over to pick up the pills from the floor.
“Oh, no! Ryan, honey. You can’t take these pills now that they’ve fallen on the floor.” She says snatching the bottle out of my hand.
“I don’t care about germs, so could you please just hand me the bottle?” I ask.
Or am I going to have to rip it out of your hand?
“I’m sorry. I can’t let you kill yourself.”
Who do you think you are…? God?
“But,” I try to interrupt.
“Oh no dear, I’m sorry. You see, my friend Lucille read somewhere that a man- just like you in fact- dropped a pill, and picked it up and took it. But you see, it wasn’t a pill he picked up, but a rat dropping, that ended up killing him. What would your mother think if I let you take them now?”
My mother. You mean my mother the doctor who had her partner prescribe them for me so I could fly.
“Ma’am. My mother is just fine with the pills and I can assure you that this is not a rat dropping. This is white, not brown. I promise if you let me take the pill, I won’t die!” I pleaded.
“Nope! I won’t hear it. Nobody’s dying on my watch. Not today.” She tells me, while stuffing the bottle into her bag.
Wonderful. This is just great. I have a feeling this could be the start of the worst flight of my life.
“Won’t this be so much fun? The cute security agents took my knitting needles so now we can talk all throughout the flight!” Dorothy states.
“I can’t wait until we land in California! My granddaughter, Claire, just had a baby boy and I’m going to see them. Paul Elliot, what a beautiful name. Six pounds, eight…”
Blah. Blah. Blah. It’s bad enough that she stole my sleeping pills, but now I have to listen to her go on and on about child birth and babies.
I manage to find a way to listen to her talk about Claire and Paul and her son David and her son Robert Jr. and her late husband all through take off and until the seat belt light goes off.
“Excuse me. I have to use the restroom.” I tell Dot standing up in the aisle of the plane.
“All right, but hurry back now! I want to tell you more about my new great- grandson and I haven’t told you anything about my beautiful, single granddaughter, the lawyer!”
Yeah. Sure you will. Now where is…?
“Excuse me,” I peer at the flight attendant’s name tag. “Sarah, right?” she nods. “Well Sarah, by any chance do you happen to have any empty seats? My air vent is open and it won’t shut, and I get cold really easily.” I smile at her.
“I’m sorry sir, but the plane was overbooked and is full right now, but I’ll be happy to give you a blanket if you’d like.” Sarah tells me.
Nice. Maybe I can put it over my head and suffocate myself with it.
Eventually I find my way back to my seat where Dorothy looks like she’s in a panic. “Are you okay?” I sigh, remembering the manners my mother had drilled into me as a child.
“Th-th-that man h-he had a gun!” she spits out.
Delusions. That’s a sign of Alzheimer’s right?
“I’m sure it wasn’t a gun. You told me that they confiscated your knitting needles. If they took those, I highly doubt they would let a gun aboard. Relax, you were probably just dreaming.” I reassure her.
“I’m serious. That man stood up and shuffled some stuff around and that’s when I saw it!” she whispers while pointing to a man across the aisle and a row in front of us. “Oh my God! What if he hijacks the plane? I’ll never be able to see my granddaughter or my first great-grandson ever! You have to do something!” She looked absolutely terrified.
Me? Why me? I didn’t even see it!
“Are you absolutely positive that it was a gun, not a phone or a coffee cup or something?” I ask her.
“Yes! I’m absolutely positive. I spent four years of my life making those horrid things during the War. I know what a gun looks like when I see one.”
Way to go Ryan, you get to sit next to Annie Oakley.
“All right, all right. I’m sure there is a perfectly reason for why he might have one on this flight.” I tell her. “Let’s just get the flight attendant.”
“No, no, no! That might tip him off that we know something!” she exclaims.
“Okay so let’s just say that he is here to hijack the plane, we might want to keep our voices down so he doesn’t hear us. But that’s just my way of looking at it.”
“Yes. Yes of course. But why would he want to hijack the plane in the first place? Why would he want to kill many innocent lives? For what, fifteen minutes of fame?”
“You know Dorothy that is a really good question. And a question a lot of people would want an answer to.” I say.
We sit there in silence for a few moments until a man comes up to our seats, “Excuse me.”
“Oh my god it’s him!” Dot blurts out.
“I’m who? I heard you two talking about hijacking a plane. Did you know just saying threats like that could cause you a lot of trouble?” The man scolds us.
“No we weren’t conspiring to take over the plane; she was saying that you might. I was just sitting here.” I point out.
“Excuse me? Why on earth would I hijack the plane?” The man asks Dot but looks at me.
“Because this lady over here claims to have seen you with a gun.” I explain, while rolling my eyes. “You know.”
“I don’t ‘claim’ - I know I saw a gun!” Dorothy interrupts.
“Any way, she saw you with a ‘gun’ and she thinks that you’re going to take over the plane, and that’s what she was telling me about.” I clarify.
“Well she did get one thing right, I do have a gun but-“
What?! She’s right?!
“See I told you he had a gun!” Dorothy says.
Maybe I’m the one who is delusional.
The man laughs, “I do have a gun, but not for the reasons you think. I have a gun because I’m a Federal Air Marshall, and it’s my job to protect all the crew and passengers on board from any violence that might happen up in the sky.”
Grandma Dot looks at me pointedly, “See Ryan dear, I told you that there is nothing to worry about. This will make one great story!”
And I’m going to have to relive it over and over all the way to California. Maybe there’s still a pill on the floor.
I glance around and find one that’s about ten feet away. I start to stand up, when a firm hand presses on my shoulder. “I’m sorry sir; all passengers are to remain seated.”
“Now Ryan,” Dot starts to say. “Let’s go over what happened so I can tell my granddaughter and my family and friends back in Chicago everything that happened!”
Yup. This is the worst flight ever. No sleeping pills, babies crying throughout the plane and a woman who just won’t shut up!