You Are Now Free to Go Fuck Yourself


“Uh, well folks, looks like our trusty little, uh, navigator here, well, she seems to be pointing us in, uh, the wrong way here, so, we’re gonna, uh, go and get that checked out. We’ll, uh get you out of this chilly, uh, New York fall soon. Thanks again, uh, for choosing our, uh, airline.”  

“Oh my, I hope its nothin’ serious. Nowadays with all them colored threat levels, who ever knows whats really going on,” a female voice in the aisle seat next to Jack said.

“It’s probably nothing,” Jack’s replied out of reflex and anxiety, “a slight technical glitch.”

His eyes and attention were fixed on a baggage handler on the tarmac. Both of Jack’s sweaty palms were spread over the crowns of his knees, moistening the fabric beneath them. The contents of his damp clutch were rhythmically bouncing up and down at a nervous yet controlled pace. His hands held lifelines which, one drunken tuesday night on St. Mark’s street, Madame George had told him held “great things” for his future. Those hands guided boney knees attached to skinny calves attached to hairy ankles that subconsciously bounced a calloused heel; no human being should ever have the luxury of sitting impatiently while remaining still.

Something about the stale air passing through this tube makes a man sweat, Jack thought; it’s definitely not the impending fear of being incinerated in a rapid free fall. He’d always hoped he pass out first from lack of oxygen, but he knew that when one of these babies goes down we’re only looking at a four minute fall. Four fucking minutes—tops. That’s not much time for the cabin to depressurize from the atmosphere at 30,000 feet. “Be sure you fasten and secure your own mask before giving the little brat some air because, after all, what has your kid really ever done for you?”

When engine number two churns out black smoke and flames and a flimsy oxygen masks drop down from a glove compartment above, a person would just scream and shit their pants, rather than experience some sort of Narnian, fantastical lightheaded mind-fuck trip. No grandma and grandpa and birthday cakes flash across one’s consciousness like an old Zapruder film in a retrospective “this is your life” sort of way. Shit hits the fan then you hit the ground.

It’s definitely just bad air that’s making me sweat, Jack thought and wiped his hands on his shirt.

“Joey doesn’t ever trust those GPS thingys, says they don’t know all them secret roads...”

The words: Fuck. Me. appeared and slowly crawled across Jack’s frontal lobe. Upon reaching a centrally aligned position, the germane note-to-self melted and dripped just below the surface of his face, pulling his eyelids, mouth, and chin down. The drip continued on down the back of his throat like a bump of cocaine, then onto his chest before settling in the depths of his lower intestine like a stubborn two-day-old shit.

“...Says they always keepin’ you on them paved roads.”


He suppressed the urge to purge his bowels by throttling this stranger in the aisle seat next to him.
Instead, he kept watch outside of the plane, noting the crispness of late fall’s chilled blue sky. The mere sight of it could make a man’s testicles crawl up into his abdomen. The ramp agent tossed two duffels simultaneously from the back of a baggage cart onto a conveyor belt.

One of the bags hit its intended target but the other hit the side of the belt, lingered on for a split second and then fell to the concrete. Jack touched the inner sheet of the double-paned porthole. Condensation formed around his fingers just like that scene from Titanic when Leonardo DeCaprio bangs Kate Winslet in the back seat of a Model T.

“I hope I don’t miss my connection to Austin. You goin to Austin too?”

The shit continued to percolate as the Fleet Service Agent walked over to the dropped bag, put an arm up in the air and simulated an NFL kickoff on the downed luggage. Cirrus clouds stroked the high afternoon sun as another guy in a yellow vest observed, smiled, and gave the kicker thumbs up. Jack waited for one of them to turn to him and pull out a pack of Mentos.

“Yeah, a friend's wedding,” he said and immediately regretted. His fingers traced the rapidly evaporating handprint in an attempt to distance himself from his seatmate.

“A weddin! How special! Who’re the lucky bride and groom?”

Something hard slapped him and he turned from the window. He looked down and saw a ring-encrusted hand on his forearm. One particular faux gold/diamond behemoth digging into his skin drew his attention. The ring reminded him of Ms. Rubin, his 6th grade Hebrew school teacher. Twenty years ago, in the late 80’s, she had had a thing for bling as well. Her hands were loaded with charms: braided gold, a few diamonds here and there, maybe a silver band to mix things up. Whenever a student answered a question correctly she would throw her hands up in the air and slam them down on her desk, proclaiming a genius in her midst. It created a dissonance so jarring that it rang through Jack’s head the entire class period.

“Friends,” he said and reclaimed his arm.

Ms. Rubin also had a very serious water retention problem. Her feet were so grossly swollen that they looked like a pair of surgical gloves pumped up with water, a phenomenon the whole class stared at for the duration of a lesson. All the kids looked in awe at her freakish, X-Man ability to stuff the bloated monstrosities into an undersized pair of worn grey pumps. Some excess skin devoid of elasticity was always left over, oozing and crawling over the sides.


“Good friends? It’s so special when good friends come together under Jesus.”

Especially moving when you used to bang one half of the equation and expectations are for you to show up at the ceremony with a smile and a gift as if it never happened. That and the bride is expected to walk down the aisle without remembering those nights when your member ran a full check up on her tonsils. You may now kiss the bride.

“Yeah, just like Jerry and Myra.”

His unwelcome neighbor threw her hands together and shook them back and forth as if the dandruffy scalp in front of her was the almighty himself.

Looking at the back of the holy head, Jack imagined that wherever this temporary savior went,  whatever this airplane apostle did, there would be someone behind him.  They’d stare at the white specks, cringing and involuntarily scratching their own head the way people itch their bodies when an imaginary spider stalks in between the bed sheets.


“Uh folks, some good news here. We’ve, uh, gotten a replacement part and, uh should be uh, moving shortly. Thanks for your, uh, patience.”

“Isn’t that just special! They’ve fixed the problem. I tell you with technology, I don’t even know how to check my voicemail or send one-a-them text messages. Look at me talking all about myself. Forget me, I could go on for hours if you let me. How d’ya’ll know each other, you the bride and groom? I’m Shelly by the way.”


Jack scratched the back of his head and imagined this woman’s house as a showroom for knickknacks; little treasures bought in the heat of midnight QVC binges. The vision of Ms. Rubin’s feet dissipated and he now saw entire tables full of glass monkeys wearing fezzes and vests, some smiling as they rode on the backs of anatomically incorrect pink bottle nosed dolphins. Downstairs and in the corner of an unfinished basement, on top of a Jazzerciser that never made it of the box, a set of Mickey Mouse coins commemorating the 75th anniversary of Walt Disney declaring Jews a social disease collected dust.

“We’re old friends,” Jack said and turned back to the window.

A quick survey of the tarmac showed no trace of the vested men or the plane they had been prepping. A portable stair drove across the runway. The driver made a sharp turn towards the terminal and somehow, despite the vehicle’s comically high center of gravity, managed to keep it upright. The clouds continued their sluggish crawl across the sky, a movement slowed in anticipation of the coming winter.

“Aw, well isn’t that just special, from school? Work?”

In this woman’s bathroom Jack imagined Suzanne Somers endorsed anti-aging cream and LeToya Jackson approved whitening balm. Stretched over the off-white toilet cover he pictured a fuzzy purple toilet cover that almost matched the faded bathmat covering six shiny square tiles. Every morning, first thing after peeing, she would use her right foot to place the mat in perfect alignment with the floorings grouted edges. Upon successful realignment, she’d smile and congratulate herself on a job well done.

“Huh? Yeah, work and school… Yeah, very important things,” Jack said.

He felt tightness in his crotch and looked down. Whenever he sat in an airplane, his pants always reacted differently than they did sitting anywhere else. In a movie theater, at a desk, in a car, nothing evoked the same happening. Whenever he sat down in a coach seat, magnetism existed between his genitals and denim. As soon as he plopped down, the fabric shrunk sizes and choked his balls. The pressure on his penis caused an involuntary semi-erection, a defense grown to push back against the tightness, a change visible through a snug pair of Levi’s. The fabric in the legs crawled up and exposed his hairy ankles.

“No honey, I mean where d’y’all meet?”

Maybe if he showed her his boner she’d leave him alone. He looked at her and fought the urge the expose himself. She flashed him a creepy smile. Narrow, god-fearing eyes set above a pointed, beaklike nose gave it a demonic tint. Resting on that nose were glasses that, fifteen years ago, would have been current. The lenses were spotless as far as dirt goes, but etched with several scratches. The frames looped around small ears filled with wax. Her exposed teeth were yellowed; he assumed fake, the work of a medical school dropout.


“We met in the isolation unit at Mount Sinai. Consumption—all three of us, consumed, terrible, terrible cases. They practically gave us an entire wing at the hospital. No one would go anywhere near us.” Jack had had enough and needed a clean break from this hanging chad.

“Why would they put you in a hospital just for eatin’ stuff?” The woman’s face expressed confusion, a fitting look.

“Tuberculosis, sorry, how dated of me.”


A mortified look replaced puzzlement and transfigured her face. She shifted her entire middle aged, lumpy body and turned towards the aisle. She looked frantically for a passing stewardess to flag down. Jack smiled and rubbed his crotch.

Cough, cough. “Sometimes I wonder if they should’ve let me out when they did.” He buried his face into his hands and added a few throat clears to his repertoire, “Chechhhhh, checcccch.”

A stewardess came down the aisle and Shelly grabbed one of the attendant’s arms, latched on and pulled her in close. “Um, ma’am, excuse me, I can’t sit here no more,” the bespectacled woman said in a whisper audible above the jets idling engines.

“I’m sorry but you’re going to have to wait, we’re about to take off.”

“You don’t understand, this boy ain’t well.”

“Once we get up in the air, we can go about re-situating you. For now, just relax. I’ll bring you some water.”

His seatmate looked at Jack, pointed and said more in a lowered voice he couldn’t hear. After a little explaining, Mrs. Tchochkes stood up.

Jack extended an open hand. “Well, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Maybe we’ll meet again one day. Enjoy the flight, bye bye now.” Jack grinned and kept his hand extended. It went unshaken as old Knickknacks hurried away.


“Well folks, uh, some good news. Looks like we’ve gone and, uh, gotten that whole navigator thingy straightened out. Uh.... got some nice weather in uh Austin, sunny, 75 degrees. Fasten your seat belts, uh, thanks again for flying with us.”

Jack closed his eyes. Slowly, starting from 100, he set himself down the peaceful path to a late afternoon siesta. 100… 99… 98…97… Throw in a few sheep… dance sheep, bahhh, dance…


The hinges of his seat, rusty and full of pretzel dust, peanut crust, dead skin and cheap lubricant screamed. A painful donkey-like heehaw of sorts wailed from the bearing as it flexed back and  forth. Jack bounced down, up, backward, and forward.

“Howdy partner! What’s bringin you on down to Texas?” a man’s voice boomed. Jack opened his eyes to see that the seat next to him was no longer empty. The voice was attached to a large man wearing a Stetson, a flannel shirt, and blue jeans.

“Boy I just love flying. Ooh what an exciting time! The stars at night are big and bright!” The man pointed a forefinger with a raised thumb in a shooting motion at Jack. “Come on partner, you know the words!” The man’s legs spread apart and his left thigh moved under the dividing armrest and onto Jack’s seat. It came to rest against Jack’s thigh, pushing Jack’s legs together. The physical exertion put upon his right leg squashed his nuts like they were set in a lobster cracker.

“Fuck. Me,” said Jack, rubbing his temples.

“Why so blue, little guy?”

In a moment of resignation and partial clarity Jack let up his guard and told the man next to him everything. He told him where he was going and what he was going for. He told him about the girl and how, long ago they had been intimate. He told him about the groom and how, long ago, he and Jack were best friends. He told him about his first bike and how sad he was when someone stole it from his building’s bike room. He told him about Ms. Rubin’s feet and about the cantor that had given him the creeps. He explained what a cantor was. He told him about his issues with his parents and sister. He told him about his bad luck being seated next to Shelly.

“Well shit, partner. It doesn’t sound too bad,” an overwhelmed Texan replied when Jack had finally finished his story. “You need to get over it, move on, be a man. I’m no psychologist but I sure know of people out there with real problems and you ain’t one. Some people with no food, no home, nothing. And you’re sitting here complaining about some no good old girlfriend you once had. Now I don’t know about who stole your bike or anything like that and I ain’t gonna ask. All I want is that you quit your whining and let me enjoy my flight in peace. With that attitude you’re always going to be a miserable son of a bitch and that’s your right. But just keep me out of it. I’m going get some rest now so unless you’re about to piss your pants or we’re going to crash, please just leave me be.”

Dropping his hat over his eyelids, the stranger drifted off to sleep. Still crushed, Jack resumed his war against the world.

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