copyright © 2003 Joshua James

Pauline on the Plane

By Joshua James

Pauline is seated on a plane. She speaks to the MAN who is seated next to her on the plane.

I’m scared to death of flying. I was scared of it before, you know, before THAT THING, the THING that happened as it happened, I was scared enough before then, as if flying isn’t frightening enough as it is, flying a machine thousands of feet in the air with a million working parts on it and thus the potential for a million things to go wrong, it’s pretty fucking frightening on ITS OWN, now add to that we have to worry that some demented fruitcake is going to whip out his toothbrush and commandeer the flight, crash it into his ex-girlfriend’s house as a way of getting back at her, and the corporate powers-that-be will sit back and let him do it, write it off as an insurance loss and another reason to hike up the price of fares. I can see that happening, can’t you see that happening? I can see that happening.

Not that it’s much safer on the ground. Bullets flying everywhere, stores being robbed, cars crashing into each other, bricks falling from buildings, even body’s falling from buildings. I heard about this guy, committed suicide because his wife was leaving, jumped from his office window, fourteen stories high, landed on a woman who was just walking by. Killed the woman, the guy survived. She died, he lived. You’re not safe anywhere. I’m scared to death even to walk the street anymore. When I’m walking around, it’s like I know something horrible is gonna happen at any second. I see some messenger zipping along on his bike, coming my way, and I just get a picture in my head of him whipping out an axe or baseball bat, braining me with it and then peddling along his merry way, nobody stopping him or even noticing. It doesn’t happen, he usually just bikes on by, but I’m sure that it could happen, and that’s enough to scare me to death. I try not to walk around by myself if I can help it. Now when I have to go to the store, I call a friend. Not that THAT would do any good, I guess.

I knew this guy, got struck by lightning. Walking around talking to his boyfriend, minding his own business, bang, lightning strikes. Kills him. Wasn’t even raining yet, started raining sometime after, but was even raining. No warning, just boom. His boyfriend didn’t even realize what happened, kept walking for awhile, looked back and there he was, lying on the sidewalk, sizzling. Horrible. Somebody somewhere’s got a sick sense of humor.

You know what it is?

I’m scared to death of death.

That’s what it is.

That’s why I stopped smoking pot, I used to smoke pot once in awhile, I wasn’t a druggie or anything, just on the weekend, here and there, it’s really good for relaxing a person and I often need all the help I can get when it comes to relaxing. So I would do it, once in while, I would smoke some weed, and it’s pretty good, you get high and just sort of let loose, float above your body for awhile and watch all the pretty flowers and colors. But once when I was stoned, I got, like this really bad vision, you know how when you smoke pot sometimes time slows and sometimes it speeds up, that ever happen to you? Well usually it slows for me which is why I like it, but the last time I got buzzed I went fast forward, like on a VCR I zipped forward in time, really fast, in my life, and I was brought to the end of my life, to my last moment of breath, to my death. I don’t know exactly how many years I went forward because I was stoned and not really paying attention, but I do know that it was real, it was fucking real, with all the details, who I got married to, number of kids, house, the whole show. And I’m floating above my body, looking down at me years ahead, me on my deathbed, and that’s when it hits me, I’m gonna die. I am definitely gonna die, someday. There was no escape, no negotiation, no way around it, someday I am gonna kick for good. And it FREAKED me out.

I haven’t smoked pot since then. I’m still freaked out.

Doesn’t it freak you out? I think I’m freaking out a little bit right fucking now.

Excuse me.


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