When Furious Floyd awoke he realized that he was in the tiniest of bathrooms. Oddly familiar, but odd nonetheless. It was tall enough. It was a bathroom of mostly regular height, but it just wasn’t right. He was crumpled on the floor like a bag of old and ill-fitting clothing left on the porch for some local charity drive in some middle class suburb.
The hum gave it away. It was an airplane he realized. An airplane bathroom. The good news was – sort of – he figured out where he was. The bad news was he had no idea where he was going or why he was going there. The terrible news was Furious Floyd needed a smoke. Bad. A very bad smoke. “A very bad smoke,” he thought, “smoking IS very bad.”
Looking around the aluminum and plastic cell, Furious Floyd tried to weigh options. First thing was first, where were his cigarettes? He’d snuck smokes in airliner bathrooms before, back when he flew commercial more. By the looks of things – by the amount of dust on the vent, he knew this was commercial, today; Mr. Furious Floyd wasn’t flying private. This was “United.’ “United…fuck?” was the only thought he could process realizing he said it aloud. Commercial.
A cigarette? Before he could look, a rush of panic filled the aching crevasses of his brain. Some strange shit had gone down (is going down). After a moment when the instincts kicked in he realized that this was just another show. An improv, but a show ever the same. If he could pull himself together, he figured he could just fake his way out of this situation as he has others…
Furious Floyd stood, turned toward the scratchy mirror. Through the haze and distortion, Furious Floyd didn’t like what he saw. Looking back at him in this tiny, smelly washroom was some old, dirty, small, ugly man staring back. What the fuck?
“Commercial.” If he didn’t like the image, then this plane’s passengers – real people – were going to freak. And, thought Furious Floyd, how long have I been here. Again, Furious Floyd realized he was speaking aloud. Pants wrinkled, unbuttoned, and loose about the waist, Furious Floyd imagined the “occupied” sign had been shining for a while.
A quick pat-down inventory revealed a wallet. His. A wad of assorted cash. No coins, Furious Floyd hated coins. His phone. He was impressed that it was turned off. At least he was adhering to FAA regulations. Furious Floyd also found an assortment of crinkled papers: a laser printed map of East Cleveland (??); one page torn from a spiral notebook with a telephone number (617 = Boston) and the initial E.A.; and, goddamned luck, a passenger receipt.
Had Furious Floyd been the type to cheer, he wouldn’t have shouted, “Eureka!” Furious Floyd would have smoothly crooned, “hellll yeah.”
For some still unknown reason, Furious Floyd was flying from Cleveland, Ohio to Washington, D.C. – National. Ronald “Ray Gun” Reagan National flyport. Thankfully, Furious Floyd did note the flight time. Evening. Hopefully and mercifully, many of the passengers would be sleeping. The uncomfortably zoned. His watch read 12:28 a.m.
14 E. Seat 14 E. About half way back, middle seat? Coach! Testing his ability to walk, Furious Floyd kind of marched in place for a moment, shifting weight to ensue stability. He wouldn’t fall -- not too shabby.
OK, if anyone asked, he’d simply place his hand on his abdomen and huskily whisper, “aw god, flu.” While rehearsing his one-act play, he discovered in the interior left – hand over your heart – pocket of his filthy, disheveled overcoat a small, weighty…WTF?…. Box! “Oh, shit!!” Furious Floyd discovered the distinctive jeweler’s velvety box. Furious remembered that he had proposed marriage to Theresa. “God fucking shit! Goddamit.” Furious Floyd fumed. “Fuck!”
Fumbily opening the box, he discovered it empty. Given Theresa’s reluctance to marry – given Theresa’s hesitance to become engaged – given the fact that Theresa Royal said – this Furious Floyd remembered clearly – “Furious?! Are you out of your crazy fucking skull?! No. No, hell no, Furious. No. No, no, NO, NO, NO!!!
It was surprising there was no ring in the box. Furious patted himself down again.
Cautiously opening the lavatory door (after fumbling with the E-Z Slide lock – he had locked the door) Furious discovered a happily dark and quiet commercial cabin.
In an instant and not six inches from his face appeared the round yet gaunt face of a flight attendant. Toothily, the attendant (according to her name badge, “I’m Sally”) queried, “Are YOU okay, sir?” in an accent dripping of Long Island, in an accent and timbre woefully close to that of Theresa’s Cleveland by way of Long Island brogue.
The attendant clearly emphasized the word “you” in her inquiry. Her age, demeanor, and leathery skin indicated this was THE senior flight attendant and she had seen it all.
“I’m perfectly fine” is what Furious Floyd managed (so much for “flu”). He could smell his own breath reflect from I’m Sally. The attendant, a true professional, did not retract. Given what Furious Floyd smelled of his own breath, I’m Sally should have been floored. He did, however, see the subtle reaction. It was nearly imperceptible. In the eyes. Eye really. Her left.
As toothily as she smiled, her eyes were total business. And in this case, her business was nonverbally conveyed as: You say or do the wrong motherfucking thing right now and I will have the captain land this big ass plane on the spot and the FB-goddamn-I will drag your sorry ass off. Of. MY. AIRLINER. Her left eye twitched. Once. Slightly.
Deferentially, Furious clarified, “Thank you. Thank you, I, um, I am okay….” I’m Sally replied, “Now, I will escort you back to your seat.” Two men. Air Marshals. They must have been. The haircuts, smooth shaved faces, and aggressive stances gave them away. The two men stood behind I’m Sally.
Soberly, and as lucid as he could muster, Furious Floyd volunteered, “yeah, 14E, thanks.” “No sir. Seat 3B, window, this way please.’ I’m sally lightly, but confidently grasped Furious’ arm at the elbow and turned him to his left – toward the first class cabin. Widebody? Seven-four? Seven? No widebody flew from Cleveland to DC. Furious asked, “What time we get into DC?”
Immediately, Furious Floyd knew. The unsmiling eye twitched ever so perceptibly. “Sir. We arrive in Los Angeles, California, USA in about two hours.” “LA?!” blurted Floyd. He immediately reached into his pants pocket in pursuit of his Cleveland-DC receipt. The air marshals pushed forward past I’m Sally as she said, unsmiling, “Sir! We will arrive in Los Angeles in about two hours. We departed JFK about three hours ago – two of which you have occupied my mid-cabin lavatory. Please return to our first class cabin now. I will get you some water and you will relax until we land, thank you. These gentlemen – your kind fellow passengers – will assist you forward.”
And so they went. And, now noted Furious Floyd, it wasn’t the middle of the night. It was dark because the shades were nearly all drawn for the film. But, the real show was in the aisle. Fellow passengers. Everyone was watching now, headphones askew in favor of the live stage show. Furious was being escorted to the front of the plane by two of America’s warriors on the eternal war-on-terror. And, right now, Furious J. Floyd was Osama Hussein.
As the group approached row 3, Furious Floyd saw a woman slumped in his seat and against the window. She was either passed out or dead. Suddenly, Furious realized that the body belonged to Lisa. Lisa Rammell. Oh shit.
As he was not so gently positioned into seat A, he saw it. Lisa G. Rammel was wearing a shiny diamond ring on her limp left hand – ring finger. He heard a silky voice echo, “beautiful choice sir. This is one of our finest cuts. You new fiancée – was it, Theresa? – she will absolutely love this ring; and you.”
Now Furious Floyd was hurtling toward Los Angeles, California, on a United 777. Confused. Furious Floyd was apparently engaged to marry Lisa Rommell. “Water sir.” It wasn’t a question. I’m Sally wasn’t offering water. She was insisting. A direct request. As Furious took possession of the water, I’m Sally bent forward at the waist, handed Furious Floyd a pair of sunglasses – his – which she pulled from her neat blue apron. Placing the shades in Furious’ left hand without regard for smudges or fingerprints, I’m Sally moved her lips to an inch of his right ear and brusquely whispered, “Believe me, I do know who you are. I can appreciate that. But, this is my aircraft. If I have to even look your way again, our friends will tie you to your seat for the remainder of the trip until you are jailed for a number of federal charges, OK?” Nodding toward Lisa, she continued, “If blondie wakes up, you explain to her that she is not to move. I do not give a shit if she has diarrhea, if she has to vomit I will give her bags. The two of you do. Not. Move.”
I’m Sally stood and smiled. This time her eyes smiled too. Maybe this was her most satisfying presentation of “the speech." She turned. She left.
Looking left himself Furious Floyd saw that Lisa was passed out, breathing shallowly, covered with dried and new-ish vomit. There was what looked like blood on her sleeve and…and…Lisa was wearing the ring he had presented to Theresa Royal. In Cleveland. Ohio.
Furious looked right just in time for a woman to avert here gaze. Furious Floyd noticed that he was wearing one shoe. "Damn!" thought Furious Floyd.