Just Plane Wrong

​Benbegone

By Justin Severn

Attention all passengers, this is your Captain speaking. I’m sorry to inform you, but we are unable to bring out the beverage cart and snack services at this time. If you could please stay in your seat while we manage through a bit of unexpected turbulence, it would be much appreciated. Although we would love to bring out the mini pretzels, the water—and for those brave deviants—a 4 oz. cup of thin-fizzed ginger ale, unfortunately there’s nothing we can do. Also, with the issue that you’ve made us cognizant of, with the flaming engine and all, we’re aware of it, and will be trying to fix it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this could all proceed in a less than timely manner, which sadly enough—and I’m gonna be honest with you—could end with us crashing nose first into a rough patch of packed dirt.

We here in the cockpit understand how you all feel, with the screams and the yelling, but please try to understand we don’t like this mishap either. In fact, my co-pilot Nancy, is quite upset, perhaps more so than any of you. Now, as an official Freedom Airlines representative, I don’t want it coming across like I’m saying Nancy is weak and frail and emotional just because she’s a woman. In fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth. She’s an excellent pilot, co-title be damned, and I’ll sock any sonuvabitch who says anything to the contrary right in their skullduggerous mouth. No room for talk like that on my aircraft.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, remain brave and all that. Now, Freedom Airlines always has its customers in mind, which is why I’d like to harken back to the first moments we—the humble passengers of flight AA23—spent together on this beautiful alabaster Airbus 747, before it turned into a screaming untoward, hell-bent tomb. As you recall, before taxi we briefed you on proper brace positioning, stating it was the best way to stay alive when this hunk of metal hits the ground, splinters under its own dead weight, and goes up like a Christmas tree with all two hundred of you aboard. I’m sure you all wish you hadn’t booked that last-minute trip to Tempe, Arizona now. Anyhow, I regret to tell you that that brace positioning isn’t gonna help you a whole lot. To be honest, there’s a good chance we’re all going to die, quite painfully and suddenly. This may sound a bit strange and defeatist, coming from the same captain who was personable and cheery enough to do your preflight briefing in the voice of Homer Simpson, (quite well, I may add), but I must say as a Freedom Airlines representative first, and a Captain second, you’re damn right I’m going to level with you, because we keep the customer first here at Freedom. It’s in our blood.

Imagine you’d chosen Northwest Airlines right now, and you were in the same situation. Yes, it may seem strange for a different plane to be going through the exact same situation, but bear with me now—we don’t have time for semantics. We’ll most likely be meeting the ground in about fifteen minutes. Well, those Northwest galoots probably would have brought out your beverages, ignoring the imminent horrors awaiting you, being unrightfully dishonest to their esteemed customers. Makes me sick. Would the couple knocking on the flight deck please stop? It’s not very becoming of our relationship, and I hope you know this is all going in the black box, in case you actually want your parents knowing what a coward you were as you faced oblivion. If you stop, I promise I’ll get the papers to write “Brave Passengers Faced End With Dignity” instead of the more likely headline if you continue, which will be “Tragic Plane Crash, But Two Jerks In Particular Might Have Deserved it For Not Leaving Their Brave Captain Alone.” Ah screw it, I’m gonna start barrel-rollin’ this sucker and see if that teaches you a lesson.

If you’re tearing apart the cabin looking for parachutes, you can stop. I have the last two, and as none of you made love to me on the birthday that even my wife refused to put out on, I’ll be very glad to give it to Nancy, gracious co-pilot she is. Could you please stay in your seats! I’m sorry for the maneuvers earlier, I was quite mad, not even feeling quite myself right now, to be honest. Just remember that any damage to the cabin makes it harder for Freedom to repurpose any rubble they find, so please put back all the in-flight magazines, and stow your tray tables in the upright and locked position. Yes, it may seem a little ridiculous to you, but imagine this plane crashes, and though your bodies remain crushed and bent like broken accordions, you beforehand took the preparation to—through high spirits and childlike obedience—stow every single inflight magazine in their proper place, saving two-hundred and seventeen in total. You’d all be hailed as heroes, saving Freedom Airlines, let’s see, two-hundred seventeen, times fifty-four, carry the three . . . around one hundred dollars total. And in a way, it’d be the best to make sure your legacy goes on. The blood-soaked Flightway magazine you die to save could be the same issue Freedom uses for another whole half-month! Imagine all the good you could do! Without your aid, a CEO, so busy the only free time he has is during his cross-country flights, might not be able to find a perfect gift for his parents before he lands. You, in your selfishness, took that away from him and now the parents he loved so much receive nothing, instead of the lovely life-sized iguana statue (just an example) or self-cleaning litter box (again, just an example) for their cat Mildred (example name) and may even disown him, cat’s in the cradle and all that.

If only I hadn’t spent so much time away from my family, Freedom flyers. If only I hadn’t worked so hard, not driven that wedge sitting between me and my formerly-pretty, now-homely wife Beverly. Passengers, if I can be truthful, I never loved her, but she was a devout Catholic, and I figured I had no way of sharing a bed with her, without the extra weight of a silver band on mine and her left hand. If only she had wits to match her beauty, and if only this problem hadn’t also followed me through every romantic entanglement I’ve encountered. No, not you Nancy, you’re lovely. You’re not just looks, you’re also an excellent crochetist, and oh yes, I would love to get another scarf for my birthday but don’t you see it doesn’t matter anymore? You’re lucky Freedom requires me to give you a parachute, because your prattle makes me want to toss you off this plane right now. Leave me alone.

Well passengers, I must say I’m dismayed by the progress we’re making towards the ground, but I’m even more cross with how you’ve all behaved in this crisis situation. Myself, I’m about to abandon this here airframe in favor of a longer life, but don’t be sad. Instead, be happy. For you see, beyond this life there’s got to be something more. Or else, what was it all for, the childhood spent wandering the three continents that matter with my pugnacious Navy father, never forming ties, hating but at the same time internalizing the idea of a never-present patriarch, eventually becoming him, taking to his knack for flying, and also his adulterous ways, his hopes and fears nestled next to my amygdala, although I don’t know if that’s right. After all, I did get an A in postmodern prose, but a C- in anatomy. But yes, there is a God, passengers, and in time he will be ferrying you all out of this wretched little life, towards some greater salvation, or something. Look, I’m just trying to make you all feel better is all. I’d feel real crummy if I left you feeling all scared before you died. It’d make your corpses look wretched, and your organs, loaded with adrenalin, would be no good to the Freedom Fights Cancer organ donation team. So just accept that you're gonna live forever, me and Nancy are getting out of here. Hopefully, I can get rid of that boar of a wife when I hit the ground. You all may die, but the thinking you’ve given me to do has been tremendous and important, and I’ll never forget that. This is your Captain, Willy Dell, signing off.


Back to Stories