It's a hard thing to remember and the one part that came as a surprise to me, you can feel and smell it till your seat digs itself into a fractured and melted remnant of airplane oblivion. Yes, there's the recognizable pieces of the arm rest buttons and the intact oxygen masks that somehow didn't get put on and a couple of uncracked iPhones (some poor wife gets to find out her cratered husband was fucking a 24 yr old) but yes, it all ends up like a MOAB went off in the side streets of Valley stream. Everything is burning, oh, except for that beautiful baby girl lying in the middle of it. Her name was Kristen Michelle. She was sleeping in that illegal basement apartment. Her crib was right by the wall. The rescue teams were sobbing like crazy when they pulled her out without a scratch on her. She had a red string in her grasp with the loop on her little finger, which got me thinking back to our beginning.
Nothing is really impossible to me. My imagination gets hold and the unlikely suddenly becomes real. I'm not talking nightmares and brief moments of clarity. I'm talking about engine #2's mount bolt on the left wing. Sometimes they are lazy when the torque wrench is on the bench, sometimes the last mechanic dropped it and now it's reading 40 ftlbs shy, and sometimes the bolt's been completely sheared for 20 flights and locktight is holding the head in. Sure as air currents and vibrations can shit metal, one by one the bolts shear, stuck on there looking pretty, aircraft shiny but holy fucked fatigued. So when I'm looking out the window and I see that 450mph shimmy, I'm not surprised at all. Some of the frequent flyers up front, you know, the dicks that have a stripper and housewife for every 100,000 miles flown in each state, they know the jig is up too. I saw him praying. Everybody else thinks it's turbulence. I kinda feel sorry for them.
As Tesla taught us, harmonic vibration can shake your balls off if you wack em just right. Well, not far after take off, maybe 5,000 feet, that engine's nuts started coming and rocking. I think the pilot was finally starting to listen to my mind. This ain't no happy ending baby. The cabin started to sound like a baptist funeral pre-crying over the engine that was about to make a name for itself crashing into the clock tower at Central. Damn, I really needed that cup of green tea. The flight attendants clock out early with these things. Here I was, calm as that little boy over there who was cutting up so bad at the gate and taxiing, his mom wrapped a scarf around the belt buckle. His name was Michael. She wasn't so calm. The two of us locked eyes when the engine moon shot and cow pulled the wing for some hot shlitz. I raised my eyebrows and smiled at him. He reached to his mother and hugged her while smiling back at me. That's when I remembered the red string. I'd been carrying it around for forty six years. The love of my life gave it to me, or more like she found it for us. The rest of the flight was a perfect physics lesson. You know, terminal velocity, God's name screaming, 1/2mv^2, milk turning gurgling, flash point of jet fuel, 11B heart attacking out early, and me and Michael sitting pretty.
I guess it's time then. That string in my pocket wasn't literal. It just meant something for the living which I hadn't planned on being that day. I tied it in a tiny loop and bow and gave it to Michael. He smiled again and said I owe you.
Michael died too.
We laugh about it all the time. I thought thinking and imagining the improbable was my shit. That kid knows he is lifetimes ahead of me.