Smedley Flies the Green Skies
Chester Smedley, the cranky geezer who lives in a double-wide on Milkweed in the Bay, reluctantly had to fly to Needles, California last week. This trip was made necessary so as to attend the funeral of his deceased mother’s second cousin, a side of his family he only knew by reputation and this not being favorable to say the least. Unfortunately for Chester, since he was the only living survivor, Smedley family dignity insisted that he make the trip.
Needles is a godforsaken scratchy town near the Nevada border, the last stop before Death Valley and probably the only place his mother’s side of the family, the Klappers, could find to live without being tarred an feathered out of town. The only good thing he ever heard about the Klappers was that they had a chain of meth labs.
Smedley’s big problem was to figure out how to get to Needles. Smedley flunked his last driver’s test so that ruled out driving. Busses were also out as he got nauseated to a full puke every time he stepped onto a bus. So what was left was to find an airline that somehow could get him near Needles without having to parachute him in. After scouring the internet, he found one that did indeed fly to Needles. It was a name he never heard of, Sardine Airlines, but without any choice he bought his ticket online, got a friend to drive him to Bill and Hillary Airport in Little Rock and his journey to hell was underway.
Smedley had not flown since 1974, which was the only time he ever flew coming back to Arkansas from a month’s stay at the Hazelton Rehab Center in Minnesota. Traveling light with a canvas gym bag, Smedley headed directly to the gate but unfamiliar with the TSA maze that blocked his way. Smedley looked around for a way to bypass this congo line of people, figuring that it all had nothing to do with him. Wrong! As he tried to slip past the blockade by way of the TSA area exit lane, he was rudely accosted by a uniformed dude who marched him back to the TSA line with firm instructions not to try that prank again or be prepared to spend some time
talking to a judge.
A very annoyed, unchastened Smedley began the creep thru the TSA maze and finally got to the place where after emptying everything out of his pockets, he went through the metal detector trellis and immediately a buzzer went off, bringing more uniformed people who quickly ushered him into a glass booth. He was then told to wait there until another agent would come to “check him out.” After five minutes, the booth door opened and Smedley was ordered to stand on a rubber mat as a muscular uniform guy informed him that he needed to be “patted down” and that certain areas of his body that only his old girlfriend was allowed to touch would now become carnal knowledge of “the patter.” Smedley did not know whether to laugh or cry, but he stoically accepted his fate and in a strange way actually enjoyed the experience.
Smedley, relieved that these agents did not find any guns or knives hidden in his underwear, then figured out why the uniforms they had corralled him in the first place: he had two metallic hip replacements ten years ago and his stainless steel lower denture could cause the metal detector indigestion. After putting his clothes and shoes back on, Smedley headed for the ticket counter to get his boarding pass and seat assignment. He got it: it was D96, meaning that passengers with passes A 1-100, B 1-100, C 1 -100, and D1-95, a total of 395 people would all board the airplane before him on this plane that had a seating capacity of 396. Smedley finally found a seat, 66E, between aisle seat 66 D, and window seat 66F which were occupied by two of the largest human beings he ever saw. He now understood why the airline went by the name of Sardine(s).
The only good thing about his seat was that it was very close to the lavatory, which was important to Smedley because of his problematic prostate, a condition very common to geezers. Fifteen minutes after takeoff, he had to go. The challenge here was to extricate himself out between Tweedledee and Tweedledum, his seat partners. After a sumo wrestling bout Smedley was finally flop-shoved out onto the aisle by his seatmates and headed toward the lavatory. After stumbling into the cramped lavatory closet, he stood reading the FFB News while waiting for something to happen. Something did: he dropped his bifocals into the toilet. Immediately, deafening horns were blaring and several red lights were flashing. Trouble ahead for Smedley as he reached into the abyss to retrieve his expensive glasses.
Next week: Part II of Smedley Flies the Green Skies.