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Pan Am Jesus

by Robert Andersen

He took a deep breath and sighed.

“I am flat-lining,” his mind told him.

He shrugged to himself and began to walk. He did not care.

“This is a part of being dimmed,” his mind told him.

He strode forward, his head up and eyes staring at the ground in front of him. He did this routinely, as we all do.

He passed through Newark International Airport quietly. People moved all around him. They no longer mattered to him. They had taken the status of objects. They only existed as scenery driven by some chaotic physical law he was too apathetic to consider.

“My name is Legion — for we are many,” they said to him, but he wasn’t listening.

The cool terminal air took hold of his sensations. His body felt heavy and bothered, as if weary of its owner, eager to be cast off; complaining. The cold too became part of the background of the world. His body had become a machine only, to be fueled and maintained only as far as he needed it.

He stepped into the bathroom and into a stall. He put the seat down and sat. A cigarette made its way to his lips from his breast pocket. He thought of the “No Smoking” sign on the door as he lit it. As he pulled on his cigarette, he became lost in thought and forgot the satisfaction of smoking.

He found himself in the mirror again.

“You are dead,” his mind told him.

He splashed water on his face. The cold reached the back of his eyes. He began to feel more aware but slipped into thought again.

“Your ticket appears to be in order, sir.”

He came to. Her smile looked like the bending of the world, or plastic, or cliché here or... he lost interest. He was confused at why she seemed to be bothering him, but then he remembered where he was and took the ticket from her hand.

“We are now boarding all passengers,” came from somewhere behind him. Without effort, he found himself in a line.

“Who is moving who? More routine. Sensible.”

Some talking head examined his ticket and suddenly he was seated on the plane. When the plane began to move, fear struck him. His body displayed the symptoms for this state almost in front of him.

He became very uncomfortable.

In his youth, he’d been overly sensitive, overly coddled, overly sheltered. The world was dim in color now, but the vivid impressions from it, even diminished, tied up with his sensitivity, turned the world and its idealism against him and brushed the world into grays.

“The world is dead now,” his mind told him.

“Go away.” he told his mind. “You’re always bothering me.”

The plane ascended and left stability behind.

His symptoms no longer stood in front of him. They demonized him.

“You are Jesus and I am the pig. Send me into the lake to drown me and save this man.”

He struggled not to vomit and gripped his chair. His self surged, frantic and over-whelmed, both vivid and vicious. His stomach churned, his insides became taut, his blood hot, his breath rapid.

Next to him sat a bloated woman having a trite conversation. He looked away.

He felt faint and fought to keep conscious. He vomited to his lips, but swallowed it. He felt every moment as longer and more vivid. Blurs first, then colors. Then consciousness left him.

He felt a tap on his shoulder and opened his eyes. He smiled. He’d been purged. He felt alive, connected.

“Sir... sir?” He felt her hand rustling his shoulder. She was still touching him. “We’re deboarding. Please gather up your things.”

He stepped off the plane. He could feel the tunnel, then the terminal and the people around him. He walked through the airport until he reached a ticket counter.

“May I help you?”

“Yeah,” he said “I need a one-way ticket to Newark. Any will do.”

“Let’s do it again.”

Copyright © 2008 by Robert Andersen

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