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  • Earle Levenstein

Paranoia



Well, here's the scene, folks; the total truth, pecked out live on my iPad as it was happening; believe me, you couldn't make this up.

Here goes: Scout's honor; the whole deal.

Morning, at the airport; my flight's delayed. There's a storm beating up the west coast. For hours, we're sloshing up coffee, reading all the newspapers, and finally we get the call: we board and that's my total preface.

I'm in my seat on the aisle when this kind of scrawny guy slides in past me to the window seat. I would've pulled back, but he didn't even ask or say a word. I sort of smiled at him, and he was looking at his cell phone and not me, and his lips were moving, and when he sat down, his eyes were closed and his hands were in this like praying position. I sort of had this chill — I mean praying is cool, but our plane is pulling onto the runway, so I'm sort of glancing over, and he's in the middle of some kind of prayer, and I mean, what's a guy praying about before we even take off?

He has a cell phone in his hand; his eyes are closed, and he's texting somebody — like fast thumbs — and what I can see of the screen is crowded with back-and-forth messages and his lips are moving again, creepy; I mean, he's talking to somebody and you know what? Bet he's a terrorist and we're fucked; we're all fucked, and the plane is moving down the runway and the guy's eyes are closed, and his lips are moving, and he's praying again, and he's going to click the button on his iPhone and blow us all up. We're rolling fast, and I can't take my eyes off the guy; I'm all stiff like a rod, and maybe I should jump him. I squeeze my eyes closed and…

Still here; we're cruising along and they're serving food like everything is okay. When the flight attendant asks him what he wants to eat or drink, he's talking so fast I can't understand a word: I mean, it's just gibberish. He hunches his shoulders, his eyes are flashing crazy, and it's like he's going to grab the attendant and choke her or something, but he doesn't. Now he's jumped up, and he's up there with the flight attendants waving his phone and angry, and then he comes back and slides past me. A flight attendant comes over and I see it's about what he paid to have access to stuff on the internet while we're flying and how he can't get anything. Frankly, I had that same experience; it was bullshit, and it cost me some bucks, but now he's back to his seat…

Maybe he's not a terrorist, maybe he's just a nut. Now he's jumped up and I don't know where he's gone... there's no light on above the lavatory up ahead, but he's maybe in the back; why would he go to the back?

Creepy… I'm going to stand like I'm stretching my legs, but here he comes sliding into his seat next to me, not a word, and he seems a little calmer now, but you never know…

He's back on his iPhone, and I'm still not ready to think he's not looney. I mean, we're still in the air you know, and he's sitting in the dark, just looking ahead, and now he's jumped up and to the lavatory, so we're still not okay. Here he is, back into his seat, and the pilot says we're going to land, and the guy's praying again; we're dropping to the runway. You'll know I was right about this guy if they find my iPad somewhere in the wreckage…

Alive; on my way to baggage claim, and there's the guy rushing past, eyes straight ahead, and Jesus, what a fucking trip…


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