FLYING THIRD CLASS
Imagine yourself boarding an airplane like most of us do. You bring your bag through the little causeway and step up into the door. You glance over at the cockpit and think, "You know, if I really wanted to, I could just run in, grab the controls, and fly around like my dad's car or my uncle's speedboat. Just for shits. Just to see what it can do. 'Don't worry, Captain, I'll be safe. I'm gonna stay in JFK airspace.'" You drop the thought - fuck it, you tell yourself - and walk back into the aisle.
You walk down past the first class section, with its plush, extra-wide seats with Tempur-Pedic cushioning and remote-controlled self-massagers. Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, and/or Oprah is reading the premium-subscriber version of SkyMall, as their flight attendant (Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, and/or Oprah's body double) serves them slow-roasted Indonesian venison filet on a bed of heirloom fennel and Italian gold leaf. The movie is something good, like The English Patient. It's not all glitz, though - because of budget restrictions, the champagne will now be served in mere silver goblets.
Past the curtain you reach coach class - the you've-seen-one-you've-seen-'em-all section. Gray-haired dads in floppy hats and 7-11 sunglasses. Hipster guys who would have no business on a flight to Birmingham, Alabama if his girlfriend's parents didn't live there. A strange German kid who won't stop staring at you. Everyone gets ham and cheese croissanwiches - even the Orthodox Jewish couple in row 28, who are forced to kind of sit awkwardly in its presence. The movie will be be a two-year-old rom-com staring Sandra Bullock and/or Kate Hudson. You look back towards the people having a ball in first class; the curtain dividing the section is thick enough to enforce segregation, but thin enough to let them mock you with their presence.
You are now herded to the back of the plane as a flight attendant turns a latch to a tightly sealed door as you enter your section - third class.
The seats are made of stained green fabric and wicker, stretched over lead piping. Children are placed in dog cages into overhead compartments. You are brought to your seat, between a dirt-blasted window smeared with a handprint, and a massive old lady who periodically starts laughing manically at nothing. As you take your seat, you feel something moist.
The giant door is slammed shut, locking away the croissanwich-eating bourgeoisie over there in coach. A giant, bald, muscular man with a fur cap and lazy eye, makes his way to the center of the aisle. Behind him is a wordless, moustachioed man in his mid-sixties, wearing aviator sunglasses and tattered military gear, while brandishing an AK-47.
"Your attentions please," the bald man barks in an unplaceable Eastern European accent. "This is Jackal speaking. You are now afford the privilege of this flight in third-class section. As this plane prepare to mock God by punching into the sky, we are now make special announcement.
"Because this trip more than two hours length, we serve you dish of verglev, seasoned with sliced mild grzyenküu and boiled in yaxpis. You will also be given drink of nagretsl'n, which is strong spirit brewed from finest moss. Jackal does not permit you to leave plane if you do not finish nagretsl'n. We do permit you to bring outside food or livestock onto flight. If this is stolen by gypsy or plane urchin, airline is not responsible.
"Above head is small vent and switch. If you are cold, flip switch to bring about steam heat. If you are hot, fuck you! Jackal train for years in Blydenkyo Desert with nothing but porn and small bottle of nagretsl'n. Do not tell Jackal of your petty wants, you scum!
"For music on flight, we have choice between recording of Anthems of the Grand Military Chorale, condemned man in bunk who play harmonica, or greivous wailing of mother who has lost her children. Film to be shown on plane is glorious classic BL-32Z Belt Cutter Instructions and Handling Information, which demonstrates power and triumph of BL-32Z Belt Cutter. Also is children's film favorite, Little Otter Dzorvznypelotkn. Boys and girls love and laugh at famous part, when Little Otter Dzorvznypelotkn dies.
"Now is safety announcement. Instructions shall be given once only. Do not question Jackal. "Please notice safety card in front of you." You pull out a card that features few words, overpowered by a sea of shapes (hands, triangles, spirals, lightning bolts, cats,houses, and skulls - lots of skulls) intended to suggest instructions.
"In case of impending doom," continues Jackal, "card contains instruction for how to make seat belts from the clothing of others. I trust you already have prior military instruction on how to tie knots. "When window break open and air suck out of plane, you will be give special oxygenation system, provide generously to us from Museum of Military and Spaceflight." The man with the gun lifts up an old gas mask and helmet, with a worn but conspicuous CCCP written across it. "Place over face and turn compression dial until red needle goes to я.
"In case of water crashing, travelers of third class will be jettison to save weight. You will be permit to use the bodies of the weak for floatation. If bodies fail to stay above water -"
Just then the plane lurches forward, picking up speed. People, babies, and cats stir the silence. The two men take their jump seats facing unblinkingly towards the passengers - but not before Jackal delivers one final warning:
"Men and women, the flight is begin. Please take moment to pray to your God."
And then, after a pause, he adds - "He will not hear you."