The night air is rather refreshing, at least for the first eight thousand feet or so while I tumble head over through the roar of the uprush of sweltering air. Any pool of sweat along my saturated neckline is now quickly absolved of its undoing with the constant push of the wind’s wide thumb. There is a sense of peace about this stillness as if from the lens of a freshly exposed and altogether horrific picture. Each movement is a still-shot frame by exposing frame until that final moment when there is no more sky to fall from and no more wind to hold me up. There will be one eventual exposure when the red will blossom so bright the whole night will know of the garden this falling flower has planted. Accidents will happen to the best laid out plans of the most regimented connoisseur of discipline and divine intervention will simply not be there to catch him. This revelation as I am learning is in the acceptance of things I cannot change and the serenity will at last come to me in the end of this invisible freight train groundward.
Out of the mouth of the garden of chaos blooms the passengers of Flight 1189. I am tired now, my eyes sleepy with the madness of adrenaline. I can find no more comfort in closing my rinded eyes or resting my aches in this forsaking knife of a wind. I am sliding down the vespertine backdrop toward the inevitability. I am but a prop now in the Midnight Summer’s Dream of a God I have hardly known. As close as I am to touching the cheek of the ultimate Creator is as far away as I am from slipping soft as a dream into an Infinite Palm of safety. Where are you dear God when I am in need of you most? Will I always be that bastard son to you, even in these last descending moments until whatever crescendo may come? I think maybe so.
Women are said to fall with their faces pushing back down in the Earth and men will fall with their backs to the wind so their crotches are not revealed in the excitement of death’s sensuality. Make no mistake about it there is sensuality in falling from an exploding airplane. I have torqued my neck against the great hand of the night wind to check for any signs of excitement and despite the runny fecal matter I feel in the bands of my boxer-briefs, no excitement as of yet. There it is I have said it. I have shat myself and am in idle waiting of a hard-on as I fall twenty-nine thousand feet to whatever lies below. There are several women screaming a few hundred yards off, I can see their flailing arms mismanaging against the wind as if newly shrugged birds off their metallic stoops. They are screaming, one in full cry as if catching the scent of a rabbit, one only striping white in the vacant expression of dry, expended throats. I do hope she closes her jaw before she swallows a bug or worse a bird. I have the time and have inspected that they are indeed floating face-first. I’ll be damned! Perhaps there is something to that. There is surely truth in the simplicity that in approximately twenty-two minutes I will splatter headlong onto someone else’s sidewalk. In a town, without a name for me, from a plane no one knew has fallen, from a sky no one can see amidst all this Mideast blackness.
No one looks up into the night sky anymore. I am falling into the lap of someone who will not even see me when I hit them. They will stand sipping the whip cream from their Frappuccino through an immeasurable straw and I will land sticky wet on top of them in what will be labeled an unusual death. I will be rambling words until either my heart fails, or the mud or concrete will place a punctuation ending to this pathetic sentence. I will probably not be so fortunate to have that imminent heart attack of the typical falling victim. If I know me, I will be rambling words in a conversation with myself, a million selves with no one hearing me. And with no hearing me, everyone will.
I am remembering that I have conversations with folks every day however I rarely say what it is that I actually mean. My ex-girlfriend and I talk but we do not listen and we certainly do not hear. Ok we argue, to be honest as a dead man falling, no sense in lying this close to death. I would feel cheated in knowing that this one lie was the cause of me making the cut for the elevator up or the trap door down. These are the randomness that is the things I am thinking about as I am falling. I have time to think, another nineteen minutes anyway, so I am thinking of my ex-girlfriend texting me to watch our three year old son. I miss her tits, I do, and I am honest to say so. I miss the verbena smell of her shaven legs. I’d watch him for a blowjob right about now I can practice saying before I hit the pavement. Where did we go wrong anyway? A lot can be changed in the oral pleasures of one another’s lap. Of all couples, we knew that best.
Ah fuck! Now I know where the excitement comes from. When you are falling at the rate of a hundred feet per second, you flash all the woulda-couldas, all the should-have beens through the last filters of your mind. Time is holding its breath you see, just for this moment and the world sits still and in one eternal exhale all that will ever be said is said. The world is distant still and the language of the night is talking up into my face uninterrupted and I can either try to talk over it or shut and wait my turn. In this odd predicament I am not afforded the luxury of waiting my turn. So I will begin to speak slowly, perfectly annunciating every sentence and fusing thought into provocative chimeras of sentences. I am beginning to ramble the closer objects appear and the more I hear the whistle of the buildings or feel the hot exhale of the cornfield upon my back. I may even be able to time the last sentence I will ever speak just so as I finish my impromptu speech of kings, I will have paused to take a last breath right as I land on that someone and their cool half ounce of whip cream. I can see it from here. I am ok with it because I have no other choice but be ok with it.
I have made peace in the last fifteen seconds more so than I have made in most of my entire life combined. My ex and I would be fornicating in many new positions at this very instance had I made the same concessions. We would be copulating like sweaty pink animals across the arms of the sofa. We would be showering with hands full of each other in soapy lust before falling off to sleep in the deep spoon of couple-hood. If only we had made the same concessions. Only babies sleep as good as fresh sex. Our son would be a one-home toddler instead of a two. He would go to sleep, with his little Chiclets of white teeth brushed so clean and he would say his prayers with his mommy and his daddy. To whom I don’t know but the idea of him praying adds to the serenity of my falling. He would giggle up into the dark figure over him and know that he is loved, then he would poot and all heaven would be just right. Truth is I always thought I was being a good daddy. Even in death a daddy will never know if he is being a good daddy until the child has grown and can say so.
Even now I feel his love inside my chest and I know that I will turn it off closer to the ground just so I know that he will not feel the impact of his daddy across the ground, the hood of a car or in the awning of a franchise Starbuck. I do not want him to think of me that way. I would want him to remember the wrestling matches where he was masked Ironman and I was Khan, the snake from The Jungle Book. I would lisp my S’s silly around him, calling him a man-cub and using his blanket as my coils. We would laugh so hard as he would extend his tiny hand in the manner only befitting a true Ironman and blast me with his repulsors. I would kiss his forehead so he knew I loved him and we would start all over again. The most serene part of being with a child is their ability to make every moment seem like brand new.
I was just hit in the head by a canned beverage. I imagine it was a soda of some sort, some in-flight drink I was supposed to have been offered before the engine took out the right wing and sent us into tail spin. There was no time of course, even in slow motion, to make out what kind of drink or even reach and grab it. God knows I’m thirsty enough. I would’ve opened the blasted thing right here, mid-cloud and make a tray table in any damn position I choose and sip an icy beverage until that time. Who am I kiddin, I’dda gulped it down through the ashes of my throat. Screaming once the plane explodes into a million floating, engine-less parts above your head, can only last say a true ten seconds or so, depending on the condition of your lungs, the natural health of those same lungs and how much panic you have in them. Once the panic is gone, this falling thing is really not so bad.
I can see the figure of a woman about a seventy-five yards or so away falling face down. She is conscious and waving her arms like she expects her wings to work right now. I laugh hey lady! You ain’t got no wings! Then shrug. She apparently cannot hear me or either she is ignoring the only last friend she will have. Who else will listen to her babbling on the way down? I wonder if she gives blowjobs flashes into my head. This is why I am if you have not figured it out.
I find time to watch her in my air hammock groundward. She has a white blouse, or at least I can tell it used to be white. It is now tattered, with her left breast sort of poking out. This is my nightmare, so if I see a breast, then I see a breast. In fact, it could have been a bra, a scarf, a torn off pocket anything but a breast. This could very well be the last woman I will ever get to admire so I am gendering for as long as I can on the way down. Who am I kidding? It is the only non-amputee person I might even see on the way down. I imagine I can see the outline of her breasts in the moonlight. She has nice imaginary breasts and a name tag. She must be a stewardess I surmise. I cannot make out the letters on her badge from here so I name her the only name I can think, the name of my ex, Jessi. Jessi and I are falling together just as we always have. That makes my mind a little more at ease. Odds that we actually met our romance head-on on a plane are freakishly low however we did.
Just as I was adjusting the crotch of my riding up pants, a seat, a fucking passenger seat with the tray blown off its upright axis, nearly struck across me perpendicular. It had been charred from the blast. I could notice there was drizzle along the seat, as if someone had melted candle wax across it. If I had more time to examine it I think would place it for human fat. When the human body is burned in a flash of fire, the moisture is left is waxy wads sprayed wherever the victim was. In this case, this was evidently one obese human being as wads of fat tissue had been congealed along the head rest, along both arms and was dangling from the bolt holes where the seat had been blown free. There was a cobweb of fat clinging from the undercarriage and spiraling upward catching on the pouch where they put all the flight safety brochures. This poor bastard had exploded like a roman candle. It was a strange sort of sight and for a brief moment I thought I could see chicken cordon bleu as if the stewardess just placed it in front of me. It is funny how the mind relates things in times of duress.
I am starting to take inventory of the items that are falling with me and around me, like the seventeen forks and seven plastic trays, eight if you include the melted one on the serving cart a few miles ago. There have been thirty-seven minuet bottles of various liquors so far that I could no more reach for than I could for safety. I saw a tampon dispenser, a half-dozen or so purses and backpacks and a thumb, or so I think it was. It could have been someone’s big toe. Of all the damned things I could think of and actually expect to see when falling from an airplane, a Bible was by far the last on my list. Yet there it went about a mile ago, the shining gold cross splayed across the front cover, its bind mangled in black char. I was sure it still had a hand wrapping around the lower spine of it. I could not be sure though. I managed to compile my short list before nodding off from the high of oxygen flooding my head.
The night air is warm, much warmer than I remember the weatherman said it would be. Warm as bourbon. Warm as cock and hot cunt I belch out. I am not much for cheating my own reality anymore. I have a total of about twenty-two more minutes of gargantuan lifetime to slide away from me like runny yolk down the backsplash of stars and into the black cast iron frying pan of a modern highway. It is eventual suicide however suicide by definition nonetheless. I am responsible for buying the plane ticket, I paid for the patchouli scented taxi ride, and I stuffed hangers of quasi-metro non-button downs into that suitcase. I must have asked for the plane to go down just not aloud. I have credit cards full of J. Crew garment dyed shirts, sandblasted 36X30 denim, crew athletic socks of all the same brand, all fourteen pair of those Sam’s Club specials. My entire life is now one long orated letter of inventory hell-bent on dying over a span of seventy or so meters when we all meet the abrupt stamp. I am remembering that I once bought a fine hardwood dining room table for seating eight when I don’t even have six friends. I just wanted to impress the girl I was dating or the six friends I did have. I wanted to fake them out, lie to them. I once purchased a twenty-eight hundred dollar red English leather sofa just so some rescue kitten could sharpen its claws in polka dots all over the seat and backrest. I sacrificed that sofa for that little bag of fur that wouldn’t take a notion of respect to find the friggin’ litter box. I had underwear with another man’s signature because I wanted to be included into the normality of American society. I used to masturbate to other women’s faces not the porn magazine kind either I mean the clothing catalogs girls with skimpy yet revealing outfits. Somewhere in all of that fantasy I lost the only real love that I remember in Jessi. She claimed I was addicted to porn. Maybe I was. I used to deflect it back toward her thinking that maybe if she had been more committed we would have had more sex. Or maybe not. I once read that it is only when we lose everything that we are truly free to do anything. Really I might say that the only freedom one gets who is losing everything is the freedom to be completely honest by cutting through the years of built up cover-ups, the lies, the convenient truths. Thinking about my finances, I think that credit card bill by credit card bill, I have achieved an adequate and measurable bottom line figure to my losses. The ole credit score with finally plateau out at around 730 by the time the estate is resolved. Above all things, I can now say with a certainty that at least I will hit that rock bottom that I have been trying so acutely to hit.
I must have too little oxygen in my brain now as I decide I want to fall naked back to the soil from which I came. I was once flying compost, 220 lbs. of recyclable waste to grow the next generation of American babies. When I hit the ground facing up into the eyes of a God who has seemingly forsaken me so many times, I will at last know the true meaning of darkness. I do find peace in just about anything now. For instance, I remember that this morning’s sunrise was the most exceptionally beautiful moment I will have ever witnessed and never even saw but a glimpse of it. As I descend, I can remember noticing that the evening’s sunset glowing orange-red into the window of the Colorado Springs Boeing window was the single most birthing panoramic epiphany, short of my son’s birth. I had missed it too. In this end I finally have found what I have been missing: Me.
I unthread the Windsor knot of my necktie, the same cornflower blue noose I’ve been swinging from these last seven and one half years in an office that undervalues good ideas and team effort. Seems they only wanted to perpetuate the fallacies of a good ole boy network that has been in form since the advent of capitalism. The tie flashes off into the blackness and I smell the rush of musk and cologne blowing off my skin, sifting through my clothes. I woke up this morning with full intention of flying west to tell a woman that I was infinitely in love, that I could not live without her. How apropos this is or in the least ironic. Our relationship crashed so many times I wonder how the plane ever got off the runway. If I had thought about that this morning I would’ve laid out more appropriate attire. Instead of dressing in the slave clothing of marketing whizzes, I would have shown the woman I am so internally infused with some individualistic sense of emotional giving. How could I care about you when I don’t even care about myself? God please crash this plane!
I unbutton one button at a time, slowly and deliberately rolling over in this enormous womb of negrous midnight so the sleeves will pull back and off of my torso. I have things working on all cylinders now. With each button release, the wind howls as it swallows the buttons, the strings and eventually the whole shirt. I watch the whirl of the invisible arms waving inside the sleeves as it tumbles away. Next I open my mouth as wide as I can, until it hurts in my jaws. I wrap my mouth around the infinite barrel of my life and blow a sweet fear into the reeds of my skull. If this was going to be suicide, then this will be bliss. The hairs of my armpit are tickling in the wind and my undershirt is annoyingly riding up into my chin. I take a few seconds from looking down to tug at the sleeves, rolling in the wind as if I am a breach baby and struggling for the correct exit. I was face first toward my door, my body knock-knocking against this heaven’s door. Bob Dylan was a genius after all, and a saint to show me the way home after all. I hope there is music piped in where I am going. I will miss it. After silence, the nearest most sound to expressing the inexpressible is music. So I hold tight in my grasp a balled up Ramones tee shirt then release into a pluming black magpie darting away with the last of my love of music.
My nipples are dry and chaffing quickly and oddly enough hard as chick peas. I toss off my penny loafers into the bite of the wind and watch them shrink from sight like raisins in the night air. They didn’t even put up a fight with the wind. I suppose they also know they are as helpless in this fall as I would be waving my arms against it. This is inevitable; this is me spiraling down the predestined and foreordained timeline of a God who has its back turned right now. I am freer than I have ever been. As I burst through a chubby pillow of cloud, I fling my fourteen dollar socks to the shadows, watching the squares of Middle American cornfields grow slightly larger. My toes wiggle seemingly larger as if dog’s tongue lapping at fresh wind from a rolled down car window. I understand now how my shepherd-hound mix would find sublime intoxication in his muzzle being swallowed by the breath of God.
I unbuckle my newly purchased Banana Republic belt and snap it off into the rain of assorted and swirling airplane parts. I had made poor judgment that all the parts had fallen before me. I watch it snag on the extension handle of a rolling luggage as if hung by invisible fingers on a towel bar by a shower stall. This is surreal art in the falling, leaping and dancing of every contorted weave of shrapnel, of every stolen limb in the dark pockets of Middle America. I am stroking against the heavens a masterpiece of nakedness and originality.
I began to watch the far off objects form shape as if I was creating them by falling so I extend my newly acquired artist’s hand out to the dark pallet and make my first etch into the black canvas. I watch my hand make shape a line and twine it into a river and then I make quadratic angles turn to highways, or so I imagine. I am still a good distance from making clear objects of moment however I could make outlines of some recognizable features. There are water wells in perfect circles and ponds and pools in odd semi-circles. A pond I think to myself or perhaps something else altogether different because I am still so far out. Anyway, there are rows of lights being laid out now in strands like white Christmas lights in slow motion flowing in opposite directions. There is still time to live off a breath of nothing but the entire night. Gravity has become my only condition as I am no longer worried about the returning of the Redbox movie, the cable bill or who will eventually find whatever is left of me. Hell with Duke Energy I scream out with my arms and legs kicking on strings of my new reenergized self. Hell with AT&T and Geico as well as the little gecko too. Hell with the newness of my forty-seven LED television, hell the stack of resalable textbooks I have never found the time for. Hell with my ex and her perfect ripe breasts and hell with the hip lines of every woman who had ever rejected me. Hell with the ones who loved me too as much as hell with the ones who never did. Hell with the parents for not getting the abortion they both wanted, hell with the sister for being such a coward of a mother and hell with my best friend for having the perfect relationship and pissing it away every time. While I am on this rant hell with the perfect relationship that does not exist anyway except in the moments one thinks over just before their death. Everything becomes perfection when you have the time to brush away the perceptional value that has rotted it all this time. Hell with that Bob Marley wanna-be poet motherfucker who once accused me of being a racist and a bigot! You know who you are! We are all the same color in death you cocksucker! Hell the poetry I used to write, hell with Amiri’s black poem, the unwritten white poem, the anti-male feminist poem, the Ginsberg cock and cunt poem! Hell with it!
I was screaming all this to top my lungs at the open air. I was angry at the situation now and spat at God for it. Why not? I had dedicated my late teenage years and early twenties worshipping, attending gospels, firesides, sanctuaries, drum circles, for the faith I had been promised to fall asleep to softly into the arms of a God awaiting in harmony for me when I had been arisen. What good are those damn garments now? The only good faith I can muster right now is in the life insurance I had wisely submitted to a few years back in case such an event occurred. They should seriously consider using this as a marketing lever. I have had the chance once to commit suicide with the business end of an available 9mm, the smooth steel blade of a straight razor, or by the burning lungs of being drowned, all to be abandoned by hope now just to be tossed like a stale bag of flight nuts out a plane. To think of it! No sooner do I finish my mid-air rant, when I make a startling realization. To add to all of the thunder of the exploding plane I now get to see just how much this Sunday School God works in the proverbial mysterious ways. I begin to feel drops of rain welt across my forearm, and then multiply quickly against my forehead. God had thundered trying to interrupt a dying man’s plea for salvation minutes from his plummet. I had not heard him as selfish people often do not hear what is outside of their own eardrums. I at least have the good sense to know when I’m being selfish. A flash of paparazzi cracked off in a white whip toward where the grey horizon is ominously meeting the black one. This was lightening at nine-thousand feet. The thunder was rolling into my bones like a herd of plains buffalo from eastern self to western self. I am in fact ringing as if a church bell hollowed and hanging from the steeple lip of a stuttering God. The rain falls on me in a million ideas, wet with the dirty notions of living again and soaking me with the resolution that in a few short moments this will all be over. Each droplet holds a positive love energy and a negative anxiety attack in me. I watch some drop as if steel ball peens from a boilermaker brow. Others explode into silver spiders across the objects they fall into. There are refractions of moonbeam and refractions on refractions of star drizzle hanging in the pitch eye of this warm, night sky like tassels strewn onto one universal black Christmas tree. Mysterious ways indeed! There is no other way to look at falling from an airplane except to give in to the minute review of occasional happenings of one’s life and imagine a more befitting outcome. My life as it would seem has turned out to be one tumbling regret after the remorseful other. At one-hundred twenty miles per hour and from about twenty-two thousand feet, the human body is said to have approximately two minutes to gather the last remaining differences of one’s affairs and sort them out before obtaining a lottery ticket into eternity. I had already been subject to hypoxia, now that I have had ample time to consider the word, there it is. As for the bulk of affairs, my skeletons would have to sort themselves post-mortem.
I wheel back over face first to see better prepare myself for the landing. I recall reading the pamphlet in the magazine pocket as follows: “With a target in mind, the next consideration is body position. To slow your descent, emulate a sky diver. Spread your arms and legs, present your chest to the ground, and arch your back and head upward. This adds friction and helps you maneuver. But don’t relax. This is not your landing pose. This does not make a falling passenger feel any more consoled however I can see the relevance to sharing it with the safely seated and fastened passengers.
The question of how to achieve ground contact remains, regrettably, given your predicament, a subject of debate. A 1942 study in the journal War Medicine noted “distribution and compensation of pressure play large parts in the defeat of injury.” Recommendation: wide-body impact. But a 1963 report by the Federal Aviation Agency argued that shifting into the classic sky diver’s landing stance—feet together, heels up, flexed knees and hips—best increases survivability. The same study noted that training in wrestling and acrobatics would help people survive falls. Martial arts were deemed especially useful for hard-surface impacts: “A ‘black belt’ expert can reportedly crack solid wood with a single blow,” the authors wrote, speculating that such skills might be transferable.” There is often a fine line between reality and the causality in a moment such this. I have now been caused to consider the landing, as if that were at option or a series of choices I have. How queer after all! My eyes begin to catch the outlines of a two dots twining their way through one of the shaded squares I have noticed growing exceptionally larger now. I consider the pamphlet and search for water sources, a glisten in the panes moon fleck perhaps, a haystack of indeterminate size. I even consider the hope of making out an awning of some little coffee shop by some infinitesimal percentage that I may steer toward it. I squint into the black country of night and see very little. There is a speck of light that just now revealed itself just out the corner of my eye. I would guess it to be a bar hound (and I would know all about a bar hound) in a jalopy of a sort. I imagine the old days thinking this driver to be slurring classic rock songs and swerving ditch to country ditch until crashing through the fence of a quiet hassock of a farm. I am still too far away to really determine what it was but my imagination is proving to be both curse and consolation in this rapture of dying.
What would that hillbilly say when he wakes in the morning ditch to the hiss of crunch-folded radiator, cockadooing of rooster and a naked splash of a cadaver blooming up from his car hood? Some night! I actually find some salvation in the knowing that the only person who will see me naked as the shriveled barnacle on the hull of the S.S. Hooters might be this Chuck. Of course with my luck, I will land face first through the outhouse of a well-used farming community. I don’t even know if that is possible. It’s my imagination and I can afford it whatever misbehavior it so chooses.
The truth is that no matter how I had once planned to go with all the panache of a wealthy entrepreneur there is no full-proof way of knowing how I would have ever gone. When I was a young boy, freshly graduated from high school, I was invincible and the world was one helluva oyster for me to feast on. I lived in the moment, every single iota of passing moment, enjoying the ignorance of my youth or so I thought it to be ignorance. In hindsight I am sure anyone who has died would forewarn the living to not worry so much about the saving and forethought, to not be so adamant about the affairs of this disposable life. There is only one shot at this life and it is not a dress rehearsal, it is not the read-through, the temporary inconvenience, the unread life with all its missing topography of blots, stains and dog ears. It is not the unfinished blur of life from up here seeing the Earth’s blue turn to the macro event of black space, or the forgiveness that seems so much easier to dole to the living and receive from the departed. It is no longer the illusion of control that we pack over our shoulders, the undeliverable postcards from the other side, the impending of the inexcusable religious salesman, the precious possession of time by which gets wasted on talking about myself. It is no longer the regrettable unfinished work having never begun to begin with or the trailing behind of all those exciting new ventures that simply will never be gotten rid of. I wish I could say that it is no longer the architecture of building a future, not even the scaffolding that precludes it however life is anonymously vindictive that way. I boarded this plane with full intention of moving frankly ungratefully beyond and with equal indifference to the blind cognition that it could very well be the last day of my seemingly bane existence. There is only the improvisation of a living language left in the lungs of the dying mouth and what becomes of the words hung out on the drying brittle clothesline of the lips when we pass. This life becomes our old address book that is simply discarded. I will mine to those who have not lived or think they do no longer wish to. I will mine to the safety first people, the lookers of both ways, the intentional and deliberate measurer, cautious taunts and the youthfully ignorant.
In my falling, to the airlines I would propose now in my death that there either be the omission of the use of oxygen masks altogether or the simple redesigning of them to look like Mickey Mouse. In the end or the inevitably of the end, we are all reduced to being falling children who are trying to do little more than die with a good laugh on our face. In this moment, the ground is falling toward me and the sky is reaching up toward the fields and I take final measure of the world that I am used to calling my home. I can only lie back now and look up into the eyes of the shadow-less space looming like a fathering figure down into the galaxian bedroom around me. With that I smile completely at the thought of a son I know I loved with a father’s soul and imagine I will soon find out if my father awaits me. I do not pray to a God as I imagine they have been much too busy for a reply. There is a silence now in these closing fractions of continuum and I giggle up into a dark figure I see coming to meet me, into the eyes of the stars and find myself having to wonder if I have ever been loved at all.
Causes William Lyles Supports
Social equality rights, religious freedoms and the gun tolerance and control.