"I'm just saying, it doesn't make any sense," I say. "I mean, I know the whole concept about lift keeping the airplane aloft but, I mean, really? A 450 ton airplane is held up by air?"
The middle aged woman to my right studiously looks out the plane window and refuses to acknowledge my point. The man on the aisle appears to be in a deep sleep, although I swear I saw him peek out at me from beneath his eyelids.
I hate the middle seat. If the plane crashes it's the worst seat to be in. The passenger in the aisle seat can easily reach the exit and the person next to the window can smash the glass and escape. But the middle seat? You're buzzard food.
"Look, tell me I'm wrong and I'll be quiet the rest of the trip. I promise."
This catches the woman's attention and the man suddenly stirs from his slumber.
"I mean, do you both really, really believe that the plane doesn't crash because of the air under its wings?" I ask, half hoping that they will indeed offer a rationale argument.
The man opens his mouth, then closes it. The woman's forehead wrinkles.
There is a bump and a shake, and the plane drops like a stone. It's like we're on a roller coaster. The woman and the man both scream. I would too except I'm biting my lip too hard to utter a peep.
The plane catches itself and the captain's voice comes over the intercom. "Sorry about that folks. Hit a bit of chop but we're okay now. We're going to see if we can't find some smoother air, but in the meantime, we're turning on the fasten seat belts sign." There is a soft ding and the picture of the two hands bringing together a seat belt's hook and clasp is illuminated.
"Looks like the law of gravity is catching up with us. Did he sound worried to anyone else?" I ask. There is another round of bouncing.
I feel a tap on my shoulder.
A large, burly man with a crooked nose and a scar on his chin leans forward and says, "Sir, would you come with me?"
I have no intention of going anywhere with this Luca Brasi clone. "Sorry, seat belts. Gotta stay put." I tap the sign to emphasize my point.
The man flips open a leather badge. "Sir, I'm an Air Marshall. Please don't make a fuss."
I climb over the aisle seat man, who seems a little too relieved at my departure.
Another round of turbulence has the whole cabin screaming. No one notices the Air Marshall marching me to the rear of the plane.
The marshall opens a door behind the kitchenette and pushes me into a room barely large enough for the two of us.
"What is this?" I ask.
"A holding pen for disruptive passengers," he shoves me into a chair. " Are you trying to get us killed?
"What do you mean?"
"What do you think keeps this airplane flying?"
"Funny, I was just having this conversation. It's lift right? The air under the wings exerts an upward force greater than the air passing over the top of the wing, because, ummm, I forget actually."
"Don't be ridiculous. The only thing that keeps us aloft is suspension of disbelief. The minute people stop believing that the plane can stay up, we plummet 30,000 feet to die in a fiery crater. Oh, we can survive the occasional doubter like yourself, but when you start yammering on about logic and gravity, well, people around you start asking questions. That's when the turbulence begins. And the more turbulence, the more questions, until the next thing you know..."
"Splattered in a crater."
"Now you're catching on."
"But people must know the truth. The pilots..."
"Are the strongest believers of them all. You stay away from the pilots," the marshall replies.
"What happens now?" I ask.
"You're going to spend the duration of this flight with me. When we land, I can either add you to the No Fly list or you can start making yourself believe."
"No it's not. I myself realize it is completely ludicrous that a steel tube remains suspended above the earth, yet I choose to believe it's possible."
"Look, do you believe the sun sets because the Earth rotates on its axis?"
"Same thing," said the Marshall.
It takes a moment for his words to sink in. "Are you saying..."
"Shhhh," the Marshall places a finger over his lips. "One existential crisis at a time."
I lean back against the wall of the plane, close my eyes, and will myself to believe. After all, there are plenty of things I believe in that I have never seen. Like, Antarctica. Or Bigfoot. Or aliens. So, if those are real, doesn't it make perfect sense for a plane to fly, regardless of the reason?
Slowly the turbulence calms.
"Good, that's good," says the Marshall.
The Captain's voice comes over the loudspeaker. "Looks like we're evening out folks. You can all sit back and enjoy the rest of the trip."
"See, that wasn't so hard, was it?" asks the Marshall.
I have to admit, it wasn't. I'm in a huge vehicle that weighs the equivalent of 450 elephants, so what? Every minute of every day one of these is traveling somewhere in the world. And the vast majority stay in the sky. Why shouldn't mine?
Still, the whole sun set thing is a bit troublesome...
THE END copyright 2015 John Lance