Searching for Swimmers–Chapter 18

Jason sat in an aisle seat on the plane and crossed his fingers that the seat next to him would remain empty. He had a lot going on in his head and didn’t really feel like small talk with a stranger. As a precaution, he had brought two books (one electronic, one real), a laptop loaded with television shows and movies, and an mp3 player loaded with music and audio books. The plane was nearly packed and ready to go, so it seemed Jason could use all of his media simply for entertainment purposes. He sunk back into his chair and flipped through Stranger in a Strange Land. It had been close to two decades since he’d read it. He thought he might give it a re-read while on his trip. He took one final look at the entrance to the plane and saw that the aisle was clear, then began his book with the comfort of knowing that he had two seats to stretch out in.

            After only a few pages, Jason realized that he had forgotten that the beginning of the book was so boring. However, he knew there was a good payoff, so he continued reading when he felt a tap on his shoulder. An elderly, woman just over five feet tall, stood to the right of Jason.

            “Excuse me, young man, could you please move so I can get to my seat?”

            “No problem.” Jason got up and moved into the aisle so the old woman could comfortably get into her seat. He was disappointed that he would only have one seat to himself, but if he had to share the two seats with someone, at least the second person was a little old lady. She wouldn’t take up much space and would probably nap the whole way. Score.

            The old woman sat down in her seat with her handbag in her lap. She scooted her bottom around looking for the most comfortable position. Jason sat back down, buckled his seat belt and went back to the book. The old woman began rifling through her purse, extracting candy, a book and cigarettes, and placed them in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of her. “Oh, that’s right. Can’t smoke on the planes anymore like back in the good old days.” She put the cigarettes back into her purse then turned to Jason. “Young man, could you help me out and place my bag under my seat for me? Just a bit of a stretch for an old gal like me, and I finally found that perfect, comfortable spot.”

            “Sure, no problem.” Jason quickly performed the requested task and methodically went back to his reading.

            “It sure will be nice to get out of this cold for awhile. Don’t you think?”

            “Yeah, sure,” Jason replied without removing his eyes from his book.

            “Oh, I didn’t even consider the possibility that you might be returning to Austin. Are you from Denver or are you from Austin?”

            “Denver,” Jason replied.

            “Me too. So why the visit to Austin? Me, I’m going to visit my granddaughter and her family.”

            “Well, it’s a bit complicated.”

            “According to the ticket, we have three hours for you to explain it.”

            Jason looked up from his book and stared at the old women. He paused, thinking about what he should do, then flagged down a flight attendant. “In that case, what’s your poison?”


            “Grace, I guess I just don’t know what I’m hoping to gain by this trip. I guess closure for something that, frankly, terrifies me—having a kid.”

            “That certainly is a story, Jason. Can’t say I’ve heard anything like it in all my years.” Grace put down her empty cup next to the empty, tiny bottle of Jack Daniels and pushed the flight attendant call button. “In my day, if you wanted to have a child you just fucked. I swear, you kids today make life way too complicated.”

            The flight attendant stood next to Jason. “Yes, how may I help you?” she asked in a high-pitched fake voice.

            “Another drink,” Grace said, holding up her empty bottle.

            “Ma’am, we will be landing soon and are no longer serving alcohol.”

            “What about that man over there?” Grace pointed to another passenger being served a screwdriver.

            “Uh, he ordered right before last call. Now if you could give me your trash and put—”

            “Don’t make a poor old woman get out of her seat and go have a chat with the captain. You bring me another bourbon.”

            “But, ma’am.”

            “Do the easy thing here and bring her another drink,” Jason said quietly into her ear.


            “And one for my pal, Jason.”

            Jason looked over at the flight attendant. “I’m good.”

            “Wimp,” said Grace.


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