Excerpt: Tin Man by Tom Lisowki


Featured in June/July 2016 Issue: Short Stories

Caught myself thinking life was not so bad. I’m sitting on a plane wearing silk shorts instead of pants. I have a tinfoil helmet on, with the eyes cut out. Some green slippers from Bali. None of this is illegal. Either that, or no one in the airline industry cares anymore. When I turn my head I’m always a little afraid part of my helmet will fall off- the construction is rather flimsy. Now- is someone going to tell me to put my shirt back on? Apparently not. Even the professor in the seat next to me is not looking- he’s too focused on his little tablet world over there.

Why is no one else laughing at this movie? When I see something funny I laugh—out loud. Sometimes I’ll like hit the seat in front of me if it’s really funny. Is no one allowed to laugh at something?

The first thing you have to do when you get on a plane is take your shoes off. I’m doing that right now. Try to grip the carpet with your toes.

Look, I’m going to take a walk. We’ll see how well this goes over. What, are they going to arrest me for wearing a tin helmet? Listen, professor, I’m going to need to step over your little tablet party.

Something’s wrong though. I think I forgot my cell phone back in the airport bathroom. Otherwise I’d be taking a selfie right now with my lovely fellow flyers.

Oh, it’s so quiet now without my headphones plugged in. Cable just swinging as I navigate down the aisle. I think these big headphones are helping to keep the helmet on actually. Okay let me interview some of these people. Hello, miss, is this seat taken? Yes? Well maybe your “husband” won’t mind if I ask you a few questions. Did you just say you were going to pepper-spray my face? Well I know you’re not because we’re on an AIRPLANE. You don’t pepper-spray in close quarters. Plus I have a HELMET on. And that—AAEEEIIIIEEEEE!!! My fucking eyes!! You’re killin’ me! Stop spraying that! Stop spraying that! …MAN!!

Okay, I’m in pain but I’m calming down. Calming down. Where did she go? I close my eyes for a second and she’s gone.

Now wait a second, where is everyone else from this part of the plane? Where did they all go? Okay, well watch this. I’m pressing the flight attendant button repeatedly. When someone gets here I’m going to ask for some coffee and a slice of pie. All I need is some coffee and pie to enjoy my life for once.

Now this started out as a good day. Actually no, I’m lying. It started out as a terrible day. I kind of had a fit. Let’s just say I did a lot of things I’ll pretty much regret the rest of my life. So yes, started bad then turned good when I found this tinfoil.

You know, I’m just going to sit here and wait. Sooner or later someone is going to have to bring me some coffee. If not, I’ll demand a refund. You know, I’m kind of coming down now. First I was up here, then I was plateauing, then I started coming down. This helmet is sweaty and it’s cutting into my face. It’s these headphones that are so annoying. Get these headphones off me! That’s better.

Listen, it’s getting a little creepy. I think I just saw someone peek from behind that curtain. They’re leaving it kind of dark over here –I know why. Silver headgear looks way better in the dark. Especially if you just had to throw it together the day of.

Why do I feel like we’re landing?

Why do I feel like I’m being surrounded by a bunch of cops? Maybe because I am. Well, it’s been nice talking to you. We’ll have to get together at some other juncture- some time when I’m not being dragged down the aisle by a bunch of pimple-faced teenagers in SWAT gear. Look, let’s talk then –okay? 

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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