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Metal Box With Peanuts, Interlude Four

The guy next to me snores like a terrorist. OK, you're gonna ask me how a terrorist snores. You're gonna ask me if I've ever been around a sleeping terrorist and, if I have, how it just so happened to be one that snored?

Well, no I haven't, now that you mention it, but I know all the same. You just know these things. Its like, how do babies know how to breathe? They just do.

So he's leaning up against me, and he's sprawled out all over the place, which is kind of rude, but what do you expect from a terrorist? He's got the armrest and my arm is pressed against his arm and our legs are pressed together and damn, is it ever hot here in the back row.

He's dozing. He hasn't said word one yet, he's a young male, he's traveling by himself and here's the clincher—he didn't fasten his seatbelt until the flight attendant told him to. And he looks like Isaac Hayes. Well, a chubby Isaac Hayes.

It's the part about the seatbelt that gets me. If I wasn't sure before, that pushed me over the edge. Figure it this way. You're a terrorist. You're getting ready to commit some heinous terrorist type act on an airplane. Are you really going to worry about putting on your damned seatbelt? What if the damned thing gets stuck just as you leap up and the split second timing required to carry out your plan goes out the window?

I'm ready for the bastard. I look around to see who might be able to help me out if we have to take the guy down. There are a few younger guys sitting in my general area who look like they could lend a hand.

He's out like a light now and snoring like a Hungarian granny. Oops. He just snorted big time. Startled the shit out of me and almost woke himself up. Damn, it's hot in here. I'm starting to feel a little dodgy myself.

I gotta say. He doesn't really fit the profile. I would have expected a Middle Eastern type, not a black guy. Especially not one that looks like a portly Isaac Hayes. Damn, I wonder if it is Isaac Hayes? Maybe he went all Cat Stevens, converted to Islam, took some funky name and went through the whole denouncing the great Satan of the west thing. I wonder if I could get an autograph?

Shit, I must have dozed. His seat is empty and the plane is descending. I look around but I can't see him anywhere. I'm ready to give to the word to the guys around me when the bathroom door opens and he shuffles back to his seat.

"We're running late," he says. "I'm gonna have to make a mad dash to make my connecting flight."

I offer a non-committal nod. I sure am glad I won't be on that plane.

William I. Lengeman III has published non-fiction in numerous publications, including Saveur, Historic Traveler, Terra Nova, and the anthology, An Ear to the Ground. His fiction and poetry have appeared or been accepted for publication in such print venues as Andromeda Spaceways, City Slab and Dark Animus, as well as in numerous independent and small press online publications. His humor book, S*** Happened, A Concise and Somewhat Confused Guide to History, will soon be available. For more info and links to stories, visit 499-Word Tales For The Modern Age.

Copyright © William I. Lengeman III