A long day of travel ahead of him and The Van Man kept smelling crap. He double checked the bottoms of his sneakers, but they were clean. Perhaps, it was all in his head. A case of what the uppity doctors referred to as psychosomatic doo doo sniffing. A syndrome caused by the pressures of seeing family. And getting into the bullshit.
The van sat in some parking lot, sad and lonely. Van Man boarded the flight. Four days in Birmingham observing the realities of life left behind, freshly dead aunts and fatted cousins. The bearing of stories that had been told many times before, in younger years. And told better. It was all one big reminder of getting old.
A quick stop over in Vegas. No chance for food. Peanuts and crackers would be his meal. Van Man needed a drink. He hoped the plane had tequila.
The travellers boarded the final flight. It was completely full which stressed Van Man. He loved the aisle seat and the aisle seat loved him. As he walked down the aisle, it appeared to Van Man that everyone else shared his love. Fuuuck, he thought. Then, bingo. An open aisle seat. He slid his luggage into the overhead bin. The piece red and vintage from eighty-two. Some of the passengers ogled at the beauty.
The plane took off into the night sky. People talked and a dog whined from a carrier underneath Van Man. He needed a tequila. The attendants read his mind and he was soon gulping down a margaritas. It was closer to a tequila and water, but he did not complain. The only question was whether he would need a second.
He was well into Steinbeck and a second margarita when the sudden announcement came from The Attendant. "Please remain calm, but is there a doctor or nurse on the flight?" Everyone looked to the commotion behind Van Man. A woman gasped for air. Three different nurses came to the rescue and spent twenty minutes discussing how the Gasping Lady needed Benadryl. Van Man leaned across the aisle toward a young couple. They looked at him. "Glad I had two drinks", stated Van Man and leaned back. After a while, The Gasping Lady relaxed and her breathing calmed. The ordeal was over. And Van Man went back to Steinbeck. Then, the woman sitting beside him vomited. He handed her a puke bag, realizing how insufficient those little sacks really were. The Attendant was quickly next to them, handing over two kitchen-sized trash bags. They were more than sufficient. Van Man stared at The Couple across the aisle. They smiled back. "Two drinks", said Van Man.
The plane began its descent and Van Man looked over to Puking Girl. She glanced back at him, then away. "This is the worst flight ever", she said in a pitiful whimper. He was not so sure. All of the commotion distracted The Attendant and she forgot to charge for the tequilas. Also, The Van Man did not smell the funk anymore. The flight was pretty damn good. And that made the holidays bearable. That and tequila.