Kirby Wright

Safe and Perfectly Normal

Burt’s outbound 727 popped through the marine layer like a Champagne cork—an inbound Cessna nearly clipped the jet’s roof.  “Jesus!” Burt squealed.  The seat next to him was empty.  The woman across the aisle had on a headset.  The captain issued no just-missed-killing-you apology and not a single passenger registered a reaction.  “Blind as bats,” Burt mumbled in his window seat.  Sometimes, when he was this high up, he thought about the afterlife.  He pictured living on a cloud with his dead parents and with all the pets he’d buried or cremated over the years.  There’d been a golden he liked better than his old man, a pup he saved after it got caught in a rip at Maverick’s.  He rustled the Wall Street Journal—gold was up but Microsoft was taking a dump.  He made a mental note to max out his Roth IRA.  He turned his attention to the overhead screen—a rerun of 30 Rock played.  Alec Baldwin looked fat.  Fat and old.  He was certain Alec dyed his hair.  At times he felt he could pass for one of the Baldwin brothers and vowed to hit the gym hard after his 49th birthday.  The captain came on and said they’d touch down in half-an-hour.  He stared out the window at the 101.  The freeway was a conveyor belt of shiny cars and trucks.  They reminded him of M&M’s.  Becky was one of those M&M’s and she’d be waiting in baggage claim.  He guzzled coffee.  He promised himself not to mention the near miss.  It would only upset Becky.  An upset Becky wouldn’t want sex.  He imagined plucking his bag off the carousel, draping an arm over his wife’s shoulders, and heading north on the 101.  Traffic would be light and he’d surprise her by stopping at Il Fornaio for lunch.  They’d sip pinot noir and order the seafood fettuccini.  The wheels hit.  The jet glided across the tarmac and the captain warned everyone to keep their seat belts secure.  “Sheeple,” Burt muttered, unfastening.  He felt good back home in San Francisco. It would be great seeing Becky.  He was fairly certain it would be another safe and perfectly normal day.


Kirby Wright is the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA’I NUI AHINA, both set in the islands.  He was the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic.
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