Survivor – Logan Roberts
December 27, 2020
Sitting at a traffic light in downtown Orlando at 11:32 pm. Surrounded by shopping complexes, on my way home from work. I was a dishwasher at a vegan restaurant. The slow crawl between traffic lights, even this close to midnight. I had an hour commute. I thought,
What if a plane crashed in the road right now?
What if the first sign was bodies falling from the sky
and I saw one?
What if I saw a body impaled on a telephone pole? The slow drag down to the ground. How much they wished they had never left the ground. They probably wouldn’t feel much of it. Probably would have passed out in the plane anyways.
The brutality wouldn’t leave me alone the whole drive home. A few planes landing at Orlando International seemed to recklessly whip past just above my car.
Pulling into the apartment complex, my designated spot was taken. Taken in such a way that the huge blacked-out truck towered into the spot next to mine too. I parked in the guest parking lot, floating from my car to the door. Quietly walked in so I didn’t wake up my girlfriend. Took my shoes off at the door, the carpet and my socks met for what felt like the first time. I smelled like half-eaten food and chemicals. My fingers were pruny and white, disfigured. Disfigured like a body impaled by a telephone pole. What kind of conversations would that disrupt? Who would be sitting at home, super pissed that their internet got jacked-up because a plane crashed into the ground where the wires were. It’s like when people won’t get over for an ambulance. Someone is dying, and you’re more concerned with your MMORPG, or getting home so you can yell at your spouse about how shitty work was. You’re missing getting caught on your DVR shows. Someone is dying.
A shadow in my peripheral seems to jerk in the kitchen. Jerk like a limp limb. Like a dead limp limb just trying to go home.
Be sure to put on your own oxygen before helping someone else.
I needed someone. I needed somebody to know what I was feeling and thinking. I couldn’t wake my girlfriend this late, and how could I talk about such a violent thing? She would think I was weird, or a murderer. I didn’t crash the plane, but I’d be blamed for my mind. I can’t control my mind. I can’t control a plane. I can’t control where dead bodies fall from the sky. Am I the one who’s dying right now? Where will my body fall?
My mind would be labeled as a diseased piece of rot, as a thing that needed a cure, that needed resolution. A transplant. A transatlantic flight into another skull. A stranger with a larger vocabulary than mine would want to pump me full of dead humans and synthetic legal meth. Fuck man,
I can’t do that again.
Last time I ended up in the hospital full of tranquilizers. I couldn’t drive myself home. I couldn’t walk up the stairs. I couldn’t think about dying because I was dying. I thought about sleep, only, the kind you don’t wake up from. I guess that’s dying.
I was still in the kitchen and opened the fridge, hoping the slow blinking light would give me a sign, or something to eat. I slammed two beers instead.
Would you like anything sir? Yeah I’ll take an IPA please. That’ll be $5. Fuck man, airline shit is expensive.
Down a couple more beers. Down, like, we’re going down. I brought a messed up black bean burger from work for dinner. Crashing into the couch, turn on the Apple TV. Take a bite of the rejected burger, a black bean crumb falls on my shirt. I notice a pin-size hole in the breast pocket. Pin-size hole, that’s all it would take in a plane cabinet to set that shit on red alert.
How do you put the mask on again? Heart palpitations.
There’s too much lettuce on the black bean burger.
Turn on a comedy. Twenty minutes in I’m still not laughing. I go back to the Netflix menu. Silence for a moment. I hear the upstairs neighbor come home. I’m not sure what he does, but he lives alone. I never really see him except for the brief nod we exchange as we both leave for work around the same time. We don’t even talk, just nod. Does he also work in a restaurant? I’m not sure, I’m not sure about him. Sometimes I hear him yelling. I’m not sure who he’s yelling at, but it’s unsettling. It’s unsettling to hear muffled violence through the popcorn ceiling. I hear a sound from upstairs. A heavy sound, quick and deep. Like a body.
A body falling on the roof.
The world seems like it’s caught inside an invisible fire, and I can feel all the burning in one moment all over my body. Hell, I can feel it inside my body. I can hear all the worst-case scenarios play out at once. The pilot forgot to check that one crucial thing, one last time. I hold my breath. What if the door opens and all the air is sucked out? Can my neighbor hear how silent I’m being?
Creeping into bed I see headlights drain across the ceiling. The light moves like a beacon in the dark. The light stops. The dark is welcomed back into the room. I’m trapped inside a black box. I close my eyes. A loud abused engine lets out guttural vrooms in the distance, or maybe it was a plane. Taking off, or crashing, I can’t tell the difference anymore.
I wake up the next morning, late, and head off to get lunch before leaving for work.