flash fiction by Paul Beckman
Mendel stood waiting to board the plane.
He took off his shoes, emptied his pockets, turned on his computer and stepped into the x-ray machine with his hands up. No alarms went off but he was still escorted to the TSA headquarters where they questioned him for three hours and water boarded him twice.
Then he was taken into another room, allowed to shower, shave and given a set of expensive clothes and told to sit on the couch facing a wall. It was painted olive drab, a color he hadn’t thought about since his military days and that made it easy to sit immobile at attention. After twenty-two minutes the wall parted, opening curtain-like, and he was looking out at a studio audience who gave him a robust round of applause.
He remained sitting while the TSA water boarders brought his luggage in. Behind the audience was a full wall of windows and Mendel saw the airport and a large commercial jet sitting on the tarmac. Motioning for Mendel to stand, the TSA agents escorted him up a long aisle through the crowd. Some people waved handkerchiefs while others held “Free Mendel” signs. People on the aisle put out their hands for high fives and fist bumps until Mendel reached the ticket agent’s counter and secured door where he was given his boarding pass.
The crew waited at the door, checked his ticket and a flight attendant took him by the arm and led him through first and business classes to coach and then to a middle seat in the rear between a five year old and a large man overflowing his seat. As the plane began to taxi, the flight attendant showed everyone how to work their seat belts.
Paul Beckman was one of the winners in Queen’s Ferry Best of the Small Fictions (2016). His stories have appeared in Litro, Opium, Playboy, The Connecticut Review, and Brilliant Flash Fiction, among others. His flash story collection, PEEK, from Big Table Publishing weighed in at 65 stories and 117 pages and website is www.paulbeckmanstories.com
Also published on Medium.