A Short Story
He Missed His Plane
“I’m going to be late!” Ernie kept nagging at the cab driver. “Can’t you go around this traffic?!”
“We’re on a bridge, sir. We are trapped until they clear the accident off the road ahead.”
“Oh Jeez!” Ernie looked at his watch. “I’ll have to catch another flight. Damn!”
At the airport, flight 133 pulled away from the gate right on time. Just a few minutes later, Ernie Sutton sprang from a cab in front of the terminal and pushed his way through the crowd to the ticket desk. He produced his ticket and asked if he still had time.
“No sir. Flight 133 pulled away from the gate several minutes ago. I can board you on the next flight out to Las Vegas if you like.”
“How soon? I have to be there by 4:30 this afternoon.”
“No worries, sir. The flight leaves in 90 minutes, you can check your bags here and you have plenty of time to grab a bite to eat in the concourse.”
“Okay, thank you.” Ernie wandered around the concourse for a few minutes until he found his gate, found an empty seat and made himself comfortable. Next to him on the long bank of chairs was a middle aged man and fairly attractive woman. They were going over some medical information and Ernie couldn’t help but listen. After a while, he leaned over.
“You two must be doctors.” He said politely.
“I am.” The man replied. “This is my surgical assistant, Rita. I’m Alan Scott.”
“Ernie Sutton, pleased to meet you.”
“What kind of work are you in, Mr. Sutton?”
“Call me Ernie, please. I am an odds maker in Las Vegas.”
“Ah.” The doctor replied. “A bookie.” The man laughed as he spoke. “We’re off to a medical convention.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Ernie returned his laugh.
The steward called for the plane to board, and the trio rose from their seats along with the rest of the crowd. They shuffled past the ticket taker with their boarding passes and quickly found their seats. Ernie had a seat by the window, and to his pleasant surprise, Dr. Scott’s nurse sat next to him with the doctor on the aisle. They all laughed lightly and made small talk as the plane pulled away from the gate and out onto the tarmac.
As the plane rolled to take off position, Rita tightened her seatbelt and looped her arms through the men’s arms on each side of her and held on tightly.
“I really don’t like to fly!” She said.
The jet engines roared and the cabin vibrated as the plane rolled faster and faster until it rotated up and the ship was airborne. Slight turbulence bumped and jumbled the ride as Rita tightened her grip on the arms of her partners. Doctor Scott looked at his watch as the wheels left the ground. “1:55PM on the nose!”
She looked at Ernie. “Do you fly much?”
“At least twice a week. I was supposed to be on flight 133, but I was late getting to the airport.”
Rita just laughed. “Well, there is a reason for you to be here. It’s so I have someone to hold on to.”
Ernie smiled, then laid his head back and closed his eyes. He made a guttural breathing sound and then lay quietly.
Dr. Scott leaned forward and looked at Ernie. “Rita, check on him. I didn’t like the sound of that.” Rita shook Ernie, he wouldn’t wake up. “Slap him, check his pulse.” Rita followed the doctor’s orders, there was still no response. He buzzed for a stewardess. When she arrived, she seemed worried and distracted.
“I am a doctor. This man needs oxygen, can you help me?” The stewardess reached up and pulled the oxygen mask out of its compartment, and the doctor placed it over Ernie’s face. He felt his neck again. “Still no pulse”. The doctor unbuckled his seat belt, and pulled Ernie from the seat onto the floor and administered CPR. It was no use. The stewardess notified the pilot, and clearance was granted for the plane to make an emergency landing in Shreveport, LA. An ambulance crew met the plane and the paramedics removed Ernie’s lifeless body from the cabin. As they were carrying him out, Dr. Scott thought back to the sequence of events. “Hey!” The paramedic turned around. “The time of death was right after we lifted off, at about 1:56PM!”
Soon all passengers had disembarked, and Dr. Scott, Rita and the crew were all that was left on the plane. “We’ll need a statement from you, Doctor” the pilot told him.
“Of course.” Dr. Scott looked at the crew. They were crying and upset. “Is everything alright?”
“Mr. Sutton was supposed to be on flight 133.” The pilot said.
“Yeah, that’s what he told me.” Rita said.
“You said that the time of death was at 1:56PM?”
“Um, yeah. As best as I can calculate, why? What’s up?”
The pilot turned and looked at his crew, then back to Dr. Scott. “Flight 133 went down over West Texas. Everyone on board was killed. The time of disappearance was exactly 1:56PM.”
Copyright 2010 by Del Banks