Floating in Cornfields
I had been running around my old high school campus in Saugus, California. I was on an expedition looking for change on the sidewalks and asphalt school grounds. The campus was no longer a school; it had become a wasteland shanty town on which sickly goats and cattle grazed. Concrete blocks that used to be classrooms had been left to rot and serve as homes to poor vagabonds and hermits. The sky was a huddle of gray shadows looming above me. I found a tin tray placed on a concrete stairway which was poorly guarded by a sleeping mutt. The tray was overflowing with coins, coins that I started to pocket until I saw an old drunken man sleeping under a ragged burlap sack. Guilt sank in and I put the change back into the tray. The man and the dog remained asleep and as I walked away, I passed some wild goats carousing in the overgrown sports field.
Having no luck in my financial endeavors, I left the withered campus to make my way to the airport. I had to catch a flight that evening, a flight that was going to Italy. My friend Jackie and I had decided to take a spontaneous trip to Italy before summer time had vanished. Running down unfamiliar city streets, passing candy colored store fronts and illegally posted bills, I yelled to anyone who said "hello" to me: "I'm going to Italy!." Clouds still poised as murky marshmallows swarming in the sky as I ran past a funeral on the freshly mowed greenery. I made my way under the freeway overpass and soon, I was paralleling the freeway. All of the frantic running made me short of breath. I entered the industrial area in which the airport was located.
As I entered the mechanical doors that led to the airline lobby, I realized that this airport was quite unusual. Firstly, as it had expected my arrival, my luggage had magically appeared on the conveyor belt and I watched it as it was swallowed up by the swishing rubber flaps. Secondly, I had to conquer an obstacle course of some sort to seat myself in the lobby which was basically a hoity-toity cramped bar on the second level. To get up there, I had to perform a pull-up on one of three which three bars that were bolted to a red velvet-covered wall. I fell several times, landing on my butt, back, and elbows.
Once I mustered the upper-arm strength to pull myself up to the top bar, I had to pull my legs up so that the heels of my shoes caught on to the first metal bar. So, at this point, I was ungracefully crouching vertically on this misplaced gymnastics apparatus. After this position was assumed, I had to hoist my body up onto the decadently carpeted lobby platform at which stood the maitre d' ready to seat me at the bar. There were several of these pull-up bars placed around the airport entrance and no one else seemed to find them bizarre nor did anyone have any trouble getting up on the platform. I felt like a great nuisance as elderly people and young children flew up the rungs like stunt people while I bumbled up and fell from the ladder like an orangutan slathered with Crisco.
After that fiasco, I met Jackie and Tyson, her boyfriend, at the elegant bar. Jackie was nursing a rum and coke, Tyson had a martini straight up, and I ordered an imported beer so as not to feel too low-class. Fuzzy time passed at the bar and I found myself back down in the entrance to use the rest room. Getting up to the bar was not so difficult this time. Perhaps the beer had helped my coordination. As my perception faded I realized that no flight took place nor did I spend any more time in an airport. My friends and I were in Italy, but it strongly resembled San Francisco due to the steep city streets and the bustle of street cars. I passed through the grounds of a Catholic school and church. Walking up over rolling green hills, younger students in the standard plaid uniforms and loafers mistook me for a teacher. I assumed they did not like this particular teacher much due to their scathing insults and ridiculing remarks. I passed through a church-sponsored rummage sale in the parish hall and then I walked back to the busy street.
Although I took this trip with Jackie and Tyson, I spent seldom time with them. I recalled no sight-seeing of any museums, historic sites nor did I stop to eat in any Italian restaurants. Speaking to no one, I made no Italian acquaintances. Of course, I had no knowledge of the Italian language, so go figure. At the end of this fruitless trip Jackie and I took a drive on a curvy road that wound up a steep path of terra cotta tile covered with patches of emerald grass. Jackie was driving a tiny red convertible Fiat and I sat as passenger. We had the "top down" and were enjoying the sunny, spring-like weather in the Italian countryside.
Jackie was driving responsibly, staying away from the cliffs that led down to the unknown abyss. To my shock and horror, she suddenly careened to the left side of the winding road, gave me a bewildered look and we flew straight off of the jagged cliff. Everything went to slow motion: the sky, the air, the dust that flew out behind the tires of the car, my hair which blew over my eyes and stuck there like unflinching spaghetti noodles. As we arched through the clear sky, I looked down at my lap and realized that I had no seat belt to strap me down. I had also relocated to the rear seat of the Fiat. My stomach turned and my jaw dropped as I floated upward, away from the cream leather seats. I held onto the side "Jesus" bar on the inner door and to my astonishment, I was no longer pulled out of the car. After I scanned the skyline and looked at Jackie's blissful countenance, I looked down outside of the car to find the ground below us to be at least a mile down.
We remained floating for a while and when I squinted enough, I could see that the ground below was endlessly covered with fields of yellow corn. From my viewpoint, the corn stalks and kernels appeared to be a mirage of grown gold laid out across the land. I looked ahead and saw a vision of the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, which I had never seen before. I wished to be there, climbing up the cliffs, standing on, or even hanging from, solid land. My feet and body seemed to still be drifting away from the interior of the car; without the seat belt I had placed over my lap, I would have definitely fallen out of the flying vehicle.
Since the Fiat was still floating and I had not yet been yanked from the car, I thought that maybe we would soon be safe and return to solid ground. However, at that very moment, present time and speed came back into play. As the car began to plummet, my heart and stomach and uterus all seemed to jump into my throat as though they did not want to encounter what was eminent. All I could see were the endless cornfields which were soon to be our golden graves. I woke up, freezing and sweating, with one hand gripping the side of the bed and the other clenched over my chest.