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Leave it Behind, Baby
by Paul Perroni

Charlie's always traveling, living in airports, amongst the crowds, the baggage. He'll sit for hours sipping Bloody Marys.
        "Flight 742, last call for Flight 742" rings through the traffic, as Charlie eyeballs a family scurrying along:
        "Hurry! We're gonna miss the flight! I dropped 5 grand on Crayzzee Adventures, you little shit, now hustle!" the father says.
        "But we got kicked out. You punched that clown," says the boy.
        "Well, he was staring at your mother's, get moving!"
Charlie orders 2 more Bloody Marys, gulps them down, and takes a pull from the beer of the guy sitting next to him:
        "Hey! What the hell?!"
        "You'll get over it," says Charlie.
He hops from the barstool, stumbles his way into the plane, and snakes down the aisle searching for his seat. He finds it and stares:
        "Of course, why wouldn't it be the middle seat," Charlie says aloud.
        "What are you looking at?" Charlie responds to the glaring audience.
He plants himself in front of his two plane mates, a man sprawled over the aisle, his neck like a crane with his right cheek nestled into his shoulder.
        "Is this man dead?" Charlie asks the flight attendant. The old man slumps back.
        "Guess not," says Charlie.
The other, a lady with curves snuggles up to the window. She carries a baby dangling and squirming from her lap, "shushing" and "coo'ing," the child bursting with terror:
        "Of course, why wouldn't I have to sit next to a crying baby," Charlie says.
He clicks the overhead compartment locked, inches past the old man, leans over and shuts the window, deadening the sunlight.
        "Y' mind?" says Charlie.
        "It's fine; maybe that'll quiet him down. Sorry," she says.
        "I'm just drunk and hungover at the same time, this exact moment, you see, that your baby is...I've never heard sounds like that," says Charlie.
He flips through a magazine, reaches over and grabs the old man's empty throw-up bag, clicks a pen and makes a 'to-do list':
        buy booze
        feed the cat
The baby quiets down, sucking a pacifier, staring at Charlie:
        "Tkk-Skk, tkk-skk..."
        "What's his name?"
        "Johnny," she says.
        "Hey," Charlie says to the baby.
        "Tkk-Skk, tkk-skk..."
She tosses her hair over her shoulder.
        "Your hair smells great," Charlie says, " strawberries."
        "Thank you."
        "May I ask you question?" she says.
        "Shoot," Charlie says.
        "Why are you drunk and irritable?"
        "My life's a wreck and my daughter's angry with me," says Charlie.
        "Why is your life a wreck?" she asks.
        "Many reasons," says Charlie.
        "Why is your daughter angry with you?"
        "I told her she had big boobs."
        "Why did you say that?" she asks.
        "Poor choice of words."
        "Did you apologize?" she says.
        "I did."
        "Then," she says, "let it go."
        "Let it go, huh?"
        "Let it all go," she says.
Charlie rubs his fingers over the week old stubble sprouting up like an uneven lawn. The plane reverses, revs up,
and speeds towards the open field.
        "I hope we make it," she says.
        "We'll make it," says Charlie. He looks at her and smiles as the big steel, full of baggage, shoots towards the clear, empty sky.