Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Some Fiction.

I read this prompt some time ago on the Writer's Digest Website.

You're taking a business trip and, as luck would have it, you're upgraded to first class—something you've never done before. As you sit down in your new, more comfortable chair, you notice that the person sitting next to you is a famous musician. Write this scene.

So, I did. It is 500 word limit if you want to put it on the WD blog, I haven't really counted mine, but didn't really care if it was 500 words or not. I just thought it would be fun. I have always wanted to meet him, for real, and I just hope that it might be a bit more... Sober, on my part.

Ahem.
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It would have been one of the most exciting days of my life. If I hadn't been so nervous. And stoned...

The publisher wanted me to go on a book tour. I am still amazed that my book has sold as well as it has. So I agreed, not remembering that when you will be in three cities, in three states, you most likely aren't driving. And I hate planes. Worse yet, my husband couldn't go. So, off to the doctor, for a Valium prescription. I am such a drug user, she gave me the smallest amount possible, and it still made me a bit on the goofy side.

Wanting to be home as soon as possible, I took a red eye flight. I had my ticket, my carry on, and my shoes had been thoroughly inspected for bombs. No bombs, but I did manage to find some dog poop. Again. You'd think, being away from home for 3 days, I could manage to NOT have various genus of dung on my footwear, but no. However, I was headed home to family, so I guess a little dog doo wouldn't hurt anything.

I found the seat I was assigned, and held my bag in my lap. The flight attendant was charming, patting my white-knuckled hand, as he asked if I would like to put my bag in the overhead compartment. I, less charmingly, sneezed, and then said no, I needed to take an antihistamine. The woman next to me had the combined smell of rancid cigarettes, along with a vauge smell of booze, covered by perfume. A perfume that should have a better next life as a toilet cleaner. In a prison.

Bless the attendant, I had already downed the capsule when he came back with a cup of water. "Oh, and I have some good news for you, you're bumped up to first class."

Me? Why would I go there? The perfumed lady next to me laughed, and I realized I had blabbed my thoughts out loud. Again.

But, gamely I stood, and that's when I realized, perhaps Valium and antihistamines might not have been the best combination. I followed the attendant to the curtained doorway, and he led me through to the front. He pointed to a chair to my right, then frowned slightly. "Are you all right?"

"Uh. I think so, just not comfortable with flying." I sat... Okay, I stumbled and flopped into my newly appointed seat. The man next to me woke, I assumed, as he'd had his head back and his eyes closed. Why did this guy look familiar? Dark leather jacket. Dark blond. Bit of a roman nose, with a fairly heavy beard. Huh. The Valium was really starting to get to me.

I took out my knitting, and worked on my latest sock. I had made a little series of triangles on it, just for something different. Looking at it, I noticed I had made a mistake, and one of the triangles was more of a "Flying V" shape. I dug out my notepad, and sketched the design. My mind was kind of fuzzy, and I had to work hard to figure out what I wanted to do with the shape. Then I realized, if I put a 'neck' on the top of the shape, I had a rock guitar. That looked kinda neat. And since I was doing the socks in red, they would show up well. I finished the sketch, then put away the notebook. I heard the announcement that we were going to be taking off and should stow everything.

I put my bag away under the seat. The plane was fairly empty, and took off like a rocket. Trying not to be nervous, I started humming Learning to Fly. I heard a stifled chuckle next to me, but when I looked back, the man was still leaned back, with his eyes closed. I decided my mind was playing tricks on me.

Once we'd taken off, and the fasten seat belt sign winked out, I reached down, and picked up my notebook again. I decided to play with the rock guitar design again. I sketched a heart design, behind the guitar. Not bad. I grinned, then leaned back, deciding that my seat mate had a good idea with sleeping.

It would have been a good idea, too, if there had been no turbulance. Rather abruptly, it felt like my seat had been yanked out from under me. Since I had dozed off, it doubled the startling effect, making me yelp. My seat mate put a hand on my arm.

"You okay?"
"Yes. Just don't like flying, and no family here, so I feel a bit..."
"Nervous?"
"Yeah. I just want to get home and see my husband. And family and animals. I am not exactly a world traveler. At least where planes are concerned."

He grinned, and said, "Yeah, I'm going to meet up with my wife and one of my daughters in Portland. It'll be nice to see them again." He then asked, "Why are you flying? Business?"

With my head still very foggy, I proceeded to tell him about my writing a novel, and my promoter wanting me to do a book tour. I took the book out of my bag and showed him. He glanced at it, and smiled again. Why, oh why does this guy look so familiar? If I could just clear my head!

The attendant came by and asked if I would like something to drink. I asked for a Coke. Maybe if I had some caffeine in my system, perhaps the world would come into a little better focus.

"And you, Mr. Petty?"

That's when it clicked. I was sitting next to Tom Petty! I felt my face grow red, and wondered if all the Valium in the bottle would have slowed my heart rate. I stammered, not at all sure I could speak, then realized the sketch I had made looked like the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers band logo. I started to turn it over. He reached over and picked it up. He looked at it, then commented it wasn't bad, what was it for?

At that moment, I couldn't have told him, if my life had depended on it. I finally took out my yarn and needles and managed to get out that I like to knit, and it was a design for a pair of socks, and I drew out designs for them, to make it easier to knit. He nodded, and seemed to be interested in what I was saying. I finally blurted out, "I really like what your daughter did with your "The Last DJ" CD."

He looked surprised. Then he grinned, and said, "I thought so, too."
"Can I ask you a question?"
He looked curious. "Sure."
"Was Johnny Cash as nice as he seemed on stage?"

That's when he laughed, nearly dropping my sketch. "You know, of all the fan questions I have had, that one is... Well, really different."

"I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, and I found out he'd recorded one of your songs, I have always loved your songs, and I know I loved his, and that you knew him..."

The rest of the flight was me in crazy lady mode, talking to him, my soda long forgotten. When the announcement came over the intercom that we were landing, I realized I hadn't put my things away. He took something out of his jacket, and I registered that he was signing my sketch. I turned bright red again, stammered my thanks, and handed him my book.

"Uh. Here. Maybe you can read it, if you get bored on a flight without a nutcase fan like me on board."

He gave me that impish grin that has graced many a video, and handed me my book and his pen. "Only if you sign it."

I walked off the plane, and my husband was standing there. I ran over and gave him a hug. I watched Tom Petty walk off, to a large contingent of people, along with a woman I later found out was his wife, Dana. He glanced over at me, I waved, he waved back, using my book, then disappeared into a mass of people. My husband looked at the group, then back at me. "How are you? That big group has been waiting for your flight."

I broke up laughing, as I commented, to his confusion, "Yeah, and the waiting is the hardest part."

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