Friday, October 12, 2012

Wings by Mason Johnson



As the slightly older pilot, the one with a bit of grey crawling amidst the black hair near your temples, you were the mentor, and I the mentee. You taught me how to fly. You taught me how to sound cool and collected on the plane's intercom. You taught me how to piss in a plastic 7-Up bottle as I flew a 747 one-handed. How I shouldn't throw the piss out the window, because it might come back and splash me in the face. Before you came along, Mentor, I got a lot of piss in my face. You explained that I should save the piss, in case of terrorists. How I could splash them in the face with the piss, and then, as they're distracted, we'd strike with the ol' one-two, right in their testicle-area.

More importantly, you taught me what lies to use on women in hotel bars in Tulsa, Chicago, San Diego - wherever our topsy, turvy lives brought us.

And you taught me that women will come to me.

But you did not teach me how to make them come for me.

You are a bad mentor.

You told me women would love me because I'm a pilot. Women, you explained, don't understand flight because of their smaller, yet better smelling--like cooking oil and brownie mix--brains. That's why they're so damn impressed by us. Plus, women, you said, love a man who knows how to handle a stick in their hands.

Hopefully they never realize our planes have yokes.

Once a woman comes to me and has a few drinks in 'em, I know what to do. I deliver the line:

"Do you want to see my wings?"

The coy ones point at the pin attached to my chest. "Aren't those your wings right there?"

I'd never answer. I'd go back to my room and they would follow.

Once in my room, I'd start unbuttoning my shirt while humming something upbeat, like the theme to Family Feud or that Tina Turner song from Beyond Thunderdome. Buttons undone, I'd whip the shirt off. And that's when I'd show them my wings, if ya know what I mean.

Twelve feet from end to end, I got a good wings. They're covered in feathers--grey and white mostly- but not like a pigeon's. They look like something better. Spread out like that, they look the way the embrace from your grandmother feels. The good grandmother. The one that's never told you you're fat. The one that doesn't smell bad. The one that gave you candy when you were a kid and always, always smiled.

I'd show the ladies their full span, their ends often knocking cheap, framed watercolors of sunsets off stucco walls. The soft humming of Tina Turner would exit my throat and reverberate throughout the room--we don't need another hero. Despite this, all the amazingness goin' on, every woman I've ever invited up ... has run.

This would make me sad, my eyes would water, my wings would grow flaccid. Very, very flaccid. 

I'd be left alone, without even my mama to feed me comfort food, straight from the oven, to her mouth, then mine.

This is why I hate you, mentor. Because every woman has run from me and my wings.

Every woman except for one.

Last time you flew out on a solo mission your wife invited me over for dinner.

I came by and I ate her pork and beans and got my crotch sniffed by her Doberman and I had a blast, dammit. When dinner was over I watched her sensually wash the dishes, and pretended that she was pretending each plate was my beautiful, porcelain chest. Then I delivered the line.

"Do you want to see my wings?"

She walked to your bedroom and I followed.

Inside, I took my shirt off, let my wings spread out and held 'em high. She didn't run.

"They're so big," she said, gripping feathers in her fist.

"Thank you," I smiled, my wings growing tired.

"They're ... they're even bigger than your mentor's."

"That's no surprise," I said, sweating profusely. This was the longest I'd ever had to hold my wings up.

"They're ... at least a foot bigger," she said with pursed, red lips.

"Tell me more," I said, as if I could hold my wings up forever.

But I couldn't. My wings fell suddenly before she could answer. I looked down at my feet like a child about to get the back of his mother's hand.

"Is that it?" She asked.

"Too short?" I said.

"Well ... It wasn't long."

"I can hold them up more, if you want."

"Oh," she perked up. "Okay!"

"Give me five minutes," I said.



She paused, peeked at the door, and said, "It's getting pretty late."

I looked out her bedroom window. The sky was unusually black, a storm was brewing.

"The weather looks bad," I grimaced.

"It looks fine."

The wind picked up and rocked the shudders back and forth, making the sounds of a nightstick against prison bars, but less rhythmic.

"Really," she said. "You don't want to stay here. I have to get up early."

A tornado touched down.

"I don't mind getting up early," I said.

Looking me square in the eyes, she said, "Don't. Be. A baby."

Defeated I picked up my shirt, and started to button it back up as she led me to the front door, 

"You can finish gettin' dressed on your way out."

And then I walked home as hail battered against my skin, unable to think about anything but you, my mentor.

Mason Johnson is a writer living in Chicago. Find him curled up in a ball and crying here

Street art by QRST
Photo by Adam Lawrence.

Allah-Las is a California band drenched is sun, surf, and instagram.

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