“We’ll make your flight, don’t worry. You don’t have to go through TSA or anything, cause you’re just a brain, not a whole person. What could they search?” Frank Singer giggles at his own joke. “You’ll get your shipping tag and they’ll toss you right into the cargo hold.”
Frank is driving south on 101, waiting for a reply from the brain, when he sees the exit, “Viola! North Access. OK. Now help me find McDonnell Rd.” The box on the passenger seat doesn’t help. Neither do the two boxes in the trunk, one half full of non-narcotics and the other untouched since Jackie filled it with a couple of dresser drawers bulging with Willa’s stash.
After circumnavigating the airport, cursing wildly as the time ticks toward 7:20, Frank finally finds the United Airlines Main Cargo Facility. It is a two-block long gray corrugated metal building under the tracks of the elevated airport monorail. It has none of the niceties of the airport proper. It’s pure utilitarian.
“My friend Jackie Armarillo called this afternoon and got it all set up. Just check in your computer. A-R-M-A-R-I-L-L-O.” He puts the box on the counter. “She’s going to Logan on the red eye.”
“You called the box ‘she.’ What’s in that box?”
“It’s a brain, like Jackie said on the phone.” The freight agent’s face freezes and he signals someone across the big open lobby. Frank starts to panic, “The box is going to Harvard. You know, Harvard, the university? For research. They do this all the time. It’s normal, day-to-day stuff for them. It has to fly because it’s perishable and brains don’t all come from the East Coast, you know. This one is extra special, too, ‘cause they don’t usually find brains with suicidal depression that are still in one piece. You know what I mean? You see, my friend…”
Two large men in TSA uniforms take Frank’s arms and lead him to a small room to the right of the freight desk. They sit him down in the room’s only furnishing, an orange plastic chair.
“Let’s see some ID.”
“That box has got to go on this plane or else it’ll spoil and they won’t be able to find out about Willa’s brain disease and people are going to die.”
“Nothing happens until we see some ID, pal.”
Frank hands them his driver’s license and the TSA guys walk out of the room, closing the door behind them. Frank sits and stares at the door. Willa worked so hard to give her brain to Harvard and now he’s fucked it up. The dry ice will melt, or whatever dry ice does, and her brain is going to rot in a box waiting for the next flight to Boston. Her last wish, ungranted. Frank’s too tired to get up and check to see if they’ve locked the door, too tired to yell, too tired to…
“Mr. Singer, you’re cleared to go. Here’s your license.”
Frank doesn’t have a clue where he is or who these men are or what they want from him. They hand him his driver’s license and Frank stumbles as he tries to stand.
“Easy, Mr. Singer. Did you pop a little something when we left you all alone?”
Frank gets his balance and his memory clicks in. He breaks free and runs out the door to the counter, the TSA guys right behind him. “Where’s my box? Where did you put my box?” The stunned freight agent backs away saying, “It’s gone, dude. We put it on the red eye. You can’t get it now, it’s 30,000 feet in the air.” Frank freezes and collapses on the counter.
“Mr. Singer, either you leave right now or we get the cops here to 51-50 you. You know what a 51-50 is, right? Seventy-two hour psych hold?”
As exhausted as he is, and relieved, and heartbroken, Frank Singer gets the irony of being held as a danger to himself or others while trying to donate his suicidal friend’s brain to science. He starts laughing and can’t stop until he’s back in the Datsun. He’s tempted to check on the boxes in his trunk but sees the TSA agents watching him from the door and drives off.
As he merges onto 101 north, Frank calls Jackie. “I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear the owl scream and the crickets cry?”
“Frank, you need to get some sleep. Is the stash gone, too?”
Frank gives her an abbreviated version of “Bernice Sorts Narcotics,” which Jackie interrupts before the sequel starts. “Why didn’t you just go to Brisbane? They have one of those prescription drug take-back spots, like a mailbox or something. Just drop ‘em off and leave.”
©2020 Jeff Raz | ISBN 978-0-9979048-3-3