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Colorful Characters

I recently spent several days in the world’s friendliest city, New York.

The town is coming back like a lion and the colorful residents turned out to be some of the most helpful I have ever had the pleasure to spend time with. If the terrorists thought they have brought the city to its knees those terrorists were sadly mistaken.

Of course, the terrorists had made people a bit, well, edgy. Idiosyncrasies that were classified as colorful pre 9-11 have become suspect.

On my return flight there was a Colorful Character (CC) in the security line waiting to go through the metal detector. He was clutching a Bible. CC and his Bible made it safely through the detectors and the moment he did he shook hands with a young soldier who held an M-16 at the ready. CC, in dire need of a haircut, thanked the soldier for protecting all the passengers, airport employees and residents of the United States.

The young soldier kept his finger near the safety on his M-16.

CC and I happened to end up on the same flight and as soon as he boarded he went into the nearest lavatory and used handfuls of wet paper towels to scrub it down. One of the flight attendants and I chatted about CC’s penchant for cleanliness. It turned out that the cabin cleaners had just gone through the plane and made sure everything was spic and span.

CC, pleased that the lavatory was spotless, walked past me and paused to give me a message. Here is his message: “Don’t worry, Sir. God will set you free.”

Before I could thank him for this insight, CC headed for another lavatory to clean it. On the way, he checked a number of overhead racks, rummaging through and eventually repacking their contents. I guess he was worried something might shift in flight and was making certain everything was shipshape.

A few minutes later CC walked past me again. I was slightly concerned about his behavior, although I was grateful that all of the lavatories were now spotless. CC looked at me, not in the eye, rather he stared at center point on my forehead as if searching for one of those ever-elusive pituitary glands that certain psychics claim to have.

“Has God any new message for me?” I asked.

“Sir, God speaks to me several times a day and tells me things,” said CC, still searching for some hidden entrance to my mind through my forehead.

“I see. Uh, God didn’t happen to give you any information on how this plane is going to perform, did He?”

“It will all be revealed to you at the right time,” said CC and turned to his task of checking and repacking overhead compartments.

I walked back to the flight attendants in the galley and we chatted a bit more about CC’s activities. They seemed to think he was more or less harmless.

I said, “He’s okay at twenty feet above sea level, but I wonder what he’ll do at 25,000 feet.”

The pilot told everyone to take their seats, we were getting ready to leave the gate. I sat down and watched the flight attendants huddle and then make a phone call to the cockpit.

The huge jumbo jet made a U-turn back to the terminal and a moment later the doors were thrown open and people resembling the Keystone Kops swarmed on and that was the last we saw of CC.

A few minutes later we were back on the runway and headed down the runway and then we were in the wild blue yonder.

A couple across the aisle asked me if I smelled something funny.

I said, “Now that that you ask, I think I smell something fishy.”

The young lady, I thought, started to cry. But it turned out that something wet was dripping on her face from the overhead rack. That same overhead rack that the Colorful Character had been mucking around in a moment earlier.

The young lady smelled the liquid and made a face.

I thought that the Colorful Character might have used his wet paper towels from the lavatory to clean the overhead racks but after the flight attendant checked things out, she found a large plastic bag with fish in it. The fish were packed in ice and the ice had started to melt. That was what was dripping on the head of the lady across the aisle.

“OK, who owns this fish?” asked the flight attendant.

No one would confess as the plane continued to climb.

“Now, someone owns this fish. Fess up,” said the flight attendant.

A small Asian woman, who was sitting by the gal who had smelly water all over her face, timidly put her hand up.

“You’re not allowed to store stuff like this in the overhead rack,” said the flight attendant and handed the Asian woman the sack of melted water and some smelly fish.

The Asian woman, clutching her goods, stared ahead until we got to Chicago.

She refused to make eye contact with me although I did search for a hidden pituitary gland in her forehead. I couldn’t find anything. I guess she was just another colorful character from New York.

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