Out of breath and sweating, I slid into my seat as the doors were closed. “Just made it,” I said panting. The woman to my left, over whose delicate knees I’d just climbed, pretended to sleep; the man to the right of me hid behind his newspaper. I shrugged and staked my claim to both armrests: the God-given right of the middle-seater.
After the safety demonstration, I reached for my complimentary copy of “Plummet -- The In-flight Magazine of Wingan Prairie Airlines.” This month’s special feature was: Great People in Publishing. There was an interesting profile of Steve Guttenburg, the man who invented the printing press, and a retrospective of Marion Folsbream, inventor of both embossed foil lettering and those little round adhesive stickers. But it was the profile of Evil Editor -- the man who discovered literary humor -- that sent a shiver down my spine.
My neighbor, who had finished his newspaper and was now pretending to study the distant landscape through the plane window, was easily recognizable as the man in the story. I tugged at the velvet sleeve of his coat. “Excuse me. You’re Evil Editor!”
He sniffed. “Thank you for clearing that up. I was wondering.”
“Sorry, I mean, uh, I was just reading about you.” I pointed at the article. “This is so incredible!”
“I’m having trouble believing it myself,” he riposted.
“This is awesome,” I added. “You, uh, don’t mind me talking to you, do you?”
He sighed like a broken radiator and turned to face me. Facial hair quivered and pince-nez glinted beneath the reading light. “OK, let’s hear it...” He raised his eyebrows. “So, you’re a writer, then?”
“Uh, no. I’m in sales, actually. Industrial shredders.”
An enormous grin lit his face. “My man! Let me buy you a five dollar cocktail: We need to talk!”