J. K. Shushtari (Boston University, US)
On the plane to my mother’s before Christmas I finished Tony Robbins’ full set of motivational CDs and was determined to jump-start my film career. The thing Tony fails to realize, however, is that one has to be creative to get ahead. This business of thinking positive will get you nowhere. You have to be creative, as in C-R-E-A-T-I-V-E. For example, if you wear tight briefs it’s easier to stuff sox down your pants and get them to stay in the right place. There’s nothing to it, really. I typically use two pairs of crew sox, the white athletic tube ones that go to your mid-shin. You take one sock, and you stuff the other three into it, and then you place the whole package right in the front where your penis is, underneath the tight briefs. That kind of bulge draws everyone’s attention. People automatically think you are the most well endowed man on the planet and they all want to get to know you. As I always say, you never know when you’re going to be on Jay Leno, so I wear my bulge pretty much all the time. I figure that even if my chat with Jay is brief, I will still need to walk out in front of everyone as they applaud, and we all know that talent scouts watch those shows to discover stars. My most likely break will come when a porn director or producer spots the bulge. They will call me in for an audition, and they will probably offer me a starring role right on the spot after they witness first-hand my charisma and magnetism.
Anyway, once I’m cast I am confident a legitimate agent or director will discover me, and then I can pitch the story for my screenplay and get it made into a movie. But first I have to publish my novel because I probably have a better chance having a novel published than having a film made from my script, or so says my neighbor, who won the Pulitzer and parades around now as if his dick is as big as mine, which it is not because I have seen the guy showering at the Y. I don’t expect to make a lot of money from the novel, but once it’s published I can make it into a film, and with my new-found fame there will be nothing stopping me. So you see, I am not kidding when I say creativity is the name of the game.
On the plane back from my mother’s after Christmas I looked across the aisle and there was this gorgeous girl, probably a college student. She sort of looked like the girl from Juno, Ellen Page, with sensuous lips and dishevelled brown hair, and her body was well cloaked so you couldn’t really tell if it was curvaceous. She had on an old and baggy flannel shirt with tight jeans. Girls have a way of sensing virility, and I could tell she was salivating over my bulge. I got up to go to the lavatory, and sure enough she followed. This was right after the meal on a Trans-Atlantic flight, and everyone was getting up to take a shit, or whatever it is they all do after meals when they get up and head for the john. I got up because I knew this chick wanted it badly. I stood in line, and sure enough, just before I went into the head, I could feel her leaning into me, and when we hit air turbulence, she pretended to slam into me. I left the door unlocked but she didn’t come in because there were four others in line and it would have been too obvious. Besides, some idiot had cut her in line. When I came out I had to sort of brush against her ass because there were so many people standing there. As I did she sneezed really loudly, and I knew she was having a giant orgasm because I read somewhere that mousey women who try to stifle their sneezes and make that weird quiet nasal sound as they jerk their heads don’t really have orgasms whereas those who sneeze loudly have big ones, and she sneezed pretty loudly.
And this other idiot, my seat-mate, was staring at my bulge as I tried to slip back into my seat. My bulge was right in his face as I squeezed by, and he too sneezed this massive sneeze. Of course it was New Year’s Eve, and it being winter everyone could have had colds but I knew this guy was orgasming over my bulge. He was definitely gay because he was wearing designer reading glasses and had on pink sox with Armani loafers and big hoop earrings in both ears and not just in his left ear because when the earring is in the left ear it means they’re not necessarily gay but if it’s just in the right then chances are they are probably gay; if they have earrings in both ears they are definitely confused about their sexuality. But he kind of made me sick orgasming right in front of me. He was way out of line and was lucky I didn’t take him into the bathroom and smash his face into the mirror until blood was everywhere. “You think I’m gay, asshole?” I’d ask as I smashed his face into the mirror and smeared bright red blood all over the white interior of the tiny bathroom. I bet he would stop sneezing after that, and the college chick would get really turned on that I could take care of myself.
I was forced to talk to this guy with the pink socks because he was the friendly type. I wanted to say, “Just shut the fuck up,” but I was being charitable since it was the holidays. Then the idiot asked my name. I had to repeat it something like twelve times and the moron still didn’t get it so I had to write it on the napkin under my drink. “Bijan, you asshole!” He smiled and said, “Oh, like the designer.” I wanted to say that the asshole designer actually stole my name. I mean, we all know he became famous because of the name, because of my name. I told Gay Boy that I planned to launch my own line of men’s underwear or maybe even jewelry, and that I would be so famous that I would then be on my own jet instead of flying commercial with assholes like him.
I could tell he really wanted to get to know me because he saw SUCCESS written all over my face, and he wanted to fly on my jet someday, so he started asking about the derivation of my name. So I had to tell the idiot that my father was an Iranian Muslim immigrant and my mother was a devout Irish Catholic. When I said the part about my father, he eyed me with suspicion but when I said the part about my mother he actually almost orgasmed again because, he told me, he was Catholic too, and he was tired of the repression his mother forced upon him with that oppressive religion, and so I whipped out my rosary and said, “I think we should say the rosary because we might crash otherwise.” He asked me if I was crazy so I told him to shut up or I would crash the plane with the Purell hand sanitizer I snuck on in my carry-on. When the obese black lady at Security asked if I had more than three ounces of liquid in any container in my carry-on, I acted all dumb and said, “You mean like soda?” She just shook her head and said, “Move on through, honey.” I realized at that moment that I should probably be applying to the CIA for a job in intelligence because I could trick just about anyone into believing anything. And we were talking about blowing up the plane here. My container was a large plastic bottle that I could make explode if I got it into the flight attendants’ microwave, or at least that’s what they said on 24 when Kiefer Sutherland was thwarting a hijacking. I rang the bell and asked to have my seat changed, but the stewardess said the flight was full except for Business Class. She wouldn’t let me go up there because I think she heard the part about my father being an Iranian Muslim immigrant and she was definitely discriminating against me.
She asked me to come to the flight attendant area and said I could sit in her seat for the time being, and when I stood up she nearly swooned at the sight of my bulge. That’s probably all she could even think about for the rest of her shift. When I got to her seat I sat and said the rosary aloud twenty-seven times, and she walked by and smiled occasionally. I wanted to tell her that Jesus was Lord and Savior, but I could tell she already knew this from her gentle smile. We were definitely warming up to each other. I wanted to tell her that Sister Mary Poderik was the best teacher I ever had because she was the music teacher at my elementary school and she always took us to Chapel and let us sing as loud as we wanted right up on the altar in front of the gold crucifix and among the statues of Mary and Joseph.
Later the Captain came over and sat next to me. I asked him who was flying the plane and he said it was a jet, not a plane, and then he said the co-pilot had everything under control. He offered me the seat in Business Class without even seeing my bulge, and I took the seat farthest up front. Some guy sat next to me in Army fatigues; the pilot said he accompanied all the VIP’s on Trans-Atlantic flights, and we chatted as the captain went back to the cockpit. This Army guy asked all kinds of questions about my life, and was really interested in doing some acting too; I think he was going to try to emulate me. I even told him about getting noticed by a Hollywood agent. I mean, I told him how to make a bulge and about how I planned to get hired to star in a porn flick, and then when some famous casting director was jerking off to the movie, he would notice me and launch my legitimate film career. But I had changed my mind from earlier and no longer wanted to write screenplays; I would be better off as the star of the film because when it comes to the Oscars and the Golden Globes, screenwriters don’t get as much attention as actors, and I didn’t want to waste myself on simple screenwriting because, let’s face it, I was destined for greatness. The army guy even said so. I told him that even porn stars lived pretty well because I saw this late-night HBO special about the industry, and a bunch of porn stars were posing nude for some mainstream photographer with an old-fashioned camera who was doing a sort of documentary. The porn stars talked about themselves as they posed nude for him. And one guy, a Russian immigrant porn star who said he had the longest dick in the industry, but really, it wasn’t as big as mine because I saw it. He drove a red corvette and lived in a mansion. I mean, I could settle for that, I think, while my legitimate career was taking off. Plus you get to fuck all those chicks with perfect fake boobs who orgasm every time a dick goes near them. The Army-fatigue guy said he wanted to role-play because he never got the chance to try his hand at acting. He said he always fantasized about escorting a genius criminal mind to Leavenworth, a guy genius enough to transfer the $750 billion in bail-out money from the U.S. Treasury to an off-shore account, and I was so smart he wanted to pretend that guy was me. I agreed because sometimes you have to cut the little guy a break. So I let him handcuff me to his own wrist, and the guy actually fell asleep as I told him all about Jesus, the girl who had the giant orgasm as I walked by, my urge to smash the gay guy’s face in the bathroom and tasting the blood as it spattered into my mouth, and letting the stewardess touch my bulge.
I rang my call bell because I wanted my wallet, which was in my carry-on in the overhead compartment over my old seat. I was reading the Sunday New York Times and I wanted my credit card so I could order a Salvador Dali original engraving from an ad in the back of the Book Review, and there was also this peninsula in Stonington, Connecticut in the back of the Magazine section. That would be a great place to spend my summers after I make my mark on Hollywood; I mean, I think I could start a new craze and bring all my actor friends to Connecticut and not to the buffalo ranches in Montana, or wherever it was they went these days. I knew I could get the Dali engraving with my credit card and I was pretty sure they would take a down payment on the peninsula with my new American Express card. Plus I had the beginnings of a headache, and I wanted to ask the stewardess for eight Advils and three ice-cold Diet Pepsis. I hoped they had the Liqui-Gels because they worked really fast, and I couldn’t have Diet Coke, only Diet Pepsi because, first, Diet Coke didn’t work for headaches and, second, if they tried to slip it to me instead of the Diet Pepsi, then not only would it not help my headache, it would prove they were discriminating against Americans of Iranian Muslim descent. And I didn’t want those tiny plastic cups, three quarters filled with ice cubes; I wanted the entire can, and I wanted three, and they had to be ice-cold with the Advil Liqui-Gels.
The stewardess came right over. My handcuffed friend was sleeping, which really meant he would never get ahead with his acting because I personally slept maybe an hour a day; I mean, that’s all we motivated people actually need. The Army guy looked ridiculous because his mouth was wide open and he was drooling. I knew the stewardess preferred me and my bulge because she smiled at me when she saw Mr. Wide-Open-Mouth, and then she winked, and so I knew she was aching for me. I asked for my carry-on and the Diet Pepsis and the Advil Liqui-Gels. Thank God I had her as my stewardess and not one of those guys in the too-tight pants who sashay around and act all pompous and confused every time you ask a question and who insist on being called flight attendants instead of stewardesses; they have pretty much destroyed the Stewardess Industry. She said she had the Liqui-Gels in her handbag because she used them too; this I believe was a sign from God because the Liqui-Gels helped me a whole lot more than the stupid Lithium and Ablify, which I flushed down the toilet as part of my New Year’s resolution. She also said that American Airlines only served Pepsi and Pepsi products and never Coke, so I was relieved, and she finally said that since I was in Business Class now and had technically been upgraded, I could have anything I wanted. I looked down at the handcuff so she wouldn’t be offended because I knew she was really asking me to screw her in the bathroom, and she gave me a knowing look of disappointment.
When she came back, she had my wallet, which she said was easier to bring up than the entire carry-on; so she was smart too. She also had a tray on which she had placed three really cold cans of Diet Pepsi, eight green-turquoise Advil Liqui-Gels in one of those tiny bowls in which they typically serve warm mixed nuts, and two glasses, real glasses and not those flimsy plastic things, filled with ice cubes. I asked for a pillow for my “Guard” because he was leaning so far over that he was nearly sleeping on my shoulder, and he was getting really annoying. The idiot had the whole window to lean into but instead he chose to lean toward me in the aisle seat while I was trying to develop a personal relationship. I knew it was my bulge that he was subconsciously seeking in his sleep because many guys have latent homosexual tendencies, but at least he repressed them when he was awake. When the stewardess returned with one of those stupid airline pillows I tried to slip it under his head so he would keep his head on his seat. My stewardess stood and watched. Then she said, “Oh, aren’t you a saint to do that for the gentleman?” As she smiled and reached over to help, she placed her entire body against me but she couldn’t quite rub against my bulge, which obviously was in my lap, but I knew that was her intention. She got the guy to lean the other way, winked at me and said, “If there is anything else I can do for you, just press your overhead call light,” and I am pretty sure she placed extra emphasis on anything.
And that was it. I knew I had to get her number. She was the first person, ever, to realize I was actually a saint. The only question was, “When would I be beatified?” I had written to the pope exactly sixteen times but always got gold-embossed prayer cards in reply, and never an actual date. But my stewardess, who not only tried to get at my bulge, but saw deeper, saw that I was the actual Savior, which technically meant I had already passed through the stage of sainthood, knew that I was falling in love with her as I sat and stared each time she went by and smiled. Yes, it was true: her eyes told me that I had already been beatified and that I was her Lord. And her smile told me she ached for my bulge. For the first time in my life I felt understood, and I prayed to God, who was in actuality my real father, that we would never land.
J. K. Shushtari is the 2009-10 Helen Deutsch Fellow in Fiction at Boston University, where he is pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. He completed this story at the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference. He is also a practicing physician.