I am buckling my seatbelt on this airplane. I glance up, and I notice the passenger in the aisle seat two rows ahead is a pig.
I ain’t trying to be mean. Everybody has a bad day once in a while. But this is an actual pig.
I elbow my mother-in-law Ms. Larda and tilt my head in that direction. “It’s probably one of them emotional pigs,” she whispers.
Becky, the flight attendant, says, real low, “It’s called an emotional support animal. It’s allowed, until they rewrite the regulations.”
“I wonder does he get pretzels and a choice of beverage,” I say, but Ms. Larda don’t listen because she is worrying about Lurch and Leech, my brothers-in-law.
They are late; they were out carousing and carrying on last night, even with this plane to catch. And it’s important. Chrystalette, granddaughter of Aunt Chlorine, who has the money in the family, is getting married at a big wedding in Wisconsin. We got to be there.
Two seconds before the door shuts, Lurch and Leech stumble in and fall into their assigned seats, directly across from the emotional pig — which, I hate to say, looks better than they do. They are both asleep sitting up before we even take off.
A couple of hours in, after everybody awake has had their beverages and Ms. Larda is saying her rosary to keep the plane in the air, I watch the pig for a while. It is a polite pig. It ain’t kicking the seat in front of it or reclining into the lap of the lady behind it.
Then I notice Leech, in the window seat, is showing signs of life. He rubs his eyes and looks around, probably hoping for coffee, and then he looks past his brother who is snoozing next to him. I can tell when he sees the pig, because he looks away, real quick. Then he sneaks another look. I bet he’s wondering if whatever he ingested last night is making him see things.
Lurch, in the aisle seat, wakes up all of a sudden and rushes to the bathroom. I take the opportunity to go sit by Leech.
“How you feeling?” I say. Leech points his eyes and his chin at the pig, and raises his eyebrows. I say, “What?” And I turn and look at the pig and — God will punish me for this— I whisper “You know that guy?”
He whispers, “He looks like a pig.”
“Don’t call names,” I say. Then I flounce off to the bathroom.
Which is occupied by Lurch. He comes out, mumbles “Hi,” with horrible breath, and squeezes past me to his seat. He glances across the aisle, sees the pig, shakes his head to clear it, and looks again. He turns to Leech, but Leech is very intensely staring at the pictures in that seat-pocket folder about what to do if we crash.
Lurch picks up his folder too. He don’t look up again.
I guess they are trying to remember last night — what did they drink? What did they eat? Did they inhale? Does seeing a pig on a plane count as seeing a pig fly?
Even after we get to Wisconsin and the pig is gone, the boys stay so quiet, I feel sorry for them. They must be feeling the effects of whatever they did all night, even if they ain’t hallucinating pigs like they think they are.
Too bad. Chrystalette’s fiancée owns a creamery, where they make cheese. The expensive kind — not no Velveeta. We will sample a lot of it at the reception. (We will also sample a lot of Ex-Lax, later.) The whole wedding will have a cheesy theme — bridesmaids dressed as milkmaids and all. Leech and Lurch don’t know any of this, because they are passed out in their hotel room. They arrive at the wedding, late again, just in time to see the flower girl walk up the aisle.
The flower girl is a goat.
They leave. They don’t stay to admire Nanny’s flowered tutu and daisy wreath. They just catch a ride to the airport, and go home.
They may never drink again.