I wake to the drone of an airplane engine and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin. I lift my hand to feel my face. My front four teeth are gone, I have a hole in my cheek, my nose is broken and my eyes are swollen nearly shut. I open them and I look around and I'm in the back of a plane and there's no one near me. I look at my clothes and my clothes are covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood. I reach for the call button and I find it and I push it and I wait and thirty seconds later an Attendant arrives.
How can I help you?
Where am I going?
You don't know?
You're going to Chicago, Sir.
How did I get here?
A Doctor and two men brought you on.
They say anything?
They talked to the Captain, Sir. We were told to let you sleep.
How long till we land?
About twenty minutes.
Although I never look up, I know she smiles and feels sorry for me. She shouldn't.
A short while later we touch down. I look around for anything I might have with me, but there's nothing. No ticket, no bags, no clothes, no wallet. I sit and I wait and I try to figure out what happened. Nothing comes.
Once the rest of the Passengers are gone I stand and start to make my way to the door. After about five steps I sit back down. Walking is out of the question. I see my Attendant friend and I raise a hand.
Are you okay?
I can't really walk.
If you make it to the door I can get you a chair.
How far is the door?
I stand. I wobble. I sit back down. I stare at the floor and take a deep breath.
You'll be all right.
I look up and she's smiling.
She holds out her hand and I take it. I stand and I lean against her and she helps me down the Aisle. We get to the door.
I'll be right back.
I let go of her hand and I sit down on the steel bridge of the Jetway that connects the Plane to the Gate.
I'm not going anywhere.
She laughs and I watch her walk away and I close my eyes. My head hurts, my mouth hurts, my eyes hurt, my hands hurt. Things without names hurt.
I rub my stomach. I can feel it coming. Fast and strong and burning. No way to stop it, just close your eyes and let it ride. It comes and I recoil from the stench and the pain. There's nothing I can do.
Oh my God.
I open my eyes.
I'm all right.
Let me find a Doctor.
I'll be fine. Just get me out of here.
Can you stand?
Yeah, I can stand.
I stand and I brush myself off and I wipe my hands on the floor and I sit down in the wheelchair she has brought me. She goes around to the back of the chair and she starts pushing.
Is someone here for you?
I hope so.
You don't know.
What if no one's there?
It's happened before, I'll find my way.
We come off the Jetway and into the Gate. Before I have a chance to look around, my Mother and Father are standing in front of me.
Oh my God, what happened?
I don't want to talk about it, Mom.
Jesus Christ, Jimmy. What in Hell happened?
She leans over and she tries to hug me. I push her away.
Let's just get out of here, Mom.
My Dad goes around to the back of the chair. I look for the Attendant but she has disappeared. Bless her.
You okay, James?
I stare straight ahead.
No, Dad, I'm not okay.
He starts pushing the chair.
Do you have any bags?
Excerpted from A Million Little Pieces by James Frey Copyright© 2003 by James Frey. Excerpted by permission of Nan A. Talese, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
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