I asked the American Airlines reservation desk why I hadn’t received a confirmation. Was I booked on the flight?
“Yes,” she said. “But you’re not leaving with the rest.”
I asked her what she meant.
“You’ll be on a different flight, which will intercept your flight mid-air. You will be lowered from one plane into the other with a harness.”
I asked her if any other passengers were making such a dangerous maneuver. She showed me the seating chart, which had one seat highlighted, with the words “to be added mid-air” typed in.
“No,” she said, “just you today.”
* * *
I was unhappy about returning to the prison compound, because I couldn’t get rid of the two screwdrivers before arriving. One was orange and one was red. There was no place to dispose of them and I was already walking into the main yard. I just held them out in front of me, hoping the guards would see that I was not trying to hide anything.
The screwdrivers were not like ordinary ones, with a plastic handle and a metal rod. They were entirely handle, which swooped down to make the screw head at the bottom. They were very heavy, as if they were filled with weights.
Jimmy Neutron, the most brutal guard, was standing with two other guards, clearly trying to impress them with self-serving anecdotes. He saw me and stormed over angrily. He did not wait for explanations. He took one of my screwdrivers and plunged it into my stomach. He beat me without mercy.
When he stopped, I had five of my teeth in my hand. I could tell my face was a mess. He let me pass, and I went to the inmate recreation room. The walls were purple. The other inmates were all law students.
They were very friendly. But I kept expecting them to show more pity, considering how brutal my beating had been. I kept moaning that I just wished I could put my teeth back in. It wasn’t until I got to a mirror that I saw what my friends had seen. All the teeth I lost had been from the back of my mouth, not the front. My smile was still perfect.