, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Emmett Dulaney

The third world equivalent of a TSA agent studied my 6’2” bulking frame and then the Pomeranian cradled in my arms. He chuckled and asked in broken English if my comfort dog was a snack for the flight. When I was too tense to laugh in return, he abruptly signaled for a supervisor to join us.

“Why the tiny dog?” the supervisor immediately asked as the line of travelers waiting their turn behind me collectively shifted restlessly from one foot to the other.

“I don’t travel well,” I explained. “This is my helper.”

“Helper? What do you mean helper?”

“She makes my travel easier. She helps me be able to fly as much as I do.” I waited but they said nothing. “I have paperwork there from my doctor,” I said, motioning to the folded photocopies shoved into the front of my passport that was firmly being gripped in the original agent’s hand. The two of them kept staring at me and I felt compelled to say more but didn’t know what else to add. Finally I uttered, “Back home, dogs have become common on airplanes — you’re going to start seeing a lot more of them here too.”

“I hope they aren’t all as girly as this one,” the agent mumbled to his supervisor in Spanish, unaware that I spoke the language. They both chuckled.

“Go on.” The supervisor motioned toward the gateway and the agent stamped and handed me my documents.

Pumpkin and I settled into our seat and I relaxed. I have enjoyed traveling with her over the past two years and dread to think there might come a time when they go back to banning pets on planes and I have to return to shoving the drug-filled balloons up my own ass.

Emmett Dulaney lives in Indiana and enjoys traveling but not the travel. His stories have appeared in Spelk, Hoosier Lit, Shotgun Honey, and the Burningword Literary Journal.