19 February 1:10 PM (1995?)
In the airport at Atlanta waiting for the plane to Norfolk, VA.
On the plane to Atlanta I sat next to a guy who I had seen in the airport, and, at the time, I thought he looked sick or strung out or at least tired; thin with a big silver hoop earring and big dark circles under his eyes; thin and about an inch shorter than me. He had a lot of stuff with him—a big bag he didn’t put in the overhead and a leather briefcase and inside that an express mail envelope (about 10 X 12). And inside that lots of postcards, old family B & W photos, and current snapshots.
He showed me pictures of his daughters (11 and 9) and his brother and sister and father, and then told me he had come to Florida from Victoria, BC to say goodbye to his parents. At first, I thought they were sick; but he said he didn’t know how long he would be alive—turns out he has inoperable lung cancer, and 3 months ago was given one month to live. He said he had come out of remission—he didn’t say how long the cancer had been in remission but I got the impression it was several years. Then when he caught pneumonia last winter he started coming out of remission.
When he went to his doctor, he was told he had one month.
He said he had done a lot of research and had read about a new drug which his doctor refused to treat him with, so he got 3 tape recorders and a briefcase and called a news conference (he’s a family
I never got his name.
But the poor guy looked sick and kept complaining about the draft, said he was cold and kept coughing, and also complained about paying $200 to check his extra baggage. It must have weighed a lot because he said he had brought back rocks (from the beach) and also a bowling ball he picked up at a thrift shop for his daughter.
He got lung cancer from smoking cigarettes.
Michael Minassian is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online
magazine. His chapbooks include poetry The Arboriculturist (Amsterdam
Press 2010) and photography Around the Bend (Praxis 2017). For more