Our Collaborative Story (2009 edition)

It was November and William was out for his daily walk through the neighborhood. It was cold this morning but walking through the neighborhood was better than a treadmill and looking at the same wall for an hour. As he arrived back at his house he checked the mail and found a package. There was no return address on the package and he didn't remember ordering anything so he opened it as he was going into the house.

The package contained a t-shirt that said, "I'm with stupid," a note that read "wear this on your trip," and a plane ticket to Brazil.

"At least it's not a train ticket," he thought, recalling a frightening dream he had about a year ago. He began to debate in his mind whether he wanted to be a part of a mysterious adventure. The ticket was for a flight tomorrow at 7 a.m. so he had a while to make up his mind.

Brazil was not an unfamiliar destination for William. His mind was busy processing memories of his previous visits to the country. Four years ago he resigned from his mid-level position with Cummins Diesel Engine Cooperation, which had provided him the opportunity to travel to their manufacturing plant in Rio de Janeiro.

November was a wonderful time to visit South America as winter’s chill was creeping into the USA. As he thought about what clothes to take (if he actually did take the trip) he realized that he needed to start a load of laundry.

William woke up at 8 a.m. and muttered something inappropriate. He rushed to the airport, and to his relief, the flight had been delayed because of a massive snow storm.

Several hours later, as he boarded the plane, William noticed a very distinct odor. “Dunkaroos!”, he exclaimed, and ran towards the source of the smell. A very old woman was trying to pick up all the cookies she dropped when her granddaughter knocked them out of her hands. The granddaughter was busy licking the chocolate off of her first packet.

An hour later, he was on the plane with a stomach full of those delicious dunkable cookies. He had paid dearly for those Dunkaroos™ as the little girl was indeed not a novice in the art of haggling. As he settled into his seat, his stomach rumbled and he realized that he was not yet done paying for those dastardly Dunkaroos™. “Darn me and my irritable bowel syndrome”, William says to himself. As he is doubled over with sweat dripping off the tip of his nose, he realizes he has caught the attention of the young and attractive red head sitting across the aisle.

The fart was loud and long, the kind that says “Look at me, something is wrong inside!” The red head turned away in disgust. William’s eyes turned to the only slightly less attractive brunette, two rows over, who was cracking up. Their eyes met and twinkled the kind of twinkle that only comes from an appreciation of a good fart.

“Phil? Phil Connors? Is that you?” she voiced. “No. My name is William”, he answered. “I guess you have me mistaken for someone else. Please excuse me. I need to visit the little boy’s room.” I’ll spare you the details of the events that took place for the next 8 minutes. Needless to say it wasn’t pretty.

After returning to his seat, feeling like a new man but still with that “not so fresh” feeling, he noticed that the flight attendants were now serving food. When it was his turn, William asked for the kosher meal, for he is an observant Jew. When his food was served to him, he politely replied, “Shalom, toda”, and began to eat, hoping his IBS would be slightly less irritable this time.

With a belly full, and his pangs over with, at least for now, William was able to relax for the first time since the trip began. He laid back to sleep but he was unable to keep his latest project from invading his thoughts. William was a quantum physicist in his spare time and had recently been working on a homemade particle accelerator. He thought he was close to finally being able to create his own wormholes but so far they would all just disappear while emitting a blinding flash, causing William to black out for several hours. He knew he was close, and that he was missing something obvious. Perhaps this trip would clear his mind enough that the answer would come to him.

After a short nap, William woke with a jerk, not knowing where he was. As his senses came back to him, he looked around and noticed the pretty red head looking at him again. His face flushed as he remembered his ordeal only an hour or so ago. He started to look away when he noticed something about pretty red head girl. She was wearing an “I’m with stupid” shirt, just like the one he got in the mail! The only difference was that her shirt had an arrow pointing to the left, whereas his shirt had one pointing to the right. William was finally able to break eye contact and began to slump down into his seat. “What could this mean?”, William thought to himself.

After a few minutes his curiosity got the better of him. Despite his earlier embarrassment he decided to speak to the red head. “Have you been to Brazil before?” He asked.

“No, this is actually my first time out of the states,” She replied. “And you wouldn’t believe the circumstances if I told you.”

“Let me guess, you got that shirt and a plane ticket in the mail anonymously and decided to take a chance and go,” said William.

“How did you guess?” she questioned.

“I have the same story. And on top of that I don’t know what I’ll do when we land. I have no Idea where I am going, where I’ll stay or even how to pay for a ticket home. I’m just glad I already have a passport.

Maybe I should introduce myself. My name is William. I work for the Wisconsin Board of Tourism and Cheese Relations, but in my spare time I like to toy around with particle physics.

How about you?” he asked.

“My name is Wilma. My dad was a huge Flintstones fan,” she answered. “I got on in Miami with a connection out of Atlanta. I live in the southern Appalachians of north Georgia … a town you’ve probably never heard of with a population of only 36. I have no idea how I was chosen for this adventure.”

William was captivated by her southern accent. It was so smooth and sweet – like fine chocolate!

The pilot interrupted, “Pardon me folks but we’re starting our decent for landing in Rio. I’d ask that you return to your seats and prepare for landing. The temperature is 81 degrees and it’s partly cloudy. Thanks so much for flying with us today.”

William and Wilma said simultaneously, “See you in the terminal.”

William quickly blurts out “Jinx!” and punches Wilma in the arm. Wilma, with a scornful glare, is able to get out a small chuckle as she turns her back to retrieve her carry-on, rubbing her shoulder the whole time. William, proud of himself for finally winning a ‘jinx’, begins to file out of the plane. “This is going well. I might actually have a chance with this chick”, William says to himself. “Just don’t mess it up this time.”

“You realize you said that out loud, right?” Wilma said with a blush.

“Crap.” William said, a small IBS fart escaping.

As William, followed shortly by Wilma, made their way toward the airplane’s front exit, the steward had a puzzled look on his face. “Pardon me folks, but it’ll be several more minutes before we can disembark. If you recall, the pilot just said we were beginning our decent into Rio. We’re just passing through eleven or twelve thousand feet now. Please take your seats and buckle up.”

Both blushing, William and Wilma returned to their seats. Several passengers nearby giggled.

William looked out his window as they descended out of the clouds and, from that height, he could see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue up on the peak outside of Rio. This is a familiar landmark to him. It was on his first visit to the statue that he had met Father Roberto.

Father Roberto was racing to the airport as fast as the scooter donated by one of his parishioners would take him. he wasn't sure why William was coming to the airport, just that he had received a letter yesterday announcing his arrival, flight information and that William need to talk to him desperately.

Phil Ryan Ben