Have Wetsuit Will Fly



This story was read aloud at:



     This is one of those stories that never seemed real, from the night in the hotel, to the flight across the world, things like this never happen in real life, but I promise, it did.    
     I was working as a waiter in Laguna Beach between my first and second year of University.  There was a family reunion in England so I was going there for a week or two and my girlfriend decided to give me a going away party.  She booked a room at the Surf and Sand Hotel, back when mere mortals could afford to book a room at the Surf and Sand, and she invited some friends.  There was alcohol and a mirror in the bathroom with a razor blade and a rolled up dollar bill.  It was late when the party people left and we curled under the sheets together. 
     We only thought that everyone had left, but a waiter who worked with me came out of the bathroom naked, I think his name was Randy.  He stood at the end of the bed and asked if we needed help.  We both said no, and he went back to the bathroom and after a few minutes left the hotel room, clothed.
     I didn’t get any sleep that night, and left early in the morning for the airport.  On the Virgin flight I was stuck in the middle isle, with a man to my left and two young women on my right.  
     I know how to deal with eleven-hour flights.  I bring two books, a miniature deck of playing cards, and a Walkman.  I am content sitting and reading for hours on end.  But the man on my left wanted to talk. 
     I guess he was in his mid to late twenties.  He looked like Mark Harmon, the perfect average vaguely handsome American male.  We will call him Mark.
     He told me that he was supposed to be on yesterday’s flight but got arrested for drunk driving and it took time to bail him out, so they put him on today’s flight.
     His hands were always moving, and he kept getting up and going to the back of the airplane.
     I tried to ignore him, but he had no reading materiel and I was his entertainment. 
     Back then, the Virgin crew passed out small menu cards, and attached to the front was a postcard with a picture of one of their airplanes.  As an excuse for something to do, I ripped off the postcard and started writing on the back.  Mark asked what I was doing.  I said filling out the postcard.  He didn’t understand.  I told him he could write on the back and send it to someone at home.  He borrowed my pen and wrote on the back.  He covered the whole back of the card with his writing.  Leaving no space for the stamp or the address. 
     I decided not to correct him.
     I tried to sleep, but Mark kept talking to me, so I tried to play solitaire.  Mark told me he lived in Las Vegas and that we should play 21.  We played 21.  He asked the stewardess for a bottle of Champagne.  She said it was not complimentary.  He said that was fine, and paid for the seventy-dollar bottle from the wad of 100-dollar bills he pulled from his pocket.
     A wad of 100 dollar bills and can’t fill out a postcard.
     I drank some of his champagne.
     The card game lagged and there was a pause in the conversation and he turned and looked at me and said:
     “Do you want to know why I’m wearing a wetsuit?”
     By this time he was getting drunk and fidgety.  And he was loud, as a good stereotypical American will be.  I could sense the ladies next to me glancing in our direction.
     Once he said he was wearing a wetsuit, I knew I had to know why, but I wish I was not stuck next to him for the next five hours, in a thin sheet of aluminum, flying at 30 thousand feet close to the speed of sound.
     I looked at him and said. “Why are you wearing a wetsuit?”
     “Because I am carrying seven kilos of coke in my bag.”
     I again felt the two women looking surreptitiously over at us.
     He proceeded to unzip the bag at his feet, which had three or four large white bundles sitting on the top. 
     Yep that looked like cocaine to me.
     So I asked him again.
     “So why are you wearing a wet suit?”
     He explained that the customs officers never patted you down, they search the luggage, but never pat you down.  Before we landed he would put the cocaine under the wetsuit and walk through customs with no problem. 
     I said that it sounded like a good plan.
     He said that he would make five thousand dollars from one day of work.
     I said that was a lot of money.
     He said that his girlfriend did not like him doing this, but she liked the money. 
     I nodded and smiled.
     I started to get worried, if he was caught would they also harass me.  But then I realized that was stupid, and I wondered for a moment if I should turn him in.  But I couldn’t be a hypricate.  I had done some of the same drug the night before. 
     So I sat there and he continued to talk to me.   Just before we descended Mark went to the bathroom with his bag and came back a few minutes later.  He looked a little bit bigger, like he worked out, but nothing really strange.
     As the plane descended he became more and more nervous, asking me over and over again if he looked all right, gripping the arm rests, then rubbing his hands together.  He would say something to me, and then look around the airplane and then say something else just babbling, something to keep his mind occupied so his head did not explode I assumed.
     The plane landed, and people filled the isles.  He said that I should follow his through customs to see if he made it.  I told him I would do that.  The people started to move, and he went off down the isle.  I stayed in my seat and was the last to leave the airplane. 
     I never saw Mark again.