Jonah Don’t Go

The following is a paper I wrote for my Advanced Composition class.

Out of reflex Jonah Nova gripped the worn gray armrests as the air plane dipped. This brief turbulence made the bitter orange juice in his glass quiver. As the liquid rippled, Jonah pushed away the cold fish breakfast and tried to avoid thinking about his own rolling stomach. Smells of fish enveloped Jonah’s nostrils as he sat back and closed his eyes. This nauseating fish nulled his efforts to calm his stomach. He wondered how a plane that looked like a whale with wings stayed in the air. If he would have glanced out the window Jonah could have seen a whole world 23,000 feet below, and a sun rising over it’s clouds, lighting them up in a blazing pink and red fire. Jonah did not wish risking his stomach for a peek at the view. His ears popped and he thought about his destination. Even though Jonah’s internship program had placed him in a camp somewhere far outside Nicaragua’s filthy capital city of Managua, he still dreaded the thought. Attendees for the month of July would build restroom facilities and install a drain field and septic tanks. Digging ditches for the drain field did not at all hold Jonah’s interest. But his grandmother, who invested in his education wanted him to go on the trip.

One hour later the huge Boeing 747 touched down in the Managua airport. Jonah heard the muffled screeching of the brakes and roar of the wind crashing into the wing flaps as the plane hit the runway with several jolting thumps. When the hum of the engine decreased the seatbelt sign turned off and Jonah grabbed his leather bag from the overhead storage. Dark clouds covered the city like a sweltering blanket holding in the smell of smog. Luckily Jonah overcame this stench with a refreshing stick of spearmint gum.

As he exited the baggage claim, Jonah saw a neatly dressed man wearing a suit and smooth silk tie holding a sign which read “Jonah Nova.” He paused, a lump caught in his throat, and he walk on by. Two red vans sat waiting in the parking lot labeled “Academy of Arts and Technology, Nicaragua”. He noticed other college students like himself, except they had eager smiling faces. One blond woman with a red scarf around her neck and fruity smelling perfume laughed with the others. Apparently no one had told her that she must dig sewage trenches all summer. Jonah hated them. Sulking over to a nearby bench, he sat to consider his options as his spearmint gum lost its flavor. Although Grandmother had coerced him into giving up his summer at Daytona or lose his college funding, he figured she would never know if he found a beach party in neighboring Costa Rica.

Fortunately, a single engine plane needed one more passenger. After telling the pilot, Pablo Escobar, how much money he had, Jonah thought it providential that the flight would cost exactly that amount. He emptied his money belt and climbed into the plane. Airborne once again, Jonah soaked in the delight of his escape. 3,000 feet below stood a man in a suit with a sign waiting for a college student who had already arrived and departed. As he smirked, Jonah sat back in his chair and gripped the armrests. Winds rushed over the outside of the plane as it pushed forward towards Costa Rica. Thick gray cloud soup poured over the fuselage. Three seats forward, a man dressed in army fatigues cleaned his pistol with an oily smelling grease. Just as Jonah closed his eyes he heard the engine cough, stutter and finally halt. Jonah twitched. In the cabin this terrifying silence screamed in Pablo’s ears and his delicious chewing cigar fell from his mouth.

Pablo yelled back instructions in Spanish, “Locate your emergency parachutes below your seats, we are experiencing difficulties with the engine.” Chaos ensued.

Running to the back of the plane, Pablo left the controls to his copilot. He flung open the side door and threw out the pots of pansies and boxes of cocaine in hopes of lightening the load. Pablo then began ordering the passengers to prepare to jump.

“Pero no vas ahora!” barked Pablo.

Thinking he had heard his name, Jonah Nova panicked and fell out of the plane backwards. Just then the engine roared into action and the plane safely leveled out of its rolling nose dive. Screaming out for God, Jonah knew death approached with the treetops rushing up to take his life. Wind sucked his voice out from his throat. Where is your rip cord? his mind shouted. Straps flapped in the wind and wrapped around his head as he plummeted. In his delirium, Jonah saw a giant sperm whale also falling through the clouds to its explosive death far below, but then it blurred into only a pot of pansies. Drowning in this blue ocean of sky, Jonah sank helpless and alone.

“Oh God! I need your help! Save me!” yelled Jonah just before he found his rip cord.

Above him, the parachute caught the air and yanked him into a slower descent. Jonah threw up; sour vomit splattered around his face. Its warmth made Jonah realize for the first time how freezing he actually was. Wind rushed over his face pulling his tears of joy up across his forehead. As they streaked across his face Jonah could smell the bitter salt. He blacked out.

Long after Jonah awoke, a young woman found him suspended a few feet above the ground. He recognized her as the blond who sat in the van earlier that morning. Jonah still hung limp, blinking in the sunlight, still in shock. She had two shovels over her shoulder and a teasing grin on her face.

“You wouldn’t happen to be Jonah Nova would you?” she exclaimed with a southern drawl, “C’mon down, we’re havin’ cat fish for lunch.”

Holding her sharp bowie knife between her white teeth, she climbed the tree and cut him down. They both felt the the tree scratch against their legs. Like a lamb led to the slaughter Jonah meekly followed Linda’s red silk scarf and sweet perfume back to camp.

Throughout the days of camp preparation, Jonah witnessed the cheerful attitudes of his coworkers. Inside, Jonah himself felt very bitter. They ate fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner at camp, as the director had situated the campus on an island in lake Azulada. All the time digging ditches, as Jonah knew would happen, Jonah pondered his purpose at camp. Salty sweat stuck to his forehead as the smells of fresh soil reached Jonah’s nose. He could taste his sweat as it dripped onto his chapped lips.

Because Jonah had arrive after all the other attendees to the camp, his name appeared last on the list of people who wanted to use the computer. Two weeks later Jonah finally had his first turn at the computer. As he typed a long letter to his grandmother a pop up notified him of a worm. Internet Explorer crashed. Shoot! My first turn using the computer and it gets a worm! he cursed the computer. His anger boiled up. Frustration spread across his face.

“I hate this place! There are worms in the fish and worms in the computers!”

“Hey Jonah,” Linda’s voice sang out, “sounds like you’re a bit more concerned about a lit’l ol’ worm than you are about finishin’ up strong on the drain field in time for the academy to start.”

“What did those kids do to deserve my sacrifice this summer?”
Fortunately, Jonah recovered before the first bus load of students arrived. Once Jonah got to know the children he realized how much they appreciated the camp even though they did not understand what happens after the toilets flush. At the end of camp Jonah boarded one of the boats to head to the other side of the lake. Jonah grinned.

As he waved goodbye he shouted, “And thanks for all the fish!”

About nathan

I have a fascinating story to tell you! But I'll just be a listener for now, as I'm not the greatest of story tellers...
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5 Responses to Jonah Don’t Go

  1. Dad says:

    Hey Nathan! Thanks for the very entertaining biblical allegory with all the allusions to movie content of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. For non-Spanish speakers who may read this comment, “Nova” means “no go” and “Linda” means “pretty”. However, I’m wondering how Jonah knew of Linda’s “fruity smelling perfume”? Maybe that could be removed in a revision, or Jonah would need to get closer to her. Another awkward part was, “They both felt the the tree scratch against their legs.” It seemed pointless as Jonah hung a few feet above the ground. You wrote about his fall that “Jonah could smell the bitter salt” of his tears? That seemed unreal.
    Anyway, there are A LOT of great ideas packed into this story. I think you ought to rework it, maybe after some more constructive criticism, and perhaps you could sell it to a teen missions magazine, or not.

  2. Jean E. Bennett says:

    I hope my reply where the name is will work. I liked the story and though fruity perfume was great and didn’t recognize biblical. Would like next chaper unless you want to make it a short story. Love, GiGi

  3. nathan says:

    Hi GiGi! :]

    Well, this story had many allusions to other media. For example, when the sperm whale falls from the sky, and especially when Jonah exclaims “Goodbye! And thanks for all the fish!” these events allude to “The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.” I mention the pilots name. Pablo Escobar is actually the name of an infamous Colombian drug Lord.

    On top of this, with the mention of the whales, the drowning in an ocean and skies and of course the characters name, the plot line resembles that of the tale of Jonah in the bible. Most importantly is the ending where Jonah reveals that he does not think the kids deserve his sacrifice. The biblical Jonah did not believe Nineveh deserved God’s mercy. Instead he wished to keep it all of it to himself!

    Anyway… :)

    Thanks for commenting, and keep in mind that anyone can read these comments.

    love,
    Nathan

  4. Jean E. Bennett says:

    Thank you for your response. I’ve seen the flick you mentioned but it’s been awhile. I didn’t think of the Jonah story for some reason but I read it really fast. I’ll read it again later. Love again, MGG

  5. Marcia Reigel says:

    Hi Nathan –
    The story was interesting with lots of descriptive phrases. Where you lost me was leaving the airplane. Why did they throw out the items if they knew that they were not in danger? Why did only Jonah “fall” out? Why was the location of the camp right under his fall? Was the pilot of the plane in conspiracy with the camp? Why did the girl just assume that the boy that fell from the sky was Jonah? From “Running to the back of the plane”, the story loses credibility. Ok, enough “whys”. Keep writing – I think you have a good thing going!

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