featuring the bi-monthly serial novel: The Pilot, The Witch, and the Hitman:
The Pilot, the Witch, and the Hitman – Part 10
Gabe Wheeler ran up to Sam with a gift bag.
“Sam, all of us here at Crestwood appreciate you as a neighbor and admire your flying career. Jokes and all.” Gabe handed him the bag with a bottle of wine in it. “Here’s something special.” He faced the audience. “Maybe we should all take a break, have some refreshments and talk with Sam one-on-one; look closely at these wonderful pictures covering so many years. Also, remember everyone, please stick around, in a few minutes we have a lovely young lady who’s going to sing for us. When she finishes she promises to surprise us with another one of her talents.”
“What the hell, Gabe, you’re shutting me down?”
Almost everyone stood up and shuffled back toward the dessert table decorated in garland. A few paper turkeys left over from Thanksgiving were spread out along the back of the table.
“Sam, not everyone finds this kind of thing interesting,” Gabe quietly insisted. “I don’t know what’s worse: being duped with a clever pilot joke or some awful war story that would only upset everyone.”
More people rose from their seats and Sam’s moment was over. He placed a large hand on Gabe’s bony shoulder, saying, “I love ya, Gabe, but I’d like to wring your scrawny neck. I prepared for weeks. That joke, as you called it, was to break the ice. I had a real career for fifty years. Experiences I wanted to share. I was gonna stay until Monday, give one last hand to you jokers, but you’re on your own. I’m leaving tomorrow.”
Good Landings and Other Flying Adventures
I knew at the time of my uncle’s death that something important had been handed down to me—his love of flying. Two months later, at the age of twenty-six, I soloed in the same type of aircraft that he had owned: an unadorned, two-seat Cessna trainer. In twenty years I would be flying at 600 mph and two miles above the other traffic, working for a world-class company in the latest state-of-the-art jet. I believe my uncle would have smiled had he heard the air traffic controller ask us to begin our “reentry,” instead of the standard “descend and maintain….”
Alongside the sky’s drama I began to hear the human one and started to write, letting the happenstance of strangers, friends, new places, and ideas dovetail into American Sky.
My uncle never cared for the faster aircraft, like his one friend’s sleek, twin-engine ship that cruised at 200 mph. He was content to push through the air at half that speed in his Cessna 150. What’s important is he knew what made him happy. I’ve always prayed for that very same kind of wisdom.