The Pilot, the Witch, and the Hitman Part – 09





Clear Night, New Moon


Sam looked around the room, noticed a few weak smiles from the seniors, but mostly felt a collective resistance at being trapped a few minutes longer. He thought of all the eager faces over the years that loved it when he launched into some flying story, seemingly off the cuff, grabbing the listeners’ attention, speaking with authority. Sometimes it was young pilots eager to ride along with Sam, or a good friend. Often it was a woman dazzled by Sam’s travels.

“It was a dark and stormy night,” Sam announced and the remaining chatter died quickly. A few seniors leaned forward. “Well, actually,” he paused, enjoying the silence, the attention. “Actually, it was a clear night with a new moon. I was out of Burke Lakefront airport headed back to Skyline Field. Lots of stars. But without the moon it was coal black except for city lights and the cars moving along the freeway.

“I was in Cessna’s little trainer, a two-seater, a fine airplane that taught a lot of pilots to fly over the years. And it was summer. Had it been winter with snow on the ground it would’ve been a better deal. You’ll see in a moment.”

A voice broke in.

“Snow would reflect the light and you’d see a lot better if you had to make an emergency landing,” a man stated confidently from the second row. Sam had forgotten the fella’s name but knew him as someone prompt and smart about his recycling.

“Damn,” Sam replied, “I thought this was my story.”

The man just smiled, pleased with himself.

“Try not to kill my punch line,” Sam added.

“Punch lines are for jokes,” Marge Holloway said loudly, and a few in the room snickered. (more…)

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The Pilot, the Witch, and the Hitman Part – 08


Christmas Party


Crestwood’s club house was full and everyone seated as Sam began talking of his boyhood love for flying. A few gossiped until hushed by a neighbor.

“Is that your wife?” Marge Holloway blurted, pointing at the top left corner of the photo board.

“That’s just a good-lookin’ woman who happened to be walking by,” Sam said, avoiding any further discussion by turning to the photo and examining it himself. It was Ruth standing alongside a twin-engine Cessna in front of an open hangar.

“I can’t see her very well.” Marge squinted, leaning forward in her seat. “You should blow it up so everyone could see it better. Maybe you should use a computer?”

“How the hell’s a computer gonna help?” her husband asked.

“They use computers for everything,” Marge retaliated. She cast a bleary eye on Sam and again she pointed. “Is that your boy, Bobby? I can see him better.”

Sam wasn’t five minutes into his presentation when the Holloways derailed him. Payback from the morning’s recycling fight? The other residents and guests, nearly fifty gathered, stared straight ahead or squirmed in their seats, anxious to get to the Christmas dessert table.

“Yes, Marge that’s Bobby. But for now how about everyone just listen,” he said, nailing the Holloways with a dark stare. He brushed the side of his head with his hand and glanced at the floor, a soothing gesture.

“When I’m done you can take a closer look,” he said matter-of-fact, having had dealt with rude pilots, flaky customers and bad weather forever. An old lady in the front row wasn’t going to distract him. He walked behind the easel and nimbly slid it forward a few inches with the grace of a man much younger helping a woman into her seat. (more…)

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