alnilam 5

Dickey brings another character to the fore, allowing the fellow guiding Cahill around the base to monologue about physicality and point of view:

“Right now, Mr. Cahill, I could take on anybody head-to-head with a posthole digger. Every time I close my hands, I get another grip on the ground, and pull it up, pull it out, and lay it down. If it didn’t make you so tired so fast, I would have got to like it, because you’re grabbin’ down deep in there, and when you get a good holt of the underground–I mean in it, deep down inside of it– it’s different from just bringin’ it up with a shovel.”

I’m sure you’re marveling at the subtext.

Shortly, he gets onto the subject of the first time he flew:

“We were up above out farm, which was in the middle of three or four others, about seven hundred fifty or a thousand feet, where there’s just a change in things on the ground that you know makes a lot of difference: makes all the difference. It hit me right off: you could make things change their angle, if you wanted them too, the creeks and the fences nd the barns and silos would slant any way you said; everything would tilt, and it would come to you or go away from you; you could go down to it, or on up away from it; it would do everything and anything you had a mind for it to… I still had my connection to the ground, with the farm, with the fences and creeks and dirt roads and the fields and the hills and the rest of it, but there was somethin’ else to it, now. I could leave all that in a different way, and I could come back to it, and keep what I had done seen and how I had done felt, and have it with me while I walked around, knowin’ that the whole thing wadn’t really solid, and had another side to it that most people didn’t know but I knew.”

Later, a trick his son sometimes pulled, which seems to draw a parallel with the father, though Cahill’s doesn’t fly blind by choice

“He’d take a plane up solo… and he would get down in the cockpit, down on the floor, and just control the plane with the trim tab, you know, with just little moves with his hands, and fly along, back into the main area. I was up with another cadet one day, and I seen this Stearman come by with nobody in it, or at least as far as anybody could tell…”


“What was the point of that?” Cahill asked, interested and irritated. “He couldn’t see where he was going, could he? Ain’t that dangerous?”

“Sure it’s dangerous, and I don’t think he did it but a couple of times. I asked him about it, because I was afraid somebody would get hurt with him foolin’ around like that, and he just said he wanted to see what people would say when they saw an empty airplane go by.”

A few pages later, they enter a club, and the columns give us Cahill:

He concentrated, to learn the scene his way, and own it. The voices–young, always, and this time with one female among them–were nothing he wished to keep, nor was the music some yards away, which had mentioned a paper doll two or three times already, since he had been inside.

Cahill has received a souvenir of his son: the boy’s cracked flight goggles. He keeps them in his pocket and, at one point, his guide is unnerved to see his hand therein, fingers feeling over this macabre trophy.


~ by ironcupshrug on 01/25/2010.

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