contents may have shifted
Fiction at thirty-five thousand feet
I am flyIng out of the Little Delta drainage, tucked illegally
into the luggage area of George White’s converted Super Cub.
Converted, that is, to haul gear instead of a passenger. It is not
that my presence puts us in danger, George assures me. I am
well within the aircraft’s specs, weighing, as I do, significantly
less than a boned-out moose or caribou. But there is no seat for
me, not to mention a belt, so my instructions are to make myself
look like a du=el bag when we land in Fairbanks, and to wait for
the all-clear from George before I untangle my limbs and crawl
over his seat to the door.
George is one of many pilots who found their way to Alaska
more or less straight from Vietnam. I once saw him break a
nine-year-old boy’s arm at the dinner table right after the boy,
in an attempt to get his mother’s attention, put the tines of his
fork through the back of her hand. I have also watched him dig
through buckets of rusted nuts and bolts to find the one ancient
screw that will restart a seemingly defunct airplane engine. He
likes to push both the light and the equipment, landing on air-
strips made of nothing but river rock between steep canyon walls
deep into the Alaskan twilight.