Sunday, March 23, 2008

Aces High

“If she had nothing more than her voice she could break your heart with it. But she has that beautiful body and the timeless loveliness of her face. It makes no difference how she breaks your heart if she is there to mend it.”

Ernest Hemingway


Times were once much simpler. He could still vividly recall days gone by, where the only cunning adversary was the elusive bear. It hadn't been a scant few years prior, but it now seemed like a distant dream. Would he ever be able to return to his carefree life of drunken and poorly executed hunting forays into his beloved Bavarian Alps?

Not long before, it was obvious who was the hunter and who was the hunted. Now those roles were no longer clearly defined nor firmly in place.

How did this happen? When did youthful innocence surrender to sinister ambiguity? Was it the night he met her?

And what of this war which seemed to defy all rational thought? Was it mere coincidence that both events rapidly descended on him almost simultaneously? It was madness.

Perhaps the conflict and his femme fatale were inextricably joined either at the hip, or at least in the near vicinity. One certainly fueled the need for the other, and vice versa. The two dovetailed seamlessly together. Usually on Friday nights.

He knew for instance that the synchronized gear in his machine gun allowed him to precisely aim at his chosen target between the blades of the propeller; and this concept served him equally well when the two lovers were alone in her boudware.

He also realized that the element of surprise and in safely drawing a bead from above likewise served to his advantage; as did quietly slipping back across enemy lines after the engagement.

Was it sheer destiny that she should be there that night at the end of the bar? Normally, respectable women avoided the place altogether. And was it in the cards for him to be wearing his "My plane may be "bi", but I'm a straight-shooter" t-shirt, which prompted the opening staccato burst of conversation?

Whatever the case, the game was on. And over the next few tumultuous years, there would be rapid advances and retreats, measures and counter-measures, with the eventual outcome always in doubt and yet also predetermined.

Why must it be this way, that this glorious and exciting new discovery of flight could not be repeatedly ravished and savored in its purest form, free from earthen shackles of indebtedness and duty? Is it not possible to take delight in the plumage of the bird and the freedom of choice it its flight, without succumbing to the urge to capture and place it in a gilded cage?

Inevitably there is always a cost to be extracted for any endeavor, and the aviator has paid dearly for this one. What had been a means to an end, now has become an end in itself. And though he is one of the fortunate few who have beaten the odds and emerged unscathed in the physical sense, he is but a shell of the hunter that he once was.

What little solace that remains, comes in the form of guns now silent, though the posturing and pontificating go on.

He is now much older and wiser. But alas, there is indeed a cliche-ridden sadness to his wisdom. He wants to believe that this truly was the "war to end all wars". And yet he has no way of knowing what looms ahead on the horizon.


"A man would prefer to come home to an unmade bed and a happy woman than to a neatly made bed and an angry woman."

Marlene Dietrich


"I'm a simple soul. If there's a bed AND a woman in the same room, that's good enough for me."

Pug Puerileuwaite