Mike Ingles: FlightFlight

Mike Ingles



I can fly.

They are unaware of my newfound capabilities. They think I am just lying here, unaware of my surroundings. If only they knew how I can fly!

Time has lost its meaning; I don't know how long I have been here, for the first time since the beginning time seems to have little bearing on my being. At first I felt lost, it was as though years had passed before that second, that instant when I learned I could fly. When they first brought me here I could hear them in the distance. There were tears and people whispering in the back of the room. People ambled in and out. They touched my hand, the sleeve of my jacket and some caressed my hair. In hushed tones they spoke to me, not anticipating an answer. My father cried like a child lost at a circus. He clung to me and refused to leave my side. I wanted to reach out and touch him, I wanted to comfort him and tell him not to worry. Not to worry father for I can fly. But he wouldn't hear. He doesn't understand, he refuses to know.

Mother has shed a few tears, but mother was always stronger than father. Besides, she didn't love me, not really. Oh she cared for me and she treated me Well, but now I realize she was not capable of love, not in a total sense. Her first thought was always of herself. Her feelings of self were always of paramount importance. When I was just six years old mother took a day off from work just to take me to the zoo. We had only been there a few minutes when a stranger came up to her and they began talking and laughing as I was enthralled watching the fumbling penguins. They held hands and walked along beside me as we visited all the wondrous creatures. When we got home father asked me if I had seen the monkey's paw. "It's not like yours or mine is it son? It's hairy and only has four fingers."

"No dad," I said. "It looks like the hand of the man who was holding onto mom."

Now I fly. I'm never hungry. All I need do is think of a food and the taste surrounds me. I'm never sad, but never quite happy either. It is sameness. I don't dislike it. I feel no pain. The joy is overwhelming at times, when it leaves me I am not sad, I am complacent. I know it's a contradiction, but that's how I feel now.

My best friend Herb came to see me. Heís a real oddball, I guess thatís why I like him so much. He once told me a story about his dad that if I live to be a million I will never forget. Herb said when he was about nine or ten years old he decided to collect four-leaf clovers. He lived in Philadelphia where grass is scarce and four-leaf clovers are extraordinary. By the time he had turned sixteen he had collected 27 four-leaf clovers. He never told his parents about his collection. He longed to tell his mom because she would have been thrilled about them, but he knew his mom would tell his dad. He didn't want his father to know about his hobby, his father would have thought it was a feminine thing to do. He kept them in a shoebox in his closet. But at sixteen his thoughts had turned to girls and cars and after a time he had completely forgotten about his collection. His father passed away last year. After the funeral he went back home with his mom and they went through his father's things. In his father's closet was a photo album. Next to each of 27 pictures of Herb was a four-leaf clover.

I love to fly. I don't know how long I had been lying here before I realized I could. At first I just circled the room for a few moments. I was completely exhausted in just an instant. The room had blue walls and each corner bound like eternity. But I practiced and I learned. Within two days I had flown the city skyline and touched the top of the highest building. I can now travel the earth in a matter of moments. I can inhale clouds and outrun lightning. My strength knows no bounds. I have been to Paris and Moscow and have waded in the Indian Ocean. I must be still now; Aunt Betty has just come to me. I wish she wouldn't cry so.

When I was a teenager I worked on her and Uncle Chet's farm. They paid me thirty dollars a week. I would take my pay on Fridays and go to the Hillsboro National Bank and ask for thirty one-dollar bills. I had Uncle Chet's pickup truck and I was dressed in my best jeans and a striped shirt. Too young for a bar, I went to the local community college and bought a dime bag. I met Jen Gabroskwi at a party on campus. She was a sophomore with blue eyes and tight jeans. I knew carnal love on a moonlit August night. The thing is, I can have that moment anytime I wish. I can take her and fly the Atlantic Ocean, but I can never touch her, in a physical sense anyway. There is an aura that surrounds me, like stagnant radiation, no matter how hard I try to reach through I cannot break its hold. I want to touch Aunt Betty, but I know itís not possible. She cries and asks me to come back. She doesn't understand that I don't need to return, I can fly. Goddamn it Betty, I can fly.

My wife has been here for three days. From 12:00 to 8:00, she never wavers. She is so very strong. The kids have been here too. I love them all, I wish they would leave and grant me peace. My wife meets everyone at the front of the room. Several of the guys from work have been here. Old friends and Laura Mitchell, my high school love, have passed by. I canít touch them, but I can feel them all around me.

The spirit within me is never cold, though I have lost warmth. I have learned now that I can transverse time. All I need do is wish it and it is so. I will stop in June 1969. On campus again and another anti-war rally. I'm stoned and with Herb and the rest of the guys. We will never serve in Vietnam; we are all too smart for that. But we know Chuckie Wasmley's widow. Her name is Beth. She has two kids, they are just tots. Chuckie died in Vietnam in Nan Katock. There is no reason why. He liked cocoa and toast for breakfast. Funny how I remember that. His son, Micha, is in Iraq, 'what goes around comes around,' that's what my mother always said. I wonder if Chuckie can fly? I wonder if Micha will.

Those six guys carrying me have a good load to shoulder. I weighed over two hundred pounds. Bob and Dave from work and Jack Lucas from church. My son Mike and my son-in-law Steve march in simple time and Fred my neighbor and golfing buddy holds the front corner with callused hands. Some cry, but I fly. I kissed the moon and ricocheted to the sun.

The hole is neatly cut. It's not easy to handle a backhoe. Fred and I rented one a few years ago when my water main busted in the front yard. We must have moved twenty tons of muck and stone to place a three-dollar plastic valve over a small crack. We drank beer on my front porch and talked about our excursion until two o'clock in the morning. We were men. We came, we saw, we conquered. I waddled home and made love to my wife and just for an instant God smiled on me, He seemed to be saying, "Okay".

I can have that moment. And I do. And the moment when my dad hugged me after the basketball game when I scored thirteen points. And when Rebecca, my daughter, was born. And the time Dr. Grant passed me in Spanish Two. And mom kissed me after the wedding. And my wife and I in the Bahamas and she in that bikini and we like two teenagers in love. And my son, Mike, trying to shave at just eleven years old and the slow dance to the Temptations at my prom with Laura Mitchell. Me and my wife and our first home and our first kiss in that home.

And I can fly. Through any storm, through any time, I can fly. They have an awning over my site and there are folding chairs in a semicircle around my body. Father Huber reads that The Shepherd has found another sheep. But the hole is so very deep. The dirt and the muck surround me and I can hear the voices of worms. They rush toward me, but I am there no longer, oh how I fly!

© Mike Ingles 2006

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