We were looking for planes.
We stopped what we were doing and we looked. I had been sitting in the driveway, wrapping presents, but I stopped doing that. Angela had been reading a book called Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater, but she stopped doing that. Rachel – for reasons less than entirely clear to me – had been attempting to transplant a small tree from one side of the driveway to the other side of the driveway, but she stopped doing that, too.
Our mouths hung open. Our heads swung around in all directions. We were looking for planes.
Wherever they were, they were not commercial airliners. They were not that kind of plane. These planes ripped the sky open. The echoes of these planes between the townhouses cracked and crackled.
At the end of the driveway, an old couple in purple and green sweats had been walking by, but they stopped now, they shielded their eyes, and they pointed.
Angela was the first one of us to spot the planes, there, in that small crack of sky between this townhouse right here and that townhouse right there.
She said, “Mom, are those planes here to drop a bomb on our house?”
I looked up. They were fighter planes. I do not know what kind. The loud kind, I suppose. They were flying in formation, circling downtown Houston. This meant, in effect, that the planes were circling my house.
I said, “No, Angela.”
I said, “I’d say these are probably ours.”
The planes had circled around now. I could see them heading south again, in the small crack of sky between this tree right here and that townhouse right there.
Angela’s eyes grew wide as she turned to find another crack of sky, anticipating where the planes would turn up next. She said, “Those are yours and Belloq’s?”
She seemed a little impressed.
I picked up my tape dispenser, went back to wrapping presents. I said, “No, they are ours. They are America’s.”
Angela looked down. “America’s?”
“Yes, America’s. The military. You know, like Great Uncle Mac?” I gave her a mock salute, which she did not return.
The planes were circling north again, coming in closer now than before, so they were visible for longer this time over the top of the townhouse right there.
Angela stared up at the planes again, she squared her jaw, and she looked back over at me. She said, “Are you SURE they’re not going to drop a bomb on our house?”
I folded the end of the sheet of wrapping paper over and taped it almost perfectly, but I did not reply again.
My in-laws used to tell me that back in the Korean War days, when they were kids like yours, the American planes came into the Chinese airspace, over their village, and dropped leaflets with propaganda on them and dead worms and bugs with diseases on them. And they bombed the bridges on the YaLu river too, which were the border bridges to north Korea.ReplyDelete
MacArthur had wanted to use nuclear weapon on northern China, but Truman refused. Now, no wonder three hundred thousand volunteer Chinese army poured into Korea and beat the Americans all the way to the sea. Those leaflets and diseased worms apparently didn't work as planned.
I've heard about the leaflet thing in other places: I believe "we" used them in Iraq. I wonder how well that works.Delete
Hundreds of thousands of copies of my blogs, in a mission of peace to central Africa, dropped along with some worms.
All i need are the planes...
That was those angels I prayed to be sent to watch over you years back. They're a little slow but they get there at the right time. ;)ReplyDelete
You have very militaristic-looking angels at your beck and call. I guess they are no worse than the glowing ones with four faces and a blazing sword which have been keeping me out of that garden, but still!Delete
I just noticed that the objects in the picture appeared to have a person with outstretched arms that turned into wings, but yeah, I sent Michael and his crew after you to rid you of the demon spirits. hahaDelete
Oh, and also to protect you.Delete
I would hope that you kept some for yourself, Cal. After the year you've had, you need all of the divine oversight you can muster, don't you?Delete
2014 is going to be amazing.
That I do. I need God to heal this precancerous tumor in my stomach since the heart doctor won't let them do any kind of surgery on me.Delete
I sure hope 2014 is. I need a miracle.
Oh wow. I didn't know, Cal. Stay positive, get your strength up, and see what happens. It's the best any of us can do, I suppose.Delete
No, to drop bombs on your house they'd do the drone thing.ReplyDelete
Drone drone drone let's drone Katy An... You know.
What, I'm not even worth a real fighter jet?Delete
As if my house is some mere Middle eastern school or wedding reception?
I'm going to have to start being a lot less polite about these folks we supposedly have in charge...
I usually write a year-end piece.ReplyDelete
I won't this year. I'll just send everyone here, instead.
Oh no. My daughter is so cynical, she got Will's seal of approval!Delete
They were probably going to, but then they thought about how mad you'd be.ReplyDelete
I wish that worked with the kids. "No. Let's not. Mom might get mad."Delete
Wow. Everyone has already said what I might have said. This is a fabulous piece.ReplyDelete
I usually spend 2 or 3 days kind of planning what I am going to write. This one came together and was written in one sitting (which is why it got posted at, like, midnight on a weeknight).
Short and sweet.
I've been a little bit submerged in WWII literature and film lately.ReplyDelete
Did you know there's barbed wire in your background?
Every time I visit your blog, I feel like I'm falling into a different dimension, or possibly being pulled through some time vortex...
I almost wrote "different dementia," which, I suppose, would have been just as appropriate.Delete
The different dimension/dementia thing is probably the best compliment I can get right now.Delete
You know, every time I start thinking about my writing, I think "Oh, I am going to start going for a gritty realism and really get an edge." Five minutes later, I am writing about chupacabras or talking trees and my plans are ruined.
It is good to understand one's gifts, I guess!
So...uh...So, did they drop a bomb on your house? Are you homeless? Is this a metaphor for eminent domain!?! It's gotten to the point where I can't tell the difference here between anecdote and metaphor.ReplyDelete
Homeless? I was killed!Delete
Let us look to the legendary rap group House of Pain for an answer, as they once so wisely stated:ReplyDelete
Word to your moms I came to drop bombs
I got more rhymes than the Bible's got Psalms
The clear answer to this problem, I surmise, is to "jump, jump around. Jump around. Jump up jump up and get down." Have you tried that?
Most of life's problems can be solved by looking to early Nineties hip hop.Delete
Any tie as to what to do will be resolved by Cypress Hill.
Where I live (Portsmouth UK) has a naval base and once upon a time was home to a huge dockyard. It's a lot smaller now, but when my Dad was a boy they used to sound an alarm/siren in the morning so the workers knew it was time to come in. The alarm (unlike most of the workers) is still there and every once in a while they still sound it. I'm not sure why that happens but every time it does I think I'm about to get nuked.ReplyDelete
Oh, wow. And see, my family would say about something like that, "Doesn't it make you proud to be American?" or something. But that stuff - like this plane thing - just sort of scares me. And my daughter apparently trusts the government even less than i do.Delete
This is the kind of little gem that will hopefully one day end up in one of those anthologies that creative writing students read. Seriously. This is how it's done. Just don't let it go to your head.ReplyDelete
Having my work assigned for class would be a dream.Delete
That way, instead of 6 voluntary readers, I'd have like 100 involuntary ones.
I take it back. Let it go to your head. It probably already has. Creative geniuses usually have Big Strong Egos. Or at least their personae do. Also, I imagine that the kids and Belloq will keep you properly grounded. And speaking of the kids, how is that tree doing, the one that Rachel transplanted? I think there is probably a whole tangential story line in that tree. Oh, and speaking of story lines, We (your six voluntary readers) are all still waiting to hear what Tarab told you to do, and whether or not you did it, and what happened then. Nudge, nudge.ReplyDelete
I think writers need to feel as though they have something to prove or else they get lazy.Delete
The Tarab story line is being picked up this weekend!
Do you ever read your own work. I mean out loud for an audience? You should read this one, and play Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" in the background. Or at least that's what I think you should do.ReplyDelete
A couple years ago, I got on a kick where I wanted to to record my stuff being read. Posted a couple of them, but never did again.Delete