© 2010 Manuel Erickson
"IF THERE’S ONE THING I HATE about flyin'," grunted the old man, "it’s puttin' that bloody canopy on at the end o’ the day! I mean, well, jus' look at that thing. See how it's put t'gether? The thing's got flaps stickin' out all over the place. Who the sam hill's got time fer such a piece o' junk?"
The old pilot stood about five feet eight inches. Thin-bodied, his face showed every wrinkle when he was angry, as he was now. A dark, greasy, battered baseball cap sat on his head, thick white hair trying to find daylight around its rim. It melded into his white beard, which almost covered the entire face and seemed to flow down his cheeks, stopping at a round point an inch or two below his chin. With his tongue he continuously moistened the bushy, overgrown mustache, which hid his upper lip. He wasn’t bothered by his luxuriant, still black eyebrows that grew both up and down in front of his eyes.
His clothes matched his cap. Here and there a tear showed in a sleeve. His jacket's frayed cuffs and spotted front indicated a lack of laundering since he'd bought it. A casual observer would have said the same about his pants and shoes.
It could be said that this man dressed shabbily; however, he had received many compliments on his flying. "A smooth flier,” said some; “He lands his plane beautifully,” said others. "He keeps it very clean, inside and out." He was often hard on himself, not able to accept compliments easily: he would hang his head and not look a person in the eye.
Suddenly he tore the uncooperative canopy from his plane, rolled it up into a ball, opened the pilot's door and threw it into the back. He slammed the door, the sound echoing off the nearby hangar walls.
Now, that's no way to treat an aeroplane, you mad jackass, a voice said.
The old man jumped back, looked around, his eyes wide with fear.
You apologize to this beautiful aeroplane, said the voice. After all, it just brought you home, safe and sound. You should be grateful.
The old pilot felt himself calming down. "Yer right," he said with an embarrassed softness so no one might hear. His breathing had slowed. A thought occurred to him.
"Y'know what I think?" he mumbled. "This bloody canopy oughta be re-designed. It shoulda been made in three parts, not one. The first part should cover the topa the plane; then the side flaps shoulda been designed so's they can be zippered at both ends, not jus' at the front, right here." As if he were showing someone, he pointed to the front and rear of the windows that the side flaps would cover. "Then there'da been no trouble atall, atall. See?"
That, dear friends, is exactly what happened. The crusty old fool took the canopy to an upholsterer who gladly sewed an extra zipper into each of the side flaps.
The old guy tried it out and, over time, grew to love the canopy.
"Why didn't I thinka that before?" he asked himself, removing his cap and scratching his head. "Can't do withoutcha, now!"
Note: Any resemblance between the "crusty old fool" and the writer is purely coincidental.
No it is not ;-) L.R.
Courtesy of Manuel Erickson