I was sitting radar. Actually doing nothing.
We had been up to seventy-five thousand to give the afternoon some jazz. I guess we were still in Mexico, coming into Mirimar eventually in the F-14. It doesn’t much matter after you’ve seen the curvature of the earth. For a while, nothing much matters at all. We’d had three sunsets already. I guess it’s what you’d call really living the day.
But then, “John,” said I, “this plane’s on fire.”
“I know it,” he said.
John was sort of short and angry about it.
“You thought of last-minute things any?” said I.
“Yeah. I ran out of a couple of things already. But they were cold, like. They didn’t catch the moment. Bad writing,” said John.
“You had the advantage. You’ve been knowing,” said I.
“Yeah. I was going to get a leap on you. I was going to smoke you. Everything you said, it wasn’t going to be good enough,” said he.
“But it’s not like that,” said I. “Is it?”
The wings were turning red. I guess you’d call it red. It was a shade against dark blue that was mystical flamingo, very spaceylike, like living blood. Was the plane bleeding?
“You have a good time in Peru?” said I.
“Not really,” said John. “I got something to tell you. I haven’t had a ‘good time’ in a long time. There’s something between me and a good time since, I don’t know, since I was was twenty-eight or like that. I’ve seen a lot, but you know I haven’t quite seen it. Like somebody’s seen it already. It wasn’t fresh. There were eyes that used it up some.”
“Even high in Mérida?” said I.
“Even,” said John.
“Even Greenland?” said I.