On a work break at the high rise, we dipped from separate cans. He preferred the fine cut, Kentucky bourbon-laced, and I, the long-cut blue mint from K-Mart. We chewed the fat tobacco and spit war stories from the sixties. We discovered a kindred spirit in the wasted times spent chasing butterfly girls, drinking San Miguel, and eating monkey meat.
Afterwards, it was back to work as usual. He, to set up banquet rooms, and I, to repair tables broken as he dragged weakened legs from room to room. We called it job security and laughed at our newfound good fortune.
Whatever possessed him to become an aviator again, to fly off the 14th floor skyline that winter’s night, will never be known. He didn’t leave a note to say goodbye or tell us why. He simply removed his shoes and flew on a flight path and plan of his choosing.
Did he scream “Olongapo” or “Geronimo” as he plunged into oblivion?
The world will never know his reasons. I found his half-used tobacco can on the red-stained street below. The can was dented but its contents were intact. I whiffed it for final remembrance and felt the tobacco’s grainy texture. I placed the dented can in a nearby trash receptacle and thought of God’s fallen angels. He’d spoken once about earning his wings in Vietnam and how he longed to fly again.
Perhaps, he was just tired doing the same old snuff. Sometimes, that is all the explanation we ever need.
First published in Poets Gone Wild, Wild Poetry Press, 2005.
© Dane Hebert
Loch Raven Review Fall 2005 Vol. I, No. 1
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