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Jet Pilot

(Houlihan's, Clayton)

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He's dozing now. Our would-be hero's eyes may be open, but the critical material in there that generates thoughts is all worn out — or orbiting a different solar system, many galaxies away. He reminds me of the lonesome slobs who used to prop themselves against the bar I tended in south Minneapolis, musing over the sorry vacancies of their spent lives like sour apes sucking their stubbed toes.

No, wait...he isn't finished. Not yet.

Gangway! He plows pell-mell into another lament: a fragmented sequence of half-constructed, disparate thoughts about how he wanted to be a jet pilot. A jet pilot! Then a fireworks display of emotional outbursts.

"Why don't you go be a jet pilot?" I ask, finally. But I know why. They must require candidates to pass a sanity test before stuffing them into a cockpit. Besides, he's too old now; that ship sailed. Never entered port. But that's not the reason he gives me.

"My fucking eyes," he says. "Fucking vision's no good!"

His brain is on fire: How many expletives can fit into a single sentence? Vulgar? Maybe, but no matter: He was never under any obligation to be clear-headed or articulate — what use is there in doctoring a life of chaos with that kind of pretense? It would be a Band-Aid on an internal hemorrhage, a shallow answer to a tough question.

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