The Gullible God
Expectation from Above
Trace has been flying this route, his father’s route, since he was 19.
In any visibility, he can practically feel where he is without needing instruments. Today, though, the sky is clear and the sea ripples far below. It’s been too long since he made this approach.
Open heart surgery is a bitch and it takes forever to recover from. He glances back at the cargo piled up. Man, is it going to be a party in Eden tonight.
When he married Louise, he thought he should put this behind him but within months he was back in his Cessna fleeing to his garden. Over the years, he convinced himself that he came back from out here, a better husband and father.
He was blindsided when Louise demanded a divorce and the kids all sided with her. He nearly lost the plane in the settlement. Somehow, he’d never realized how determined and smart and uncompromising Louise could be.
But Trace kept his plane and his Eden.
Six trips later, he decided to stay. He learned quickly that he had no place here. He’d walk through the village and be left alone. He’d known some of them since they were wide eyed children running out to the airstrip, yelling and waving garlands of flowers. Without cargo, he was nothing to them.
When he left, no one came out to see him off. Not much given to navel gazing, Trace got on with life. His kids still weren’t talking to him. Surprisingly, it was Louise who would meet him for coffee and listen to the sad tale of his lost garden.
Then, he met Chrissie, 32, divorced and with two kids. Trace had her in bed by the third flying lesson. Or maybe she had him. But she seemed ok with his flying off without explanation, so he took a chance, flew back to his garden and hauled out piles of food, building supplies, bright clothes and electronic gizmos. He was greeted with flowers and cheers. Some mystical balance was restored and he had his Eden back.
The heart attack had taken him by surprise. He was scheduled to fly out once again when it hit. Chrissie, bless her, was at his side in a flash. Weeks became months and he was still in no shape to be flying off. He began dreaming of his Eden overgrown with jungle.
Well, it’s not a dream anymore, he thinks.
Far below, spots define themselves against the eternal sea and he’s amazed all over again to see them get bigger, grow trees and beaches and become land. He flies over the outlying atolls and swings around to his island.
He double checks his instruments. There’s no sign of the airstrip that’s been in this clearing since 1941. He comes in lower to squint and scan. It’s the right place but it’s overgrown and looks different. He can’t give up, rising and coming back down to circle again and again.
Then he sees the fuel gauge. He may not have enough fuel to make it back but he can’t just fly away and not leave what he brought out here. He engages the auto-pilot and scrambles back to open the hatch and shove the cargo out. He swings around his smashed gift to Eden then climbs into the sky without a backward glance.
Far inland the small cluster of huts slides back into jungle. Trace’s happy tribe of innocents left six months ago after their lawyer had finalized negotiations with the logging representative of Davis International.
There is nothing, not even curiosity to honor that ruined pile of cargo left to be reclaimed by the forest before it, in turn, becomes fine furniture and quality flooring.
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