Thursday, March 9, 2017
The other morning, upon my arrival at the office, I was greeted by the most wonderful surprise.
No, the Prize Patrol had not festooned my area with balloons and left a big fat check with my name on it. I am beginning to think they are merely a myth, like unicorns.
No, our CEO had not welcomed me with a greatly deserved huge promotion and corresponding humongous raise.
Rather, there draped rather rakishly over the back of my chair; was a beautiful, dark brown leather aviator jacket. It was hardly worn. In fact, it could have been easily mistaken for being new. Peeking from one of the chest pockets were a matching pair of sheepskin lined leather gloves.
Some of my co-workers knew who the benefactor was, but were playing it cool. I hung my rather pedestrian blue nylon wind-breaker up, and cautiously slipped the beauty on. I was fully expecting someone to dash around the corner, demanding I put their jacket down! Now!!
The soft supple leather seemed to mold itself to my not-so-svelte form. The zipper was still a bit stiff from not too much use, the snaps closed with a…well… satisfying “Snap!”
I paraded around a bit, much like a child taking a nervous tentative test-ride on a Christmas-gift bicycle. I could only mumble a rather lame “I don’t know” response to my other co-workers questions about the source of such a jacket.
Finally, the Great Mystery was solved. A friend of mine came in while I was on the phone, poking her head around the corner of my work area. She gave a thumbs-up sign, and I pantomimed “Was this from you?” With a big smile and a nod, she affirmed my guess.
When I completed my business, I strode to her area totally flabbergasted. She told me her husband had lost weight and he was “just swimming” in it. So, rather than leave it to languish in a closet, or find an ignoble end in a thrift store; she thought it may fit me.
My thanks, while profuse, were totally inadequate. I was at a rare loss for words.
During the day, I would reach over and gently feel the sleeves. A rather insensitive co-worker accused me of “fondling” the jacket. I reminded them that such actions are strictly forbidden by our organization, and are cause for immediate termination. Rather, I was appreciating the suppleness, the quality of workmanship, the panache exuded by the garment.
Finally, the day came to an end. I slipped the jacket on, and carried my old nylon jacket out side
It was then that I discovered this is no ordinary leather jacket.
As I stepped from the office building, the flag was snapping in a brisk west wind. Low hanging clouds scuttled across the sky as they were back-lit by the setting Sun. The sound of a propeller driven plane working for altitude upon takeoff from the airport across the road filled my ears. The parking lot was fairly cleared out.
That was when I noticed the most incredible thing.
Looking about, the larger SUV s and pick-ups took on the silhouettes of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and Consolidated B-24 Liberators ( or “Constipated Lumberers”,as an uncle, a gunner on 24s referred to them). The sedans and coupes were transformed to Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and North American P-51 Mustangs. A Glenn Miller tune, (Moonlight Serenade to be exact), drifted across the wind-swept tarmac.
There, in the half-shadows my sleek shiny beauty awaited; her nose proudly pointing skyward. The rosy hues of the last sunbeams reflected off her silvery fuselage. Her sleek lines give the impression of great speed even while sitting still.
Upon settling into the worn leather seat and sliding the bubble canopy closed, I hit the start switch. The large four blade prop began to slowly turn. Suddenly, the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (built by Packard under license to Rolls-Royce) caught and roared to life. The whole ship vibrated with eager anticipation of soon being released to soar among the clouds, and stars.
“Just a little night-time jaunt along the lake shore. Maybe fly to see Niagara Falls at night and back.” I thought. At 440 mph, it would only be about an hour or so flight.
We rolled out from the parking area, and taxied to the end of the runway. Patiently, we awaited several in-bound planes to clear the area. Then, cracking the throttle, kicking the rudder a bit, we turned to line-up on the runway. As the tower gave us the all clear, I pushed the throttle forward. Slowly she gained speed; as the wonder of lift began to take place, the tail rose from the ground. Gazing through the blur of the propeller arc, the buildings, vehicles, and people were a blur. Then, that magical moment; when the bonds of gravity are broken, and we soared skyward.
We turned north until the waters of Lake Erie replaced the land. Gently, we banked eastward. I settled in for a relaxing flight; contentedly listening to the powerful engine hum. The houses, factories, and lake slipped by silently below.
Suddenly, I heard a most unusual noise. What is that?!? There! There it is again! Anxiously I looked around, expecting to see smoke or flames coming from the Mustang's undercarriage.
Then I saw it....A somewhat irritated driver of a Smart car giving vent to their frustration. Glancing up, I saw the traffic light at the off-ramp had turned green.
With a sigh, I let out the clutch of our car, and made the turn.
Yet... faintly, very faintly; I could have sworn I heard Moonlight Serenade fading away.