Ivan – Draft Two

An excerpt from the latest draft of Shangri-la.

IVAN: They sent the boy up in a plane. I was there when he took off. They were applauding as he walked the length of the hangar. He carried his helmet under his arm and what looked like a white orchid on his lapel. I assumed it was from his girlfriend, but I couldn’t see any women around. No doubt she was hooked up somewhere. He could have been talking to her through a microphone in his suit at that very time. Groups of men in grey flight suits had gathered to see him off. I took it that he was quite famous. I saw his face only briefly. He was young. Not handsome, or dashing. He had dark eyes and a thick neck. Nothing out of the ordinary about him as such, If I hadn’t such a difficult relationship with my own son I probably wouldn’t have thought any more on it.

But I do, and I have.

The plane was white with silver wingtips. It was an older model with those criss crosses that hold the two wings together and safely on top of the fuselage. The pilot half sat in the cockpit and made a farewell gesture to the crowd. I have thought about it since, and I have come to the conclusion that I was trying to emulate it. It’s a very simple movement, but I appreciated its naivety. I knew from this motion that the boy and I could have been friends.

The take off was a success. His mission was all over the newspapers. He was to bring back the last surviving members of a species stranded in a war torn land. A single pilot with no back up in strange skies with no protection but a white orchid.

I thought back to his gesture, his last movement on earth. He held his index and middle finger together and raised them to his temple. He swiped them back down. This was not a regulation salute, perhaps he had seen someone do it in a movie. I held my own fingers together, with my thumb sticking out at right angles. I saw the airplane begin to cut through the cloud cover. I raised my hand, but raised it further than my forehead. My hand climbed and climbed until my arm was fully extended, my fingers aiming at the airborne boy. The sun was setting and had painted the clouds pink.

I stood on the tarmac and fired at him.

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