airplane in a cornfield

Berty Flagman was a combat pilot. A quiet, peace-loving man with an artististic talent, a poet at heart, he brought down so many enemy planes he lost count.

He hated war and he was damn good at it… no one could understand why. So when the blast wave threw him to the ground and he cried “My eyes!!! I can’t see!” but then ran toward his plane and took off everyone thought he went mad.

By some miracle the blind pilot managed to get out of the enemy fire and gain altitude. He didn’t just survive that battle, he brought down eight enemy planes and kept his own plane intact. Those who had been watching him from the ground said, “Flew like a god, he did!” After Berty had landed, though, he couldn’t find his way without help. He indeed was blind.

Berty Flagman, the blind pilot, kept flying until the very end of the war. Years later, in the time of peace, the doctors found a way to restore his sight. After the surgery, the recovered Flagman got invited to a prestigious air show where everyone wanted to see him fly, absolutely sure that with his sight restored the war hero would fly even better. How gravely mistaken they all were! Flagman flew like a greenie. He crashed his plane and barely survived himself. Only by pure luck, no one else had been harmed that day.

Later, he said, “The world is beautiful. I am happy to see it again. But I will never be able to fly like I used to.” He disappeared then and had been forgotten for ten years.

Berty Flagman moved to a little farm far away from the city. Once, his brother, Marty, decided to visit him. Marty got into his car and took the road to where Berty’s corn fields were.

A former pilot himself, Marty recalled the past as he drove: his youth, the war, a little of everything. The day was hot, the road was monotonous. He must have dozed while driving. A memory of his legendary brother flying had just joined the chorus of others when a crimson plane swept past him going so low the corn field was rolling under it like a sea, buzzing so loud the sound tore Marty’s dream to shreds. It made a turn in a wide curve and began gaining altitude…

Marty stopped the car. He ran out, he craned his head to see the plane. He knew, knew even before he saw the aerobatics, who was the pilot.

An hour later, he ran into his brother’s house without knocking and cried: “Berty! You’re flying again! How?”

Berty Flagman embraced his brother. Berty’s wife and children were here, so he had to whisper in his brother’s ear so they wouldn’t hear, “I close my eyes when I fly.”

(April 19, 2003)

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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.