I HAVE CONQUERED THE MYSTERIES OF FLIGHT, I hollered inwardly, across the valleys of my emotions. LET THE AIR ITSELF BOW DOWN BEFORE ME.
“That was pretty good,” Jay said. “Let’s try it again.”
EEP, NO, I bellowed to the valleys.
“You’re not a pilot in Alaska,” Jay said, fixing me with a blue-eyed and somehow vaguely piratical stare, “until you’ve crashed an airplane. You go up in one of these stinkin’ tin cans in the Arctic? Sooner or later you’re gonna lose a motor, meet the wrong gust of wind, you name it. And OH BY THE WAY” (leaning in closer, stare magnifying in significance) “that doesn’t have to be the last word.”
Christophe, his friend and former student, was younger, maybe in his late 40s, and cool in a louche French way, with a weird personal ostrich of uncombed gray hair; he was cigarette-thin and spent the whole trip with his neck elaborately engulfed in a camouflage-print silk scarf. He had this way of leaning on things. The heir to a rock-quarry fortune, he’d worked as a photographer but retired young to a life of intensively having cheekbones.
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