by: Frederick Foote
A pair of flash fiction offerings that examine two arresting, yet opposing, moments of comprehension…
I turn to Airman Third Class Moses who is manning the other radar scope. “Where is he, Moses? He’s late. He’s late for a very important date.”
“Don’t panic brother man. He’s late but not overdue. I’ll give him another holler. World Wide Air seven seven one, this is Sagalak Air Station on three fifty five point five. Please respond on this frequency.”
We wait, listen to the static on the radio, look at the long glowing sweeps of the scopes.
“Shit, let me give the DOT a call.” I pick up the direct line to the Department of Transportation. “DOT, this is Romeo Foxtrot at Sagalak. Do you have a current flight plan position for World Wide Air seven seven one?”
“Hi, Sag this is Oscar Hotel at DOT. We have him right over your station about now. You must have him on radar.”
“DOT we have negative radar and negative radio contact with WWA seven seven one.”
“Stand by Sag.”
“Sag this is DOT, confirm negative radar and negative radio.”
“Romeo Foxtrot confirms negative radio, negative radar contact with WWA seven seven one.”
“Sag this is DOT we will be back to you shortly.”
“Moses, hit him again.”
“WWA seven seven one this is Sagalak Air Station on three fifty five point five. Please respond on this frequency. WWA seven seven one, if you are receiving this broadcast and are unable to respond to Sagalak please attempt contact with other aircraft in your radio range to relay your current position.”
Moses turns to me. “How many people on seven seven one?”
“It’s a Boeing seven-oh-seven. Four crew in the cockpit, maybe one hundred and fifty to one hundred and sixty passengers. Four or five crew in the cabin. Moses, wake the old man and the captain. I’m going to check the coffee. It’s going to be a long night.”
“Wait, wait, Ron, where are they? What do you think happened?”
“Moses, call the old man and the captain. Now!”
Moses is shaking his head in disbelief.
“Moses, you are still a Trainee, but we’re in the North Atlantic in the middle of winter. They won’t survive five minutes in the water. It will take an hour or more for rescue to get up here, and God knows how long to find them. Now make the goddam call.”
“You’re saying they’re all dead? All one hundred and seventy men, women, and children all dead.”
I pick up the PA. “This is Control paging Commander Goldberg and Captain Brown. We have a situation that requires your immediate attention.”
“They can’t all be dead can they?”
I pat Moses on the shoulder. “Go do the coffee man.”
Moses moves quickly, his back to me as he crosses to the break room. At least, in the break room, the sight and sound of his grief will be off my radar.1
The Gold Standard
“Shit, man, I don’t want to hear about your woman. I got a good as gravy on a hot biscuit woman. And she don’t lie, cheat, or steal.
No, she don’t lie, except she don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story or a good time. She like that, you know.
And I know she don’t cheat on me. I know that like I know my own mind. Shit, if you see her with somebody else, she just working on something to make life better for me and her. That ain’t cheating, man, that’s working it.
And she never steals except from those that can afford to lose. She figures that the only things any of us can’t afford to lose is our life and our health. Everything else is fair game. I think she been pretty consistent on that rule.”
“Well, you got me there brother. If your woman don’t lie that much, you got a good woman. You need to hang on to her.
Now, my baby say the American Dream is a lie. Most of us getting poorer and very few of us getting filthy rich. She say if you ain’t lying you’re being lied to. She believes it’s better to be telling the lie than living the lie.
For her there ain’t no cheating if you get it straight up front. If you find yourself cheating you need to go back, set things right. According to her if you make the rules they should work for you, not against you.
As to stealing, my baby will steal. Steal you blind in a New York minute. She says this nation was built on thievery. We stole the land from the Indians and the labor from black folks and the boys from their mothers to fight our wars to steal from others. She says stealing is the American way. That’s the way she sees it anyway.”
“Negroes, please, that ain’t shit. My baby, my baby, is the gold standard. You know what that is? Your girl got to measure up to that.
I go to bed with five dollars in my wallet and wake up with five hundred.
She satisfies me all night long and keep me as hard as a rock and as big as Gibraltar.
I even think about some ribs, and she done killed a pig and a cow and asks me how I want ‘em cooked, and she serve ‘em to me in bed while giving me head.
And she can lie, cheat and steal as long as she keeps the good times rolling with me.
Nigger, please, I don’t want to hear about your women. Man, I got the gold standard.”
- “Missing” was drafted at the 2015 Callaloo Workshop in Providence Rhode Island. [↩]