"The first thing to remember is, always treat your kite like you treat a woman."
"How d'you mean, sir? Do you mean take her home at the weekend to meet your mother?"
"No, I mean get inside her five times a day and take her to heaven and back!"

--Lord Flashhart


Things look different from up here. Looking down at the battlefields, the pockmarked terrain slipping away beneath the wings of my luxuriously upholstered stratofortress and drink in hand, I wonder if it's been worth it.

So many casualties. Piper bought it at the Third Ypres, was catapulted out of the trenches by a misdirected whizbang; never saw it coming. Andy's ship was sunk when New Orleans was reduced to a pile of smoking rubble, Mardi Gras misplaced for a year. Supposedly, a lone trumpet was heard resonating amidst the debris, the marching saints sounding more like a funeral dirge. Even the company secretary got hit, lost a leg (and most of his hair) when things took a turn for the worse at the Battle of Turtle Bay.


Never believe it. I am more an antique Roman than a Dane. Here's yet some Liquor Left.

--Horatio


But from up here, it all looks so quiet. The smoke floats like taffeta, the afterglow of the party of the century. I recline in my barcalounger, the ice clinking in my glass, and turn on the TV. Static...static...color bars...Home Shopping Network...I consider purchasing the little ceramic kitten they're hawking, a calico bothering a tiny butterfly hanging from a little gold wire, for the sheer unadulterated hell of it. The navigator pokes his head in, tells me we've arrived and offers to refresh my drink. I haven't touched it, but I down the whiskey in one gulp and hand him the tumbler. I'm surprised by the steadiness of my hands.

The beaded curtain swishes as we bank to the left and circle back. The track lighting flickers as the engines strain to bring us to a higher altitude and the wall panels creak slightly from the change in pressure.

I put on some music and reach for the rhinestone-encrusted lever to the right of my chair. Clenching the release handle tightly in my hand (the hand without the drink in it), I pull it back. Machinery whirrs, doors open. We feel lighter, somehow. Post-natal.

Who would've thought a bombing run could be so stylish?