Chapter 4

Chapter 4 The Impact

Jerald K. Ward

Spencer closed the hanger door for the last time. His plane had sold last week and the state was coming to take care of the property in a few days. He surveyed the municipal airport. His old blue farmhouse was a landmark in the distance. For thirteen years he had given skydiving lessons here. His family’s property had been here since before there even was an airfield. And now this highway expansion was bringing the road right through his land.

Martin Gearhart, operations director for the airfield, was coming towards Spencer on a golf cart. Spencer finished strapping his gear down to the six-wheeler.

“Damn shame,” Martin said as he pulled up. “Don’t say you’re done flying with us now. What are we going to do without the hawks?”

“Well, we aren’t disbanding or anything. But we’ve all kind of slowed down since Charlie’s accident.”

“It was just that, an accident. The way Charlie was, well, anyhow, it’s still a sad day in my book.”

“At least they aren’t tearing up the airfield.” “They’re letting us expand, actually.” “Oh?”

“Some of your land. We were thinkin’ about having you on staff for the skydiving. Just on the weekends.”

“I don’t know, Marty. I was thinking of running off with all that money.”

“Seems like as good idea as any. Think it over. Molly wanted me to mention it to ya.” “Tell her I said thank you, and I will.”

“Take care now.” The electric cart buzzed away.

Martin started the ATV and rode across the runway to his house.

The Hawks were a skydiving group that gave lessons and went on recreational jumps. After the Air Force, Spencer and Charlie had needed something to keep them sane, Charlie more so. Spencer had always toyed around with the idea of skydiving lessons, and the farm’s location was just another reason to go for it.

For thirteen years Spencer had lived alone. His parents dead, his sister a doctor in Arizona. The farm was all he had. He worked it himself every day of the week, and weekends he would take a break in the early afternoons for the Hawks.

– 22 –

Inside, Spencer took off his boots and poured lemonade into a glass full of ice. He stared out to the shed. All that was left of the Hawks was in there. Parachutes, flyers, helmets and goggles. The video equipment. And the tape.

He hadn’t watched the tape since after Charlie’s funeral. They had been best friends throughout high school; they’d joined the Air Force together, but had separated during war time in Iraq. They’d returned veterans and continued their friendship. Neither was the same. Charlie was worse off than Spencer; some of his bombs had killed civilians.

Worse than that, the solitude got to them. Charlie had helped out at the farm sometimes, but his drinking took more of an important role in the later years. The Hawks were a way to erase the negativity, to feel something, if it was just gravity.

The note was wrapped around the tape. Charlie’s suicide note. His chute had been packed with dirty underwear. His body nearly turned into a pancake when he hit the ground. Spencer put the tape in the TV/VCR inside the shed. He watched the screen as the tape re- wound, suicide in reverse. He pressed play when Charlie jumped. The landscape below divided into properties, each field a different shape and shade of brown. He scoped his property and charted where the highway was to expand through it.

Spencer saw himself on the screen, his parachute puff open and the air field getting closer. Charlie fell past him and looked up. Laughter could be heard amongst the rushing air. Charlie went into the danger zone and beyond. Spencer knew how he was screaming in the air. He listened as Charlie spoke to himself.

“I want this. I want this. I have nothing. There is nothing for me. I am sorry.” Then the impact came and the screen turned blue.

It was too much for him. He couldn’t jump anymore. Finding the suicide note had been the saddest moment of his life. He tucked it into his pocket along with the mini dv tape from Charlie’s camera. An ambulance was shrieking in the distance.

Spencer ejected the tape and threw it against the wall. He found the original and smashed it with the heel of his boot. He burned the suicide note and stamped out the ashes. Smoke hung in the air of the shed. He turned off the lights and left.

Outside, the setting sun cast long rays across the property. He wanted to forget all of it. He wanted to run.

– 23 –