“Jump off the cliff and design your wings on the way down.” -Ray Bradbury
THE SCENE: Two men, falling into what appears to be a bottomless void, talking; mostly shouting over the rushing wind . . .
One wears goggles, a leather helmet, and a white scarf; much like a World War I flying ace. He also carries an over-filled backpack, bulging with tools and miscellaneous paraphernalia. He is in his mid-twenties . . . perhaps thirty.
The other, a much older man, in maybe his mid seventies, with a long gray beard, wears an overcoat on top of very worn and tattered clothing and clutches tightly to a walking stick with both hands. He uses the stick almost like a tiller in the updraft with what appears to be little, if any effect. He wears leather strap sandals that lace up to the top of his calves.
They both appear to be from very different time periods.
The older man’s coat and beard flap wildly about his head and face. He seems unperturbed by them and looks down with great effort. He sees nothing but an endless abyss.
They fall for an undetermined amount of time.
“Where you headed?” the bearded man shouts over the wind.
After a brief pause the other answers, “Albuquerque.”
“I hear it’s a nice place.”
“Don’t know. Never been there.”
“Dunno. . . Always wanted to go.”
Moments pass. “How bout you? Where . . . where you headed?”
“Wherever this draft takes me I suppose,” the old man says as he looks down.
After many moments the two continue to fall with nothing but the sound of the rushing wind about them, the bearded man drifts closer and asks, “How do you know this goes to . . . Albuquerque? Seems a bit of a risk, to plan on such a place,” shouts the old man over the wind. “What . . . what if it’s not there at all? Won’t you be . . . disappointed?“
After many moments of frantic juggling and very impressive midair fabrication, the younger man produces an amazingly realistic pair of diaphanous wings; much like a wasp or bee might have. With an equal amount of difficulty and mind-boggling dexterity, he straps the wings into a leather harness over each shoulder, releases the now empty backpack into the air, and smiles broadly.
The bearded man smiles back and exclaims ecstatically, “Ah-hah!”
“But what if . . .” the bearded man continues, “What if . . .”
“If it’s not there?” answers the man for him.”
“Then at least I have believed . . . “
“In what, ” he exclaims. “Albuquerque?!”
The winged man beams, nods.
The two fall for a considerable while as the bearded man watches the other test his newly created wings amidst the gusting draft. The winged man performs an incredible series of maneuvers; executing a variety of turns and loops in the dangerously erratic winds. He disappears and reappears at will.
As the updraft becomes more notorious than ever, the goggled man looks over at his bearded comrade. “Well . . .?”
The winds rustle violently and eventually bring them together. Their shoulders touch as they have many times during their downward descent. The old man lets go of his walking staff, quickly grabs the waist of his younger winged friend and grins, almost mischievously.
“TO ALBUQUERQUE!” He cheers. And then, “TO ALBUQUERQUE!“ they cry together and fly off into the gusting draft, up and out of sight.