Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 134

rock. A panicked trout that came too close, that felt the heat of the shallow water and darted for protection in the reeds, twists a death roll; eyes still like cut glass.

Law school was the first choice, but Griff let his grades slide too far. Three-point-two, when he graduated. Dad was disappointed. But a commission in the United States Coast Guard would suffice, at least for the time, though flight school changed all that – loved to fly – and he had quick reflexes, the right disposition for flying. Lieutenant Griff. That’s what the enlisted personnel called him, although never to his face, and not that he was by the book, not edgy, hard-ass or overbearing . . . no, Griff was all right and he liked his job.

He got a medal for a helicopter sea rescue, in ten foot seas, pulled seven fishermen off the hull of an overturned tuna boat during a bad storm. Took a lot of guts, that’s what Commander MacKay said during the ceremony. His mother cried, his father smiled, and his brother told heroic stories to high school friends. But Griff figured he could do even better.

Excitement and pride – those were the key, the exhilaration of flying into a raging forest fire, dropping a load of borate to smother the fiery beast. It was everything electrifying and brave about war but without having to kill anyone, without dropping napalm on villages, dropping five-hundred pound bombs on workers in factories. Killing a fire was fair game, all good, no downside; no morality issues haunting a man twenty years later, no parade of nightmares, burnt bodies and strewn entrails.

But now Jimbo the copilot is dead, and the big plane is wreckage