Wormhole Bigot – Part 1
Darlington, Western Australia
The sheen of the glass moved up and down the bottle from the light shooting through the ceiling fan blades. The sweaty humidity manifested itself as beads of sweat on his brow. John sat in his usual spot; old Hurk at the bar had given him his usual beer, the crisp but refined taste of Kahuna Lager. He found the name strange, seeing as Bermuda wasn’t even near Hawaii, but it was a nice cold beer and he savored it all the same. He had found himself here a couple of years ago, after the war, working the skies taking cargo from Miami to Bermuda, stopping sometimes in Puerto Rico, and some of the other small islands that needed resupplying. Not as exciting as his old Air Force days, but he lived in a nice spot and it paid the bills and was otherwise perfect, except for every single person he knew and lived near. They were all insufferable.
‘Hey John! Hey!’ John looked over the pool table to see Derrick.
‘Ah … dammit …’ he muttered under his breath. All he wanted was a solitary drink, with nothing but him and the barman, and the only conversation being transmitted was the one he initiated. Derrick approached and took a “pew” next to John, worshipping at the altar of drunks once again.
‘So how are you son!? It’s been a long while. How’s the flyin’?’
John took a little sigh and tried his best to be polite. It didn’t work. ‘Horrible! Just the same stuff, over and over again, and what’s all this I hear about the gays in town parading around? Do they want a medal or somethin’? Anyway … what about you? How’s … what’s her face?’
Derrick’s face turned stern. ‘Martha.’
‘Yeah, Martha. How’s all that stuff you were doing? With the … hospital?’ Derrick was getting annoyed. John could tell by his expression that started with the “happy to see an old friend”, and turned to “wish I didn’t talk to this guy”.
‘I’m not working with the hospital anymore, I told you that months ago. You know, you really are an asshole, John. Have a good one …’
He got up and left the bar. John raised his hand for another round. Big Kahuna lager, poured into a glass mug with a large handle, just the way he liked it. It wasn’t the most tactful way to get rid of other awkward parties, but it was very effective nonetheless. The sandy, humid dusk turned into a calm twilight, with the beach’s ebb and flow the only sound, save for the merry voices of other patrons in the bar. John left at that point, because that was when all the young people would come in, and the gays, and the blacks. He didn’t seem to like them very much.
‘See ya Hurk! I got a flight tomorrow, so I won’t be in until a little later than usual …’
A thumbs up and a wave from Hurk, and he was out the door, stumbling a little, but knowing he was still under the limit. He got into his truck and drove home, ready for a flight he thought rudimentary, but was to be something quite unexpected.
He awoke to the familiar groggy feeling, his head still spinning from his collapse unto blissful rest the night before. He still had his sandals on when he fell asleep. He looked over at his alarm clock. It was early still, and he had time. It was one of the beauties of living in the tropics; you could wake early all the time, because the light and heat always woke you up. Not like when he was doing runs over Berlin, waking at odd hours for missions that sent them over a city aflame, sirens and flak fire and exploding bombs were the calamity that accompanied him in his cockpit. He was told once that the first bomb that was dropped killed Berlin zoo’s only elephant. What a shame, an animal falling to the misdeeds of the country it resides in, with nothing to do with the tyranny of its masters. John liked animals, they were neutral and they just lived their lives. Humans always complicated things, with politics, sexuality, and war. John thought all this talk of peace after World War Two was all nonsense, the Korean War was the newest thing, and then it would be China or Russia. There was always some enemy, some backward place needing a beat down.
He got up and tried to make some coffee, but the milk was off. It seemed like his fridge had stopped working again. He yelled out into his empty, dirty house ‘Darn!’
He had his coffee black, but put four sugars into it, making it into a sickly sweet thing that seemed it would scream diabetes. He made some toast too, and grabbed himself a banana before heading out to the airfield and juggling all his food items whilst he drove at the same time. The airstrip wasn’t too far away. Bermuda was a small island, after all. He drove up and parked in his usual spot, saying hello to Doreen on the way through.
‘Just another fruit and paid cargo run, John. You excited to head back to Miami?’ John shrugged.
‘Not really. America is turning into something I don’t like. You hear they have brought the black and white schools together? When I was a boy that would never have been tolerated!’
‘Change is going to happen, whether you like it or not, John. Hey, you hear that new guy on the Ed Sullivan show? Something … Presley? Boy, he was somethin’ else!’
John just ignored the comments, said his goodbyes and got his gear ready for the ride. He was stubborn and liked things the way they were. So in his mind, he would avoid it as much as possible, namely by finding a dive bar on a tiny island to live out his days in. He got his things together and it took some time, but finally he was able to board once all the cargo had been loaded by the ground teams. He was piloting a Convair CV-440, which as far as aircraft goes, was a pretty safe bet. Many European airlines had started using them commercially, and he had yet to fault it. Eventually, after many checks upon checks, he got the green light from the Bermuda air traffic control and started his engines. The massive propellers spun into the life, the loud hum filling the cockpit of the plane and reverberating through the entire hull. He tested his electrics, including radio contact with control. His co-pilot sat down in the chair next to him. It was William again, an insufferable young gun who thought he knew everything about aviation, and even more on morality and politics.
‘Well, well, well, if it isn’t grumpy old man John! How are you, sport?’
‘Get in your damn spot and shut your pie-hole, Bill. I’m not in the mood for another one of your rants. It would be swell if we could get through this ride with no hitches. Agreed?’
‘Alright old man, have it your way. Let’s get this hunk of junk to Miami.’
‘Hey! Who you callin’ a hunk of junk? This is some great equipment here!’
‘I wasn’t talking about the aircraft, John, I was talking about you.’ He cackled with laughter as they rotated the craft for takeoff. John just gritted his teeth and concentrated on the job at hand. The flight time should only take a few hours but he hadn’t done it in a small while, instead ferrying supplies for the smaller islands.
An hour into flying, William had decided to nullify their agreement, and instead started making fun of John again, citing how much of an “old coot” he was, and how it was disgusting that he could still believe in segregation. All the talk made the next hour intolerable, and John was sick of saying the same thing over and over again. Things don’t need to be changed. They were fine the way they were. It was at this particular time that John caught something strange on the horizon. It looked like an odd shaped cloud, that had seemingly come out of nowhere. Weather conditions were perfect as far as he could tell, with hardly a cloud in the sky. Control had said nothing about incoming storms. It floated towards them, a massive gaping cloud that dwarfed them in comparison. It had a strange warping shape, almost like a halo sticking out of it. John could see a flash of thunder in its midst.
‘What’s with the cloud over there? It was clear before … where did this come from?’ William was starting to panic. John smirked. ‘Who knows, but we can’t divert our course now, we don’t have the fuel or the time, nor can we adjust altitude in time. Looks like we’re heading in. Buckle up Bill!’
To be continued …
Bio: Adrian tells us this zany piece is one he’s been working on for a while, with the strange concept of mixing a bigot into the future. Please feel free to critique. Adrian decided to split it into a few parts, although the end isn’t written yet.