Friday, August 7, 2009


It's never the ones you suspect, particularly in this game. Decades of Hollywood influence, leading everyone to believe in a false archetype. But the muscle-bound action stars are rare out here, notably absent in the presence of reluctant endurance runners. The young and deceptively terrified whose equipment often outweighs themselves. They're here for whatever reason, or no reason at all. Still, they're here.

That one, he's a former gang-banger who couldn't bear to look at a mother who could no longer bear to look at him. Another, a college dropout who couldn't afford to raise two children with his high school sweetheart. That group over there, raised by parents so poor, dinner sometimes had to be shared. The tall one? His brother killed the year prior, and a misguided taste of revenge lingered too long on his tongue. The short one followed in his father's footsteps... one last chance at making a neglectful parent somehow proud. And then there's the aimless, struggling for a sense of direction in a world unwilling to point the way.

They don't give a shit which one leans to the left, to the right, or who even gives a shit at all. So-and-so listens to bad music, what's-his-name watches too much porn, homeboy's so stupid he can't count to ten on his fingers. Rich kid drives a Porsche to work, poor kid stays in his room on the weekends. The ass-kisser just got another promotion. Is anybody surprised? The quiet professional just does his job, and doesn't care if anybody notices. But people do.

Fights are common, and cohesion only truly exists when there's a common enemy staring them in the face. Bar room brawls unify, the wives of others segregate. Nobody asks these kids what they want to do; they're told what they want to do, and they do it. Even if they don't like it. Some will leave soon, in search of greener pastures and bluer skies. Some will stay, the result of an overwhelming sense of home. Others stay because they have nowhere else to go, unwanted or unneeded in the world beyond.

They're all terrified. Some stare at the floor, only peripherally aware of their hand holding a static line. The bolder ones exchange glances and guarded smiles with each other, pretending the pain in their shoulders from clumsy parachutes isn't really pain. Those raised by religious pray. Some atheists do, too. Covering your ass means covering all your bases. The mathematical minds calculate their cumulative odds of dying and the flippant just want it over with so they can finally take a shit. The most fearful secretly hope that the aircraft doors malfunction or the weather gets too bad for the mission to proceed further.

Burdened with heavy weapons and other equipment, they all think they know how they got here, but none of them really do. They all hate each other, really, but in this game, there's no one else to play with. Cowards all, but able to shut off fear completely for a brief moment as their feet touch the sky. Afterward, realizations will hit that going to college or working for dad isn't such a bad proposition. Or perhaps they'll finally know that they were, in fact, meant to fly.

Who are they? Nobody all that important, I guess.

Just boys chasing the wind.


  1. Bar room brawls still work? I figured that was just an old Hollywood cliche.

  2. Nice piece. By one of those strange coincidences I was this morning reading the chapter of Antony Beevor's new book "D-Day" which deals with the preparations of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions on the eve of D-Day. To factual account in the Beevor book and then your fine fiction coupled perfectly.

  3. As almost anything, it takes all kinds, hmm? Interesting.

  4. I couldn't find a LIKE on your blogspot post ... or a place to comment, but nice piece. The tone is how I've felt all day ... perhaps all week.

  5. tight post. i work with a lot of those boys...chasing the wind...angry at the world...expecting life to give them what they want...not bold enough to ask...its sad really. but one coin flip different, it would have been me.

  6. Don't worry I have seized the day and I 16 left in this moment and a lifetime in the next!

  7. While chasing the wind, some times the wind stops blowing, waiting for a time to start again.