Issue 35, Final Fringe

Ringlet

by Russell Hehn Issue 28 10.24.2011

“Well,” said Miss Earhart, “once a soldier, always a soldier, I suppose.”

“Some things you can’t shake,” said Mason.

“That’s true,” she said, pulling the jacket tighter around her shoulders.  “I doubt I’ll ever be able to live this down.  I suppose this’ll be the thing I can’t shake.”

The men assumed she was talking about the halo, and so they agreed with silent nods, eyes fixed upon it.

“I mean the wreck,” she said.  “I really flubbed it.  I’m such a shlub.”

“We’ve all botched a landing or two,” said Mason.

“Too bad they can’t all be as glorious as yours, Sherman,” at which Mason winced, hearing his first name for the first time in a long time, and, more wince-worthy, he wondered how she knew it, thinking this might be a product of something supernatural.

“They church it up too much,” he said.  “You wouldn’t say that if you’d seen the mess I made of that plane.”

“And modest too,” said Miss Earhart.  “I think I might be smitten,” winking.

Redbone, Gus and Monty looked at one another, each silently asking with wide eyes and raised eyebrows if this would be an appropriate time to leave the pair alone.

Mason had seen this brand of seduction before.  He’d been to enough cocktail parties with spangled heiresses, eager to have some paparazzi snap their picture with The Prodigal Son—Sherman Mason himself, who’d washed up on the Virginia coastline in his fatigues and still, somehow, clean shaven—under the guise of “wanting to get to know” somebody who knew how to “handle his joystick.”  They just wanted the stories, the thrill of hiding in a dark, smoky corner with a man who was deadly, sadly aloof and, certainly, mysterious.  Mason knew the game.

“Make yourselves scarce,” he said.

The trio was apprehensive.

“You sure, sir?” asked Gus.

“Sure he’s sure,” said Amelia, allowing the jacket to fall slightly over her shoulder as she twisted one leg in toward the other, balancing on a toe.  “Go out and play,” hissing along with her halo.  The only thing missing was a lollipop held delicately between her teeth.

Redbone, Gus and Monty scampered—though reluctantly and with mouths drooling—through the squat entryway.

Mason didn’t give her time to keep up her flirting.  “Where’s Noonan?” he asked.

Amelia broke her pose and sauntered toward Mason revealing, in her swagger, the other shoulder.

“That old bag?” pouty-mouthed.  “What would you say if I told you I killed him?”

“I’d call your bluff.”

“You are a sourpuss, aren’t you?”

He was.

“I don’t know where the old bag went.  I built a hut, he built a boat.  Paddled out three days ago.  Last I saw, he was a speck on the horizon.”

“So much for Noonan,” with a shrug.

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Russell Hehn

Russell Hehn

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Russell Hehn is a teacher and landscaper in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Some of his other work can be seen in Barcelona Review, Interrobang?! and Pindeldyboz.