"You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself."
let the book dangle against his knee and stared reflectively across the lawn.
He could probably recite the whole passage if he put his mind to it, but
after the past few days it rang so true it nearly scared him.
known almost without a doubt how the rest of the team would react to his--he
hesitated to say 'kidnapping', not liking the implication of helplessness it
conveyed. He'd known instantly that
once they found him gone, and out of contact, that they'd try for the radio
trick they'd used before. Known
with absolute certainty that they'd find him, and later that they wouldn’t
hesitate to go back for Kelly.
hadn't, and still didn't, truly know what he would have done had anything
happened to her. Hadn't even been
able to tell whether the freezing, sick feeling in his stomach was fear or fury.
raised his book again.
he didn't want to know.
"You learn to watch other
people, but you never watch yourself because you strive against loneliness. If you read a book, or shuffle a deck of cards or care for a
dog, you are avoiding yourself."
dropped the book to his side again. Too
close. Too accurate.
closed his eyes and lifted his face slightly into the breeze.
He just wasn’t in the right mood for this book, much as it meant to him
you have a visitor."
For a moment it was difficult to untangle himself from his own thoughts
and he responded automatically with a dazed sort of waffle about bills.
He had turned back to his contemplation before he realised the young
doctor hadn't gone away.
not a bill collector--it's a lady."
world suddenly snapped into sharp focus.
lady? Where is she?"
picked the last of the melted cheese off the bottom of the pizza box. He avoided meeting Kelly's eyes even while feeling guilty
about doing it. After her quiet
invitation to tell her his 'long story' she hadn't pressed and he hadn't
volunteered and he felt guilty about that too.
are you reading?" Kelly asked as the silence started to become
closed the book and pushed it towards her.
He gave a small inward smile at the though of the way Face would shake
his head at the dishevelled state of it. Murdock
was one of those who believed books were there to be read--not arranged on a
shelf to be admired. He mercilessly
bent back the spines and folded down the corners of pages to mark his place and
read in the bathtub.
picked up the battered volume with what seemed like inordinate care given its
already dog-eared state, and looked at the cover picture.
small, oddly squat-looking plane flew low over an almost black sea, its stubby
landing gear almost touching the tossing waves where the reflection of its
running lights gleamed.
shrugged almost in embarrassment as he watched Kelly looking at it.
of artistic license there," he admitted.
With The Night," Kelly read the title aloud.
"What's it about?"
shrugged slightly again. "Flying.
Mostly." He leaned forward to tap the author's name.
"1936 she flew non-stop across the Atlantic.
Little single-seater plane, no radio.
Mostly in the dark..."
Murdock reacted without thinking and Kelly jumped, startled.
"No, no that's not what it's like.
It's... I don't think I can explain it as well."
He stared off into the distance for a few seconds before continuing.
"Being alone in a plane isn't like being on your own on the ground.
It's... You're not
responsible for anybody except yourself. Y'know?
And nobody is responsible for you,
except yourself. Its... comforting.
And liberating. At the same
grinned suddenly. "I'm making
no sense at all here am I? Anyway
even if you're not coming over all introspective it's a wonderful adventure
story. I loved it when I was a kid.
Bush flying and crashes and near misses and safaris and races.
gaze drifted off again.
understands flying. Really
understands it. I don't mean the
physics and aerodynamics and engines and lift and all that stuff.
But how it feels. What it's
like up there."
picked up the book and after a glance down at it, looked up to met Kelly's gaze.
His smile this time was heartfelt and almost playful.
even knows why all us pilots are a bit loony.
'Cause there's no logic in flying you know.
The things that make people think it's dangerous--the speed and the
height--are really the things that keep you safe, keep you airborne.
When your engine quits and all you want to do is avoid hitting the
ground, the only thing you can do to recover is dive towards
it. Gotta take off into a headwind,
but what you want to speed you along is a tailwind.
No wonder pilots are contrary."
smiled at him.
don't think you're contrary, Murdock."
half dipped his head away, trying to keep his tone light.
"Ah, you don't know me yet."
followed his movement refusing to let his eyes slip away from her's
feel like I do. I want
a moment her tone lightened and she smiled.
I should start with reading that."
Murdock hesitated a moment then slid the book across the table towards her.
hand lingered a moment against his as she reached out for it.
bring it back next time I visit."
felt a silly uncontrollable grin spread across his face.
course," Kelly said firmly. "Didn't
think you could disappear on me that easily did you?" She grinned suddenly. "I
can be just as unreasonable as any crazy pilot."
warning she flung her arms around him in a fierce hug which left him too
startled to return it until she prodded him in the ribs and demanded, "Is
that all right with you?"
grinning, Murdock nodded. "Absolutely."
He returned the hug.
Back to A-Team Fanfic
for the curious
West With The Night
by Beryl Markham, is pretty much everything Murdock enthuses about in this
story. It absolutely should be read
by anyone with even the faintest liking for flying, for adventure or just for
downright beautiful, poetic prose.
title came from both my own fondness for reading as a form of escapism and from
the memory of one of the more memorable quotes from the book which observed
that: "Flight is but momentary escape from the eternal custody of
Back to A-Team Fanfic