Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The annual Quonset Point Air Show is scheduled for next weekend. The following is something I wrote about that last year, when I was working across the Post Road from what was once a large naval base. The place where I was working was LaBelle House, a psychiatric group home.

The Air Show starts tomorrow. Weather permitting. A low ceiling queers the deal; you can't pull off an air show on a day when the air is nowhere to be found. Jets flying above the clouds. You could hear them. A radio crew could record the show. It would be an on the air show in lieu of the in the air show that was supposed to be.

I work 20 hours a week at a psychiatric group home located near Quonset Point. I took a drive out to there today as the Air Force Thunderbirds were practicing for the big show tomorrow. I took a nervous resident with me. That was a mistake. I thought he'd get a kick out of seeing the Top Gun guys strut their stuff in the skies above Narragansett Bay.

" Look! " I exclaimed as the jets flew over.

" It hurts when I look up, my neck hurts. Can we go back to the house now? "

" Relax, Ray. "

" It's cold out here. "

" It's 80 degrees. "

" I'm cold. Can we go back to the house now? "

Five fighter jets fly over us. I look up, amazed. The guy I'm with doesn't look up. I take this resident for rides every shift I work. Remember those scenes in " Rain Man? " where Tom Cruise and his brother, played by DustinHoffman, are cruising along in that big convertible, heading for Las Vegas? That's what it's like when I take Ray for these afternoon rides.

Be careful what you wish for. You might wish you were just like Tom Cruise. Have his looks and his money. Be in life's driver's seat...

It ain't easy these rides. Ray asks me the same questions every time we take the ride through the old navy base.

" What's that building over there? "

" That's a barracks, where the navy guys lived during the war. "

" What's that over there? "

" I don't know. "

" What's that? "

" I don't know. "

" Can we go back now? "

" Relax and try to enjoy the ride. "

" What's that building, what do they do there? "

" I don't know. "" Are we going back now? "

" Yeah, we're heading back. "

On our way back I imagine me and the resident hitching a ride on one of those jets. There he is and there I am, zooming, dodging black clouds at mach 1 speed over Narragansett Bay. I'm scared shitless. He's scared shitless. I grow quiet when I'm nervous. I say nothing. My companion says, " Can we go back to Earth now? I'm cold. It hurts when I look down. "

The air show's tomorrow, another day on which I'm scheduled to work. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Ray. But I know one thing we're not going to do.

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