Flight of the Clara Pandy

Added on Friday 17 Aug 2012

Photo: clara pandy.  Descent into Chicago was smooth but the change to another culture bumpy.  I’d transferred at Newark from Glasgow and made the second city’s flight at the final call, grateful for enough fitness still to jog-trot along the long and winding halls.

A lot had happened since the last time I’d been in Newark, the last words written there still often on my mind:

...maybe it was more simple than that.  The need to go into battle once more before it was too late.  The need of the knight to stand before his lady one last time, before accepting the fading of the light.

All for you, Miss Landau!

Best gal in all the world.

And the man who wrote them not the published author I’d since become.

Dear Miss Landau, published by Chaplin Books two years to the day I’d met my Rose on Sunset Boulevard, and on the inside page the short and simple sentence I’d waited a lifetime to see:

The moral right of James Christie to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

A straightforward sentence finally making sense of a lifetime of trial and error, hope and despair.

A story which should indeed inspire people with autism, the original aim of Dear Miss Landau.

So what to do next?

The Enterprise had been stolen, the continent crossed and Drusilla redeemed.  I’d returned to a quiet house with the ghost of my vampire flatmate still in the corner of my eye, but though a Hollywood film could have spun the closing credits across the last and final scene, life had to go on.

So I’d brushed the dust off my rucksack and gone out once more, while I was still young and strong enough to find an answer to the call.

Holiday or trek, a trip or a pilgrimage?  An incisive set of notes on a nation perhaps heading for a fall.  Or just a few days off, near the surf and hanging round the mall?

I’d brought my Steinbeck and his book of Wrath, bought a short sharp text on possible U.S. decline or deliverance.  I even planned to take the Blue Line from Clark/Lake to Rosemont like a motorized pilgrim to see my dear Miss Landau at her convention, Dear Miss Landau in my hand and everybody happy, one and all.

A short step from 2010, a damaged, disabled man, and the faraway scent of roses in the wind.

I didn’t think I was exactly that man any more, but I didn’t really know my new role yet, nor what exactly was the score.

Then I glanced left as we approached O’Hare, found the answer laid clear and bare.  A 747 in flight, climbing away from Chicago’s towers, seeming to hang suspended above the inland sea in the light, bright air.

That light still bright, not yet fading.

I remembered the tale of a ship in a story I’d read long before.  The Ballad of Halo Jones, of a girl who’d worked her passage to the farthest stars on the Clara Pandy, a starship which, saved from the breaker’s yard by the billionaire Lux Roth Chop, had lifted away from the city and the sea with sure and stately grace.

EnterpriseClara Pandy.  A ship’s a ship.  Call it what you will.  I was tasked to take her out again, to find that sunlit hill.

And Halo Jones?  What was her aim and goal?

Not a hill, not a call.  Just to go on out, that was all.