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Variations on the Theme of How To: #1 Save Your Father by Sam Annis

Photo credit: Paul Jens Adolphsen F irst, you must locate an airship.

They like to hang out in hangars.  Knowing a pilot helps, because then you don’t need to take several years of airship training before you can fly one for yourself.

Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations.  Some airships look convincing, but they are made of tin and are too small.  These airships are called “toys,” and cannot save your father.

Only an airship, yare and true.

these are the questions you will need to ask:

A) Do you know a pilot?

B) Do you not know a pilot?

If “A,” convince him/her to fly you in their airship.  Say you would like a view of your house from very high up.  The pilot will believe you because everyone wants a view of their house from very high up.

In payment he/she will ask only for crème brûlée, which is to your discreet advantage.

Once in the sky, you must reveal the crème brûlée to be very dangerous, and also that you have left the gilt spoons behind.  The pilot will find him/herself forced to do your bidding, and you must command with the authority vested in you.

If “B,” quickly work your way through airship training.  Knowing your father’s life is at stake must serve as your constant motivation.  You may engage in quiet humor with the other cadets, but do not get too close.  They cannot save your father.

Once you have passed your airship exam with flying colors, you must steal an airship, right from under their noses!

B) During takeoff, you must reveal to yourself that the crème brûlée is not so dangerous after all, but very delicious.  Place it with the gilt spoons into a large wicker basket that fits snugly underneath the overhead compartment.

A) During the flight, you must reveal to the pilot that the crème brûlée is not so dangerous after all, but you do have a gun pointed at his/her head.  Place the crème brûlée (with the gilt spoons you obviously remembered to bring) into a large wicker basket that fits snugly overhead in the underhand compartment.

Because your father lives in a state that does not gently brush against your state as friends do at parties to signify closeness and synchronicity of ideas, your flight may last some time.

A) Take this time to tell the pilot of your father.  Speak loudly and with high praise: “my father is a great man, etc.”; the pilot, after all, may have heard the rumors, and the rumors of rumors.

Tell anecdotes featuring your father in a heroic role.  Downplay every random act of chance in your life.  Credit your father.

B) If you are alone in the airship, speak to yourself, but loudly: denounce his detractors, reform his refuters.

When you reach your father’s home, use your mobile device to call his mobile device.  You must do this even though it is technically against airship rules.

“Fuck the rules,” you say.

Your father answers the phone.  He sounds tired, afraid, and lost.

He asks you about your wife.

He asks you about your job.

He asks you about the barbershop quartet you are trying to form.

“Shut up dad,” you say.  “I am in an airship, and I am coming to rescue you.”

“Listen,” he says, “you don’t need to get caught up in this.”

“I am above the house,” you say.

You tell him to climb out onto the roof.  You tell him to climb out onto the roof, but first you tell him to pack a small bag.  Whatever he leaves behind he will never see again.

While he packs his bag, the airship is lowered to the lowest possible safe height.  If with a pilot, commend him/her for his/her crackerjack helmsmanship.

After dropping the thick rope ladder that comes standard with every airship naught is left but to wait for your father.

You hang motionless over his house.

Your father emerges onto his balcony and scrambles up the drainpipe to the roof.

He climbs like an ace up the rope ladder, blue leather suitcase slung over his shoulder.  A bit of toilet paper sticks to spots on his cheeks and chin where he cut himself shaving; it is a classic thing he does, this staunching of shaving wounds with pieces of toilet paper and then forgetting to take them off his face.  The normalness of it almost breaks your heart.

He will be braver than Ernest Hemingway, swinging up the ladder.

As he nears the top, you must reach your arm down to him.

“Take hold!” you say.

Your father grabs your arm, and you swing him aboard.  The two of you collapse back on the floor of the airship, laughing.

You are like Indiana Jones and his father, Sean Connery.

Your father’s blue leather suitcase clings to his back like a koala, and you ask him what he has packed.

“Fatherly things,” he says, and you can see how happy he is.

“I packed crème brûlée,” you say.

“Is it dangerous?”

“Not a bit.”

“Christ! Let’s gobble it up.”

You rejoice when he says this, “Christ! Let’s gobble it up,” because only someone free of worry can think of gobbling up crème brûlée.

He knows he is safe now as you fly in your airship around the world over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over





Sam Annis currently lives and writes in Perkins, Oklahoma, with his wife and rabbit.

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