The Fly Under – Jack Coey

The men came in mostly in two’s and three’s, and sometimes, four’s and five’s from the service; many of them in short sleeve shirts and ties, now pulled down from the neck, and they looked like car salesmen or accountants or store owners. A young man in a pin-stripped shirt and tassel loafers; a doctor or lawyer, perhaps, and not yet 25. Frenchy waited until they were lined up at the bar at Atten-hut and began pouring; he didn’t have to ask what they drank or how they drank it. The men were solemn. When they were served, there was a moment of silence, until an older gentleman raised his glass and said,

Here’s to Bronson,

and the men raised their glasses and drank to his memory. It was August of 2004, in Greenville, NH.

He walked his own road, said another man..

Ay, that he did. He was as individual as he was unusual, said another man. The men were silent, and sadness came over them like a shadow. Frenchy spoke,

Gentlemen, the drinks are on Bronson. He wanted it that way.

The men looked self-consciously at each other. The older man, who spoke first, spoke again. His name was Lyle.

God, I remember when he first came to town. I heard he graduated from Harvard, but he looked like he lived in the woods.

He lived in the same dorm I did and was an English major same as me. Matter of fact, he wrote a recommendation that helped me get in, said the young man in tassel loafers whose name was Jean Dupry.

But he invented things? said Lyle.

That’s right, but he also wrote children’s books. I’ve read some of his books, and he was a good writer along with his talents for electrical engineering. His books are set in the Middle East and have a bright young boy as the protagonist who outwits the older rich man – somewhat autobiographical, I would say. He loved to tell the story about how he won a short story contest at Harvard which is true, but the part he fabricated was that the runner-up was a fellow named John Updike.

The big-shot writer?

Yep, says Updike never forgave him.

But he invented the beeping thing?

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