Interview with: Parnell Stillman The Reluctant Hero

Written By: Jackie Weger - Apr• 08•14
The Reluctant Hero

Parnell Stillman ~ Pilot

We are in Captain Stillman’s double-wide mobile home. Unlike the hanger where he stores and repairs his planes, the place is prickly clean. While he’s brewing coffee for us, I use the bathroom. Green and white striped towels on racks are perfectly aligned. Shaving cream and a  battery-powered razor are in a leather kit. Tooth brush in a holder. Colgate toothpaste in a cup. I peek into his bedroom. A King-sized bed made up to military specifications. A dark blue navy blanket tucked so tight a dime would bounce. Captain Stillman comes up behind me.

“What are you snooping for?”

JW: Who cleans this place?

CS: I do. You finding fault with anything?

JW: No, not all, sir.  Tell me how you start your day?

CS: I roll out of bed at 4:30.a.m. start a pot of coffee, do fifty and fifty, shower, shave, regular stuff. I have breakfast and head over the hanger.

JW: What is fifty and fifty?

CS: Fifty sit ups, fifty push ups.

JW: What about other kinds of exercise? Do you run?

CS: Frowning:  I fly. Running is stupid. Run to the corner and run back. What does that achieve?

JW: Good heart rate, healthy—

C: My heart rate is just fine. Thank you.

JW: Are you in a bad mood?

CS: I’m in a good mood, I’m always in a good mood.

JW: In The Reluctant Hero you didn’t appear to be in a good mood.

CS: Abigail Tynan who runs that foundling home set me up. Lied through her false teeth. Next thing I know I’m saddled with a social worker and five kids. Not regular kids, either. Fat, blind, crippled, crazy and wild. I was doing her a favor.

JW: Abigail paid you.

CS: Not enough for what she put me through. As soon as that dang ice lake melted my plane sank to the bottom! It was all I could do to salvage the Pratt and Whitney engines.

JW: I see. What’s the trait you most deplore in yourself?

CS: Am I supposed to have one?

JW: Well, in The Reluctant Hero we got a hint you might be a softie behind your rough exterior.

CS: Nope. No way. I’m hard as stone. I was just doin’ what had to be done to get us out of there alive.

JW: Really? You seemed attracted to Rebecca Hollis.

CS: It was the situation. That’s all I’m saying about that.

JW: Moving on. What is the quality you most like in a man?

CS: That he knows when to keep his mouth shut.

JW: What is the quality you most like in a woman?

CS: That she knows when to keep her mouth shut.

JW: So you don’t see any difference between the quality of a man and a of woman?

CS: I’m not stupid enough to step in that sink hole.

JW: The newspapers and magazines said you were heroic.

CS: Nope. Those folks just wrote that stuff to sell papers.

JW: Do you have a hero in real life?

CS: John Wayne.

JW: But, he’s dead.

CS: See, that’s the thing. All heroes are dead.

JW: Last question. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

CS: My shirt. I spilled coffee on it.

The door opened and a tall, attractive teenager stepped in. His hair was dark and long, threaded through a leather throng decorated with beads and a feather. The Indian boy, Santee, the oldest of the orphans: “Plane’s ready, Cap. Luggage and everybody is aboard.”

JW: Are you flying somewhere?

Santee: Galveston, Texas. The Shriner’s Hospital there fixed Molly’s  feet. Rebecca said she’s in a casts up to her thighs, but we can push her around. Then we’re flying to Orlando to Disney and Sea World.

Captain Stillman sighed the sigh of a put upon man, grabbed a worn leather flight jacket off the back of a kitchen chair and ushered me out into the early mist of a soft June morning.

JW: Captain Stillman, one more question: What is your current state of mind?

CS: Pffft.

Santee, as tall as the pilot, patted his shoulder, glanced at me behind the Captain’s back and winked.








You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Comment

  1. Linda McKinney says:

    Fun character interview. I think you captured Parnell perfectly. I can’t believe you didn’t open the medicine cabinet in the bathroom!

Leave a Reply