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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

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