Thirty Years Chasing the Lightning

From play, the manapua truck’s off-key carillon recalled us. Shoving and elbowing each other, we raced. Our palms smeared the Plexiglas finish. My youngest cousin was first; I was fourth.

Minutes later, my cousins wandered off, nibbling rice cakes and giant almond cookies wrapped in translucent white wax paper.

Pushing a scatter of pennies and nickels across scratched Plexiglas, I received a glossy red-and-yellow envelope in return. I flipped it over to the thumbnails, captivated by the Lockheed P-38 Lightning.

With obsessive-compulsive care, I teased apart the crimped seal and shook out a clear plastic clip-on nose cone and propeller. With held breath, I slid out one thin Styrofoam sheet with a spray-painted punch-out WWII fighter.

Dark blue ignited excitement until I saw it was the P-51 Mustang. My disappointment would last until evening, when it would land among other Mustangs, Zeros, Supermarine Spitfires, and Messerschmitt Me 262s on the TV boneyard. Tomorrow would reset my anticipation.


Now, on my smartphone’s touchscreen, I launch an app, scanning the Black Sheep’s wing—pity it isn’t the F4U Corsair. Once I mount it, aligning fighter and online stencil, its digitized form wheels over pixellated waves.

Of available models none are the Lightning.

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