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MID-FIELD DIAGNOSIS

One weekend this past summer I was in Wawayanda NY at the sod farm where heaven happens. Um, I mean, where I fly my rubber-powered tissue-covered model planes with similarly interested brethren. It was a gorgeous day, many lovely flights floating lazily overhead in the gentlest of zephyrs and thermals, mine included.

A fellow parked next to me - I think his name is John - was flying the nicest little catapult jet jobs. Think sling shot with little all-balsa planes on the shot business end of a sling, Davey’s rock the finely detailed little plane, Goliath the sky. John is a slightly portly, mid-late 70’s retired fellow in a white RAV 4. A musical-voiced man, wonderful to talk to about planes, or anything. Filled with warm, jovial responses to most anything. Equanimity to spare.

I asked, and it turns out he was a lawyer. Criminal lawyer. Plenty time as a public defender. I said “So you’ve surely seen stuff”. “You bet” he replied. We were quiet in tandem for a minute as we sat in our respective tailgates. I framed my next question thus:

“In a today where we can pretty much give every pattern of behavior a name, a diagnosis, a place on some perceived spectrum location or another - designations that we laypeople easily toss around today, tell me - of the hundreds of violent, murderous, people you defended, how many would you say would have fit one or more of those criteria?”

I’ll never, ever forget his response. His eyes barely growing rimmed with tears, his lip quivering just, he looked squarely at me and said “Every. Single. One.”

He got up, hooked this plane onto the end of his rubber band, stepped into the field and shot his Martin B-57 Canberra into the sunlight, the little ship audibly whistling it’s way up to 50 feet, gliding back to the sod in 30 seconds with the barest approving rocking of its wings.

updated: 1 week ago