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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

The Secret Life of Walt Gritty

Walt watched missiles transform the enemy weapons factory into a fireball, then took the fighter-bomber into a turn and set course for the carrier group.

It had been a long day. He had parachuted behind enemy lines, single-handedly eliminated the Elite Guard, terminated the country’s evil dictator, destroyed their weapons of mass destruction and finally hijacked a fighter-bomber to destroy future means of weapons manufacture and effect his escape. All in all, however, the day had been fairly routine.

Walt had excelled at school, both academically and in sporting prowess. His natural gifts had led to a doctorate at eighteen and international prizes for innumerable sports. In choosing a career, five generations of Grittys had served the nation’s Armed Forces, so Walt had followed. He had effortlessly won acclaim as a soldier, pilot and astronaut. He now spent his days in breathtaking heroic adventures, and his nights having sex with an endless stream of the world’s most beautiful and intelligent women.

Walt, however, felt he was missing-out.

The flight path to one of his bases in Southern England passed over a supermarket, and he often looked wistfully at shoppers pushing trolleys to their cars. Sometimes, as he microligthted onto the landing pad of his penthouse, he would glance sadly at the commuters in the bus queue far below. There, beneath, was an enticing world of middle class tedium of which he could only dream.

Walt, however, could cherish his fantasies. The adventures of the day were over, and his plane was locked-on to a carrier computer. It would return and land without his input. He closed his eyes and was transported in his imagination to a semi-detached house in Southern England on an overcast January morning.

He watched drizzle fall from grey clouds as his wife nagged about the numerous household jobs he had been avoiding. There was also, of course, the kitchen floor to clean - the dog having been sick from consuming an entire chocolate gateau, carelessly left to thaw within its reach.

Then there was the trip to the supermarket - perhaps a little ‘car park rage’ as an elderly shopper who should be in a home - or dead, took the last parking space. Walt particularly savoured the image of an enormous queue for a checkout and then the till breaking down just as he reached it.

With increasing excitement, Walt visualised scanning TV listings to discover nothing at all he wished to watch on television and then rescanning the pages to select the least bad. At least it was past six in the evening and no guilt was associated with opening the first bottle of economical red wine.

Walt was suddenly aware of a tap on his shoulder. The plane had landed and the landing crew were suggesting he left. He climbed from the cockpit, mildly irritated that his fantasy had been interrupted, but pleased that the damp patch around his crotch had remained unobserved.