Edmund C. Roberts luxuriated in the blowing prop wash and the smell of burning castor oil. He was off the coast of South America and about 100 feet above the cold, gently rolling Pacific. The Bleriot XI aeroplane in which he flew was barely such, it being a fragile construct of sticks and wood and wire and rubberized cloth dragged forward by a wildly spinning engine (advanced engineering dictating that optimum performance was achieved by bolting the propeller to the engine and allowing the whole mess to twirl itself violently at the fore if the craft; thus providing the lightest and most oiled horsepower available in 1912. The aeroplane was loud, smelly and delicate, but it was his, and he was, indeed, flying. Which was the only time he was happy. On the ground he was haunted by memories of parental abandonment and his inability to tolerant female companionship for more than one phase of the moon. He detested children, large and small alike. If they were joyous he begrudged them their happy childhood and if not, they painfully reminded him of his own. Worse still, he wasn’t even uncomfortable in the company of men. He found no solace in drink for he couldn’t hold his alcohol and quickly became a whining, maudlin drunk. At sea he was usually sick, often green and unsteady, a constant friend of any available rail from whose safety he could cast into the vast ocean his last, churning meal. Even his sleep was fitful and plagued with bad dreams. Fortunately though, he was wealthy beyond words and therefore spared the crushing finale indignity of being miserable and poor.
But aloft, as he maintained a respectful distance from those below, Edmund C. Roberts suckled the soft, fulfilling breast of the only peace he knew. He could fly when only a handful of others were able, and in that he reveled. A natural at the controls, Edmund C. coaxed airworthiness from his reluctant craft with a cautious, though unconscious ballet of hands and feet. His mind was free and happy, his spirits lifted at least as high as his body.
Such was his state as he scanned the ocean below. Looking down was easily accomplished in a Bleriot XI, for there was no floor and barely two feet of canvas at each side of his waist. He sat suspended in a tiny wicker basket of a chair, his downward view obstructed only by his own body and the tiny wheel at the top of the control stick. And what a view he had! The long swells were broken again and again by huge fish jumping from the depths and scores of Sea Maidens slowly surfacing and rolling about in a most sensual manner. Though a part of him wished to remain aloft, Edmund C. noted suitable landmarks on the shore and hurried back to the Baci Finale. His landing was short of disaster and within hours the wonderful ship steamed to the afore observed bay. His diving apparatus was lowered and within moments the explorer had his fourth intimate observation of a Sea Maiden. She wafted by in the company of a magnificent sailfish, he slowly circling her as she balanced in stasis, her wrists nearly crossed behind her. “Indeed,” Edmund muttered, for he had studies enough to know she was demonstrating her subservience to the will of nature, symbolically placing herself at the center of a dance whose direction she would never lead.
His notebook reads:
Maidenous Subservus “Becky”
Atlantic Sailfish – Istiophorus Albicans
Sighted off Gran Columbia, South America, August 23, 1912