Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Peculiar Captain Dudley

A great character sketch from Ernest K Gann's aviation memoir, 'Fate is the Hunter' (1961);

'Captain Dudley's face was peckled with time and peculiar indentations which..gave his features a crumpled, indefinite look, as if he could change their context and relation by simply molding the skin with his fingers. Sometime during the war he had crashed in a training plane and as a result bore a long scar which extended from the lobe of one ear to the center of his chin...Dudley was abnormally vain and never seemed to miss an opportunity to view himself in any mirror. I first began to wonder about Dudley when he stood overlong before a mirror in the hangar washroom one afternoon, pushing at his face and thoughtfully caressing his scar.
"How do I look?" he asked.
"What do you mean, how do you look?"
It was simply a question uncommon between men and I could not think of a proper answer.
Then his voice became almost demanding.
"I asked you how do I look?"
"You look just fine. Just like you did a while ago."
I remembered that this was the second time he had found a mirror that day.'

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