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The Ballad of D B Cooper

 

Come, listen to the ballad of D B Cooper

Pre-dates the sickness of Abba’s Super Trouper,

Flare-wing shirts, British sports cars and glam-rock bands,

The sky-jacker D B Cooper descends to land  

Lowers aft steps like a plank and leaps from a plane,

With parachute and sack of ill-gotten gains: 

The only skyjacker to escape the Fuzz,

A beeline into headlines a worldwide buzz.

And did this cool cat survive to tell the tale

By leaping in the dark, fog and force-nine gale?

Or did he land with a thunderous ker-splat:

Brains like blancmange, eye-balls bounce, rib-cage squashed flat?

On Thanksgiving Eve 1971

A man enters the airport of Oregon,

Black suit neatly pressed, glasses and clip-on tie,

As sharp as a pearl pin this super-fly guy

Strides smartly to the counter of NOA,

Pays cash for a ticket Seattle one-way:

Aisle seat 18-C Boeing flight 305

A third full: the last passenger to arrive

Settles in the back and lights a cigarette,

With scotch and soda rides into the sunset.

From his black briefcase pulls a handwritten note,

Tugs at the hem of the stewardess’s coat:

- ‘Excuse me, miss, but I think you’ll want to read

About the bomb in the case between my knees,

Come, sit beside me and I’ll give you a flash:

I simply ask for two hundred grand in cash,

Four parachutes, I’m not planning to stay,

And a fuel truck on the Seattle runway.’ -

The stewardess badly shaken but not stirred

Heads to the captain to impart the good word.

The airline’s president orders the payment

And full cooperation with the claimant

Described as smiling, well-spoken and polite,

Order drinks for the house and meals on the flight,

- ‘Cheers!’ ‘Here’s to your good health!’ ‘Miss, please keep the change’ -

- ‘Sir, your demands are met, the cash is arranged -’

An hour after sunset the partying roamers

Touch terra firma at Seattle-Tacoma,

The captain taxis to an apron outcrop,

A puff of relief, the plane gratefully stops.

Now the cool cat Cooper springs into action

Staggers down the aisle to speak to the captain:

Together they espy a lone wary chap

Approach with parachutes and cash-filled knapsack

Safely delivered, Cooper evacuates

The stewardesses and partying inmates.

During refuelling, Cooper outlines the plot:

Fly slowly without stalling at one-hundred knots,

The landing gear deployed in take-off position

Fly southeast towards Mexico your mission,

Lower the wingflaps, cabin unpressurise,

Aft exit door open to spring a surprise.

At 7.40 with five people aboard

The cabin crew thunderstruck, Cooper with hoard,

Head south-east into the Stygian abyss,

The cabin crew notice with Cooper amiss

On the panel a red warning bulb flashing

Suggests Cooper the aft airstairs unlashing,

But of the five spy-planes following the tail

Not one of them notice the skyjacker bail

One giant leap into immortality

But was this a crime sans a fatality?

With each new moon the search-party of troopers

Find not a cent of the flyaway Cooper.

The experts argue could it be possible

For a besuited man to survive the fall?

But all are agreed with the temerity

Of Cooper passing to immortality.

Each Thanksgiving Eve to thee I propose

With champagne, chocolates and late-bloom red rose:

My love, Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly today

And midair sing the ballad of the one crazy cat skyjacker who got away.

                                                                                                                   [2019]

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