Art Smith, the Bird Boy of Fort Wayne, attempting to elope with his fiancée, Aimee Cour, escaping from Fort Wayne to Hillsdale, Michigan, where he believed they could be married quickly, crashed his home-built biplane, in which they were flying together, tried to land in a field of soft sand south of town that fouled the gear and flipped the machine over short of their destination. Wrapped in bandages from head to foot, they were married days later in a hotel where they were recuperating, there being no hospitals in Hillsdale, both fainting several times during the hastily arranged ceremony. Art recalled later he remembered little of the event as several times the doctors in attendance administered the hypodermic. Art sustained several deep bruises but escaped, his doctors told him, a serious concussion of the brain. Aimee, more acutely injured, convalesced from what was diagnosed as severe back and spinal damage, the pain of which would plague her for the rest of her life. Art, now ambulatory though still being treated for pain, repaired the machine as Aimee rested in her room. Very soon, Aimee heard the sound of its Eldridge engine aloft outside the hotel, the machine itself a mere speck in the blue. Even in his weakened state, Art Smith sought to announce what he often said was the best thing that ever happened to him on God’s green earth.
Michael Martone is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Alabama where he has been teaching since 1996. His most recent books are: Four for a Quarter; Not Normal, Illinois: Peculiar Fiction from the Flyover; Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins, a collection of essays; and, Double-wide, his collected early stories.