The King of the Aeronauts

Eric was the king of the aeronauts.
He had a crown, an orb, and a scepter.
It was all rather new to him.

He had been flying for seven years.
He had been trained by the Army to fly,
to fight the Germans in the War.
It was a game to him, the killing.
He knew men were dying, but…
Those were the risks you took to fly.

One day in the fall the aeronauts had come to him.
‘We need a king,’ one of them said. ‘You’re it.’
Eric looked up from the engine of his plane.
‘What?’ he said, and asked the man to repeat himself.
(He was a trifle deaf in one ear — a memento of the War.)
The man repeated himself, louder.
‘Oh,’ said Eric, and ‘A king?’
He turned the thought over curiously.
‘Why?’ he said.
The aeronauts talked among themselves.
‘You see,’ said the man, ‘we –‘
‘Nevermind, said Eric. ‘Do I get a queen?’
‘That’s your own lookout,’ said the man.
‘I can still fly?’ said Eric.
‘The king of the aeronauts may well fly,’ said the man.
‘Why not?’ said Eric. ‘I’ll give it a go.’