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Page 81
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 3
"Clark couldn't get liability insurance," Jer-
ry said. "The insurance industry's in a crisis
and there's not a thing anyone can do about
it. Someone had to be cut loose and some bu-
reaucrat there in Austin decided skydivers
could do without, probably a few other groups
too, I don't know."
"This is about insurance?"
"That's right."
"And you told him he had to leave?"
Jerry poured a cup of coffee and set the
cup on the table and slid it across the Formi-
ca tabletop. "Here. Sit down." He grabbed his
own cup from the counter and sat and sipped
and put both hands on the table and stared at
them. "Sit."
Henry tried to gather his thoughts. He
thought about his drive that morning: dawn,
a mural of a landscape; a mute stillness to
things and frail clouds settling in the bottoms;
a low haze of gleaming dust inches off the
ground. He drove in and out of the haze and
up a rise and down the other side. The more
time he spent out there, the more he loved it,
and the more he perceived and understood
and appreciated its rural beauty. Some morn-
ings the panorama stretched horizon to ho-
rizon. He thought about how Clark and he
used to stand out on the wooden deck next to
the tin building and look out at the morning,
how Clark would say there was nothing be-
tween them and the North Pole but a barbed
wire fence.
Henry sat. He said, "The note there on the
door. It's a pizza box."
"It doesn't mean anything."
"The lid, I think."
"Something to write on, I suppose."
Henry touched his cup but didn't drink. "It
sort of cheapens things, don't you think?"
"I'd have let him stay if he had insurance. I
liked Clark, still like him."
Henry shook his head and gazed out the
window. He heard a breeze, or felt it, he
wasn't sure.
"I didn't have a choice," Jerry said.
"It breaks my heart."
"LaNelle and me, we talked about it. It's
just too big a risk. I'm sorry." Jerry leaned
forward and put both elbows on the table in
an unnatural way, like he was breaking a rule
or something. "No reason you should know
this, but this airport, well, it's a mite more
than we bargained for some days. Watching
Clark stick that sign across the way the other
morning didn't affect me one way or another,
but seeing you right here in front of me, the
look on your face, it's days like this I'd have to
give the whole idea a hard once-over before
I'd do it again. Perhaps I wouldn't."
Henry thought about something he'd
heard, conceivably something his mother
had said or an aunt or Jerry himself in that
it sounded like something he'd say. We'll
understand it all by and by. After a while,
Henry said, "It's not your fault."
They sat quietly at the table. Jerry got up
and went to the sink. "I did what I thought
was best."