Testimony Of Pilot by Barry Hannah, 1978
The magic trick:
The hardness and distance in the narrator’s tone contrasted with moments of sweetness
Generally speaking, the narrator of this story comes off as a fairly tough customer. He often is egotistical about his success as a lover and his abilities as a drummer. He withholds regret, even as he reports the dastardly deed of hitting Quadberry in the eye with the battery early in the story. The whole tone is distanced.
All of that makes the few moments of sweetness the narrator does allow that much more powerful. Through this contrast, the reader is able to understand just how important Quadberry was to this man. The story’s last sentence – one such moment of sweetness – just floors me. And that’s quite a trick on Hannah’s part.
Lillian asked me what she was supposed to do now. I told her she was supposed to come with me to my apartment in the old 1920 Clinton place where I was. I was supposed to take care of her. Quadberry had said so. His six-year-old directive was still working.