Chris Kelly Can’t Let Caged Eagle Go
The second half of Caged Eagle turns on a plane crash. (A De Havilland Otter goes down, as usual. An infinite number of Richard Rohmers, dictating into an infinite number of tape recorders would eventually create a book where a De Havilland Otter crashes into Air Force One.) This De Havilland Otter crash – the one in Caged Eagle – leads to a case of mistaken identity: The survivors and the dead are so badly mangled that Gator Peters is mistaken for his own middle-aged son, whose name escapes me, since he has no personality or backstory, and he appeared full-grown only pages earlier, and he serves no other function in the plot.
Everyone in Canada – from crash investigators to the Senate, from old friends who identify the bodies to Louise, their sister/daughter who doesn’t bother -- thinks the dead guy is Gator, because he’s wearing a life vest that says "Gator." Everyone thinks the comatose guy is Gator’s son, because he’s not. Both guys have their faces smashed in, one fatally, the other in serious but stable condition. Fingerprints haven’t been invented.
I’ll buy all that.
But what about Gator’s other two sons?
During the war, in an incident that otherwise goes exactly nowhere, Gator runs into a former flame who tells him she’s pregnant with his child, but that she doesn’t want Gator to marry her, or have anything further to do with the baby. This is fine with Gator, who then tries to tear off a piece for old time’s sake, and, rebuffed, sulks away to do it with another nurse who also subsequently vanishes from the narrative. But the trained reader thinks: Aha! Foreshadowing! We’ll be hearing more about this down the line.
Nope. A couple of chapters later we’re told she had a miscarriage, and that’s that.
Then we’re told that Gator has another mystery son, also being raised off stage by another former girlfriend, and this one is a brilliant scientist. He doesn’t know who his father is, and apparently hasn’t ever asked, so whatever field of scientific inquiry it is he pursues, it’s not genetics. This son’s name is placed in a sealed envelope and forgotten by everyone, including the author.
Why not put one of these other sons on the plane and get rid of the bore?
Wouldn’t there be more dramatic unity to something like that?
Wouldn’t that make the mix up easier to buy? No one even knew Gator had a son, and here’s a body with the same DNA… it must be Gator?
And they could assume that the comatose survivor on the plane (Gator) was a pilot, right? Since Rohmer specifically told us that Gator surprises people by sitting in the pilot seat.
Wouldn’t that be more tragic? That as far as the world knows, Gator's only heir is his daughter (a bitchy bitch who bitches) and when he finally meets his one (1) secret son, his true heir, he takes him on a hunting trip, and one of them dies?
You can see where I’m going with this, and you’re already way ahead of me:
I have to quit my job and write Caged Eagle fan fiction.