There are times when thinking too much can get you into more trouble than not thinking at all. So it proved with Eddie Vanderberg, former US Army helicopter pilot and current paramour of Amanda Cole.
Brought up in the American Mid West as the son of academics, Eddie grew up questioning everything around him. When contemporaries were being drafted into the Vietnam War, Eddie neither accepted his fate nor dodged the draft. In what he later came to see as a half assed piece of adolescent nonsense, he decided instead to volunteer for flying training with the US Army.
Flying hundreds of missions in Bell Hueys he managed to survive the war, but not without deep emotional scars accompanied by a profound sense of alienation from his country. He despised the ignorance of people who called him a hero, and yet failed to connect with others who had condemned the war. Eddie’s not even sure the war was all good or all bad; as with everything he has his doubts.
With his services no longer required by the military, Eddie took his flying skills back to Asia to find work with the oil companies who ferried equipment and personnel out to offshore rigs and into inhospitable jungle clearings. Increasingly he is disturbed by the emptiness of his life; the boozing with his fellow pilots, the occasional recreational drugs, the loose women, the long working hours punctuated by bouts of R&R in Singapore, Bangkok or Manila.
In Amanda Eddie sees the chance to escape the future of a broken down, debauched expatriate. For the first time in years, he is alive to the possibility of something approaching a normal life. And would that be such a bad thing? Eddie realises he has nothing against the American Dream per se, it was the fact everyone assumed he should want it that stuck in his throat.
Eddie is ready to come in from being “out there” in so many ways. He is mesmerised by Amanda’s innocence, but he also has a respect for it that holds him back. It’s not her fault, he reasons, that he got himself messed up over Vietnam, and a part of him feels it’s not right to lay that burden upon her. Amanda, for her part, has no such reservations…