Interview with David Freunde from Excerpt from The Target by J.R. Hauptman
I lean back and let the warm summer sun envelope me as I lazily wait outside the Pennsylvania State Liquor Store in Mount Pleasant. The main street of this little burg doesn’t appear much differently than it did a half-century earlier or from the small town farther east of here where I grew up.
Although some of the storefronts are empty, the third-generation barber still plies the family trade in the shop where he grew up and the mom and pop hardware store holds its post on the corner. These are joined by an avant garde head shop and a used clothing store. I might swear that I have stepped back to the nineteen-fifties if I hadn’t just passed a Walmart and a Lowes at the exit from the Interstate.
The clock chimes at the bank across the street begin to announce the noon hour and at the sixth stroke, the glass doors of the State Store and the hulking form of David Freunde saunters forth. The two hundred-forty pounds he now carries on his once lean six foot-four frame still betrays scant excess, only a slight thickening at the waist.
His air is that of a relaxed, well-fed predator as he quickly crosses the sidewalk and engulfs me in a bear hug that threatens to crack my geriatric ribs. I try, with no avail, to punish him in return, flapping weakly at his back as he pummels mine.
Dave: Cap’m-Cap’m, how the hell are ya? Good to see ya! To what do we owe this surprise visit?
J.R.: Good to see you too, Dave! (Dave always addressed me in this manner, since my last name, “Hauptman,” the German “headman,” translates as “Captain of Infantry,” not of airplanes.) I’m back in P-A for my fiftieth high school reunion and I’m sort of on assignment for my internet book promotion.
Dave: Oh yeah, your book, The Target; Love, Death and Whackin’ yer Ex-Boss or whatever you called it. How is that going, by the way?
J.R.: Better than okay, but I finally figured out, that internet promotion among the book reviewers found there, is the only way for a first-timer like me. These lessons come hard and expensive, but every author has to go through this. The most successful has not been the airline pilots who went through the mess of deregulation, but from the other airline employees: the maintenance people, ticket agents, bag busters and retirees. Most surprisingly, there has been a great response from the wannabees, the folks who wanted to be pilots and especially the gals who always wanted to be flight attendants.
Dave: So, what’re you going to write about here in Mount Plezz?
J.R.: Well, you, Dave. I think our avid readers would like to hear your impressions of Ivan Jasonovich, the central character of The Target; Love, Death and Airline Deregulation, as it is really called, by the way.
Dave: Ah, you know I had to needle you a little about your baby! Readers have to know there is a lot more to Cap’m Ivan’s personality than just some guy who goes “Postal” and sets out to kill his boss. Not many of us have really faced a situation where someone who has caused us that amount of personal and financial damage just appears in front of us, in a wilderness and while you are carrying a high powered rifle. When he showed up here the first time, he knew he had acted way too impulsively and he was determined to let go of the past and just survive out there. It wasn’t until he lost some of his pals in that crash that he really came to the cold blooded decision that he was going to kill that guy.
J.R.: I really wanted to portray that in the book and I hope I succeeded, but what did you think of him in Viet Nam, when we were all in the chopper unit together. I only got to fly with him one or two times when I was a copilot and a new guy.
Dave: Top drawer all the way, Cap’m. I always felt safe with him even when things got hot. There wasn’t anyone any braver than him but it always felt like when he hung it out there, that he was taking a very calculated risk and that he felt he could bring more pee on the VC than they could do to us. He got me a Silver Star for the time we got shot down in that LZ, but it was him, runnin’ around with a pistol and directing fire that got us out of there alive.
J.R.: I knew I had a great “Guy Story,” Dave. But I tried to show in my book that he wasn’t just a randy airline pilot flying around with two girls in every airport; I wanted to show above all that he genuinely appreciated and loved dearly the strong women in his life which ultimately made him successful. Have you been in touch with him; have you figured out who he wound up with?
Dave: Nah, but for a guy who could’ve had a world class rep as a swordsman: the last time I was out in Colorado, I really got the impression that he was about ready to settle down again.
By the way, I am taking the afternoon off from the State Store and we are going to begin at The Stillers Café where Hungry Dave will have the Santa Fe salad and the healthy, underweight Cap’m-Cap’m is entitled to anything on the menu! By the way Cap’m, can I order the book online for friends and family?
J.R.: Certainly; The Target is being carried on all the main internet book marketers and I have kept my airline employee website open and offer it to all my readers with the airline/internet discounts and autographed copies. Dial it up at www.caddispublishing.com/ Thanks for giving me a lot to write about, Dave. And to my valued readers, that is not the last of the story but the beginning of a pleasant afternoon with a dear old friend.