Sometimes the Darkness
American Hanley Martin is troubled by his success. A wealthy aerospace industrialist, he was taught he should help others as a means of balancing the scales for his good fortune. He searches for ways to give back that will comfort his soul.
A trip to the Paris Air Show in 1999 changes the course of Martin’s life when the head of a Catholic mission in southern Sudan tells him of the need for pilots to fly medical supplies and visiting doctors to and from their remote clinic and school in Mapuordit, which sits on the refugee trail from Darfur to Kenya.
Sister Marie Claire, a French nun working at the Mapuordit mission, helps the Sudanese people fleeing the war in Darfur. She’s crafted a network of volunteers to save the children sold into slavery and forced to work in the country’s more prosperous cities. She needs only one additional piece to complete her plan.
As Hanley Martin and his plane arrive at Mapuordit, she asks herself if the American may be the answer to her prayers.
Sometimes the Darkness is the first novel by the author Will Campbell. It tells the story of two people brought together by fate and the price they pay helping a horrific war’s most vulnerable victims.
I would like to thank Will Campbell for taking the time to write a fascinating location spotlight to feature as part of the blog tour for his book Sometimes the Darkness.
I would also like to thank Clink Street publishing and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the chance to be a host on this tour.
The locations featured or mentioned in the novel, Sometimes the Darkness trace an arc from where the stories protagonist, Hanley Martin, begins journey and back again. The arc follows his flight plan from Kokomo, Indiana, his home, to Mapuordit in the southern region of what was then a unified Sudan. The exception is Paris, France, a location visited prior to his decision to do volunteer work in Africa, but a location playing a vital role in that decision. During a trip to the Paris Air Show in 1999, Hanley has a chance conversation with the head of a Catholic mission in southern Sudan who tells him of the need for pilots to fly medical supplies and visiting doctors to and from their remote clinic and school in Mapuordit. The mission is on the refugee trail from Darfur to Somalia and Kenya. He make the decision to interrupt his life to work at this mission station in Africa.
The plane Hanley takes to Africa is an meticulously restored older model Beech, a C-45 Expeditor, the cargo version of what was then an early executive aircraft, the Beech 18. The locations allowed the C-45, modified for extra fuel capacity, to make the flight across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe and on to Africa.
The locations along this path are:
St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
Nuuk Airport, Greenland
St. Nazaire, France
Port Sudan, Sudan
While some of these are just names mentioned in the narrative, some have a more prominent role, specifically Kokomo, Indiana; Cairo, Egypt; Port Sudan, Sudan and Mapuordit, Sudan, the location of the Catholic mission. Here are some location specific extracts from the book:
Kokomo, Indiana – Rocky Vicenti, Hanley’s next door neighbor, his widowed lover, sat on a folding chair in his large, dimly lit hanger facing him as he sat on the steps that formed the interior wall of the plane’s cargo door. It was March of 2001 and unusually cold in north-central Indiana. The hanger was built to house two planes and had, before Hanley crashed one when landing at the Russiaville Airport outside of Kokomo almost six months earlier.
“She’s not that old,” Hanley said, trying to not so gently correct her. “She’s younger than me.”
With a coarse black thread as heavy as a strand of dental floss, Hanley mended a weak spot on the border of the netting, which, once fixed, would stretch across the cargo hold of his old, meticulously restore Beech C-45, the plane he would hopscotch across the Atlantic to Europe and then on to Africa.
Cairo, Egypt – Cairo was pleasant surprise. The customs people were all efficient and courteous, English was spoken and he was finished with his inspection and paperwork in under two hours. Hanley also suspected he arrived at the right time of day to facilitate the process. Seeing he carried virtually nothing in his cargo hold, the inspectors checked in all the obvious areas, examined his paperwork, and questioned him about his destination, registering mild surprise at his answer of southwestern Sudan and the Catholic outpost. The young customs inspector, Riyhad, looked hard at Hanley and asked, “Mr Martin, what brings you to the desert?”
Hanley looked at the sky, removed his old, black baseball cap with the emblem of the Pittsburgh Steelers on it, swiped his forehead with the back of his hand and said, “A woman.” Riyadh smiled and nodded.
Will Campbell is the pen name of Stephen Weir. He lives in Charleston and Greenville, WV. Stephen Weir is a former certified economic developer (CEcD) with over thirty years experience managing economic development organisations from the city to state level. He has also worked in international trade, helping establish the West Virginia’s first international trade office in Nagoya, Japan. He has previously published economic development articles and op-ed pieces in the Economic Development Review, West Virginia Executive Magazine and the Charleston Daily Mail and Gazette. His interest in politics, literature and writing led to the penning of his debut novel.