THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108
…there is nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between Houston and Montego Bay – rest stops and dry land are few…
— True to his word and happy to do so, Roy and his limo cruise into Hobby (Airport), with one worn-out Samsonite suitcase and a pocket full of American cash.
Tucked away in an obscure corner hanger, at the far end of the airport’s least used taxiway, sits Roy’s expensive toy: a vintage Sikorsky S-76D.
And never mind that 30 year old Learjet sitting next to it. He does not own an automobile, too slow.
Francine pulls up to the open hanger door in a Cooper Mini Taxi whose tail is dragging from the weight of her bags. Roy is busy talking to his hanger’s mechanic about the critical pre-flight inspection. With nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between them and Montego Bay, rest stops and dry land are few. And with Cuba still stuck in the political Cold War, it is not an alternate landing spot.
It is a brisk late January, where 50 above zero winds do chill those with Southern roots. Not the sort of weather for wide-brimmed plantation hats or a sundress, which is exactly what Francine is wearing. She fights to keep the mid-calf hem below her waist.
Roy catches a glimpse, peaking from under an engine, dropping an extra-large crescent wrench on his foot.
“Come in and get out that darn wind,” he insists while hobbling on one good foot. “I see that you dressed for the destination.”
“86 degrees with a chance of clouds, yep. The Chief Meteorologist at Channel 13 gave me my farewell forecast, the 14-day outlook, is that far enough out?”
“We’ll see. If Braden and the Colony-Incident Audit come up with something on Korea and Talibanistan, I may have to bail early,” he takes a shop rag to his hands, handing the wrench to the hanger mechanic. “You look fantastic… and me in a pair of coveralls.”
“Didn’t you bring any luggage; a month is a long time you know.”
Silly, silly unsuspecting man. Francine’s taxi backs up to the hanger door. “Where is the skycap?”
“This thing usually seats 12, but I took out seats and replaced them with fuel reserves that triple its range, so I will need to turn away any other passengers…and you will need to sit in the copilot’s seat.”
“Isn’t that secretary of yours coming along?” It would not be farfetched for that platinum blankety-blank to implicate herself.
“Are you kidding? I may be impulsive, but stupid I am not.”