THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

…And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone…

— When sleep finally comes to her and him, it is deep and long.Pink Bubbles Sticker by Douglas Schatz for iOS & Android | GIPHY

In the dim light of day, Roy untangles an arm that has been wrapped around Francine like a twist tie and looks for his PDA to see if he had set the alarm. His device reads 9A which opposes the noon-like high blue sky. He chooses to trust the earlier time, so no need to rush cuddling time.

Tick-tock – tick-tock and ten o’clock causes him to stir. His restless movement alerts his bed-buddy, who prevents his escape by employing the old kiss-tummy-to-neck trick. It works.

“And where do you think you’re going mister?”

The acid test for beauty is the morning wake-up. Without makeup, jewelry and clothes orImage result for grade a shower, contacts and hair gel, is the way God intended adult men & women to see each other. Francine is a solid A through Roy’s eyes and Roy rates an A-, because he sleeps like he is weightless {all over the place}, but that is why the king-sized bed was invented.

“We are burning daylight and we don’t want people to get the wrong impression.”

“We are on vacation, the rest of the world can be damned,” she brags, playfully running her fingers through the hair on his chest, yes chest. “How is it you are so tan?”

“I have a small boat on the Gulf; go out after Red Snapper and Groper on Saturdays.”

“Two aircraft and now a boat that I suspect is not a skiff. What else don’t I know about your life?”

“I play http://www.ExpertScrabble.com with Braden and I enjoy long walks in the desert.”

“And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone.”

“I also play tennis and golf and love God.”

“I adore tennis have taken a couple of golf lessons and a 38 footer stocked with bait ‘n beer is my idea of a great weekend.”

“That is God, tennis, and beer ‘n bait in that order. I drive up to Lakewood Church in Houston when I’m in Texas.”

“I’ve been there back in the Osteen days, but with my weekend schedule I have trouble squeezing in time for God.”

“And when you’ve been up in space, it is hard to think about anything else but God.” He forgot to mention Mars.

The more she learns about Roy Crippen the more she is impressed. She doubts that there is a more well-rounded man in the United States of America, and she is trapped on this deserted desert island with that very man — well not so deserted or arid.


THE RETURN TRIP

Image result for deserted island artwork

Deserted Island by Jacek Yerka

Episode 115


page 109

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 114

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 114

…When in Rome… we will mix our money, share a room, and take it from there…

So it’s back down to the Silver Seas desk where Roy is given a key to 202. It is not as messy, but untouched by maids as well.

Image result for lucky number 3The third room is a charm; 303, third floor with three hours of daylight left.

“Lots of stairs. At least we won’t have need of the fitness room. It is probably a park bench and an iron pipe anyway. We’ll get all the exercise we need going back and forth to our room,” she consoles Roy who has been schlepping luggage alongside the porter.

He thanks the concierge. The concierge stands firm.

“You haven’t traveled lately have you… he’s waiting for a tip.” She hands the young man a $10.

“Thank you preety ladie!”

“I guess your money spends better than mine.”Image result for going dutch cartoon

“We’re going Dutch right?”

“No. When in Rome….we will mix our money, share a room, and take it from there.”

Once situated in the room, whose air conditioning struggles to keep up, Francine sets guidelines for cohabitation. “I don’t know about you, but I am not going to let modesty get in my way,” she unwraps her sundress, neatly folds it and places it on the bed like they were old marrieds. She slips on a nightshirt, sits next to him and says to him, “Let’s try out their room service. How about we order roast pigeon and fig leaves? That way we maybe we get lucky and get the chicken and salad instead.”

“So this is what Heaven is like, or are you just a dream?” He cannot believe how incredibly easy things are with this woman.

“I’m not a dream because dreams cannot do this,” she undoes his Windsor knot and unbuttons his shirt before he can say ‘no problem’.

… There are two less lonely people in the world tonight. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Third Time’s the Charm by blackxprince

Episode 114


page 108

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 113

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 113

…Roy is in no mood for this hassle, he didn’t come 1400 miles to be visibly annoyed… especially not in front of Francine

Destinations

After five hotel stops and 60 miles later, the bus and its weary remaining passengers, those boarding in Chicago a 12 hour ordeal, are told the end of the line is near. “Thees eez Ocho Rios, wheech meenz five reevers. It eez the bestest place on our island, offering nacherous beautiful and de best een nateev shopping.”

Ocho Rios is bustling at midday, streets dotted by dented compact cars and Image result for nowheresvillesidewalks packed with people, most of who have nowhere to go and all day to do it. Francine cannot wait to be one of them, to actually partake in what Jamaica has to offer, every bit happy to be a citizen of Nowheresville.

But that day is now short and their energy wanes. They would be best served to locate their bags, adjust to the quiet atmosphere and then actually get better acquainted, yes that is the point of them jetting off together.

“Two king sized beds for Crippen, Roy and Francine.”

“Whot eez your name again pleez Mon?” The afternoon clerk suffers from the same disorganized confusion that is the order of the day on this tropical isle.

“C-R-I-P-P-E-N, Roy. I reserved an air conditioned room yesterday. I was told you were not booked up!” He is in no mood for this hassle. He didn’t come 1400 miles to be visibly annoyed, especially not in front of Francine.

“Oh ya Mon, heer you eez,” he reaches below the counter for the key. “That weel be 30 dollas key charge.”

“Okay, here,” he hands one twenty and one ten over the counter.

“American Dollas eez illegle een Jamaica Mon.”

“Where is the nearest place to convert currency?”

“I said eet eez illegle, not undesired.”

“Well what is it, me and this pretty lady need to go to our room?”

“Seex Jamaican dollas for eech US dolla and the banc will open at 9 AM. It closed at 5 PM.” He takes the $20, “Tanc you for da teep. He point up, “201, I get da rest of yur bags, second floor has less aneemals.”

Roy fits the key into the door. At last their paradise sanctuary… beds unmade, a half-full jug of rum, every manner of booze, on every available surface. “Wait here,” he tells Francine

Back down to the desk where he is given a key to 202. It is not as messy, but untouched by maids as well.

Francine politely sits on  her mountain of bags, perfectly content like never before in her life. Heads would have rolled if this were last week. “Things can only get better Roy.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 113


page 107

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 112

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 112

…“My name eez Speedy and I weel be your driva for Blue Danube Tours…

Roy grabs the arm of a scurrying native, “Does this bus stop at the Silver Seas Resort?”

“Silva Seeze you bet mon, nice place to stay… where is your luggage?” The skinny bus driver, dressed in out-of-dated polyester pants, flip-flops and a short sleeve shirt is eager to leave.

Francine points to an equally underfed porter standing next to a dolly stacked to overflow.

“Poot dose on the trunk-truck, we got to go and you 2 come wit me.” The trunk-truck is to trail behind.

He escorts them to a Leyland Coach, vintage 1983 and still in service. It is filled to capacity and when Francine and Roy climb the steps, those already seated glare at them like they are holding up the show. The lady gets the jump seat; the gent is astride the entry stairs, for the two hour ride.

My name eez Speedy and I weel be your driva for Blue Danube Tours.Wen I call your names, pleez say “yo mon” in your best West Indies voice We dunt want to leev no one behind and want to drop you at the rite hotel.”

The grumbling from impatient, tired and hung-over Americans ranges from “I can’t understand him” to “I thought this was supposed to be a luxury motor coach”.

In the meantime, perhaps 20 minutes before the bus gets out of first gear, the trunk-truck has gone ahead, casting doubt that the travelers will see their luggage anytime soon. But when the diesel-powered bus makes forward progress, some of the trepidation is allayed. They were finally getting somewhere.

As they wind their way out of the airport compound and out into the erratically lit streets of Montego Bay, Speedy issues his first travel alert, You weel noteec that I drive on de left side of da rode.”

It did not seem to matter which side he was supposed to drive on, for the roads were narrow and the bus takes up well over 50% of the available pocked pavement. The horn seems to be the most used device on any Jamaican vehicle, including the brakes. A staccato honking precedes every close encounter with oncoming cars and the entrance into every blind corner awaiting the brave traveler of the winding coastline highway.

Roy is intrigued by the excursion, but only because he has the best view. Everyone else has their eyes closed, petitioning their God for a safe vacation.

Francine chooses to keep her eyes closed as well, catching a timely nap, until being jolted to full consciousness by a sudden thud-thump-squeal-screech— the telltale sounds and maneuvers that has made instant bacon out of an unfortunate jaywalking pig, belonging to a Jamaican family who prefers their pork stirred not flattened. They charge out of their windowless hut screaming at the sound of screeching tires and squealing pig.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 112


page 106

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 111

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 111

…The customs agent has pawed her way through mounds of tricot, lace, and female toiletries, looking at Francine like she was a Lady of the Night…

jamaica-001

The flight itself is uneventful, if you don’t count the gusty 2000 foot winds produced by a line of thunderstorms over the previously tranquil waters of the coming Caribbean Sea. It looks as if Cuba will get a blow from the prevailing winds in the next few hours.

140 miles south of Cuba {a fractional contributor to the Space Colony 1 project – celebratory cigars, so still communist}, lays the luxe landmass named Jamaica. Montego Bay is a coastal-cruise-ship-commune nestled against the foothills and mountains which rise out of the tropical waters. As they lower their altitude to the tree line they receive permission to land at Sangster International the island’s only legal airport.

“My head is throbbing,” Francine complains, “must be the difference in barometric pressure.”

“Take three of these and by the time we clear customs, you will be fine.”

“What are they?”

“Space flight enchanted capsule capsules.”

“Are they legal… I don’t want to know.”

NASA pharmaceuticals will have plenty of time to work. The people in customs are disheveled and crabby, seeing that they had just processed an incoming Chicago red eye charter, loaded with “loaded” passengers.

Skycap Roy has conveyed their suitcase armada to duties & tariffs. The rather robust woman who has drawn the short straw is leaving nothing to chance. Under Jamaican guidelines, she is more concerned about what comes into the country than what may be leaving; guns are banned as are wild animals.

She has pawed her way through mounds of tricot, lace, and female toiletries, looking at Francine like she was a hooker. Not one of the items banned by Jamaican customs. “That bag is clothes, that one is clothes, and that one is hair care,” she points out.

vertical-line

“She is going to cost you Mon,” she pulls Roy’s single bag to inspect it. “Are you two really together?”

Roy feels compelled to explain, then decides what the woman thinks about his intent is of no matter.

“Please address your editorial comments to KHST Television.” Francine is a bit put off. “You aren’t sorry I came along, are you?”

“No way wo-mon! Thees ees Jamaica no problem.” Roy loosens his tie and leaves his merits at the gate. They are but one couple among an island full of them.

As luck would have it, an outbound bus headed for the north shore is just about to leave, with several seats to spare. “Look at these people running back and forth,” he refers to the employees of the Blue Danube Tours Company. It is an unlikely name considering that the only thing this island and Deutschland have in common is Heineken’s and Red Stripe, “reminds me of a Chinese fire drill.”

“That is weak PC Roy… Chinese, jeez?!”


 THE RETURN TRIP

Image result for political correctness

“Political Correctness” BY THE RED PHOENIX

Episode 111


page 105

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 103

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 103

…“Is that the last one?” It so happens that Sampson’s mother’s brother’s nephew was an undertaker back on Earth…

mortician_by_ezekielcrowe

The Mortician by Ezekiel Crowe deviantart.com

With Sampson obsessed by the microcosm/engine room, Celeste’s medical training has shouldered the grizzly task of logging/identifying the many vacuous uniforms that held the long-dead Newfoundlian  crew. She was determined to give them a proper burial outside the ship, if that was their custom or not. “We will not lose our humanity out here Sam. If Earth’s flag is to be planted here, we will have given a good account of our kind.”

grave-digger-by-karyn

Grave Digger by Karyn

Sammy Mac does not spend all his time tinkering with other civilizations high-tech machinations, lest he ignore his part in the burial process or his marital good fortune. He does the digging; he does the hauling he gathers rocks for marking the mass grave, made to hold the four score Newfoundlians in total.

“Is that the last one?” It so happens that Sampson’s mother’s brother’s nephew was an undertaker back on Earth and young Sam would help with the family business while visiting. That experience gave him the inspiration to do something else with his life, like join the Air Force & ultimately NASA.

“Yes and no,” she answers.

“Come on Celeste, my bad back is flaring up.”

“You don’t have a bad back and I saved back the one we deemed as Newfoundlian Commander for posterity, he is in their supposed infirmary.

“Also, there is one cabin I could not get into. From what I can tell, the door is jammed.”

“Let’s take a look at it; I don’t want to have to do this again.”

“You were so busy in the engine room, I didn’t tell you about a lower level I found,” she admits as she guides them down a hidden passage.

“But we are on ground level??????”watch-your-head

“I know…….watch your……..”

Thuddddddd!!!!

“…head. It’s pretty cramped down here.”

“Thanks for the warning pal,” he rubs his forehead.

“I figure this is life-support and storage, notice the ducting?”

“My head did.”

At the end of the narrow hall, they come to the jammed door. It was like every other one on the ship, but it does respond to Celeste’s black onyx decoder-scrambler-door-opener or even flinch at the pinging note A of the tuning fork.

“I’ve tried every code I know, or have guessed,” she demonstrates thumb movements she has used before.

A typically male reaction to a stuck door is to use the escalating force method, which his Biblical (minus the “p”) namesake exhibits time and again; this Sampson does not have long hair or the strength needed here.

“Just a second Honey,” Celeste pauses to clear her throat. From out of her voice box comes out an acceptable middle C.

Low and behold the utilitarian slide-by opens w-i-d-e.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 103


page 97

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 87

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 87

…“And you found out that I am a sucker for a beautiful girl with a gun pointed at her head!”…

Big Red Lollipop by Donna Pomponio

“You are bluffing.”

“Am I?” Roy Crippen retorts.

Perhaps because his ears were burning from the flush of embarrassment, or out of shear frustration, he rips off his elastic face/mask, revealing the fire in his eyes. He is also nobody’s’s fool.

Rather than reacting irrationally, he decides to act on a more limited target, while outwardly staying cool.

Enough time has ticked off the countdown clock that Roy can sense the reversing of fortunes.

His assumption is premature, upon seeing Gherkin Dogman turn calmly, raise his weapon and aim it at Francine’s head. Without hesitating he dives headlong into the man, a tackle with the greatest execution, causing the furious spray of bullets to go straight up.

With the noose of reinforcements closing in around them and Gherkin/whomever intentions clear to his men, they are firing in an instant… not at Francine but in the direction of Gantry #2, with the Russian-made jetcopter rising off the ground, pivoting to fire its lethal boom-001payload.

By the time the copter has turned, a good-guys Image result for good guysshoulder-fired missile takes it down in a fiery heap and not a single hostile bullet finds its mark, while the foreign boots-on-the-ground are mowed down like so many weeds.

Roy Crippen has the lone survivor of the raid pinned beneath him, pretty much alongside where Francine spent those terrifying few seconds. Both she and he are very fortunate survivors, given the fact that they were the only participants without a gun.

Francine is lucky in another sense: 100 out of 100 journalists would have given their right arm to be at the scene of the 21st Century’s most compelling stories. But that wasn’t on her mind right now, “That was the bravest thing I have ever seen Roy, live or on video.”

“Had to save that “space-plane”, right Gherkin?” he says while looking down. And you found out that I am a sucker for a beautiful girl with a gun pointed at her head. In the fog of conflict, Roy reacted the only way he knew how. (Never give a sucker an even break)

He actually was thinking of her first, even before his precious Space Colony.t-minus-to-launch-001

They are soon surrounded by Mission Control Marines.

Braden King declares, “T-minus 00:10.00 and counting all systems go in the launch of the deep-space New Mayflower. The sky is high and we have two important people waiting for us.”


THE RETURN TRIP

im-a-sucker-001

Episode 87


page 82

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

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Please note that I wrote this book  in the mid-1980’s (before updating it). 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

…Sam proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!

water-digital-artwork

Water Nuclear Bomb by Dimitar Krstevski

The Space Family McKinney continues to explore the “NEWFOUNDLANDER”.

In one such alleged crewman quarters, Sampson, going on the assumption that no harm could come out of testing switches or push-buttons in the privacy of one’s own room, decides to do just that. There is a lighted checkerboard panel on a wall, right next where one would sit and well — not work, so this would be the time to experiment.

He chooses two such buttons to push, one colored black-hole-blue, and the other galaxy-green. Seconds later, there happens a fanciful flickering light in combination with a whimsical whoosh; a small opening opens to reveal a sippy cup type container filled with some sort of liquid.

Celeste watches her husband’s foray into technical tryouts, shrugging as he removes the vessel from the alien cube, “It’s your hand dear.” The opening closes as soon as the sippy and its clear fluid is removed.

Evidently the liquid is meant to be consumed, yet this is no time to be reckless even though thirst and hunger are high on the list in the unenviable sport of survival. So instead of two gulps and hope for the best, Sam uses the same versatile sampling device he used to analyze the air, in order to break down the elemental composition of the benign smelling liquid.

When the handheld monitor turns green he proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!”

“What do they add to it to make it smell so inviting; there must be more to it,” armed with the crave-driven sagacity of a pregnant lady.

“Purified water, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride and a negligible amount of sodium minerals,” he specifies. “The nutrition label reads: CRISP, FRESH TASTE, FILTERED THROUGH a STATE-OF-THE-ART PURIFICATION SYSTEM AND ENHANCED WITH MINERALS FOR a PURE, FRESH TASTE THAT CAN’T BE BEAT.”

“You made that up, you can’t read gobbledigook{Newfoundlian}.”

gobbledigook{bottoms up you chicken},,” translates to bottoms up. He lifts the liquescence to his tentative lips? bravely?, partaking in the alien brew. It is on the warm side, though the container remains at the ambient room temperature of 820 F, as long as it doesn’t burn on the way down.

gobbledigook{Try some} {try some},” he submits it to Celeste for her assessment.

“Not bad, but lay off speaking in gobbledigook {Newfoundlian} . I can’t read your lips.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 80


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 79

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 79

“This baby is definitely not a luxury cruise ship; few windows, no padding or frills, and come to think of it NO females.”…

future-cruiseship

Future Cruise Ship by Robert J. Tiess

“So let’s check out this galaxy trotter!” Sam exclaims.—

—Now two things are easier said than done: Knowing where to start and resisting the urge to press buttons of unknown function.

Image result for the quick and the deadGood old-fashioned observation is the safest way to go, you know, like finding out why the owners of this intergalactic flying machine have seemed to meet their fate with an uncomfortable immediacy; that is the quick and the dead, everywhere bodies strewn exactly where they wanted to be at that fateful moment.

The commander of the ship, or the person who probably called the shots on the NEWFOUNDLANDER, is seated in a swivel chair, facing what appears to be a viewing screen, poised as if he was expecting his ship to move. Others of the crew are braced at their posts, also indicating anticipated movement.

If that was the case at the time, then why were they leaving compatriots behind, left to die on the unforgiving Martian terrain.Related image

Amid the frozen moment in time, while moving about the narrow passages, Celeste takes note, “This baby is definitely not a cruise ship; no windows, no padding or frills, and come to think of it  NO females.”

“Then it must have been a dream vacation for these guys.”

“See what happens when you leave all the wisdom at home?”

“Or they were on the way to Earth and Mars’ orbit happened to be on their course heading.”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” she comments, “or when on Mars don’t drink the water.”

“That may not be so farfetched Cel. Judging by the landscape, that depression down range may have been a huge lake/inland sea, at the time they arrived… ain’t here now though.”

“Whatever the case, these guys were traveling light, like the economy class on a Boeing SST 807.”

“Hey, these GUYS didn’t come from just down the block, I’m sure they have budgets where they come from,” his practical nature surfaces, “and I am guessing that this ship covers at lot of space in a big-time hurry, which would explain the frugality.

“Why don’t you try to use that thing?” Sampson eggs her on.

At his bidding, Celeste fondles that black oval-shaped rock thing which she has seemed to gain mastery of; left click in, sort of, center-scroll the lighting. It is the key boat-001to getting around here.

“Absolutely Spartan.” Comments Sampson upon seeing a typical personal-space for the crew of the newly christened, NEWFOUNDLANDER.

“Nothing like the suites on the Colony, hey. We she realizes what she just said, she reaches over to put a hand on Sampson.

“I know, it’s still hard to believe she is gone.” The sullen Commander speaks of the trillion dollar wonder that they had boarded, for the first time a scant 45 hours ago.  So much has transpired since then, the entirety being both a space-traveler’s dream and nightmare simultaneously.


 THE RETURN TRIP

boat-001

Episode 79


page 74

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 78

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 78

…Suddenly, stranded & pregnant in space is trumped by, “Are we taking off?”

stranded-in-space-001

“This is your last clue: One thing leads to another and we gave “it” a name,” Celeste Prompts.

“Itsaboutdamntime!”

“What did NASA tell us about the efficacy of birth control in a semi-weightless environment?”

“Dontellmeyouare?!?!?”

“Bingo, give that man a cigar!” Celeste can only make light of delicate condition. “I are-you-sure-001believe that I have become the guinea pig for an unscheduled NASA experiment.”

After a flood of possible emotional responses runs its course, he concludes, “I wonder if Engineer Karl had the foresight to build a nursery into (NASA’s rescue ship) New Mayflower’s medical bay?”

“WE don’t need to worry; women have been giving birth in unusual places for four millennia.”

“In space, damn Cel, are you sure you’re pregnant? We don’t need to be distracted by a false alarm.”

The mother-to-be runs her hands through her blonde hair front to back, “It has been about 15 years, but yes I am 100 percent sure and this time feels different, maybe the daughter you’ve been wanting?”

schawonkschawonkabelumphhh !!!!!!

Related image

schawonkschawonkabelumphhh !!!!!!

The tender family moment is stunned back into present realities by a vigorous combination of a good healthy belch and a Winnie the Pooh sound effect.

Suddenly, stranded & pregnant is trumped…

“Are we taking off?”

Sampson pauses to identify the cause of the quaking. “No, no we’re not, but I think it is time we more thoroughly assess our newfound sanctuary.”

“Along those lines, I think we should give this thing a name, since we can’t read extraterrestrial and just because we can.” Celeste thinks on it, while Sam starts scanning the bridge of this bucket of unknown metal. “Newfound sanctuary, Newfoundland Province Canada… how does the
NEWFOUNDLANDER
 sound?”

newfoundlander-001“That’s a good one, the NEWFOUNDLANDER! So it shall be from this day forward,” Commander McKinney proclaims,
entering it into his continuing log of the newest incarnation of the Space Colony and temporary Mars City. “So let’s check out this galaxy trotter.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 78


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