THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 126

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 126

…The Coast Guard Cutter Monsoon is still 10 nautical miles away, so please be careful.

U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Monsoon – RaVell Fine Art Studio

— A needle in a haystack. That is an apt odds-against appraisal of Roy Crippen’s odds in locating either the helicopter or the boat carrying the McKinney boys. But Roy knows the Gulf like some people do their backyard pool, having seen it all in his fishing boat or 300 miles above aboard the International Space Station and now taking his sweet whirlybird up to its 4,000 foot ceiling for his best view. There are few boats less than 200 feet out in the northerly chop and most of the oil derricks have their crew choppers parked, waiting for the first shift to end, with the second shift still on the mainland.

“There has been a possible sighting, 120 miles due south of Biloxi Mississippi, by the Deep Water Neptune, a BP rig. They are being boarded by what they believe are pirates.”

Photo by eddiemcfish.

Pirates of the Caribbean, great, is the Black Pearl flying the Jolly Roger with Captain Jack Sparrow denuding them of their oil?” Every seafaring lad had seen those old Johnny Depp movies. “Did you say the Neptune; I think I know the day foreman there. Tell anyone who cares that I’m a 25 miles southeast and closing in.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Monsoon is still 10 nautical miles away, so please be careful.

Careful is the operative word, seeing that all he has for guns is an old Colt 45, given to him by his grandfather—

— A sizeable ship has docked alongside the Deep Water Neptune, without permission or explanation. If the crew suspects pirates, look for some armed resistance on their part. And had it been the ship alone, the rough and tumble brutes could hold their own. All three legs of the platform are secured.

The addition of an incoming helicopter tips the balance of power. Is it Rompin’ Roy and his six-shooter to the rescue?

Sadly no, it is not the square shooter from San Antonio and it is armed with a potent arsenal from which to subdue the rig. After strafing the deck, clearing it of resisters, the camouflaged war bird sets down with a resounding clumsy thud, plainly bottoming out, perhaps because the folks inside were in such a hurry.


THE RETURN TRIP

The Black Pearl from ANDONOV ART Fine Art / Photography

Episode 126


page 156

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 123

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 123

… “Please take good care of Francine. She will take a day or so to get her bearings…

Image result for goodbyes painting

Goodbyes by Victor de Melo

Roy’s connection goes dead again… but this time Braden King does not respond.

There is no use in shaking, tapping, raising or lowering his device to get it to work. When something is sent, it will come through.

“Let me out at the service entrance Roger, I can catch a baggage hauler from here.” Roy’s endorphins are spiking in anticipation of getting a handle on things. “Please take good care of Francine. She will take a day or so to get her bearings and then she will be itching to hop a flight home.”

GODSPEED! TYPOGRAPHICAL POSTER MADE WITH BICYCLE PARTS By Paul Caridad

Roy reaches for his money clip and gives a good half of it to his new friend. “Francine has whatever is left of our $J and I told her to give it to you  before she takes off for home and don’t you argue about it, ‘cause we will be back and we will have need of your services. Maybe you could buy a car from this century.”

“God’s speed Roy Crippen; it has been my privilege to meet such fine people as you and Miss Bouchette; 2030 is going to be a good year.”

“Where is my family?” A bandaged head, a throbbing arm, and punctured lung do not stop Aldona Afridi from asking the perfectly reasonable question, once he regains consciousness from out of his 5 hour surgery.

“They are out in the waiting room Mr. Afridi,” the recovery room nurse at Elgin AFB Hospital, Okaloosa Florida, “but there is an official from the United States government who has priority access to this area.”

A man dressed in black, who has actually been with Afridi the entire time, even as he was stretchered off the plane, steps into his woozy sightline.

“I am here to record your formal statement. This is an attempt to gather information about an enemy combatant and all information is for the expressed use of the United States of America,” he holds out a handheld device and nods his head indicating a starting point. “In opening, my only question for you is, did you recognize the man who shot you?”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 123 (it’s easy)


page 152

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 119

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 119

…“My clubs were too short, the balls are like lead, and the wind seemed to gust every time I hit a shot, enough to piss off the Pope.”…

On their first full day out and about, Roger Rodriques drives them out into the back country and a hilly little golf course, there by fulfilling one of the to-dos on their getaway platter. The score card of the Upton Golf Course & Plantation has a tagline on its cover, ‘700 feet up and always cool’, but the persistent 90 degree days betray that claim.

So while their guide waits for them in the clubhouse, the only cool spot for miles, Francine and Roy practice their best “no’s” in turning down a pesky boy who cannot believe these Americans prefer to carry their rented clubs. Compared to the private clubs they are used to playing, this version of golf lives up to one of the sports’ nicknames: “pasture pool”. The fairway mowers are black & white, have four legs, and moo.

The round concludes with Roy losing the only tee shot that was farther than Francine all afternoon, in a pile of grass the “moo”-ers hadn’t got to; in the middle of the 18th fairway.

“The greens are like our tees, the tees like our fairways, the fairways like our rough, and the rough is like our out-of-bounds.”

“Perhaps you should have used that caddy. I beat you 89 to 93.”

“My clubs were too short, the balls are like lead, and the wind seemed to gust every time I hit a shot,” enough to piss off the Pope.

“Don’t be mad Roy; I’ll give you a rematch.”

He will take her up on that challenge, but it will have to wait for another day, there is too much else to do. —

— Like the Shaw Park Botanical Gardens, ‘which is on the site of a 19th Century hotel, long since razed, situated high on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Ocho Rios, surveying the azure waters of the Caribbean, the Gardens embrace 25 acres of tropic splendor. A sparkling waterfall cascades down a rocky course with luxuriant plant specimens on all sides. Lush tropical trees form bowers with flamboyant blossoms every month of the year.’

This is definitely Chamber of Commerce material.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 119


page 147

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 42

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 42

May God bless everyone,” is all Aldona can say, in this all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves, Turkish Delight  free-for-all.

free-for-all-001

With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! They will not leave until they have found me.”

Fatima stares at the Sultan Ahmet Mosque ceiling, where the Deming and the staff are/were sleeping.

May God bless everyone,” is all Aldona can say, in this all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves, Turkish Delight,  free-for-all.

His timing is good, in this case only fair, considering his run of uncanny luck. Upon seeing that the assailants failed to leave a “trailer” to protect the rear; the Afridis show exceptional speed in streaking out the back door, one after the other, to parts unknown.

Parts unknown are a sure thing. Had they waited for protection from US official guard, they would be facing no future at all. Perhaps if they had the powers-that-be listened and taken his story at face value, both they and Afridi would be winging their way to Galveston Texas.

So, without concrete direction and armed only with the Ashtaar business card {the key toabdullah-ashtaar-001 Istanbul}, these four hunted people, throw caution to the wind and head for much needed anonymity. “Us against the world” is not a strange feeling to Afridi, though one he thought would vanish once they reached the American Consulate. But they did not make it and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is now awash in conflict, innocent participants in a fight for now distant outer space.

Amid the smattering of near-distant gunfire and the rushing stream of sirens, a Mehmet Ali Erim driven something-or-other joins the chaotic scene, Mehmet having worried about Afridi’s safety. From out of the shadows Afridi cries out, “Mehmet, Mehmet,” jumps in front of his taxi, lest he not notice him. Taxi drivers are not notoriously good drivers and the man’s actions cause him to panic, depressing the accelerator instead of the brake. With little time to react, Afridi is thrown up onto the hood.

“Are you mad man? There are better ways to hail a cab than this,” helping the dazed man off turkish-taxi-001his front windshield.

“Aldona!!!” Fatima and the girls rush to the scene.

Mehmet begins to piece things together, “My friend from the train station. Hey, did not things work out with the Americans?”

“We had to leave—they have found me.”

“The Americans? You found them. I am confused. I think they believe you.”

“There are others who want me dead.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 42


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

…A sole window allows Afridi to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

turkish-nights-001

Turkey Night Wallpaper (Istanbul) by alisarikaya

And so it is that the Afridi’s are a family unit again, after a harrowing month on the run. At least they have each other, away from evil powers bent on jealous destruction.

Even still, Aldona Afridi will not rest easy.

Back with his three dear ones, he continues his tirade in the form of a letter. He struggles to find the words camel-to-water-001that will open up the correct ears & eyes. If only they would come to their senses.

Points be made or not, Afridi decides to let it go, roll with the flow, having done everything in his power to express his concerns about Space Colony 1. He recites a Talibanistani Proverb: ‘You can lead a camel to water— but he won’t stop drinking.’ It has little to do with his quandary, but he does thirst for swift resolution.

Now would be a convenient time to rest his weary soul, post-New Orient Express excursion aside, he finds a deep sleep elusive. In its stead, he is content holding his bride close. His mind strays to several options and back, unable to resolve a single one of them.

Image result for flashing 12:00 clock gifSo he retracts is arm, as not wake anyone and he inches off the bed. A sole window allows him to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

After watching a steady stream of headlights at this early hour, wondering who may be out this late/early, two very long speeding black cars come to a halt outside the mosques gates. His initial reaction is one of relief, anticipating the arrival of those in authority; the Ambassador and the CIA are ahead of schedule!

He fumbles in the dark to find the clothes given him by those nice folks that allowed him to get this far. He efforts not to disturb the others, running a comb through his untidy black hair to look as professional as possible.

The intent of the visitors at the gate seems curious though. If they have peaceful plans, their actions are quite hasty.

An explosion, of sufficient intensity to bring down the perimeter fencing of the Muslim place of prayer, lays waste to anything within 30 yards.

Before the smoke can clear, six armed men sprint to the buildings many steps. Afridi warns his family, “They must be after me…….get dressed quickly, children please be quiet as a mouse! They must believe this room is empty. He ushers one and all into a hidden nook, behind a false curtain.

Sure enough, those cars did not carry peaceful men of diplomacy. Automatic weapons spray the room without respect to its occupants or their business. Once determined empty, it is on to the next and the next.

6 pairs of feet scamper across the marble floors, then up the granite stairs.

With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! They will not leave until they have found me.”


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Episode 41


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 35

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 35

…”As we fly to zero latitude and zero longitude, on to the Plain of Xanthe, the horizon vista is psylastic!”...

mars-dictionary-001

Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, both the turbulence and blinding sand lessen the closer they get to the surface. As the drop to 30K and finally 5, the landmarks resemble those in the mockups, not unlike driving thru a town you have passed thru before.

“Things are improving steadily Mission Control, descending the final 5K… and there you go…the dunes of Mare Erythraeum, one peak in the range…” He stops to look over to perspectiveCeleste, asking, “Am I seeing things?”

She gives him a “I see the same thing” nod.

“I repeat. One mountain in the range of 20 thousand in elevation appears to have clouds encircling its summit.” He double checks his visual. “That is water vapor, 22.5 RHp,” Celeste confirms.mars-mountain

The unexpected is fast becoming rule rather than the exception. Earth is unusually mute, as co-eyewitnesses to an unexpected development.

The Master and Madame of this eye-popping peepshow continue their thrust-by-thrust description of this brave new venue. “As we fly to zero latitude and zero longitude, on the Plain of Xanthe, the horizon vista is psylastic!”

dictionary-definition-001“Psylastic Sam?

“The P is silent.”

“Now you are making up words! I will add that to the Red Planet Dictionary, you concentrate on the landing,” Braden King exhorts.

“When you spot Syrtis Major, come about to begin final approach of Tithonius Lacus,” adds Roy.Related image
In the background, the upcoming New Mayflower  colonist mission geologist is babbling on about the water vapor. Nothing, none, zero, not any of the earlier observations has posited that gaseous forms of water were present on Mars.

Onsite observations are off the charts, Colony Control conversations titillating, and the possibilities innumerable, but Roy must  set the subjectivist notions aside to keep abreast of the landing.


THE RETURN TRIP

Image result for water vapor artwork

Water Vapor by Danielle Nelisse

Episode 35


page 42

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