THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 172

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 172

…“I am relieved about Gus!.” Francine is all too aware that Gus is the one suffering most by the loss of his parents…

Suffering by Paula Heffel

“I am not going to waste our time together squabbling over that necktie.” Their 17 month marriage remains solid, as most do, in spite of the ongoing McKinney heartbreak, career shifts, and the blinding glare of the national spotlight. Like those ships in the night, passing near not seeing, “We can’t waste this time.”

Space Academy

“Speaking of not seeing someone, how did Deke & Gus do on their Academy exams?” Co-surrogate father Roy would give anything short giving up on the election to be there to help the boys with the critical Space Academy simulator tests; the single biggest factor in becoming an astronaut candidate. Braden King is a ground expert, but has little to offer the two rapidly maturing space-aspiring young men.

The adults’ combined mission is to help them attain those desired goals.

“Gus barely got by the book test, then A-ced the simulator.” she tells Roy. “Deke lost his gyro-control, hit an asteroid and he will never live it down. It turns out that the professor rigged his test by inserting THE QUARKIAN QUANDARY, I believe he called it.”

NASA Top Gun

NASA“They only pull that on the Top Guns. I bet Deke had already been promoted.”

“I am relieved about Gus!.” Francine is all too aware that Gus is the one suffering most by the loss of his parents.

“The way I see it Francine, Gus knows that his flying skills are the only way he graduates from the Academy; it’s hard to keep up with his genius brother.”

“Whatever the reason,” she concludes as their Ford Hydrogen vehicle pulls up to the Hilton Hotel & Casino, “I think that Celeste would be pleased as punch and Sammy Mac is screaming at the top of his lungs … somewhere out there.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 172


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

…Deimostra Samantha McKinney is born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030…

…our space heroes are indeed alive, with an infant conceived on the way to – now a citizen baby of Mars. Deimostra Samantha McKinney was born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030. Deimostra {Deimos} is certainly an uncommon name for such a cute blond-haired blue-eyed baby girl, so named for one of Mars’ reliable, if not fickle moons; Phoebe {Phobos} would have been too easy. As one would guess, her middle name is the feminine form of father Sam, an everyday tag she will carry as “Sammy”, the affectionate term she has already responded positively to.

If delivering a baby on another planet were not challenge enough, add in the aged-41 aspect, she-mom-herself-in-labor had to coach “Dad” through the entire birthing process; no small task when massive pain is dominating every two minutes or so and they are using medical facilities that does not accommodate childbirth (as earthlings would know it).

So, as they had done with all the other strange devices and workings of the NEWFOUNDLANDER, they modify, improvise, and utilize. Considering that Sammy will spend much of her first six months in artificially enhanced gravity, she will surely be hailed as a miracle on Earth; Baby Announcements are in the mail.

Their hope of rescue hinges on a leap-of-faith; the faith that NASA knows that the reluctant Mars colonists have finite survival resources and that their “ride home” should be arriving any day now.

For the crew and launchers of the New Mayflower, they have been assuming that Sampson & Celeste had indeed survived the loss of the orbiting station and are waiting anxiously for its appearance.

These nagging, creeping doubts, that growing suspicion that the NASA did not or could not pull the rescue trigger, has hastened Sampson’s attempts to master the propulsion mystery of the idled NEWFOUNDLANDER. It is a singular quest, considering that if they must, they could live out their natural lives, perhaps exceeding the current 100 year life span. After all, carbon analysis of their lone Newfoundlian cabin/cohabitant indicates he died at the ripe old age of 700 and perhaps older than that. And this was achieved with a body that is eventually victimized by an undetermined alien fate. So immortality may or may not be part of their alien equation.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 160


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 153

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 153

…What is taking four months to accomplish {the New Mayflower rescue mission}, a SOL equipped spaceship would take 10 minutes, akin to a trip to  a corner store in New Orleans

French Quarter Corner Store by John Boles

— After he had escaped from a treacherous country, had his family risk their lives fleeing to Turkey, managed to  contact the Space Colony Director with scandalous information, only to be shot by an assassin’s bullets while being flown into the United States, poor Aldona Afridi is not an yard closer to applying his trade.

SOL-logo

But now the renegade turned research scientist has been assigned to the SOL Project: the independent foundation, with significant ties to NASA that is dedicated to achieving space travel at the speed-of-light threshold and not a mph less. With the recent stranding of personnel, some 3+ months distant and without a lifeline, efforts have been redoubled in the quest of 670 million miles per hour.

Do the math. What is taking four months to accomplish {the New Mayflower rescue mission}, a SOL equipped spaceship would take 10 minutes. What is presently classified as a time-sensitive mission would be akin to a trip to a corner store in New Orleans.

Another comparison may apply to the situation on Mars. Unknown to anyone on Earth, the NEWFOUNDLANDER would have taken over four years to reach this solar system, assuming that they came from the nearest star.

Such are the daunting numbers that face a small grouping of scientists that does now include Aldona Afridi; and he feels well-favored to have the opportunity. He is making a good wage, not a fortune but sure beats the United Korean blood money by light-years.

His family is safe, though the Afridi family name has been changed. Meet the Fitch’s:

  • Father: Fletcher Fitch
  • Wife: Madonna Fitch
  • Daughters: The Fitch girls

How easy are things when you are under the protection of a benevolent Federal Government such as this? You get an undercover makeover, govt. housing and a new outlook on life, just like that.

Fletcher and Madonna Fitch have that new look, new wardrobes and names that they had no choice in getting.

And still, life is good… so far.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 153


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 152

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 152

…If this is your theatrical way of proposing marriage to me, then I accept…

Francine has been an interested observer during this current visit to a ranch under recent excavation. “It looks like Braden has been busy.”

“I hope you don’t think he is being somewhat presumptuous,” Question and statement. “I know he talked to about me building out here at King, but I am not the one who got this ball rolling. I don’t want you to think I was taking anything for granted,” disclaimer delivered JIC {just-in-case}.

“If this is your theatrical way of proposing marriage to me, then I accept… but I am in charge of the inside of that house!”

The chopper suddenly tilts at 250 .

“Am I the one who is presuming something? I just thought this had to be a plan of some sort.”

“Ask her now Roy!” Braden screams from below.

KR 2022 bounces back to 00.

“I’ve already got the family car,” she prompts.

“Earth to KR 2022, are you still there,” Braden quips from below.

“I have no contagious diseases and love the Houston Rockets,” she adds, looking at his ashen face.

Roy feels like a rat trapped in a maze, but upon further review and instantaneous reflection he surrenders this: “Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with me? I mean I am about to be held in Contempt of Congress, I am wanted in Jamaica for driving 100 miles over the speed limit and I was thrown out of a Rage Against the Machine concert when I was at the Space Academy.”

Just then a flashing red light appears where the fuel gauge is. “We have to set down, that’s an idiot light.” With all the back-and-forth, Related imagethen forth and back, he had overlooked the fuel situation.

“You idiot, what idiot?”

Just as they finally set down, 2 souped-up golf carts come out to meet and greet. Not surprisingly, the one driven by the McKinney boys gets there first, with Braden’s scooting in behind.

Who do the excited siblings run to, once the rotors whoosh to a stop? Francine. And where does Braden head? To the very same pretty lady who used to work for his favorite TV station.

So what is Roy left to do? Watch, as the woman he has fallen in love with is being welcomed into his extended family… just like it was meant to be. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Welcome To The Family GIFs | Tenor

Episode 152


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 137

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 137

…At least one of Roy’s fears is laid to rest, that Francine would fall back into her old life, because it would be the easy thing to do…

thecreativepanic.wordpress.com

There is no need to ring the doorbell or let-loose the family German Shepard to race out a-barking, when you land a helicopter out at the helipad in front yard of the main house of King Ranch.

And when you have two teenage boys and five farmhands out doing chores, pitchforks are dropped {tines down}, feed buckets are left unemptied, the hose leading to the water tank is unattended and tractors return from the back-forty.

Life is simple when you live on a ranch {or farm if you prefer, but this is Texas}, free of over-the-top technology or extreme urgency; it can wait ‘til later, unless it’s mealtime.

“Uncle Roy!” Deke and Gus did not know when they would see him next. Once the rotors have wound down to a stop, they charge up to welcome the pilot, “Boy, are we glad to see you!”

“It looks like you taking care of things outside; otherwise the cattle would be greeting me,” responsibility is job #1 around these parts. States of mind are #2, “How are you guys doing? Have you shaken off that little Gulf episode, the one where you were KIDNAPPED?

“We’re okay Uncle Roy. Francine talked things over with us at breakfast and everything is cool,” Gus gushes.

“Did Miss Bouchette drive back to the city?”

“No, she’s inside making lunch… didn’t you notice her new ride? She parked her ‘Vette, can you believe it?!”

Certainly not immune to all the fuss, Francine exits the main house looking every bit the cowgirl.

“Hello there flyboy, can I offer you a sandwich and a glass of fresh-from-the-cow milk?”

You could knock Roy Crippen over with a feather.

At least one of his fears is laid to rest, that she would fall back into her old life, because it would be the easy thing to do. He would have bet Braden’s farm that she would have brought the kids home, tucked them in {if you actually can tuck in a teenage boy} and left.

Wrong!


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 137


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 135

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 135

…Braden King recalls Roy’s turn-of-the-century (21st) brushes with death and matrimony…

“Hot dogs, pizza puffs, mac & cheese, and Kool-Aid, that’s pretty much it, but I managed to talk my way onto an adult menu.” Braden describes eating in a hospital.

“That’s the food, now what about the drugs and do they make them strong enough to tame you down?” Francine wants to know.

“Tame me or tie me down? When the boys went missing, I guessed that pushed me over the edge,” the stricken man admits. “Don’t you have a real job to go to Francine?”

“Naw, I trashed that gig when I agreed to fly off to Jamaica with you-know-who.”

“Yeah? Wow! I didn’t see that coming.”

“Do you think I was expecting this? I have been a big fan of Roy for a while now, but that man has got into my head and I don’t think that there is a cure for what ails me.”

“You got the Creeping Crippen! You can’t get it out of your clothes and that stain it leaves on your heart does not wash out.”

“You are his best friend Braden, so tell me the truth: Why has he never married?”

He takes her aside, “Well there he was, got his first big break after becoming an astronaut, pegged to test-pilot out a nuclear powered shuttle prototype. He was engaged to a Florida socialite at the time and she didn’t like him leaving the atmosphere, especially when she learned the nickname for test pilots, it starts
with an “L”.”

“Lunar-tics?”

“That’s a good one, but no–Lab Rats,” he recalls Roy’s turn-of-the-century (21st) brushes with death and matrimony. “When he came back to Earth, she had gone with her parents to Europe and he never heard from her again. Six months later she made headlines by marrying a 70 yr. old Greek winemaker…wasn’t right for him anyhow, but he never got over losing.”

“Was he heartbroken?” Francine loves to guess.

“No. She never gave him his diamond ring back. That’s what he hated losing!”

“Out, out, out,” the floor supervisor whispers loudly, “it is past midnight and Master King has tests scheduled first thing.”

“Never mind “Nurse No-Fun”; that’s what the other kids call her.”

“Other kids?” Francine gives him a one-armed hug, careful not to disturb all the tubes and machines. “We will see you tomorrow, Braden. Come on boys, this filly needs to pick out a bunk.”

It is Braden’s home but, “Roy’s room at the ranch is the last door on the left. It has its own bath and I told the cleaning gal you would be coming.”


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Episode 135


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 116

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 116

…“My Great-Great Grandfather Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was hanged in London for dismembering his wife.”…

“I have a million credits stored up in my account and it’s burning a hole in my purse. I believe that you need new swim/tennis shorts and my bikini has a strap that is about to let loose.”

“You don’t have to buy me stuff, I can get by.”

“Not with me! And I’ve always wanted to have a guy to buy things for.”

“What about Larry?” He dares to go down that road.

“Let’s not go there. I am not in a good spot on that subject.”

“As long as you deal with him straight-up, after all you did agree to marry him somewhere along the line.”

“He knows where I stand Roy. I walked out on the station, violated my contract, and told him I was leaving the country with you. I think he gets the hint. If that makes me a coldhearted bitch, then so be it.”Related image

“Hey, I’m not trying to push my luck and I certainly do not want you to change your mind. If you are a coldhearted bitch, then I guess that I have taken a liking to coldhearted bitches.”

“C-H-B is harsh, but I’m not that same cutthroat TV reporter who called NASA out of the blue. It appears that you’ve made an honest woman out of me.”

“Speaking of acronyms, c-h-b you’re not, F-blank-B stands for what?”

“Nothing.”

Francine Nothing Bouchette… boy your parents had low expectations.”

“I didn’t get a middle name; in fact I changed my name for television. In my high school yearbook, Francesca Boucheletta was voted “Most Likely to Be Famous”, but no way that was going to happen with an Italian name like that; sounds more like a wine & appetizer.”

“An Italian with a French name?”

“How about you Roy?” He wasn’t to get off that easy.

“My Great-Great Grandfather Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was hanged in London for dismembering his wife.”

Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen

Francine immediately does an Internet search for the name, “I do not see the family resemblance.”

“I don’t know about that, but my parents did not want me to go to medical school… and I get queasy at the sight of blood, but I do like a bloody Mary from time to time and it is noon somewhere… want to join me F blank B?”

“The best place to find out about a new town is to talk with the bartender. We need to see what’s happening around here.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 116


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 101

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 101

…”I don’t know what I love, been chasing after the brass ring so long, I have lost track of my North Star.”

Roy points to the early night sky and Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor…

north-star

“I have been avoiding my fiancée, some boring media banquet he wanted me to go to. Sometimes he treats me like a station commodity, not a future wife.”

“It sounds like you don’t see things his way.” Roy dares to test her loyalty.

“We are speaking different languages these days” True feelings bubble to the surface. “I think I have become his pet project, but that’s why I have a talent agent wedding-invite-001and I have no need of two.”

“Have you set a wedding date,” he forces the issue?

“A date, we’ve had 4 June dates and counting; not in the same year and I have managed to tiptoe into July every time,” like it is a Girl Scout badge. “Aren’t you going to ask me if I love him? I don’t know what I love, been chasing after the brass ring so long, I have lost track of my North Star.”

Roy points to the early night sky and Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor.

Francine nods and goes on,“He has done a lot for me, but we are losing touch, both kinds.”

“Sometimes that happens,” like Roy has ever been serious about a girl since his high school physics teacher.

interuptus

Deke and Gus choose this moment to settle a dispute, “Didn’t you choose Mom & Dad to go to Mars because they were the best astronauts for the job? Bobby says that his Dad told him that it was for advertising.publicity-stunt

“That would be a publicity stunt, Gus and no that is false. A husband/wife team was first put on the table years ago,” Roy directs his recollection at Bobby.

“My father said they flat-out screwed up,” another 15 year old’s blather.

Francine steps in, “I think your father should get his facts straight! Who is he to say something like that?”

talk-bubble-001Roy leans over to whisper in her ear. “His father is the chairman of the Senate Space Appropriation Committee.”

“Then he needs to get his facts straight, nobody screwed up here.”

“What Miss Bouchette means is that the Senator from Oklahoma needs to reconsider his position, pending the results of our internal investigation.” He puts his arm around Bobby’s scrawny neck. “The entire world is rallying in support of Gus’ Mom & Dad.”

“THE 1st people on Mars and we are damned proud of them!!!” punctuates Deke, who has been encouraged never to swear… but there are exceptions.

Endless Space Video Game

Adolescent squabbles are best settled over high-tech video consoles. Bobby apologizes to the adults and off they go to the house.

“Thank you for defending Sampson & Celeste with such vigor.”

“I hope to have the privilege of meeting them soon,” she is sincere.

“I’ll hold you to that.”


THE RETURN TRIP

my-project-23-001

Episode 101


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 99

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 99

…Too many twos, two many 2s and if there was a rock big enough to hide behind, Roy would have preferred it to this…

Image result for too many

Braden has been slowly dismantling the many-gift-mountain of cards, boxes, gift wrap and tissue. There are some meant to be shared, ‘Deke & Gus’. There are many specifically labeled either ‘Deke’ or ‘Gus’. Others are anonymous tributes to The Space Family McKinney.

By sheer coincidence and not divine intervention, we think, Francine and Roy’s packages are the last to be unwrapped. The givers of said gifts are still standing near one another, having ooo-ed, aah-d, and clapped politely throughout the process, which has run past daylight’s influence.

Most everyone has done the math or eliminated themselves from belonging to the boxes. Fate is once again shining a spotlight on that reluctant featured pairing, still trying to sort out their feelings, once they get past continuing awkward social situation.

The lady-well-wisher’s carton is next to last, opened with genuine excitement by Gus, “Channel 13 News Crew bomber jackets, look Deke!”

She was afraid people would think her a self-promoter, “It’s the same one worn by our cameramen and grips.”

“Way kool Miss Bouchette. All the kids at school can drool.”

The final unopened gift belonged to Roy.

“Read the card first Deke,” if Braden has the boy skip that part, it would be fine with Roy, who knows exactly how he signed the card.

Too late!!

“2 the two finest young men we know. With Love and friendship, Uncle Roy and Channel 13 Francine”

The young man reads it loud and proud.

Too many twos, two many 2s and if there was a rock big enough to hide behind, Roy would have preferred it to this. The boys do not think about motivation when it comes to birthdays.

“A 4-D Galaxy Planet Asteroid Tracker by Intel, wow just like the one in your office Uncle Roy… and Francine?”

asteroid-tracker

Roy wanted to explain Francine’s duplicity, had he known how to. Some things are better left to wondering.

The agreeable crowd subdivides into smaller groups, to sample Braden’s BBQ skills—-and gossip.Related image

Roy looks for that back-forty boulder to hide behind.

Francine is just plain curious, but they are overtaken by the shuffled throng.

“I can’t believe how generous people are. Deke & Gus are so lucky,” Aunt Sassy (from the old country) shakes Roy’s hand like she was trying to bust it loose from his shoulder socket, while eyeing Francine up and down.

“Now Sassy, don’t break his wrist,” insists the senior member of the McKinney relative contingent Savta Inga Bergestrom (from the other old country). “You two look like you are having a wonderful time.”


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the-old-country-001

Episode 99


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 98

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 98

…Attention everyone, I would like to propose a toast… raise your glasses as I salute our Director Roy Crippen and Channel 13’s own Francine Bouchette!”

Image result for a toast artwork

Separately and together, she and he play it oh-so-kool, willing to allow randomness to take its course.

To anyone with two eyes and a television, they had been captured on video holding hands; the tension is thick and juicy.

braceT LFTWhispers:“Why aren’t they talking?” “I thought they liked each other.” “At bracket rt least they can talk to each other.”

In-house wagering is going on among the adults, “I have 50 bucks that says they will not talk.. any takers?” Just one of the side bets.

The master of ceremonies Braden takes matters in his own hands, “Attention everyone, before Deke & Gus open their gifts, and I take the ribs off the grill, I would like to propose a toast… raise your glasses as I salute the two real celebrities among us—my apologies to any movie stars or sitting Presidents—To our Director Roy Crippen and Channel 13’s own Francine Bouchette!”

“C-H-E-E-R-S! Here – here! Salud!” come from all around from every side as the toasted make their way forward.

Whispers (he & she):“There are lots of people here.” “Yes there are and so many gifts.” “I didn’t expect to see you here.” “I had to file that story, I hope you know that.” “Of course you did, and I imagine my impulsiveness caught you off guard.”

13d01-6a00d8341cb55f53ef010536ace89f970b-800wiFrancine, in her big girl voice,“No need for you to apologize Roy what happened to us was perfectly natural.”

“Had I known you were engaged that would have never happened,” counters Roy.

“You were every bit the gentleman and I did not offer any résistance.”

“I am in some hot water over this whole mess, maybe you should keep your distance.”be5e8-6a00d8341cb55f53ef0120a604af2c970c-800wi

“Do you think I’m worried about my association with you? Bring it on fools!”

Big Girls Don’t Cry


THE RETURN TRIP

he-and-she

Episode 98


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