THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 150

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 150

…Braden King feels like he has been granted a fresh lease on that life and he needs to take full advantage of it and that means a change in lifestyle…

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE by UZO EGONU


This picture was drawn by Erika Aoyama 11/16/ 2002

Home is where the heart is; a tired old phrase with new meaning for Francine and Roy. Their days of freewheeling solitude are coming to an end; work like a dog, return to an empty apartment, check all social outlets, make sure the world hasn’t gone mad, grab a quick bite and do it all over again tomorrow. —

— And until Sampson and Celeste packed their bags for Mars, Braden King also lived to work, he would come home to help work his 2500 acres and 1000 animals, catch up on the nightly news, eat some beef, steal 5 hours sleep and do it all over again.King Ranch logo

But King Ranch now teams with the vitality of two teen-aged McKinney dynamos, never more important to him, considering the status of their parents, not to mention his own recent health scare. There isn’t anything that cannot wait, unless something can’t wait, then it is filed neatly into a simple list of priorities; family first, everything else second. Never having married has made for tiny family reunions. And you can’t choose family, we all know.

Friends on the other hand, you can choose and do, while at other times they choose you and the fun is in seeing where you stand in a year, five years, etc.

He feels like he has been granted a fresh lease on that life and he needs to take full advantage of it. That means a change in lifestyle, from the high octane excitement of daily interaction at the Galveston Launch Facility, with whoever is outside Earth’s atmosphere at the time, to working at home from the ranch, keeping track of now ten ranch hands and two McKinney children who depend on him for everything. Braden King will not be making the same mistakes.

New projects are a good way to take your mind off of your old ways, the old days when the International Space Station required attention or that shiny-new Space Colony 1 was being towed into place or you could hardly pull yourself from watching it crawl away from SpaceDock.

With Francine and Roy coming over to spend some time, he has dusted off a 3’ cylinder that has been sitting in his hall closet, taking it over to the dining room table, removing the coiled parchment inside. It is an architectural rendering of house, three bedrooms, two baths poised on a west-facing slope about 200 yards from the main house.

As he remembers, he and Roy had been in serious discussions over the project that would be Crippen’s home away from the space program.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 150


page 142

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 135

Leave a comment

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.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 135


page 127

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 134

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 134

…after Francine self-parks her new bulletproof baby from Buckaroo Bob, they go up to the 20th floor where Braden King’s room is; Pediatric CCU

“Uncle Roy told us you that you drive a Corvette?” Deke McKinney is confused about Francine picking them up in an eight-seat APV (armored personal vehicle).

Buckaroo Bob Bumfort Sr.

“Two seats, three people, one license and stranger danger, all add up to me using this APV. That’s why it took me so long to pick you up. I had to park the ‘Vette, go to my GMC dealership and test drive something more sensible and safe.”

“Buckaroo Bob Bumfort?” Gus has seen his car commercials way too many times.

“‘Where they will lasso you a great deal every time’, yeah that’s my dealer.”

“Can we visit Braden in the hospital Miss Bouchette?” Deke asks.

“Please call me Francine {not Aunt Francine} and it is getting pretty late, visiting hours are over.”

“You must have connections there,” he insists.

“Okay, but only if he is awake,” she cannot resist.

Aunt Francine caves in like a new-favorite-non-relative-relative should. So after she self-parks her bulletproof baby from Buckaroo Bob, they go up to the 20th floor where Braden King’s room is; Pediatric CCU.

Once they see that he is alright, albeit hooked up to every medical device known to man, Deke jokes, “Don’t they have an old folk’s floor in this place?”

“Come here you wisecracking whippersnappers. I have been worried sick about you two…  I mean you too Miss Francine!”

“You mean worried about “everything in the Universe” Braden and that’s what put you in the hospital,” Francine goes over and kisses him on his forehead.

“I am so proud of you guys… and you too Francine.”

“And how about our Uncle Roy? You should have seen him fly his chopper right on top of the bad guys, then the Coast Guard guys came up and rounded ‘em up like a bunch of stray calves!” Gus gushes.

“Not before you went and took off. They had guns you know,” Braden has been piecing together events by conventional means.

The Simpsons Policeman GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY“How is the food up here?” Francine wants the boys to settle down before they get home; amped-up on Mountain Dew, M&Ms, chips… and a day full of shoot ’em up hijinks.

“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 and some takeout from BBQ Heaven.” Braden has many reasons to be grateful.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 134


page 126

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 99

Leave a comment

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.”


THE RETURN TRIP

the-old-country-001

Episode 99


page 95

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 98

Leave a comment

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


page 93

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #331

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #331

…A double barrel dose of help: Kenty Johnson has money saved up and Kenty Jr. has the fresh blood of knowledge…

double-barrel-001

A.O. is taking his new lease on life in, in the spirit in which it is presented. Even as he watches familiar landmarks pass by as they ease up to his Virginia Street address. He is thinking about the future.

Maggie is waiting on the front steps of their house. What a welcome sight. There too are daughters Alpha, Laura and Zillah and their families. Maggie is seated in a wheelchair, one and all waving a hearty ‘welcome home’.

“Thank you, gracious Lord,” he proclaims tearfully.

But that isn’t all. There are other familiar faces.

“What’s Kenty Johnson doin’ here?”  Dr. J. Kenty Johnson is with his son, himself a newly minted doctor.

double-barrel2

“I needed a reliable source of information about your situation and Kenty came to mind. He filled in the particulars of your life, practice and such. AND he mentioned that his son was looking to make a difference in the Tallahassee community. And did we say that he fresh from medical double-barrelschool? A double barrel dose of help: Kenty has money saved up and Kenty Jr. has the fresh blood of knowledge.” Carolyn Hanes has placed a neat, pretty bow on a once dire circumstance.

One month ago, Alpha Campbell would have been bloated full of irrational pride, having suffered in silence for the better part of a decade. He was determined to find a way out of their money struggles and did not need outside help.

We all know what path that led him down.

“Well boys, don’t you think it is time we roll up our sleeves?”

Upon hearing Dr. Alpha O. Campbell utter that inclusive statement, his nurses who were hiding in LBMH for fear of their lives, come sprinting out the front door.

horizontal-line5

LBMHSomehow, Laura Bell Memorial Hospital looked whiter than normal that day… From down the street, a car streaks to the emergency side entrance, a man screams out, “My wife’s water just broke! Please help!”

“Scrub up, you Johnsons; we have a baby to deliver… Edwina will get you gowns and get her to the second floor…”

… The LBMH wing for whites.

(The End of the Beginning)


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #331


page 311 (end Ch. 19)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #302

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #302

… “Do you think A.O. could take a look at my foot tonight? It’s been hurtin’ somethin’ fierce,” asks the house guest of Maggie Lou…

whats-going-on-001

“Do you want another cup of tea, Edwina?” Maggie Lou Campbell is entertaining a friend from Frenchtown. She enjoys showing off her home. 224 Virginia Street is two stories are filled with finest housekeeperthings that money can buy and kept to immaculate standards by a live-in housekeeper, who supervises the cook and the gardener/chauffeur.

“Yessum, please, Maggie. These little sandwiches is so good.” Edwina Stevens enjoys being entertained, especially being waited on by a real housekeeper, not to mention the chauffeur driven Cadillac that brought her for a visit. “Is that husband of yours workin’ late again?”

Maggie hesitates momentarily. She is beginning to suspect that her dear husband is involved in something suspicious. She has stopped going next door, as well as asking him about the details of his patients. He is paying the bills after all. “Oh yes, yes, Edwina, the man just ain’t slowin’ down.”

“Do you think he could take a look at my foot tonight? It’s been hurtin’ somethin’ fierce.”

“He’s very busy right now, told me he’d be really late, but check in with Lilly. I’m sure she can work you in tomorrow.”

“I believe I will do just that. I got to be scootin’.”

cadillac-1952-001“I’ll have Curtis bring the Cadillac over to the clinic.” The two old friends exchange a warm hug. “I hope that Alpha can fix that foot, I hate to see you limpin’ like that.”

“I”m kinda used to this cane, here… good for scaring’ away the bad ones.” She demonstrates a good whack about an imaginary head on her way out the front door and onto the well-worn path to the LBMH next door. It is past twilight by now and she uses the cane like a blind person. She aims herself toward the lighted front entrance, but does not reach her goal. Her elevated staff is in the wrong position to keep her already ailing foot from wrenching on a loose rock. She goes down at once, howling from the extra pain.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #302


page 284

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #287

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #287

…Sara Fenwick wonders if there is any romance between that clever private eye and the dashing flyer…

sketches by Doug Widley

sketches by Doug Widley

Now, she has been replaced by Ace Bannion, for God’s sake. What a corny name! Even makes the name Fanny sound good. The only problem is that Ace lives on and Fanny is finished, at least in the pages of The Hawaiian Spy.

“Lyn?”

“Yes, hon.”

“You have been with Ford (Ace) so much lately, we never have time to talk, you know, the way we used to. And you are hardly ever at home. I’m starting to feel like a fifth wheel.”

Constance Caraway

Constance Caraway

Lyn has to measure her words carefully. Sara was returned to Earth not completely intact, missing this and that, with one exception. Her phenomenal sensitivity, the kind that knows when people need encouragement, has been somehow magnified, turning into hypersensitivity. Gone are the days when you could joke with Sara, say just about anything to her and move on. She was sweet that way.

But not anymore.

  Little things become huge, mostly because she does not understand the things she used to. And now she thinks she understands something about Lyn and Bob Ford. They have been working on that flying disk story ever since New Mexico. Whatever happens in their quest to uncover strange truths makes its way to Lyn’s typewriter. She wonders if there is any romance between the clever private eye and the dashing flyer. She has stopped reading for fear of just that.

Normally, Lyn would have shot back, ‘What’s the matter, Sare, you jealous?’ Not this time. “Robert is as obsessed with this spaceman thing as I am, and I’m the one writing the book!”

Ace Bannion sketch2-001

sketch by Steve Rude

Image result for flying disc“I’ve known you long enough to know that you like to work alone. Suddenly, Bob, oh — I mean, Robert, is with you as much as humanly possible. I don’t understand how he keeps his business going.”

          “He’s hired a friend to make his cross country trips, that’s why we bought a small plane together.”

          “You what?” Sara is stunned. She shouldn’t be.

          “I told you that I have been flying more, did you think I meant flapping my arms real hard?” Lyn mocks a bird in flight, like it was chased by a bigger, hungry bird.

          “That’s not funny! You know how I forget things!” She feels like the half-person everybody thinks she is and is mourning it. “I wish things would go back the way they used to be. I wish I could feel whole again.”

          “Some-one or some-thing did something to you during those six years and I intend to find out exactly what it was and how to correct it.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #287


page 269

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #280

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #280

…Ford shrugs, Lyn is near tears, and before they can say boo, the word Clipper snaps Jane Doe out of her persistent daze…

Twiilight in a Daze by emedina13.deviantart.com

“Excuse my oversight, folks, but this case has me baffled. I used to think my name was Ben Wright, now I’m not sure.” He instructs the guards, “Tell the attendants to bring the patient.”

Female headshot-001One minute later a gaunt figure, with flat drab hair and an even more drab expression, flanked by two burly women/aides, come into the room. Bob Ford stares first at the mystery woman, then at Lyn for signs of recognition from either side. There is none. It appears he has dragged Carolyn Hanes across the arrow-downcountry for nothing.

“Do either of you recognize this woman? Could she have been a passenger aboard the Pacific Clipper, the one you reported missing?”

Ford shrugs, Lyn is near tears, and before they can say boo, the word Clipper snaps Jane Doe out of her persistent daze.“When are we leaving Captain Ford?” She says out of the blue. “Did you have a good time with that Lady, lady?” The second question is directed at Lyn, who walks up to the woman to take a closer look into her eyes. The essence of the woman she thought lost, has moved into her pupils and iris.

“Sara!” Lyn is moved, but can only move back to her seat, fearing the fragile figure in front of her.

“Did you take a picture of her when you found her?” Ford still is not convinced this is one and the same. Sara Fenwick would be 56 years old now. This woman is not.

Psychiatrist Wright opens his file, producing a photograph taken the morning after they found her standing like a statue, where she had no business being. The same blue dress, jacket cut low enough for a pretty good look at her ample breasts.

“Well, I’ll be damned, that’s her!” He points to the photo, but still cannot connect the two.

“Do you know how many morons stepped on my feet, Lyn? I felt like a rag doll, so I decided to go for a walk. Sorry I didn’t tell you where I went, but let’s go to bed. We have a big day in front of us.”

All in the room are stunned. It seems that Wright wasn’t wrong after all.

“There has been no stream of consciousness for the two weeks we’ve had her. It seems you have found the “on” switch.”

Omar the Tentmaker 1929 Thomas FRIEDENSEN

Omar the tent-maker
1929
Thomas FRIEDENSEN

“Get me out of these horrid clothes. Who designed them, Omar the Tent Maker?”

arrow-up “It is she, Doctor Wright! Only Sara would invoke the name of Omar. He’s not a tent maker, but being a seamstress and designer, she hates his designs, says they make women look thirty pounds heavier than they really are.”

“Who is Babe Ruth?” Sergeant Smith poses for further verification, albeit to trick German spies.

“A candy bar?” That is her answer.

“Ah ha! She’s not who she pretends to be.”

“This isn’t the war, Vince and what would a dressmaker know about baseball? Now let’s be serious.”

“I’m hungry, what’s for breakfast?”

“We haven’t been able to get her to eat solid food! Give her whatever she wants.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Dazed Dandelions by METAL WALL ART LLC

Episode #280


page 261

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #272

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #272

…That’s not all he wants to rub,” she pats her bottom, “you let ‘em do it once and they think they can do it all the time…

Typewriter-001

We get letters“We’re getting a hundred letters a week, Lyn. The test audience wants to know why Constance Caraway is working without a partner. What about a dashing tall, dark and handsome type, you know the FBI or even better, the CIA that would give it an international flavor.”

Stanley Rogers – Editor

“Christ almighty, Stanley. The day Constance teams up with some damned government freak will be a cold day in hell.” Carolyn Hanes has had it with editors, not that Stanley Rogers is a bad one, but he one of the new breed editors who are what she considers as, overly concerned and influenced by the readers. “The last time I listened to you, and it may have been the last time I do, you talked me… I mean her, into marrying that sleazy politician.”

“You didn’t have to make him sleazy,” the editor reminds her.

“If it walks like a politician, somewhat upright, with two legs and a male brain, he has to be sleazy.”

“Fine, but did you have to have him sleeping with everything wearing a skirt?”

“Everything is right,” Lyn gloats. “Remember, you don’t have to be a lady to wear a skirt.” Stanley blushes. “What about you, Stan? I can lend you one of mine.”

“All right, enough of this silly talk. What are you doing tonight? Old man Harper wants to rub elbows with his star writer.”

That’s not all he wants to rub,” she pats her bottom. “You let ‘em do it once and they think they can do it all the time.

Fanny-001  “He is the publisher and that was three books ago – before he found out about your ‘friend’.”

Sara/Fanny.

 There isn’t a day that goes by without some memory of her or the character she inspired. The true essences of fictional Fanny and so-real Sara have always been interchangeable, to the point that Lyn would mentally confuse the dressmaking housemate with the picture taking investigative partner. Sara would bristle when she was called Fanny. Likewise, Sara’s name used to occasionally appear in the same paragraph with Constance Caraway. That is what editors are for.

“I’m sorry, Lyn, I keep forgetting she’s gone.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

The Hawaiian Spy-001

Episode #272


page 253