THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 181

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 181

…“Listen to you! There IS a devious bone in that good-old-boy body…”

“Well it can’t be another Texan and it can’t be another space guy, so why not a rifle-toting, rock’em-sock’em reformer from America’s Dairyland.” Brain gears are churning away. “And we can sneak it in at the end of the Space Colony tribute.”

“Morbidly, you may be on to something, tying this whole deal in with the McKinneys, but, and I underline but, I don’t think it should distract from the solemnity of the memorial service.”

His wife is buying into the notion. That low, murky, gray cloud that has shadowed Roy the past four months {always a step behind like a political version of an undertaker} is starting to clear up, replaced by the blue-hue of tranquility.

With calm comes clarity, “We will wait until the scheduled news conference that afternoon. The emotional impact will be different from the memorial, I won’t even deviate from the respectful reminiscing I have been working on, but sliding the announcement in at the end will negate any negative reaction to Charlotte.”

“Listen to you! There IS a devious bone in that good-old-boy body,” Francine is impressed.

“The time is right for a female Vice-President and I believe you prefer my choice to that Georgia peach of a Congresswoman… the one whose husband just died of a brain tumor… and she has called me twice to express her interest?”

Francine is quite aware of Roy Crippen’s baser appeal. He is a tabloid rock star, a media darling, and the hottest thing presidential since JFK {after an extreme makeover and an injection of swagger}. But just like Kennedy he is more than a pretty face; men with a hypnotic power of persuasion and the adept skill to lead the nation down the road of turbulent uncertainty.

Another welcome asset in his corner is with his support team’s ability to keep a secret. In a society where security and info leaks are an art form, thanks to the instantaneous news cycle and continuously connected individuals throughout the world, in those somber days leading up to the posthumous honoring of Celeste and Sampson McKinney… not a single peep, hint or drip about candidate-elect Charlotte Walker.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 181


page 216

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

…any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel…

“The country would not stand for news of the McKinney deaths… they adore that couple,” President Sanchez makes a politically generic statement.

“This should have nothing to do with Time Magazine Online “Most Influential People” issue and everything to do with putting reprobate rulers in their place.” Roy moves to move the President of the United States of America into action. The man is stuck on how this latest development makes his administration look, instead of recognizing the threat to the welfare of the planet itself.

“Chances are Pete,” using his first name for effect, “that armchair diplomacy or economic sanctions will not work here.”

Sanchez should ask himself why, in retrospect, that the very same type of jealous admiration exhibited by Korea, were one and the same as his quest for the United States Senate, lo those many years ago. As a younger, more idealistic politician, Sanchez had practiced a suspicious mudslinging campaign against the incumbent Senator, in the primary election that year. And though Sanchez did not get the nomination and the other party ultimately won the general election, it ruined the man’s reputation unnecessarily.

It is a lesson for those who are lame ducks or out of favor; there may be someone or some country lurking, ready to ruin his legacy or bring down the entire nation he is ultimately responsible for.

“I guess we need to flex our muscles.”

“And forget about that gratuitous speech you are about to deliver,” Roy whispers under his breath. “And you know that we at NASA and SAC will be vigilant, Sir.”

— No sooner than the phone goes dead, he wonders if the President meant yet another dreaded commodity embargo or economic isolation; neither of which work against those determined to make, in this case, outer space mischief.

Francine is privy to one side of the conversation, but any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel. She is aware that stakes of the game have changed and she will have a front row seat to it all.

It is getting late at Lovell and making the trip home to Houston less desirable than usual, but in these times of fear and doubt, where better to spend the night but at King Ranch, “I’ll give Braden a heads up about an incoming Canadian helicopter with a Russian sounding name (Sikorsky) and two tired NASA people aboard,” she states.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 149


page 183

Contents TRT