THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 119

Leave a comment

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 make a Pope angry.”…

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 113

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 118

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 118

…Roger Rodrigues caters to picture taking, thrill seeking, taking the road less traveled, all for the benefit of Jamaican tourists…

The Road Less Traveled by Helen Dieter

 “Very good Roger. We haven’t decided exactly when & where, but we are golfers, love to hike, , and I would love to see a cricket match… Roy?”

“I’m with her.”

“Smart Mon! I can take you wherever the lady wants to go. I just need to know the day before.” Roger is markedly more intelligent and organized than the stereotypical islander. “There are also some points of interest we can work into all the other things you mentioned.”

“Can we hire you by the day, for the duration of our stay?”

He thinks it over. “400 $J or 50 $A cash in advance.”

“I thought American dollars were illegal?”

Roger looks at Jimmy and winks, “Not for everyone… give me a Red Stripe Jimmy, eet is hot enough to chase a gecko to the shade.”

Over several more Jamaican brews the visitors learn more of what this island has to offer, the good and the bad.

On the must-do/positive sides are:

  • Botanical Gardens
  • Dunn’s River Falls
  • Fern Gully RoadRelated image
  • Amateur Cricket
  • All Products Jamaican Ceramics
  • No Firearms

 On the avoid/negativity side:

  • Aggressive Native Marketing
  • Not-so-clean Residential Areas
  • Ganga Street Sales
  • Cocaine et al Drug Trafficking
  • Corrupt Police

“You’ve got to learn the word “NO” and at least pretend like you mean it. Then they may leave you alone.” It is Roger’s self-appointed duty to make sure tourists get the most from their stay.

And even though day one is spent sampling local libations, this affable taxi owner is a former local policeman who could not afford to raise four children on the measly wages. Instead he has chosen to carve out a niche, catering to picture taking, thrill seeking, taking the road less traveled, all for the benefit of Jamaican tourists.Chevy Malibu

The view from his 60 year old {well-kept} Chevrolet Chevelle SS is quite personal and real, something that a bus {not Speedy’s} filled with thirty other perfect strangers fails to deliver. You can ask him dumb questions about the cute Jamaican children or the continuing civil unrest, and he will give you a honest, clear and authoritative answer. The sugar coating is in a canvas bag, stored underneath his spare tire.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 118


page 112

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 117

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 117

…Roy takes a sip of his drink, staring at it like the artichoke bit him in the nose, “Now that is an interesting tasting Bloody Mary……rum?”…

The best place to find out about a new town is to talk with the bartender.

They do go downstairs after changing out their $USs for $Jamaican. The 1 to 6 ratio means Francine’s purse will be toting their stack,

“This is like Monopoly money, hand over 50 $J for a drink, that is an arm & a leg!?”

“Please ignore Dr. Roy, he specializes in amputations.”

“Yes, I would like a Bloody Mary with an artichoke and a saw,” Roy is playing.

“Make that two, good man….” she supposes a name with a face, “Hold the artichoke for mine.”

“Jimmy, eet’s JimmyD,” is the Oasis Bar’s fixture bartender… among other things at the SILVER SEAS RESORT & HOTEL. At any given time you can find him doing just about anything.

“Okay JimmyD, didn’t we see you at the front desk when we checked in?” they had arrived frazzled and unaware of new appearances.

“2 towsand sorries 4 da rooms bad, maid queet on spot. Red eye peeple catch us weeth pants down.”

Roy takes a sip of his drink, staring at it like the artichoke bit him in the
nose, “Now that is an interesting tasting Bloody Mary… rum?

“Yes we uze Ovaproof een everything, dunt be dreenking 2 miny.”

“Say, we did not book a tour, so we will need some help getting around the island, any suggestions?”

“Roger!” he gestures at a husky man at the other end of the bar to come over. “He eez da best driva on dee island; Roger da Dodger, who drives a Chevy and friend to da lodger.”

“That is quite a tagline Roger,” a hand is extended. “I am Roy and this is Francine,” who shakes the new character’s hand as well.

“It is nice to meet you,” he responds with a West Indies accent, but it is clear he has been educated elsewhere. “Here is my card:”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 117


page 111

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 116

Leave a comment

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


page 110

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 114

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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 110

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 110

…“Let’s go!” She flashes her Miss Universe runner-up smile, gently nudging his throttle hand forward; the RPMs of the turboshaft engines match the beating of her heart, the 44 foot rotors, her spirit…

“This is KR 2022 requesting S-SE clearance for Jamaica.”

“You can liftoff after that AAL Jumbo heads out to Europe.”

Straight up, more or less, is less disruptive that conventional aviation.

“Any weather out there?”

“There is a Pacific Low wobbling over the Yucatan, but you are out ahead of it.” The controller salutes to the air, “There goes a real American Hero.”

Roy looks at his passenger, straight in the eye, “Let’s go!” She flashes her Miss Universe runner-up smile, gently nudging his throttle hand forward. The RPMs of the turboshaft engines match the beating of her heart, the 44 foot rotors, her spirit.

Destination: Montego Bay, Jamaica—

Houston sunrise

—Departing: Houston, Texas — The nimble aircraft is off the ground, ready to leave Houstonian airspace behind, but not before one last glimpse of what they are leaving behind.

Roy looks out to his left, across the early morning expanses of the Gulf of the Americas and the dimming lights of the Florida Panhandle. It is at Lovell Space Center that the bizarre story of Gurkhas Dhangotma, aka unknown is unfolding, with its veiled twists and unfinished suspense. No, he was not onsite himself to drill the intruder, but he knows he would only get in the way of fact-finding interrogators. By the time NASA security, the CIA, the FBI, and NSA get through with him, his government appointed lawyer may recommend suicide as a more desirable option… And then there is the New Mayflower.

For Francine, the sun’s fleeting reflection on Houston’s glass canyons provides a backdrop for the new life she would have to make for herself from this day forward. A cloudy past, littered with lofty ambition and vapid relationships, her career in television up in the air and her mock engagement to a management stiff mercifully dashed… and then there are her near-term prospects.


 THE RETURN TRIP

Related image

She’s Looking Forward by Steffanie Lorig

Episode 110


page 104

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108

…there is nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between Houston and Montego Bay – rest stops and dry land are few

montego-bay-port-jeffrey-samuels

Montego Bay Port by Jeffrey Samuels

— True to his word and happy to do so, Roy and his limo cruise into Hobby (Airport), with one worn-out Samsonite suitcase and a pocket full of American cash.

Tucked away in an obscure corner hanger, at the far end of the airport’s least used taxiway, sits Roy’s expensive toy: a vintage Sikorsky S-76D.

And never mind that 30 year old Learjet sitting next to it. He does not own an automobile, too slow.

Francine pulls up to the open hanger door in a Cooper Mini Taxi whose tail is dragging from the weight of her bags. Roy is busy talking to his hanger’s mechanic about the critical pre-flight inspection. With nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between them and Montego Bay, rest stops and dry land are few. And with Cuba still stuck in the political Cold War, it is not an alternate landing spot.

It is a brisk late January, where 50 above zero winds do chill those with Southern roots. Not the sort of weather for wide-brimmed plantation hats or a sundress, which is exactly what Francine is wearing. She fights to keep the mid-calf hem below her waist.ouch-001

Roy catches a glimpse, peaking from under an engine, dropping an extra-large crescent wrench on his foot.

“Come in and get out that darn wind,” he insists while hobbling on one good foot. “I see that you dressed for the destination.”

“86 degrees with a chance of clouds, yep. The Chief Meteorologist at Channel 13 gave me my farewell forecast, the 14-day outlook, is that far enough out?”

“We’ll see. If Braden and the Colony-Incident Audit come up with something on Korea and Talibanistan, I may have to bail early,” he takes a shop rag to his hands, handing the wrench to the hanger mechanic. “You look fantastic… and me in a pair of coveralls.”

“I love a man who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty,” she may be speaking euphemistically about ex- fiancée (Larry).mr-silly-001

“Didn’t you bring any luggage; a month is a long time you know.”

Silly, silly unsuspecting man. Francine’s taxi backs up to the hanger door. “Where is the skycap?”

“This thing usually seats 12, but I took out seats and replaced them with fuel reserves that triple its range, so I will need to turn away any other passengers…and you will need to sit in the copilot’s seat.”

“Isn’t that secretary of yours coming along?” It would not be farfetched for that platinum blankety-blank to implicate herself.

“Are you kidding? I may be impulsive, but stupid I am not.”


 THE RETURN TRIP

roys-helicopter-001

Episode 108


page 102

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 106

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 106

…“Roy???” Braden wonders if his friend has suffered brain damage…

Image result for mind blown gif

“All in all, I think this bash has been a chart-topping smash!” Braden King has bid adieu to all but two of the birthday partygoers, Francine and Roy, who seem to be chart-toppers-001reluctant to part company.

“A great day for those boys,” Francine has been welcomed like family. “And there are some interesting people working for NASA, well except for Roy’s secretary.”

“It is nice of you to stay on Francine. Your support and friendship is a valuable public relations coup for the space program.” Personal feelings aside, Roy cannot help but speak the truth as he sees it.

She has utterly blown off any other plans, or anyone linked to them.

Peachy“Copy that!” Braden echoes his appreciation. “Bring that bottle over here bartender,” He points to the bottle of peach schnapps and pours three shot glasses. “Let’s raise a glass to the fine people connected with Space Colony 1. Here’s to Space Colony II!”

“To Space Colony II and Sampson & Celeste McKinney,” Roy increases the tote; three small glasses of nectar clank together, by three peachy people.

The trio sits around the circular island table, dazed yet unable to wrap a bow around this evening.

“I don’t know what is, but right now I feel like getting away for a while, you know like get my butt out of this island of titanium and technology and get it down to one of the last unspoiled islands in the Caribbean.”

“What???? Roy Crippen, married to space is considering a vacation to Puerto Rico, no way?” King knows Roy’s hesitance about the 51st State. Conversely he is serious about the man’s devotion to the Space Colony project, ever since it was on the kma-kiss-my-001drawing board.

“Yeah, what the hell, New Mayflower has no need of my doting and the “cold” weather this winter is getting to me AND to top it all off, the United States Congress is on recess; they can kiss my ass.”

“What on Earth will we do, without Mother Hen looking over our shoulders, beating a path back and forth from Galveston and Oskaloosa? Please do us a favor.” Braden cannot help himself.

Francine can identify with Roy, treating vacation and sick days like stepchildren, all the while keeping her puss in front of the camera lest a single Sweeps Period goes by without her help, including February’s. “Were you planning to leave before the end of the week?”

“I was thinking Sunday; need to tie up some loose ends, why do you knock-me-down-with-a-featherask?” He is curious.

“Well I get a discount through the station for United Airlines and Hilton Worldwide and if you don’t mind a tag-a-long…” Knock him over with a feather. “I hope I’m not overstepping, but I happen to adore Jamaica and I am overdue for a getaway.”

“I don’t fly commercial and don’t like big Hotels either.” Is he blowing her off? Is he blowing a chance at love a chance of a lifetime?brain-damage

“Roy???” Braden wonders if his friend has suffered brain damage.

‘I gave it a shot,’ Francine thinks privately, having stuck her neck is out to its vulnerable limit.

“What do you think about us taking my helicopter instead? It’s quicker and I have open reservations at a little spot called the Silver Seas in Ocho Rios.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Image result for silver seas hotel jamaica

Silver Seas Hotel

Episode 106


 page 100 (end ch. 5)