THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

…The Air Jamaica aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport, not being a very long flight, they barely get above 20,000 feet

20000 ft by Photojournalist Rdiger Nehmzow

Old Francine

— “Do you possibly have an open seat somewhere — you know what I mean?” she points and whispers to a flight attendant to escape her sweaty human sandwich. “What is the holdup Miss?”

Old Francine would have thrown an absolute fit and shouted her way off the plane, accomplishing absolutely nothing except drawing undue attention to her disrespectful derrière.

New Francine

“We are under a security alert, something going on to the west, sort of like a red light in the sky.” A loaded passenger plane sitting on the taxiway for two hours is borderline cruel and unusual. “We just had a single window seat, 3A open up, why don’t we move you up?”

New Francine asks for the attendant’s name, “I will be writing a letter praising your service to Air Jamaica, thank you.”

Just after staking her claim at the front of the jet, the calming voice of the Captain fills the cabin, “Good afternoon passengers of Air Jamaica Flight 217 nonstop to Related imageHouston Texas. We will be taking off shortly and we thank you for your patience. The stewardesses will be handing out complimentary beverages.”

“If he weren’t the oldest pilot in the fleet, I would be offended.”

“At least he didn’t call you an airplane waitress…I’ll have a vodka rocks please,” Francine relates her similar story of having been introduced, early in her career, in a pre-sweeps station promo, as anchor-girl Francine Bushel.

The jet aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport. It is not a very long flight and they barely get above 20,000 feet, but the view from her window is nonstop fantastic, with Cuba fading into background of the azure Gulf-blue waters and the familiar soil and foliage of the Gulf Coast states rising to the north.

Like tiny islands, oil drinking platforms dot the water below, but one in particular seems to be the hub of activity. She reaches down to her carry-on to retrieve her trusty pair of field glasses, every good reporter has one, and gets a 20x power view of the action. She pulls back, rubs her eyes to make sure she isn’t seeing things, the one thing being the familiar blue & white paint scheme of Roy’s helicopter; blades idling, atop the one acre pedestal. There are a good thirty-odd people mulling about, many of whom belong to that huge Coast Guard cutter lashed to the side.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 129


page 159

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

…It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both helicopters; fire and oil are a dangerous mix…

Oil rig fire distortion by Adam Miller

The addition of an incoming helicopter tips the balance of power. Is it Rompin’ Roy the square shooter from San Antonio.?

It turns out that the bad guys saw that Coast Guard boat bounding through the waves a few miles north. The men who pour out the slide-by doors don’t look anything like polished military men, perhaps the pilots were but not these guys. There are two blindfolded individuals being prodded to the leeward column ladder, likely for a quick transfer. But by the time the awkward exchange can take place, the Monsoon steams onto the scene, all the while firing warning shots and smoke capsules at the sea surrounding the rig.

All that unexpected action a few hundred feet below causes the scampering swarm to reverse their direction back to the helicopter. They may have had what they thought was solid plan, but they were just running out of time. So back on the helicopter they go, piling in in a big-time hurry, except that one of their detainees bolts, running as fast as he can for the derrick and finding good cover there among the pile of eight inch pipes. That bolting delays the whole process.

Roy Crippen has seen enough to know that it is Gus McKinney who broke free and it is Deke about to be spirited away. He drops his chopper down to about thirty feet above the Russian built military machine, blocking their exit. It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both machines; fire and oil are a dangerous mix.

By that time, fifteen Coast Guard infantry have gained the deck and bring the situation into reasonable control. With guns down and arms held high the entire force of kidnappers is laid low.

Slippery Gus storms out to hug his brother who claims, “You kept us on the ground Gus, way to go!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Disney’s BOLT

Episode 127


page 157

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 121

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 121

…“We’ve got a big problem Roy!” Braden King is on the phone with an update, “And to top off a perfectly wonderful day, Deke and Gus never made it to the bus that takes them home to King Ranch.”

Image result for a problem artwork

Houston, We have a Problem by Dadara

Roy’s text stream reads a continuous, “HOUSTON UNDER ATTACK!!!!!!

The details of which are just coming in:

***   Samiq Gaad {alias Gurkhas Shah Dhangotma} freed before being transferred to Washington D.C. — Two Mil Mi-38 Hind Russian Attack Helicopters headed south out of Houston — Possibly on way to Central or South America ***

***   Aldona Afridi critically wounded on a flight to Galveston from Turkey — Shooter apprehended by US Marshall aboard ***

 “We’ve got a big problem Roy!” Braden King is on the phone. “An hour ago 2 helicopters and a small army attacked the motorcade that was transporting Samiq Gaad to the CIA office in Dallas. They were able to free Gaad and take off to God knows where.”

“Who is Samiq Gaad?”

“He is the imposter you captured back at Gantry #2, you know hero stuff? You knew him as Gurkhas Dhangotma.”

“At least they got that straightened out.”

“On top of that, your friend Aldona Afridi was ambushed in the washroom on a Turkish Airlines Airbus A2100 in the middle of the Atlantic last night. The latest news about that is sketchy, but he was on his way for an interview at Lovell SC and he is still alive.”

“I asked him to come to LVC… I didn’t think he would get security clearance so quickly,” Roy is starting to feel guilty about his absence.

“And to top off a perfectly wonderful day, Deke and Gus never made it to the bus that takes them home to King Ranch.”

“I am on my way back to Houston,” he tells Braden.

After a few minutes of texting back and forth with the NSA, some of which is sorting the known facts from the suppositions, Roy makes his best judgment call.

“I heard your end of the conversation, just go,” Francine can tell that their fairy tale has come to a screeching halt.

“Are you alright with staying here? I do not want you in the line fire again.”

“I’m a big girl, I’ll be alright here,” she grabs his chin to get his attention. “You better give me updates when you can. I am going to book a commercial flight back to my apartment in Houston, but you can bet that I’ll be working the story on my end and see if I can track down some leads.”

“I will keep you in the loop Francine,” he gives her a huge reassuring kiss. “Just remember, I have that job for you when get back, so be ready to rock!”


 THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 121


page 149

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

…And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone…

Image result for lawrence welk bubbles

 

Today’s Episode brought to you by Lawrence Welk

— When sleep finally comes to her and him, it is deep and long.

In the dim light of day, Roy untangles an arm that has been wrapped around Francine like a twist tie and looks for his PDA to see if he had set the alarm. His device reads 9A which opposes the noon-like high blue sky. He chooses to trust the earlier time, so no need to rush cuddling time.

Tick-tock-tick-tock and ten o’clock causes him to stir. His restless movement alerts his bed-buddy, who prevents his escape by employing the old kiss-tummy-to-neck trick. It works.

“And where do you think you’re going mister?”

The acid test for beauty is the morning wake-up. Without makeup, jewelry and clothes or shower, contacts and hair gel, is the way God intended adult men & women to see each other. Francine is a solid A Image result for grade athrough Roy’s eyes and Roy rates an A-, because he sleeps like he is weightless {all over the place}, but that is why the king-sized bed was invented.

“We are burning daylight and we don’t want people to get the wrong impression.”

“We are on vacation, the rest of the world can be damned,” she brags, playfully running her fingers through the hair on his chest, yes chest. “How is it you are so tan?”

“I have a small boat on the Gulf; go out after Red Snapper and Groper on Saturdays.”

“Two aircraft and now a boat that I suspect is not a skiff. What else don’t I know about your life?”

“I play http://www.ExpertScrabble.com with Braden and I enjoy long walks in the desert.”

“And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone.”

“I also play tennis and golf and love God.”

“I adore tennis have taken a couple of golf lessons and a 38 footer stocked with bait ‘n beer is my idea of a great weekend.”

“That is God, tennis, and beer ‘n bait in that order. I drive up to Lakewood Church in Houston when I’m in Texas.”

“I’ve been there back in the Osteen days, but with my weekend schedule I have trouble squeezing in time for God.”

“And when you’ve been up in space, it is hard to think about anything else but
God.”

The more she learns about Roy Crippen the more she is impressed. She doubts that there is a more well-rounded man in the United States of America, and she is trapped on this deserted desert island with that very man—well not so deserted or arid.

 


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Image result for deserted island artwork

Deserted Island by Jacek Yerka

Episode 115


page 142

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 109

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 109

“Did  your mother give her blessing?”

“No, she was wondering if I kidnapped you...

Related image

The Abduction Of Helen Wife – King Menelaus of Sparta by Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798)

whirlybirdIf there was any doubt about she was about to do, they vanish when he escorts her up the three stairs into the 2015 whirlybird, his strong yet tender handling of her hand has that reassuring feeling.

The inside of the general aviation chopper is very well appointed, more akin to a Fortune 500 corporate bird than puddle jumper. “You travel well sir.”

“When you see my apartment, it will go a long way to explain this helicopter…and that little baby over there,” he points to his Learjet in the corner. “The jet is waiting for new tires.”

“There is more to Roy Crippen than meets the eye. So how many other girls have flown in this machine?”

“I don’t know about the previous owner, a pharmaceutical company I believe, but you are the only real female friend I’ve allowed to ride along.”

“The only real female? I don’t see a mannequin around anywhere, like the dummies put in the passenger seats of their car to ride in the commuter lane, freaky.”

“My Mother is a female and I fly her into Wesley Wood Geriatric in Atlanta for her check-ups. And by the by, I had to tell her where I was going and with who. She wanted to know how I met you, until I mentioned your name and she about fainted.”

“Did she give her blessing?”

“No she was wondering if I kidnapped you. Of course when I told her about a three week Jamaican holiday, she got the hint.”sticky-note-001

What had started as a seven day getaway has ballooned to three week hiatus. —

— After strapping themselves in and being pulled out onto the helipad, the pilot makes one final check of the gauges.

“Don’t forget to check the four-axis autopilot circuit,” Francine comments.

 Now that is something you don’t hear a television anchor say every day. “How about the Mode C transponder?”

Related image

“No, I believe when you squawk the tower it should reset itself.”

“How do you know these things Missy,” he has to ask?

“I am taking flying lessons out at Sugarland/Hull Airport.”

“I’ve been out there on Rt. 59. Lots of airspace,” he confirms.

Tune in tomorrowStay tuned-001


THE RETURN TRIP

pre-flight

Episode 109


page 134

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108

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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

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Episode 108


page 133

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 106

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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.

“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 131 (end ch. 5)

 

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