The Sailor's Stories

1040 Chapter Forty – The Sailor’s Awakening.

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Ever seen those nature shows on TV? You know the ones…, African plains, or Indian jungles, the ones with all the big cats. Maybe you saw them on the Discovery Channel, or Animal Planet it doesn’t matter really, they’re all pretty much the same in the end. Out of all the scenes in those shows though…, my favourites would have to be the ones where the momma rips apart anything that gets too close to her babies? I love those, because they really show you the reality of just how small and insignificant you are sometimes. When all’s said and done, it’s a pretty awesome sight to say the least…, predatory and primal…, speaking to the age old instincts, of parental protection, that lay within all of us.

In all honesty though, on that Saturday morning, I learned pretty quickly that that momma lion or tiger or whatever…, has absolutely nothing, on a scared Texan daddy, when one of his kids is in trouble. When I pulled the phone from my jacket pocket, I saw who it was, the caller ID told me that much. But in the end, it did little to dissuade my concern as to why Cabe would be ringing…, especially with him knowing what my plans were for the day. Then, when I put the phone to my ear and heard his voice, from that very first moment, his anguish and desperation was palpable, speaking volumes to the horror he’d uncovered…, it was in that instant that my instincts kicked in, I just knew something had gone terribly wrong somewhere along the line.

The boys and I, had almost made it out the door, by the time my phone started it’s insipid ringing. Though at first they didn’t seem to be overly concerned. You see, in their eyes, I had made a promise to them…, and they knew that deep down my word was my bond. Just one more of those things that my dad had instilled in me from a very young age…, if you say you are going to do something, you do it…, it really is just that simple. After all these years, I’ve not broken a single promise to my boys yet, and they knew that I never would, unless something really big was on the line.

There is of course, shamefully, a first time for everything. With the boys standing beside me, they quickly picked up on what I was feeling. To tell the truth, I think even a blind man could pick up on it. To their credit though, and my undying pride, they showed nothing but a great deal of concern. While Cabe and I talked all the blood was seeping from my face…, this of course had the effect of turning my visage into a rather deathly pallor. It was all I could do to try and calm him down, but he was so upset his voice was racing a mile a minute…

“Cabe…, buddy slow down, you’re losing me here…, just take a deep breath…”

“Cam, I can’t slow down…, my boy’s in trouble…, I need you Cam…, I need you like I’ve never needed anyone in my life…, I need your help…”

“Anything Cabe…, you know that…, but first…, I really need to know what you need…”

“What the fuck do you think I need…? I need you to get me to my boy…”

“You know I will Cabe…, there’s no question about that.., but can you at least tell me what’s wrong?”

Poor Cabe was almost in hysterics by that point, so much so that the conversation didn’t last much longer, then again…, it didn’t really need too. Caleb was one of my closest and oldest friends, and even though I’d only known him for a short time, I really did care for JJ as well. To say that I would walk into the fiery pits of hell for either of them, was like asking if the pope was catholic…, obvious…, and a giant waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hero and to be honest, have never claimed to be the bravest man on earth either, but when a friend or loved one is in need…, you do all that you can, and then you do some more…, but when you do it, you do it with a great deal of speed and efficiency…, or at least, I do anyway.

By the time I hung up, for that particular moment, I knew all I needed to know, JJ was in trouble. Apparently some of the older boys had decided to have a little party, and he’d been the centre piece. The last thing that Cabe had heard was that he’d been taken to the school’s infirmary, but had been almost instantly removed to the nearest hospital. That alone was very telling, on the extent of the poor boys injuries. I could feel myself getting rather angry at the situation as a whole, but I could only assume that what I felt was a small drop in the vast ocean of what his daddy was going through.

Before I could let myself get too carried away however, I had to get there to find out…, and I had to get Cabe there to be with him. At the last I told Cabe to meet us at Newport Field, that I would sort out something. I just knew that I should have pushed harder for him to stay…, but what could I do…, it wasn’t my choice. I all but kicked myself, for my own stupidity…, but there really wasn’t the time.

Looking at the boys now, it was clear that from what they’d heard, they were as worried as I was. Fortunately for them though, they had only been able to listen to my side of the conversation and I’d been pretty quiet through the most of it. My first thought, when I looked at them, was that I might have seen some disappointment in their faces…, but then, I really should have known better. Inwardly chastising myself once more for even thinking such a thing. All I saw on their strong young faces, was the concern and love for a friend, feelings that did in fact echo my own. It was then that, I knew that they would gladly follow through with what I had planned.

It was encouraging to know that in times like these, my boys were so selfless, thinking of others before themselves, To be fair to the boys though, I thought a little explanation was in order…, but once again, and too their indelible credit…, they beat me to the punch once more…

“JJ’s in trouble right…, and we’re going to get him…, right?” Dale said, looking deeply into my eyes.

“Yeah.., yeah he is… Look boys…, I’m really sorry that the day just turned sour, but I have to help Cabe…, I have to…, if it was one of you, he wouldn’t think twice about doing the same for me.”

“Sorry…? Sorry Uncle Cam…, but screw that!” Said Corey, as he jumped into the Jeep, quickly followed by the other two…, “Come on dude…, times wasting!”

I just stood there for a moment, once again in awe of my boys. There wasn’t a hint of hesitation, or jealousy…, or even anger that their day with me had been scuttled. All there was, was their courage and love for one that may as well have been one of our own. It was all I could do to just marvel at the strong young men they were very fast becoming. The level of pride I had for them showed, as I beamed a strong smile their way. They didn’t seem to really care about that though right then, as the moment was broken pretty quickly, when I got the look from all three of them. The “What the fuck are you waiting for?” look. Shaking my head softly, still holding tightly on to that grin I had going, I slid into the driver’s seat, and kicked the old girl into life.

From our place to the airfield in Newport, isn’t really that far, and doesn’t take that long at the best of times, but that morning the miles just flew by, almost as if by their own accord. Funny how that happens sometimes…, usually when you’re in a hurry, you meet all those drivers that are destined to go five or so miles under the speed limit…, I really hate that. Fate is a cruel mistress, and like all mischievous things, she likes to fuck with you at times. Today though, it was almost as if the gods had given us a free pass…, somehow like they knew we weren’t out for ourselves…, or something. Either way, with the roads mostly clear, we really did make it in record time.

Before all this happened that morning, I’d placed the bank cut cheque, that I’d retrieved from my banks manager the previous day, into the inside breast pocket of my jacket…, just in case I did go for the purchase. With all the excitement, I had almost forgotten about it, and in a sudden heart stopping moment, I reached in to check that it was still there. I had a feeling that once I explained where I was going to take the plane that day, I was going to have need of it. Pulling into the lot at the airfield, I saw a spot open right next to Cabe’s Shelby, so I took it, and the boys and I leapt out.

Cabe wasn’t on near or even in his car, and though I was temporarily worried about that fact, I quickly drew the conclusion of where I’d find him…, as it turns out, I wasn’t to be disappointed. With a slight air of irritation at what I could only assume was to be the impending shitstorm inside, I told the boys to follow and made my way towards the airfields small terminal building. Organising this trip was going to take a little while, after all the plan had deviated considerably, and there were plans to file and a deal to probably finalise. Once inside, I gave the boys some money and told them to go and stock up on some snacks for the flight, and when they were done to wait for us in the lounge.

My mind was still reeling from the thoughts of what we may or may not find in only a couple of short hours, but as I watched the three boys walk off with determination instead of argument, my heart swelled with the pride and the love I had for all three of them. To be honest, I really can’t say if I would ever get tired of that wonderful feeling. Expecting that the worst was very soon to come, right then in that moment those three boys were my rock, the only thing that I could grab hold of, and I prayed that I would never be in the situation that my best friend now found himself in.

Newport Field isn’t overly large as airports go, servicing mainly small aeroclubs and charter flights, but as small as it was, it was certainly modern and welcoming. Big windows looking out onto the field proper, providing a good view of the two small runways, soft plush and comfortable carpet that stretched from those very same windows all the way back to the small company counters, and plenty of decent seating decoratively, but purposefully dotted around the large room.

Stepping through the doors into that lounge area, Cabe saw me before I saw him, and bee-lined my way. At first glance, other than the worn jeans, boots, hat and check shirt, what was left on him was mostly the sadness born from desperation, but you could still see the anger at his helplessness, in his almost awkward movements. In moments like this, he was definitely not a man to be trifled with…, I knew that from past experience…, long years and back breaking labour on a west Texas ranch had sculpted a compact boxer figure of a man, a figure he had quite obviously maintained well over the years.

When our eyes met, I put my hand up in a ‘Follow me’ gesture, at the same time continuing to head to the office of Ronsom Air. He caught up to me fairly quickly, and he didn’t look much better than he’d sounded on the phone. As we came together just before the door, I took my first close look at the man I call friend. Though there was little I could do about it, I was still saddened by the ‘What took you so long!?’, look of forlorn sadness on his face. Like I said…, I couldn’t change that fact, so with him in tow, I pushed on. When we got inside, we were met by the very friendly owner of the plane I was about to purchase. With handshakes and introductions made, we got down to business.

Our time in that office was short, and did in fact end with me placing the cheque on the guy’s desk. His eyes lit up like Christmas, but I made sure to state that I would only complete the purchase if the plane checked out. He took me through a few details, and I signed a few papers…, though he was very anxious to get under way, as my lawyer, Cabe still found the wherewithal to look things over. I was very appreciative of that. After we left the office I went over to the departures desk and filed a plan that stated our destination. Fifteen minutes later, we had collected the boys and were headed out to the tarmac.

Over the last few days I had done my homework on this particular type of bird, and by the time Cabe and the boys were inside, I was in my zone. Though it can be incredibly easy at times, depending on the type of plane, flying isn’t like driving. There is a lot to take into account, and the safety of all involved requires a thoroughly centred and concentrated mind. Over the next twenty minutes or so, I went over that airframe with a fine toothed comb, my eyes performing functions instilled over a long career. Not finding anything out of place I climbed aboard and went about the task of familiarising myself with the flight controls. It had been several years since I’d flown anything with a propeller, and to be fair I’d never flown anything this big, so I was determined to not screw it up.

Finally convincing myself that I knew what I was doing, I reached over and threw the switch to energise the internal circuit. It took me a moment to realise that while I did that I was holding my breath, the truth of that fact evident as I let it out in a slow appreciative sigh of gratitude. With that minor miracle under my belt, I went about setting the start up sequence. Now ready, and gritting my teeth in anticipation I pushed a little throttle and threw the main starter on the number one engine. For a second I thought I’d botched it, but then very slowly there was a small belch of smoke and the large four bladed turbo-prop made a grinding squeal of a noise as it began to turn over.

I waited for the second cough of smoke before the big prop fired fully into life, then added a little more throttle to idle it nicely…, the hard part was out of the way and with the added power of engine one, engine two started with no concern whatsoever. I gave the old girl full power for just a second, to make sure to clear out the pipes, before taking it back down to just above idle. Then took a moment to put on my headset  and aviators. Now almost ready, I adjusted the fuel-air mixture and gently pushed the throttle forward enough to get us moving, before throwing the breaks and making my way out into the pattern. Keying the mic in my headset, I got in touvh with the tower…

“Traffic…, November four one one Bravo Golf…, parked at November

Sierra zero one, radio check…, Over.”

“Roger…, November four one one Bravo Golf, I read you five-by. Over.” Came the response from the tower, via the radio.

Though it had only been a few months since I had been at the controls of an aircraft, it was exciting to feel this sweet sexy little beast obey my command. Having said that though, this part is a lot like driving a car, the only real difference is, I was steering with my feet. The stick, or in this case yoke, is pretty much useless when you’re on the ground. As good as it all felt, and as cool as it was though, I wouldn’t know the true extent of what she was capable of until I got the little puppy into the air.

“Traffic, November four one one Bravo Golf, taxiing to November Sierra zero one, runway two two for takeoff.”

While I taxied down the track to the take off point, I did a last minute check of all the control surfaces. She was a little heavy in the tail, and it felt kind of weird with the way she was set up, but I was still confident that I could handle it…, would just take a little getting used to I think. While I manoeuvred the aircraft around the taxiway, I went through  some flight-basics with Corey.  I decided that as Cabe was really in no shape to be of any help, and with his excellent head for navigation, Corey was the best choice for a co-pilot. By the time we reached the runway skirt, I was pleased to see that he understood what all the control surfaces did, and how they related to each other.

“Traffic…, November four one one Bravo Golf holding on runway two two, Charlie November Sierra zero one, awaiting clearance.”

I pushed in the brake pedals and cranked the engines up to full again, checking the tachs, temps and pressures for anything out of the norm, then set flaps for takeoff…, all the while waiting for clearance from the tower. With everything on the inside running like an overpriced swiss watch, I looked to the sky, checking the heavens for anything that could really spoil my day. While we waited, Corey took the time to get a handle on the nav and radar systems, and had everything ready by the time we were ready to go. I satisfied myself that it was clear and then I again let loose the breaks easing forward slightly. At the very last I looked back into the cabin to make sure that the others were safely belted in, when I heard the ‘Go’ from the tower.

“Roger…, November four one one Bravo Golf, You are cleared for departure…, sky is free, winds slightly east at 30 miles…, have a pleasant flight.”

“Traffic…, November four one one Bravo Golf, on runway two two, November Sierra zero one, reaching for the heavens…, departing Southeast”

I lined the aircraft up perfectly with the runway’s centre-line, punching the throttles  and tripping the breaks for the last time. As the speed increased I could feel the nose tipping toward the ground…, apparently that’s pretty common with the Cheyenne, it’s the awesome power of the turboprops you see. It didn’t last very long though, as I felt the speed pick up some more, and we started to catch the wind. The nose began to rise again and the wheel left the earth…, shortly followed by other two…, we were now airborne and on our way.


Written by bigct/Octavius

May 7, 2010 at 16:14

4 Responses

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  1. Enjoyed this chapter, looking forward to the next. Worried about JJ.


    May 7, 2010 at 16:51

  2. I don’t think I am ever going find out what happened to me in there yet. Still waiting to find out. Hugs JJ


    May 7, 2010 at 20:36

  3. Patience, JJ. CT, don’t leave us hanging too long. One of your best so far, by the way. Cheers


    May 8, 2010 at 00:56

  4. Octavius your def giving Cody a run for his money now – really enjoyed this chapter and am very eagerly awaiting the next one.
    Regards Stef


    May 8, 2010 at 09:38

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