Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Mystery of the Mysterious Boat, Chapter One, Part Three

Begin with the beginning.

On the way back to his office, getting off the elevator, Traynor ran into his old friend Nick Parker. Parker was short, burly, and able to pilot any ship or aircraft ever built.

"Morning, Nick. What are you up to?"

"Nothing, actually. That's the point. I've been up to the observation deck to see Miranda. She called me, invited me for brunch. Now all of a sudden she says she's too busy with her new job running the souvenir store." Following Traynor, Parker brushed through his shaggy, indomitable black hair with his left hand, to little avail.

"If she's playing games with you, maybe you should have heeded the Miranda warning."

"Very funny."

"Why don't you just take the day off, then?"

"And go home to an answering machine full of more pick up detritus?"

"Maybe you ought to have your phone disconnected. Or you might get an unlisted number. Or you might stop giving your real name and number to chicks."

"Why should I? Why should I have to suffer the consequences of other people's stupidity?"

Bend over, here it comes again — time for Parker's pet peeve. Traynor must have heard that litany a million times over the years. He listened resignedly, but with only one ear.

"A chick's horny, she goes to a club, she wants to get laid, she wants a one-night stand. So I get her what she wants and what I want. Chances are that when I'm gone in the morning, and she's no longer horny, she'll start worrying she's a slut. What kind of a sexual revolution was that if the three evil ps — priests, parents, peers — can still make a sexually healthy chick feel bad about herself?

"So she tries to rationalize her actions. She makes herself believe she never wanted a one-night stand. It just happened because it was love at first sight. So she has to get me into a relationship to prove to the puritan majority and to her own deluded conscience that she's not a slut. Why can't chicks just pull a Mulligan and bear the title 'slut' proudly?"

"A Midas Mulligan? Well, some do. Why don't you just fly with me and escape from your groupies? How about that place where it never rains, Southern California? Without a copilot with a knack for devious humor, I'd sure fall asleep at the controls."

Back in Traynor's anteroom, Parker nodded good morning to Sue. "Cool nails. Are they real?"

"Why, of course, Captain Parker."

"Good for you."

A little later, in Traynor's office, Parker pocketed his cell phone, poured himself a Jose Cuervo, and lounged on the couch.

Traynor sat down in the black leather swivel chair behind his desk, shaking his head. "That line isn't aging gracefully."

"If she's dumb enough to go for that color, she's dumb enough to go for that line."

"You know, not five minutes ago you complained about all that pick up detritus, and here you are hitting on my latest bimbo secretary. If I were one of those profound spoilsports, I'd say you might want to check into the Betty Ford Center to get help for your sex addiction."

"Who'd want to get cured of an addiction to something that fun?"

"Well, I don't know. Not me. I said, if I were profound."

Parker hit the latest addition to his speed dial. "Hi, Sue. … Yes, I'm still next door. … Just making sure I typed your number correctly. … So if Kev hates it when you answer your cell at work, why did you answer? … Oh, it was ringing."

He felt tempted to shout, "She's sweet, ain't she? A ditz, but sweet!" for her to copy on her cell phone. Yet, one double-edged compliment was more than enough to get her kind off her high horse. A chick that still called him Captain Parker could not stand two blows to her ego. That would be too much of a good thing. Would make her feel like she wasn't good enough for The Nick. Man, how her insecurity kept showing under that camouflage of pink nail polish.

Need to cut back on them neg hits, he admonished himself. Bitterness. So what's her face got away. No reason to let her ruin his game.

"Sure, I'll call you when we're back from Cali. … Yeah, Kev just can't work without me. … Have a coffee, talk some more." And score another home run. "See you."

Traynor cocked his head and eyebrows. "Let's get one thing straight: There's no way you're bringing that fucking cell phone. Would drive me crazy."

"No problem. We gotta stop over at my place anyway. Not everybody keeps a packed suitcase in his office."

"Sure. Nobody expects you to make do with your overnight kit."

Traynor picked up the telephone receiver to call his girlfriend, Jennifer Jordan. He promised himself not to mention the identity of her employer, as that would only trigger a chain reaction of denial and citing national security. As for Jennifer, she had never heard of the CIA and did not admit to knowing what that acronym might possibly mean.

"Hi, Jen, how are you doing? … Fine… Listen, I'm off to California… Malibu… No vacation — work. … You wanna come along this time? Well, what does the CIA… I mean, what does your unmentionable employer say to that? … OK, if they told you to finally take your accrued vacations anyhow… I guess that means I'm stuck with you… No, stuck with you, not stucco. … Yeah, see you at LaGuardia. You know where our hangar is? … Sure, you've booked with the 'First American Air Force' before. … If they ask, just flash your C… your unmentionable ID, OK? And, by the way, Nick sends his regards — he'll be along for the ride. … Yes, just like old times."

Read on…

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