Sunday, December 26, 2010

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

Begin with the beginning.

Chapter Two

The Legend of the Mysterious Boat

Parker looked from the screens beyond his controls to Traynor. "Boy, am I glad to be back home in good old mile high central. Nice as the Eclipse is, nothing beats this here flying apartment. No stopovers — and the johns and galley alone are priceless."

"Then thank Mike that this mission is to LA, 'cause there's no way you could land this baby in Jenkinsville. Heck, you could fit all the town in this cabin. Well, maybe you could land her. But you'd never get out of there again."

"What a horrible prospect…"

"Well, as long as Connie's there…"

"What the fuck's up in LA, anyway?"

"Don't wanna have to tell Mike's story twice." Traynor hit the intercom. "Jen, this is the captain of your heart speaking…"

Finally, the Gulfstream G550 approached Los Angeles International Airport. The California sun glistened on its golden winglets, its white fuselage with the blue and red First American markings, and its golden T-tail displaying First American's silver coin with the golden Sign of the Dollar. On account of the heat waves, the Theme Building, that famous flying saucer suspended from two intersecting arches, looked like it was about to lift off.

"Five hundred," said the Gulfstream.


"Four hundred."

Steadily, the end of the runway kept approaching outside the cockpit windows.

"Three hundred."

The executive jet descended steadily, like a brick drawn down diagonally, not vertically by gravity, but as if attracted by the end of the runway like by a giant magnet.

"Two hundred."

Parker mostly let the Gulfstream do as she pleased.

"One hundred."

Now the runway filled the cockpit windows.

"Fifty. Forty. Thirty. Twenty. Ten."

Rock 'n' roll. Traynor and Parker, and of course Jennifer back in the main cabin, were shaken by the rumbling aircraft as it touched down.

Traynor arched a brow. "You've done better landings."

Parker looked straight ahead at the rushing runway and deployed the thrust reversers. "Any landing you walk away from is a good landing." He still seemed to be sore.

The roar of the twin turbofan engines below the T-tail of the executive jet softened to a steady whisper as Parker taxied across the tarmac. When he had accommodated their Gulfstream in First American's hangar, he, Jennifer, and Traynor went to rent a car. Parker glanced at a newspaper left on the rent-a-car counter. A headline screamed: "Wendigo Strikes Again!"

He nudged his friends, whispering to them, "There's nothing like a heartwarming welcome when you're far away from home."

"Incredible. What's next? A vampire strike?" Traynor quipped. "If all those bloodsuckers go on strike, maybe one day the government will walk out, too? That would be great news, for a change. Better than a garbage strike, anyway."

Jennifer wanted to reply something, but that moment the rental girl returned with their car keys. With the red Mustang GT Convertible that came with the keys, his friends in the back, Parker hit the 105.

Remembering something she had been wondering about, Jennifer leaned forward to Parker. "By the way, why didn't we take the Sonic Eagle?"

"I've got to replace the afterburner flints first."

She leaned back, pretending to be going through the bag next to her in the backseat. "That reminds me, I brought a bottle of prop wash for you."

Soon, they were rolling north on the 110, the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles towering ahead of them. They were heading for the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. It was far and away Traynor's favorite hotel in Los Angeles, as it reminded him of his beloved First American Building. The floorplan was similar, except that the five glass-clad hotel towers were round, not square, and of course much shorter.

Parker grudgingly surrendered the Mustang to a valet, and they entered the six-story atrium lobby. It was the size of a city block, sky-lit, and complete with greenery, fountains, and veritable lakes. When they had checked in, one of the glass elevators running up between the towers whisked them up to their rooms, treating them to spectacular views in the process.

Jennifer had just finished unpacking her stuff when someone knocked at the door. She opened it. Parker stood in the circular corridor running around the building core. He stepped inside while she disappeared into the bathroom. He proceeded to the floor-to-ceiling windows, looking at the skyscrapers beyond.

That moment, Traynor hung up the phone. "We're gonna meet Wheelwright tomorrow."

"Fine with me," consented Parker. "What are you guys gonna do tonight?"

"I'll take some pictures of the newly completed buildings in the neighborhood while it's still light. Jen never rode the Angels Flight, so we'll seize the opportunity while we're here. Then dinner up at the rooftop restaurant, and after that we'll take this bed for a test drive."

"So you two wanna be left alone, I guess."

"Tact is your middle name."

"In case you need me, I'll be at the revolving bar. Need to make a scientific experiment. If I revolve around the building core, will that attract satellite chicks to revolve around me?"

"Good question. Good luck."

Read on…

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