Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chapter 2

Mel sat at the desk in her office two days later going through pre-flight paperwork. She had no idea when to expect her new client as Greg had not thought to get a time. Or even a phone number. She shook her head as she thought about her employee.

On the small island they lived on it seemed that most everyone knew everyone in the town and during a day dedicated to purchasing supplies, she had taken a break in a small tavern, saying hello to several locals. She had been relaxing with a cold beer when she had overheard a few men talking about a new arrival who said he had jumped ship. Curious as to what that meant in these days, Mel had found herself drawn into conversation.

The man these two were talking about had said his name was Greg and that he had been hired to work in the kitchen cleaning on a cruise ship. He had been a good worker, at least according to him, but had found the people he worked with “just too mean”. He had taken shore leave at a nearby port of call and had not returned to the ship. He had been working as a day laborer at different places on a few islands and was currently here in town. Finishing her beer along with a bowel of conch chowder, Mel left the tavern and walked to the main grocery store.

Returning to her jeep with a basket full of groceries, she started to load the supplies when one of the bags broke, spilling canned food in every direction. Cursing under her breath, she began gathering the cans, crawling under her car to track down a few errant stragglers. Getting back to her feet, Mel was surprised to find a large dark-haired man standing next to her with what seemed to be some of her food in his hands. The man stood very still as he waited for her to regain her feet and then held out his hands gently to her with the cans in them.

Mel looked at the stranger in front of her. He simply towered over her and she estimated he had to be at least 6’3”. This made him a full foot taller than her and she had to take a small step back to avoid craning her neck at an awkward angle. His eyes were dark brown and he was clean-shaven, with slightly shaggy brown hair that seemed to have been bleached quite a bit by the sun. He was large framed, but appeared to be mostly muscle, with that muscle coming from hard work, not working out.

“Thank you.” Mel took the cans and put them into the jeep. The man continued to stand by the side of her car and she turned to look at him again. He was watching her with an expression of interest and his eyes brightened when she extended her hand.

“My name’s Mel.”

“Hi Mel, I’m Greg.” He took her small hand in his large one and shook it gently.

“Thanks for helping me, Greg.” Mel withdrew her hand and nodded as she turned to get into the jeep.

“Sure Mel, gosh, it was no trouble.” Greg replied in an enthusiastic voice as his head bobbed in rhythm with his speech.

The sudden child-like demeanor of the man caught Mel’s attention and she took a closer look at him. He continued to stare at her and his smile remained fixed, but she could see no male appraisal in his clear eyes. She was used to a certain reaction from men, which is why she usually ran around in baggy flight suits and, if those wouldn’t work, large t-shirts and baggy shorts. This man’s gaze never left her face and that in itself was something unusual. He seemed as open and friendly as a puppy and that was what made her make a split second decision.

“You like planes, Greg?” She watched as his face brightened even more if that was possible and a look of pure joy flooded his eyes.

“Planes? I love planes!” Greg nearly jumped in place at the mention of the word planes.

Mel smiled at him. “Tell you what, Greg, you come see me at the Bayside Hanger and you can see my planes, okay?”

Bobbing his head again in agreement, she heard him repeat her words to himself. “Bayside Hanger, yes, Bayside Hanger…okay, Mel, Bayside Hanger. Tomorrow?” He ended his words plaintively and she nodded in agreement.

“Okay Mel, tomorrow, Bayside Hanger, see you tomorrow.”

Mel started her car and grinned back at the excited man. “Tomorrow, Greg. Bye.”

Greg waved at her as she pulled from the parking spot. “Bye Mel! Tomorrow. Bayside Hanger.”

Nodding at her new friend, Mel drove off toward home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chapter 1

“Hey Mel!” The deep voice of her assistant mechanic and general “gopher” Greg Russell called up to her as she worked on the engine of a large twin-engine seaplane.

Mel Gordon’s muffled voice answered even as her head remained deep in the bowels of the plane.


“You’ve got a phone call. Some guy wants to book one of the planes for a couple of weeks.”

“Take a friggin’ message, Greg. I’m a little busy here.” Mel shot back, rolling her eyes as she continued applying a torque wrench to a large nut that needed adjusted.

Greg sighed heavily as he stared at the office and the waiting phone. He hated having to talk to Mel’s clients. He always got tongue-tied and had to write careful messages so he wouldn’t forget. Squinting his eyes in concentration, he walked back into the small office and picked up the phone.

“Mister? Mel can’t come to the phone right now. Can I take a message?” He hoped it wouldn’t be too long as he grabbed a pen and a torn scrap of paper.

The man on the other end of the phone began speaking and Greg scribbled down a date two days from that day and that he wanted the plane and a pilot available for two weeks.

“Mister…” Greg began, only to be interrupted gently by the man on the other end of the line.

“It’s Martin, Frank Martin.”

“Mr. Martin. Let me go see if Mel says this is okay and then I’ll book it.” Greg waited until the man had murmured his agreement and then went back out to the hanger.

“Mel! He wants a pilot and plane for two weeks.”

Straightening up and repositioning herself on the ladder, Mel looked down at Greg.

“Two weeks? Starting when?” She rubbed a kink from the small of her back as she waited for Greg to answer.

Thinking furiously Greg tried to remember when Mr. Frank had said he wanted the plane.

“Uhm…a few days?” He looked at Mel hopefully, waiting for her to nod that he had done alright.

Mel saw the confusion on the large man’s gentle face and smiled reassuringly at him. She knew what her schedule was and knew that the next few weeks had no bookings. If someone wanted a pilot and a plane for two weeks, that meant some nice cash for her business.

“Tell him yes, Greg. Yes, he can book a plane for two weeks.”

Greg’s face relaxed and he beamed at her, his smile crinkling the corners of his dark eyes.

“Sure, Mel, sure, I can tell him that!” His head bobbed with enthusiasm as he turned once again for the office.

“Mr. Frank? Mel’s says you can book the plane for two weeks. Uh huh, yes Sir, I will. Good-bye Mr. Frank.”

“It’s Martin…Frank Martin…” the man corrected to a suddenly empty phone. Shaking his head he put the handset back on the charger.

Jon hoped the pilot he was hiring was better with planes that the man on the phone was with names.