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.