I awoke with Gwen hogging most of the bed. She came to my bed because she was afraid. She slept like the dead, while I stayed awake most of the night. It wouldn’t have mattered whether she was in the bed or not, I wouldn’t have slept well either way.
There were some inherent problems with the gig. I would be ten thousand miles from home, in the middle of the Arabian Sea, if things went bad and I lost control of the group, I couldn’t just walk away. Even thought R2D2 had all the money, I had to be the boss, once the bad guys showed up. If he refused to follow orders, I had to take control of the others by force. Now that was going to be a total mess. All night long those thoughts ran around in my head, as well as the actual operational possibilities.
I was out of the shower before Gwen could rub the sleep from her eyes. I quickly put on my thermal outfit, one of the several I had, for the ride to breakfast. Gwen would have to fend for herself. I thought that as I exited through the only door, which exited to the apartment building’s alley.
Once the bike’s motor started to pour smoke into the crisp morning air, I mounted the bike for my morning ride. I rode it at wide open throttle all the way to Maxine’s new sit down spot. The ride wasn’t nearly as far as it had been to the Hardee’s. I had mixed feelings about that. I enjoyed the longer ride in the summer, but in the winter it was nice to get out of the cold sooner.
Instead of the my usual Adult Egg on a bagel. I had the raisin bread french toast sticks. They were made from very thick sliced raisin bread. I swear I could have eaten a dozen, it was a good thing there were only four of them in an order. The french toast and a potato fritter did the trick for me just fine, thank you very much top chef.
“I found a seat beside a couple of young police officers at the table under my poster. That poster was a real source of embarrassment to me. “Hey Stone, you think you can get me a date with your sister,” the younger cop asked pointing to the poster.
“Do the cops only recruit assholes these days, or do they teach it at the academy,” I said it with a laugh.
“They only teach it to those of us who aren’t naturals,” his partner said.
“So, you been out there serving and protecting this morning?” I asked.
“We are finished for today. Worked graveyard shift last night,” the first one said. “Did you ever do it in a graveyard?” he asked.
“You know that old downtown cemetery?” I asked.
“The one with the tombs?” his partner asked.
“Yeah that one, if you walk around you will find some above ground crypts. Not the little houses, but the flat concrete above ground crypts. There was this Halloween, when I was a senior in high school, it was kind of a goodbye gesture thing.”
“Wasn’t that creepy?” A paramedic at the end of the picnic table next to us asked.
“Not really, but the guy I was with was a little strange,” I said with a laugh. The guy in the crypt didn’t complain though, so it must have been good for him. I broke out in a real laugh at that point.
When I left the old car lot, I hoped it wouldn’t be my last meal at Helen’s. I rode the bike to the mall for my morning walk. I was very careful, since it would be really bad timing to have an accident that morning.
I smiled at Tiny Dancer in her bright pink fuzzy sweater, black pants, and pink beret. She knew how beautiful she was, as she glided around the mall. I swear she looked like a ghost. She moved so effortlessly. I plodded, Tiny Dancer glided, it was depressing.
I got home just in time to turn off the gas feed to the engine and run it dry before Mike came for us. Since I had no idea how long I would be gone, it seemed like a good idea to clear the carburetor.
I picked up my black half duffel bag,. The bag was filled with my clothes and also with the tools I planned to slip on board. The two cans of pepper spray would look like can of deodorant or hair spray to the scanner. My tazer was shaped to look like a cell phone, not a gun. It didn’t shoot darts, I had to be up close and personal it use it, but it was better than nothing. I also had a dozen wire ties in the bag. Not bad as temporary hand cuffs. I had sprinkled coffee grounds in among the clothes just in case the dogs got a whiff of pepper spray. I hoped it would confuse them into no more than a half hearted alert at best.
Gwen had one of those suitcases on wheels. It was going to be an interesting check in. My carry on had make up one clean top and one pair of panties. I figured the jeans and bra could make it two days, even if we got stranded. I had no idea what was in her take on. Most likely she would have to do the full body search. She didn’t have a great body, but hers was a little more robust than mine.
At the airport Mike just dropped us at the door, then took off. They had a baggage check in on the curb, which was a nice thing. When we went to stand in the line for check in at the counter, we were only dealing with the smaller carry on bag. A quick check to confirm out reservations and it was off to the gate. At the gate we were allowed to sit in hard plastic chairs until the Government security folks arrived to begin checking us in. I don’t know where they had been, but two agents arrived and a line quickly formed.
My bag went through the scanner then got hand searched anyway. After that I chose the pat down rather than the body scan. I had never minded a strange woman’s hands on me, so why would I object that morning. I cleared the line then looked back waiting For Gwen.
As usual, with Gwen there was drama. She complained about the scan of her bag. she also complained about the body scan, she chose over the pat down. I was ready to slap her myself, I was absolutely sure the security agents wanted to shoot her. Probably why they weren’t issued guns.
The flight from Tryon International Airport to JFK airport in New York City, was something over an hour in length. However, we had spent well over three hours from my door to the gate at JFK.
I was in the middle of a herd of cattle trying to get off the plane all at once. It was a good thing that they had done away with steps at the plane’s doors. I could’t imagine how I would have survived being jostled while trying to navigate steps. Military aircraft still used step most places, but the passengers were much better behaved.
When we cleared the inside doors to the gate, I saw a crowd of people gathered there. Obviously at least some of the people had friends and family in New York. For those people it was the end of the line. I envied them, I never liked to fly, even though I am retired from the Air Force.
The man carrying the sign with my name on it had to be Bobby Morris. He looked to be about fifty and skinny as hell. He had that heart attack survivor’s body. The one the doctor’s all wanted to see. To me he looked worse than he would have with fifty more pounds on him.
“I’m Maxine stone,” I said as I approached him. Gwen was following along behind like a puppy.
“Bobby Morris, I’m your new cameraman,” he said.
“This is Gwen, she will by your camera partner,” I said.
“Hello Gwen, Mike told me about you. It’s good to meet you both.”
“So have you checked out this place?” I asked.
“Sure, I live in New York,” he said.
“No Bobby, I mean the airport. Do you know where to find the gate where our flight departs?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, we have four hours before we leave, but we leave from a gate not too far away.” he said.
“I’m hungry, do you know any good places to eat,” Gwen asked.
Leave it to Gwen, I thought. “Let’s go get our bags first Gwen, then we can worry about food,” I suggested. Even Gwen realized the logic in that move.
I rented a large locker where I deposited my two bags. I carried only my large wallet, leaving everything else behind. Gwen did the same, except she also carried her large purse with at least one camera inside. While we did all that, Bobby ran around making images of us. He was just doing his job, but he was way too obvious while doing it.
Some of the places he filmed us, I’m pretty sure he shouldn’t have. But hey, that was between him, airport security, and God. I didn’t much care as long as we stayed on schedule.
“Max here, has never eaten in a real New York Deli,” Gwen said. “How about we go there?”
“Is that ok with you Ms Stone?” he asked.
“Sure, anything is okay with me Morris,” I said. “By the way please don’t call me Ms Stone. I’m Max, Maxine, or just Stone.”
“Okay Maxine,” he said.
He flagged a cab, which took us to an artsy looking area of the city. I figured that even though it wasn’t quite dark, we would be safe even after the sun set. When we got out of the cab, I turned to Gwen and smiled as I motioned for her to pay. She did so with a slight, but definitely surly expression. The TV network was footing as much of the bill as I could put on them, there might as well be no doubt from the beginning.
Morris just smiled as he closed the door of the cab. Inside the brightly lit Deli, I ordered a Rubin sandwich with home made chips. Both were excellent. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the place, but I was glad that Gwen was picking up the tab, since the meal was way over priced.
After dinner it was a quick ride through central park, just so I could say I had been there, then back to JFK. If it hadn’t been for Morris, I would have had to ask for directions back to the lockers. Morris seemed to have the geography of the terminal down pat. I could see that his experience traveling would come in handy, so he was already winning a place in my heart. Not that it mattered any at all.
We went through the same boarding routine at JFK that we had earlier at Tryon International Airport. At JFK things were a little more hurried, but not any faster, if you get my meaning. I again opted for the pat down Since I had nothing to hide and very little on under my sweater and jeans, it seemed the easiest.
Planes leaving the US seldom got attacked, so I wasn’t worried that I had no weapons. Then again, according to Cheryl, you can make a shank from anything.
It was a truly long miserable flight to Athens International Airport. Lots of bad airline food, and lots of equally bad airline coffee but I did survive. I had my doubts about the condition of my digestive tract, but I was at least still breathing, when we arrive. Even more important so was Morris. He was to provide the evidence that kept me out of jail.