Jack and I walked toward my hangar along the flight line. Two men had caught my attention as they looked at a friend's airplane.
"Hey Rob, why are you watching those guys so closely?"
"Because they’re all over Ty’s Comanche." I replied.
I picked up my phone, called Ty and asked if he was selling his bird.
He answered and I quote "Fuck no! My wife will have to do that when I check out unless I make a smoking hole with the old girl first."
My next call was to the Sheriff’s office. Then I asked Jack to go get the FBO’s guy and tell Randy to bring his weapon. I unsnapped my holster and drew my 1911, put my phone into record mode and approached the men.
"Good morning gentlemen, how can we help you," I asked.
"Oh I’m just having the mechanic give this old girl a look over before I give the owner a check," the first guy said, but he didn’t introduce himself or question my authority to ask him questions. The supposed mechanic watched but didn’t say a word.
"So, you’re buying from the widow?" I asked.
"That’s right, if she checks out okay, we should be flying out this afternoon," he offered.
"Well, I’m going to propose a different plan, how about you both keep your hands where I can see them. I have a few friends coming to talk to you about your activities." I brought my 1911 around where they could see it and I pulled my jacket back so they could see my badge.
"Oh, wait officer; we’re just here to repossess this airplane. I have the papers in my jacket," he babbled.
"I have met crack whores that tell better lies than that. Ty has owned this Comanche since the seventies free and clear. By the way, if he shows up before my guys, you better stand right in front of that bird. He won’t risk shooting you if it might hit his baby. You might want to tell your friend that I have no emotional attachment to that airplane, so if one of my rounds goes through him and hits it, I’ll have to apologize to the owner. Also, if he keeps edging his hand toward his coat it won’t end well for him."
Mr. Mouthpiece spoke to him in Spanish and his eyes got really big as he put his hands on top of his head.
Randy arrived and then asked Jack to take the Gator to the gate. He handed him his card and told him to keep it open until the cops arrived. He had barely reached the gate when the first unit came wailing up the drive. Jack waved them through and they made their way to us.
Gary Ramirez hopped out of his Crown Vic and said, "What the fuck, Rob, I’m missing out on Rosa’s menudo."
"You haven’t missed much, I’d say."
"I could just go and let you fry these fish yourself."
Doug Hammond pulled up with his partner, a rookie who was very excited to be involved in such an interesting case. We proned the suspects out and searched them. Both were armed and Mr. Mouth had a lot of cash on him. We speculated that they were stealing light twins for the drug trade. But that was for the detectives to sort out when they got the case.
My thoughts were disrupted by the sound of Ty’s 55’ Ford pickup screaming up to us. Ty was at one time Undersheriff and during WWII he flew Corsairs in the Pacific. He even spent some time with the famous "Black Sheep" VMF 214. He was an ace and well decorated and not someone you want to fuck with, even at nearly ninety-five years old. Did I mention he loves that Comanche like a woman? He was not happy to discover they had managed to break the cabin door lock.
After we calmed him down and they hauled the suspects into Ventura, Jack and I took a putt around the pattern. That’s what it said in my log book. We actually went a distance offshore and I showed him what my little honey could do. It won’t exceed Mach, but it is very agile and can survive more G’s than I can. Jack took over and showed me some great tricks. We’ve been friends ever since.
As Mary went back inside, I restated that I was going to pull in for breakfast anyway. I wasn’t sure that her Ronny was also Kelly’s friend.
"I take that as a sign that these boys need some time together if for nothing more than a proper goodbye," Mary acknowledged.
"Thanks," I said, "you’re a dear."
After breakfast Mary told me that she had forgotten the Little League Father Son dinner that evening, but Jack offered to bring him up in the morning.
When I told the boys, they were way ahead of me. Ronny was all set to ask me if he could come over Sunday. I had the pleasure of telling them that not only could he come over Sunday morning he could stay until Monday evening. Instead of squealing with joy, the boys stared at each other as though they couldn’t believe it. I recommended they go to the restroom to get the syrup off their faces. How they removed it was no concern of mine.
With goodbyes said, we continued on up through the canyon and to my home. Kelly was impressed. In the seven years I had lived there the landscaping had caught up, the Bougainvillea was growing nicely, obscuring the newer parts of the house from the road, and Wisteria was quickly overtaking the pergolas. Trees had grown and filled in and the front of the house was shaded from the afternoon sun. Ordinarily I would pull off and open the stock gate and drive to the back of the house. This time I came through the formal entrance triggering the gates with the remote system linked to my phone. Again Kelly was impressed. Not however with the grandeur of the house, it wasn’t that grand, but with the beauty of the setting in which he found himself. He absolutely devoured the landscaping and water features. He took note of the colors and overall effect. And then, as we circled around the garage barn, he caught sight of the pool and spa area.
"Who is that?" he asked as I pulled up in front of little Wade. He stood at the head of the path with my two dogs sitting patiently by his side. He wore red and black trainers and nothing else. He was golden brown from ankle to forehead and his dusty blond hair hung in irregular loose curls. Almost twelve, little Wade wasn’t so little now.
"Wade! I scolded, where is your hat? You’re going to fry your little head in this hot sun."
I slid out of the truck and picked him up and hugged his cute little frame. He was still little to me. He giggled like he had since I met him. He had adopted me as his uncle almost immediately and I enjoyed his company. He had managed to retain his sweetness over the years.
"Did you bring what you need for the night, Wade?"
"You bet, I brought my coat too, just in case," he affirmed.
Kelly had finally dismounted and approached warily.
"Kelly this is Wade, Wade this is Kelly. Wade is going to join us tonight. His mom and dad are checking on some older relatives and they don’t want to be on the road when the next storm hits."
Wade stepped forward and offered Kelly a hug. Kelly waited just a little too long and Wade dropped his arms.
"Do I embarrass you by being nude?"
"Um… I don’t know, I’ve never seen anyone naked outside before." Kelly raised his arms in an offer to hug and Wade stepped in and hugged him back.
"Was that weird for you?" Wade asked.
"A little, but it wasn’t bad." Kelly responded. "Do you always go around like this?"
"No," Wade replied, "sometimes I don’t wear shoes." He grinned at Kelly to see if he got the joke.
Kelly grinned back and put his arm around Wade’s shoulder.
"Hey, what storm, it’s almost eighty-five?" Wade queried.
"That one," I said and pointed towards the thunderheads spilling over the coastal range.
"Wade honey, is Aahz in the house?" I asked.
"Yes, Uncle Rob, he’s sunning himself on your blanket chest. I was just taking Bilbo and Frodo for a run when you drove up.
Hey Kelly, you want to come along, I can show you some of Uncle Rob’s place?" Wade asked.
"Um… give me a minute." Kelly went back to the passenger side of the truck.
Wade and I chatted about the last storm and he told me about a couple of downed trees that I would need to cut up. Our conversation was cut short by the sounds of Kelly landing on his butt in the dirt out of sight. I asked Wade to wait where he was and went to investigate. Kelly sat beside my truck with his trousers inside out and his underwear around his knees. I had to suppress a chuckle. I helped him into a sitting position on the door sill of the truck and helped him remove his shoes that were keeping him from pulling off his trousers. I helped him put his shoes back on and he was ready. I watched as he stepped out in front of Wade who whooped his appreciation.
"Dang, you’re pretty big there, but man you are pale. Don’t you ever get any sun? Oh well, you’re getting some now, right? Let’s go."
"Okay guys, not too long though, Kelly has no sunscreen on."
The two boys trotted off, but the dogs remained because I hadn’t properly greeted them. I took care of that and then said, "Go with the boys!" and off they went at top speed for a couple of middle-aged dogs. There were at one time three, but Samwise had stomach cancer and we lost him. I just fucking hate cancer.