Monday, January 21, 2019
Island of the Sequined Love Nun Chapter 8~9
8The Humiliation of the Pilot As a passengerOnce on the plane, cockleer unfolded the letter from the mysterious doctor and direct it again.Dear Mr. CaseI break beseem aw be of your impudently-fangled difficulties and I believe I have a proposition that go forth be of great benefit to us both. My wife and I atomic number 18 missionaries on Alualu, a rather remote atoll at the north-western tip of the terrestrial timen crescent. Since we argon come on of the normal shipping lanes and we ar the sole medical provider for the lot of the island, we maintain our own jobcraft for the transport of medical supplies. We have of late procured a Lear 45 for this purpose, further our former pilot has been called to the mainland on ad hominem employment for an indefinite time.In short, Mr. Case, given your experience navigateing dainty jets and our unique requirements, we receive that this would be a perfect opportunity for us both. We be non c erstrned with the status of y our license, totally that you entirelyt act in the pilots seat and fulfill a need that can only be described as dire.If you atomic number 18 willing to honor a yearn-term contract, we will provide you with get on and board on the island, return you $2,000 a week, as well as a generous support upon completion of the contract. As a gesture of our sincerity, I am c everyw present an open airline ticket and a cashiers check for $3,000 for traveling expenses. linkup us by e-mail with your arrival time in Truk and my wife will suit you there to discuss the conditions of your employment and pro vide dit to Alualu. Youll find a room reserved for you at theParadise Inn.Sincerely,Sebastian Curtis, M.D.email protected wherefore me? tuck wondered. Hed crashed a jet, lost his job and probably his sex life, was charged with multiple crimes, wherefore a letter and a check arrived from nowhere to bail him protrude, but only if he was willing to abandon everything and travel to a Pacific island. It could turn bulge come fall out to be a tidy job, but if it had been his decision, hed up to now be lingering everywhere it in a motel room with Dusty Lemon. It was as if some combination of ironic mess and Jake Skye had been sent a medium-large to make the decision for him. non so strange, he popular opinion. The same combination had confide him in the pilots seat in the number 1 place. rumple had grown up in Elsinore, California, northeast of San Diego, the only son of the owner of the Denmark Silverware Corporation. He had an unremarkable childhood, was a mediocre athlete, and spent more or less of his adolescence surfing in San Diego and chasing girls, one of whom he finally caught.Zoophilia favorable was the daughter of his comes lawyer, a lovely girl made shy by a cruel first name. foregather and Zoo enjoyed a apprize romance, which was limit on hold when infixs father sent him off to college in Texas so he could learn to make decisions a nd someday take everyplace the family business. His motivation excised by the job guarantee, Tuck made passing grades until his college public life was cut short by an emergency call from his mother. neck home. Your fathers dead.Tuck made the drive in dickens days, stopping only for atom smasher, to drill the bathroom, and to call Zoophilia, who informed him that his mother had married his fathers brother and his uncle had taken all everyplace Denmark Silver-ware. Tuck screeched into Elsinore in a blind rage and ran over Zoophilias father as he was leaving Tucks mothers house.The termination was declared an accident, but during the investigation a policeman informed Tuck that although he had no proof, he suspected that the riding accident that killed Tucks father might not have been an accident, especially since Tucks father had been allergic to horses. Tuck was sure that his uncle had set the livelong thingup, but he couldnt bring himself to confront his mother or her ra w(a) husband.In the meantime, Zoophilia, stricken with grief over her fathers death, overdosed on fluoxetine hydrocholoride and drowned in her hot tub, and her brother, who had been a expressive style at college also, returned promising to kill run down or at to the lowest degree sue him into oblivion for the deaths of his father and sister. tour trying to come to a decision on a subscriber line of action, wipe out met a brace of Texas brunettes in a Pacific strand bar who insisted he ride subscribe with them to the Lone Star state.Disinherited, depressed, and clueless, Tucker took the ride as far as a small suburban aerodrome outside of Houston, where the girls asked him if hed ever been nude skydiving. At that point, not in truth caring if he lived or died, he crawled into the prickle of a Beechcraft with them.They go forth him scraped, bruised, and stranded on the t offshootac in a jockstrap and a climb up harness, shivering with adrenaline. Jake Skye found him wanderi ng almost the hangars wearing the parachute canopy as a toga. It had been a tough year.Let me guess, Jake said. Margie and ruttish Sue?Yeah, Tucker said. Howd you know?They do it all the time. Daddies with funds Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Petroleum. hold you didnt cut up that canopy. You can get a grand for it used.Theyre gone, then?An hour ago. Said something to the highest degree going to London. Where are your clothes?In their car.Come with me.Jake gave Tucker a job washing airplanes, then taught him to travel a Cessna 172 and en puted him in flight school. Tucker got his equal-engine hours in six months, share Jake ferry Texas businessmen around the state in a lease Beech Duke. Jake turned the profligate over to Tuck as briefly as he passed his 135 commercial certification.I can fly anything, Jake said, but unless its helicopters, Id rather wrench. Only steady gig in choppers is flying oil rigs in the Gulf. Had too many friends tip off into the fuddle. You fly, Il l do the maintenance, we split the cash.Another six months and Jake was offered a job by the bloody shame Jean Cosmetics Corporation. Jake took the job on the condition that Tucker could copilot until he had his Lear hours (he described Tuck as a little lost lamb and the makeup magnate relented). Mary Jeandid her own flying, but once Tucker was qualified, she turned the controls over to him full-time. Some members of the board have pointed out that my time would be better spent taking care of business instead of flying. Besides, its not lady corresponding. Howd you like a job?Luck. The training hed certain would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and hed gotten most of it for free. He had become a new person, and it had all started with a bizarre streak of bad luck apprai disclosed by an op-portunity and Jake Skyes intervention. Maybe it would work out for the better this time too. At least this time no one had been killed.9Cult of the Autopilot A History LessonThe pilo t said, The local time is 900 A.M. The temperature is 90 degrees. thank you for flying Continental and enjoy your stay in Truk. consequently he laughed menacingly.Tuck stepped out of the plane and matt-up the palpable weight of the air in his lungs. It smelled green, fecund, as if vegetation was growing, dying, rotting, and giving off a gas too thick to breathe. He followed a line of passengers to the terminal, a long, low, cinderblock build nothing more really than a tin roof on pillars teeming with brown people short, stoutly built people, men in jeans or old clip slacks and T-shirts, women in long patterned cotton dresses with puff shoulders, their hair held in buns atop their heads by tortoiseshell combs.Tuck waited, pass, at one end of the terminal eyepatch young men shoved the baggage with a curtain onto a plywood ramp. Natives re-trieved their baggage, mainly coolers wrapped with shooting tape, and walked by the customs policemans sound reflection without pausing. He looked for a tourist, to see how they were treated, but there were none. The customs officer glared at him. Tucker hoped there was nothing illegal in his pack. The airport here looked like a weigh station for a death camp he didnt demand to see the jail. He fingered the roll of bills in his pocket, thinking, Bribe.The pack came sliding through the curtain. Tucker moved through the pall of island-dwellers and pulled the pack onto his shoulders, then walked to the customs counter and plopped it down in front of the officer.Passport, the officer said. He was fat and wore a brass sack uniform with dime store flip-flops on his feet.Tuck handed him his passport.How long will you be staying?Not long. Im not sure. A day perhaps.No flights for three days. The officer stamped the passport and handed it sand to Tucker. Theres a ten-dollar firing fee.Thats it? Tucker was amazed. No inspection, no bribe. Luck again.Take your bag.Right. Tucker scooped up the pack and headed for an exit si gn, hand-painted on plywood. He walked out of the airport and was blind by the sun.Hey, you plank? A mans voice.Tuck squinted and a thin, leathery islander in a Bruins hockey jersey stood in front of him. He had six teeth, deuce of them gold. No, Tucker said.why you come if you no dive?Im here on business. Tucker dropped his pack and tried to breathe. He was plastered with excrete. Ten seconds in this sun and he wanted to dive into the culture like a roach under a stove.Where you stay?This computed tomography looked criminal, tho an eye patch short of a buccaneer. Tucker didnt want to tell him anything.How do I get to the Paradise Inn?The pirate called to a teenager who was sitting in the shade watching a score of outsmart Japanese cars with blackened windows jockeying for position in the crap street.Rindi Paradise.The younger man, dressed like a Compton rapper oversized shorts, football jersey, baseball cap reversed over a blue bandana came over and grabbed Tuckers pack . Tuck kept one hand on an arm strap and fought the nipper for control.You go with him, the pirate said. He take you Paradise.Come on, Holmes, the baby bird said. My car air-conditioned.Tucker let go of the pack and the kid whisked it away through the jostle of cars to an old Honda Civic with a cellophane back window and bailing wire holding the passenger door shut. Tuck follow him, stepping quickly between the cars, each one lurching forward as if to dispatch him as he passed. He looked for the drivers expressions, but the windshields were all blacked out with elastic film.The kid threw Tucks pack in the hatchback, then unwired the door and held it open. Tucker climbed in, feeling, once again, completely at the mercy of Lady Luck. Now I get to see the place where they rob and kill the white guys, he thought.As they drove, Tuck looked out on the lagune. Even through the tinted window the blue of the lagoon shone as if illuminated from below. Island women in scuba masks waded sh oulder deep their floral dresses flowing around them made them look like multicolored jellyfish. for each one carried a short steel spear slung from a piece of operative tubing. Large plastic buckets floated on the surface in which the women were depositing their catch.What are they search? Tuck asked the driver.Octopus, urchin, small fish. Mostly octopus. Hey, where you from in United States?I grew up in California.The kid lit up. California You have Crips there, right?Yeah, theres gangs. Im a Crip, the kid said, pointing to his blue bandanna with pride. Me and my homies find any kinds here, we gonna pop a nine on em.Tucker was amazed. On the side of the alley a beautiful little girl in a flowered dress was drinking from a green coconut. Here in the car there was a gang war going on. He said, Where are the Bloods?Rindi agitate his head sadly. Nobody want to be Bloods. Only Crips on Truk. and if we see one, we gonna bust a cap on em. He pulled back a towel on the seat to reveal a beat-up Daisy air pistol.Tuck made a mental note not to wear a red bandanna and accidentally fill the Blood shortage. He had no desire to be killed or wounded over a glorified game of cowboys and Indians.How far to the hotel?This it, Rindi said, wrenching the Honda across the road into a dusty parking lot.The Paradise Inn was a two-story, crumbling decorate structure with a crown of rusting rebar beckoning skyward for a ordinal floor that would never be built. Tuck let the boy, Rindi, carry his pack to an upstairs room mint green cinder block over brown linoleum, a beat-up metal desk, smoke-stained floral curtains, a twin bed with a torn 1950s bedspread, the smell of mildew and insecticide. Rindi put the pack in the doorless closet and cranked the little window air conditioner to high. similarly late for shower. Water come on again four to six.Tuck glanced into the bathroom. Mistake. An exotic-looking or ange thing was growing on the shower curtain. He said, Where can I get a beer?Rindi grinned. We have lounge. Budweiser, king of beers. MTV on satellite. He cocked his wrists and performed a gangsta rap move that looked as if hed contracted a chantlike cerebral palsy. Yo, G, we chill with the phattest jams? Snoop, Ice, Public Enemy.Oh, in effect(p), Tuck said. We can do a drive-by ulterior. How do I get to the lounge?Down steps, outside, go right. He paused, looking concerned. We have to shoot out drivers side. Other window not go down.Well manage. Tuck flipped the kid a dollar and left wing the room, uplifted to be an American.An unconscious island man marked the entrance to the lounge. Tuck stepped over him and pushed his way through the black glass door into a cool, dark, smoke-hazed room lit by a silent television tuned to nothing and a flickering neon BUDWEISER sign. A shadow stood behind the bar two more sat in front of it. Tuck could see eyeball in the dark maybe people sitting at tables, maybe nocturnal vermin.A voice A fellow American here to buy a beer for his countryman.The voice had come from one of the shadows at the bar. Tuck squinted into the dark and saw a large white man, about fifty, in a sweat-stained dress shirt. He was smiling, a jowly yellow grimace under drink-dulled eyes. Tuck smiled back. Anyone that didnt speak broken English was, at this point, his friend.What are you drinkin, pardner? Tuck always went Texan when he was being friendly.What you drink here. He held up two fingers to the bartender, then held his hand out to shake. Jefferson Pardee, editor in chief in chief of the Truk Star.Tucker Case. Tuck sat down on the stool next to the big man. The bartender placed two sweating Budweiser cans in front of them and waited.Run a tab, Pardee said. Then to Tuck I assume youre a diver?Why would you assume that?Its the only conclude Americans come here, other than stop Corps or Navy guy team members. And if you dont mind my saying, you dont look idealistic luxuriant to be Peace Corps or stupid enou gh to be Navy.Im a pilot. It felt good saying it. Hed always liked saying it. He didnt hear how terrified hed been that hed never be able to say it again. Im supposed to meet someone from another(prenominal) island about a job.Not a missioner air outfit, I hope.Its for a missionary doctor. Why?Son, those people do a great job, but you can only get so overmuch out of those old planes they fly. Fifty-year-old Beech 18s and DC3s. Sooner or later youre going into the drink. But I suppose if youre flying for GodIll be flying a new Learjet.Pardee almost dropped his beer. Bullshit.Tuck was tempted to pull out the letter and slam it on the bar, but thought better of it. Thats what they said.Pardee put a big hairy fo entrapm on the bar and leaned into Tuck. He smelled like a hangover. What island and what church?Alualu, Tuck said. A Dr. Curtis.Pardee nodded and sat back on his stool. No-mans Island.Whats that mean?It doesnt belong to anyone. Do you know anything about Micronesia?Just that you have gangs but no regular indoor plumbing.Well, depending on how you look at it, Truk can be a hellhole. Thats what happens when you give century cans to a coconut culture. But its not all that way. There are two thousand islands in the Micronesian crescent, running almost all the way from Hawaii to New Guinea. Magellan land here first, on his first pilgrimage around the world. The Spanish claimed them, then the Germans, then the Japanese. We took them from the Japanese during the war. There are seventy sunken Japanese ships in Truks lagoon alone. Thats why the divers(prenominal) come.So whats this have to do with where Im going?Im getting to that. Until fifteen historic period ago, Micronesia was a U.S. protectorate, except for Alualu. Because its at the westernmost tip of the crescent, we left it out of the surrender agreement with the Japanese. It kind of got lost in the shuffle. So Alualu was never an American territory, and when the Federated States of Micronesia declare d independence, they didnt include Alualu.So whats that mean? Tuck was getting impatient. This was the longest lecture hed endured since flight school.In short, no mother government, no foreign aid, no nothing.Alualu belongs to whoever lives on it. Its off the shipping lanes, and its a raised atoll, only one small island, not a group of islands around a lagoon, so theres not enough copra to make it worth the trip for the collector boats. Since the war, when there was an airstrip there, no one goes there.Maybe thats why they need the jet?Son, I came here in 66 with the Peace Corps and Ive never left. Ive seen a lot of missionaries put down a lot of money at a lot of problems, but Ive never seen a church that was willing to spring for a Learjet.Tuck wanted to beat his head on the bar just to feel his tiny brain rattle. Of course it was too good to be true. Hed cognise that instinctively. He should have known that as soon as hed seen the money they were offering him him, Tucker Cas e, the biggest fuckup in the world.Tuck drained his beer and signaled for two more. So what do you know about this Curtis?Ive heard of him. Theres not much news out here and he made some about twenty years back. He went batshit at the airport in hole after he couldnt get anyone to evacuate a sick kid off the island. Frankly, Im sur-prised hes salve out there. I heard the church pulled out on him. Cargo cults give Christians the willies.Tuck knew he was being lured in. Hed met guys like Pardee in airport hotel bars all over the U.S. lonely businessmen, ordinarily salesmen, who would talk to anyone about anything just for the company. They learned how to make you ask questions that postulate long windy answers. Hed felt sympathetic toward them ever since hed played Willie Loman in Miss Pattersons third-grade class production of Death of a Salesman. Pardee just take to talk.Whats a cargo cult? Tuck asked.Pardee smiled. Theyve been in the islands since the Spanish landed in the 150 0s and traded steel tools and beads to the natives for food and water. Theyre still around.Pardee took a long pull on his beer, set it down, and resumed. These islands were all populated by people from somewhere else. The stories of the heroic ancestors coming across the sea in canoes are part of their reli-gions. The ancestors brought everything they need from across the sea. All of a sudden, guys show up with new cool stuff. Instant ancestors, instant gods from across the sea, bearing gifts. They merged the newcomers into their religions. Sometimes it might be fifty years before another ship showed up, butevery time they used a machete, they thought about the return of the gods bearing cargo.So there are still people waiting for the Spanish to return with steel tools.Pardee laughed. No. remove for missionaries, these islands didnt get much attention from the modern world until World state of war II. All of a sudden, Allied forces are coming in and building airstrips and bribing the islanders with things so they would resist the Japanese. Manna from the heavens. American flyers brought in all sorts of good stuff. Then the war ended and the good stuff stopped coming. eld later anthropologists and missionaries are finding little altars built to airplanes. The islanders are still waiting for the ships from the sky to return and save them. Myths get built around single pilots who are supposed to bring great armies to the islands to chase out the French, or the British, or whatever imperial government holds the island. The British proscribe the cargo cults on some Melanesian islands and jailed the leaders. Bad idea, of course. They were instant martyrs. The missionaries railed against the new religions, trying to use reason to kill faith, so some islanders started claiming their pilots were Jesus. covey the missionaries nuts. Natives putting little propellers on their crucifixes, drawing pictures of Christ in a flight helmet. Bottom line is the cargo cults ar e still around, and I hear that one of the strongest is on Alualu.Are the natives dangerous? Tuck asked.Not because of their religion, no.Whats that mean?These people are warriors, Mr. Case. They forget that most of the time, but sometimes when theyre drinking, a thousand years of warrior tradition can rear its head, even on the more modernized islands like Truk. And there are people in these islands who still remember the taste of human mush if you get my meaning. Tastes like Spam, I hear. The natives love Spam.Spam? Youre kidding.Nope. Thats what Spam stands for regulate Protein Approximating Man.Tucker smiled, realizing hed been had. Pardee let loose an explosive laugh and slapped Tuck on the shoulder. Look, my friend, Ive got to get to the office. A paper to put out, you know. But watch yourself. And dont be surprised if your Learjet is actually a beat-up Cessna.Thanks, Tucker said, shaking the big mans hand.You going to be around for few days? Pardee asked.Im not sure.Well, just a word of advice Pardee lowered his voice and leaned into Tucker conspiratorially dont go out at night by yourself. Nothing youre going to see is worth your life.I can take care of myself, but thanks.Just so, Pardee said. He turned and lumbered out of the bar.Tuck paid the bartender and headed out into the groove and to his room, where he stripped naked and lay on the tattered bedspread, let the air conditioner blow over him with a welcome chill. Maybe this wont be so bad, he thought. He was going to end up on an island where God was a pilot. What a great way to get babesThen he looked down at his withered member, stitched and scarred as if it had been patched from the Frankenstein monster. A wave of anxiety passed through him, bringing sweat to his skin even in the electric chill. He realized that he had really never done anything in his adult life that had not even at some subconscious level been part of a strategy to im-press women. He would have never worked so hard to become a pilot if it hadnt been for Jakes insistence that Chicks dig pilots. Why fly? Why get out of bed in the morning? Why do anything?He rolled over to bury his face in the pillow and pinned a live cockroach to the spread with his cheek.