June 27. 2013, 2010 Hours
When the narrative ended Jack and Walter adjourned to the kitchen. Walter refreshed his drink while Jack loaded his plate with something quiche-like, salami, and a medley of raw vegetables. Through the closed glass doors Jack heard muted sounds but the shaded patio table and chairs were vacant.
“We better check on the ladies,” said Walter, stepping to the door and sliding it open. Laughter erupted when Walter stepped out and Jack followed. The yard was fenced with tall grape-stakes. An artificial spring bubbled water over rocks to a little pool surrounded by Japanese maple trees and fern. A trellis separated the covered patio from a hot tub. Discarded clothes littered the grass by the redwood-sided edifice.
“Bienvenido a la bañera de agua caliente,” said Chris. She hoisted a glass of wine and wore a smile.
“I think we’re in trouble,” said Walter. “She’s speaking in tongues.”
“I think it’s Spanish,” said Jack.
“Únete a la fiesta,” said C. J. wearing an equally appealing smile. She plucked a wine bottle from the rim of the tub and poured a measured amount into a long-stemmed glass.
“I’m thinking I’m not going anywhere soon. What is it, twelve hours bottle to throttle? And what’s with the Spanish?”
“Chris speaks four languages. She likes to practice.”
“C. J. is full of surprises,” said Jack checking her out. Her hair was loose on her shoulders.
“You know we’re right here, listening to you guys talking about us,” said Chris.
“So, this has turned into an English and clothes optional event?” queried Jack, intrigued by the turn of events.
“English optional, clothes prohibited if you want to get wet,” said C. J. explaining the rules, sipping wine.
“Have you ever played this game before, Walter?” asked Jack, looking at C. J.
“Chris has four sisters. It’s kind of a right-of-passage for new males joining the tribe. They like to check out the merchandise.”
“C. J. and I have been discussing taking your relationship with her to the next level. I always recommend a pre-sexual inspection,” said Chris in a clinical voice.
“I wasn’t aware we had a relationship to fiddle.”
C. J. swirled the wine in her glass then looked through it at Jack. “Good color,” she observed. “It’s got legs.” Then she stuck her nose in the glass and sniffed. “Fairly intense.” She came up for air and glanced at Chris. “What do you look for in a good wine?”
“It should be expressive with clarity, not too complex; it needs to connect. Speaking of wine, I think we need another bottle. Walter, could you be a dear?”
“Your wish is my command. What color?”
“A nice white,” said C. J.
“Quiche, anyone?” asked Jack feeling foolish holding his plate.
The ladies just gazed at him. He wasn’t sure if he was a slice of meat or a Picasso. Taking charge of his fate he walked to the table and set the plate on it, sat in a chair, feeling awkward, and took off his shoes and socks. He was sheltered behind the trellis. After fortifying himself with a slice of salami he unbuttoned his shirt, got up and strolled to the hot tub. C. J. and Chris were flushed pink with heat and wine, their breasts bobbing, nipples full.
“Showtime!” encouraged Chris.
Jack reached for the bottle of wine and took a swig, put it back and peeled off his shirt.
“Nice move,” said C. J., cocking her head to one side. “What else you got, sailor?”
Jack exercised the bottle one more time then did his best to casually drop his pants. He had to lean on the tub to extricate his feet. The ladies giggled.
“Off with the undies!” commanded Chris.
Jack took a breath and his plaid Fruit-of-the-Loom joined the clutter in the grass. The two women looked at each other, Chris nodded approvingly. C. J. raised her finger and drew a circle in the air. Jack did a slow turn.
“You may join our aquatic world,” pronounced C. J. with a slight nod.
Jack sat sidesaddle on the gel-coat rim then swung his legs over into the hot pool and slowly sunk to his chest in the churning water, bottoming on a smooth slick bench seat. “Nice boobs,” he offered, conversationally.
“What happened to Walter?” asked C. J. “We need another guy.”
“I think he’s stomping the grapes,” said Jack.
“I come bearing gifts,” said Walter stepping from a sliding glass door behind the tub.
Distracted, Jack hadn’t noticed the portal before Walter appeared. The hot tub was situated outside the master bedroom. Walter wore a white terry cloth robe and clutched a bottle of wine and two glasses.
“Looks like I’m late for the party.”
“It’s just getting interesting,” said Jack. Walter set the glasses on the tub and poured. When all the vessels were loaded and in hand Jack proposed a toast. “To my abduction.”
“We’ll have to decide on a ransom,” suggested C. J.
The glasses rose and collided. Walter disrobed and slid into the mix.
“I don’t know anybody who wants me back. Could be like ‘The Ransom of Red Chief’ and you’ll have to pay to get rid of me.”
“Maybe we could teach you some useful skills?” said C. J. looking at Jack studiously. “You displayed some aptitude for flight, a willingness to learn and take on new challenges. What do you think, Walter?”
Walter had settled with his arm around Chris. “Cabana Boy?”
“Jack has more potential than that, Walter,” said Chris with mild derision.
“Sorry. It’s hard to concentrate in the company to two lovely naked par-boiled women. That could be an entry level position,” offered Walter suggestively.
“What sort of skill do you have, Jack?” asked Chris.
The question caught him off guard. His thoughts under the influence of heat and wine had drifted momentarily to the first time he had seen C. J. walking across the ramp in Lancaster. Now she was serene, looking at him; Lady Godiva with a glass of wine. “I have excellent penmanship.”
“We could build on that,” said C. J. “Develop your writing and speaking skills.”
“I could be a linguist. Maybe we could combine that with whatever level our relationship is moving towards. The Latin root, lingua, is tongue. I would say we should explore the use of our tongues to communicate. Possibly involving the lips in the process.”
“You’ve put some thought into this,” said C. J.
“It’s crossed my mind,” said Jack, putting his glass down and sliding to her side. He reached up and cupped the back of her head and she leaned easily into him. There was nothing tentative about their first kiss and embrace. Jack’s hand moved down to her neck and spread the thick wet mop of her hair through his fingers while their mouths shared their secrets. Jack felt a hand and arm wrap his torso and they shifted, their bodies searching for contact. He opened his eyes briefly. Beads of sweat populated C. J’s forehead and her dark eyelashes smiled.
“I think Jack has some skills,” observed Chris.
“We’re going to need a room after watching that execution. I’m getting horny,” said Walter.
C. J. and Jack took a breath and shared a languid look.
“I believe you’ve done it,” said Jack.
“What’s that?” asked C. J.
“That was undoubtedly the best first kiss I’ve ever experienced.”
“Shall we go for two?”
The next effort required the use of all the hands available and involved previously untouched portions of flesh. Jack’s fingers rode the ridgeline of C. J. spine to the small of her back while their mouths and tongues continued their quest.
“I’m thinking the elevator has arrived,” said Walter. “They’re at level two.”
“Level two,” said Chris, lifting her glass in toast to Walter.
C. J. pushed back, taking a deep breath, and looked at Chris and Walter. “Is the guest room available?”
“By all means,” said Chris. “I hope you make it.”
“Am I being expelled from the pool?” asked Jack.
“It’s level two Jack; grin and bear it,” said Walter.
C. J’s slick body rose from the water and Jack followed suit. They exited the tub with a modicum of grace. Once firmly grounded, C. J. clutched Jack’s hand and led him away.
“Well, that went well,” said Walter. “Shall we join them?”
Chris slid onto Walter’s lap and gave him a kiss.
June 28. 2013, 0246 Hours
After several rounds with C. J. in Cupids Gym Jack was physically spent and relaxed while his mind wandered an emotional landscape of new possibilities, and a thought, careful what you wish for, played in his mind. The radiated heat of C. J’s body penetrated the space between them. It contrasted with the chill sensation of the sheet, damp with perspiration precipitated by their lust.
Sleep wasn’t in the cards. He began to dwell on the logistics of retrieving his clothes. He sat up on the side of the bed and debated employing a pillow, rejected the option, stood and took steps to the door. He listened, then poked his head into the hall. The framed gallery of Chris’s career leered at the naked intruder slinking through at half crouch. Jack made the living room, picked an angle to the sliding glass door, found a coffee table with his shin, and offered some muffled expletives to mitigate pain. Regrouping, he employed furniture brail, feeling the way through the remaining obstacles before counting coup on the sliding glass doors.
Jack found his boxer shorts and donned them, then gathered the balance of his outfit. He recognized C. J’s flowered print under a pile of clothes and scooped them up, then moved back to the sliders. Inside, the refrigerator stood like a beacon, its door ajar. Walter stood like a ghostly apparition inspecting the contents of the appliance. Jack made his entrance and offered a halloo so as not to startle his host.
“Did I disturb the peace?” asked Jack.
“Not yet. Just checking to see if anything needs to be eaten.”
“It can be troubling realizing something might spoil at night,” said Jack.
“Don’t tell Chris. I’m dieting.”
“My lips are sealed,” promised Jack. “Anything interesting?”
“Want a beer?”
“Why not. It’s been that kind of day, night, whatever.”
Walter liberated two beer bottles from the frig, extracted an opener from a drawer, and popped the tops. He handed one to Jack and they took a drink.
“You should park the laundry; we can adjourn to the living room and philosophize.”
“No girl-talk. After the last three days, I need to re-boot my hard-drive on women. C. J. is a whole new species.”
“It’s genetic. Too much Charlie and Nancy,” suggested Walter.
“So, what happened to Slim Davis after the meeting in DC?”
“He retired from the Forest Service but he still flies a contract jumper plane.”
“Where did Steve Canyon come from?”
“He came from the Air Force. He’d written some books. They considered him the high priest of aviation safety and slayer of rogue pilots.
“You reject the idea that it’s just evolution, natural selection? The old airplanes, the dinosaurs, are gone.”
“I understand there was a rather large meteorite involved in that extinction. Pulling the plug on the planes was an administrative decision.”
“An administrative meteorite,” suggested Jack.
“Steve Canyon, slayer of rogue pilots, almost killed the large airtanker industry.”
“Sounds like a rogue administrator.”
“In spite of how fast the big crop dusters and heavy helicopters materialized there was a lot more fallout than expected. You can paint a turd but you can’t polish it, so management memorized the talking points; ‘purpose built’ aircraft; we don’t want ‘wings falling into school yards’. It was like a mantra; chant the words it becomes reality.”
Walter drained another portion of beer and smacked his lips. “The operators were in disarray before it happened, fighting each other for a piece of the pie; in shock after it happened. They showed up in Washington, some with lobbyists, and marched around the halls trying to find senators or representatives willing to listen to their plight.”
“The states; mostly Arizona, California, and Montana were alarmed. Their governors and senators put pressure on the Forest Service and they took a step back. The most viable of the large airtanker fleet, the P-3’s, trickled back into service. By the end of the 1004 fire season eight of them were back in service.”
“The P-2 contractors worked together and managed to put some the P-2’s back on contracts after running a gauntlet of airworthiness and maintenance requirements. Two or three years later there were fourteen or fifteen large airtankers flying. But the damage had been done. Three or four contractors managed to survive.”
“I think I’m going to call it a night,” said Jack.
“I think it’s morning.”
“I suppose it is but I don’t want to miss waking up next to C.J.”
Note from the blogosphere. I'm going on vacation. Let me know if you want the rest of the story.