Anachronisem (Solo)

<< < (8/8)

Life is damn strange, thought the newly minted Air Force Colonel.  Granma was right, grab on with both hands and just enjoy the ride.  Emerging from his tent he once again found himself in the middle of Iran, surprised and amazed at where his life had led him.  All thanks to a stubborn, mean, recalcitrant, gifted sailor he'd bet the farm on.  A full bird colonel, with his own command, a recconisance shop in the middle of indian country.  Hot damn.  With a brand new, damn capable E-7 to run his photo enterpretation lab. He threw a towel over his shoulder, heading for the short line at a set of temporary outdoor sinks.  You can learn a lot from your men, standing in line for your morning shave.  "Mornin', Sarge."
"Colonel sir!  Mornin'."  The Sergeant swiped the last bit of foam from beneath his nose.  He stepped to the side, giving his CO access to the sink.  "How does the day look sir?"
"Be puttin' a Predator up to support that Iranian brigade sweep south."  That was the remarkable thing, the Colonel mused.  Unlike Iraq, here the military was still intact, well trained. Not to mention highly resentful of any Arab insugents in their country.  That was the key: Arab insurgents.  To call an iranian an arab was a deadly insult, so the small pockets of largely arab funded, mostly Wahabi fundementalist Sunni insurgents, were pursued with vigor by the native troops.   
Their Air Force was a shambles though.  Years of embargo, of stripping parts from one plane to keep others, mostly older american types, still flying, had left few fully capable craft intact.  The "Redneck" debacle and its aftermath had left the force reeling, demoralized.  Thus the call to the UN for recconasaince assets to help pursue the scattered pockets of resistance.  The UN had in turn asked Centcom for help. Americans were the best in the buisness after all.
So here they were, set up in an old isolated Hanger on the western end of the Shiraz airport.  Its location had been ideal, easily guarded.  It had come with its own hulking Hindi security guard, who seemed to think the American presence a great joke for some reason.  Humour aside, they'd kept the man on:  He spoke excellent english, made a dandy interpreter, and was a wealth of information on the local area and conditions.  The man claimed to know of a hotel in the Christian quarter of town that would be happy to accomodate them; getting them out of the tents that now surrounded the old hangar.  Definatly worth investigating, once the security situation was well determined.
Ah well, hot running water would be nice. . .What the hell?  A breathless airman, one of his perimeter security men, had just come chugging around the hangar corner, yelling for the CO.  Damn!  Only half shaved.  "Here airman!"
The Airman seemed to hesitate: Do you salute your CO when he's bare headed, bare chested, with a foam mustache?  When in doubt. . .the salute was boot camp formal.  "Sir!  We have a situation sir!"
"Ah, yessir, there's a woman with 2 horses out at the gate sir, an that big Hindu guy insists she's got to talk to you, sir."

   A long held truisem of the United States Military, is that no plan survives contact with the enemy.  Perhaps better to say, no plan survives.  Throughout history, the more carefully planned an operation, the less likely it was to be executed according to that plan.  The saving grace in this, is perhaps no military is better at making it up as it goes.
Helen was shocked at the speed of events.  Shocked as well to find the worlds most powerful nation and military evidently populated by the most sentimental of people.  Her story confirmed, she found herself, Shafaq and Tecumseh hustled aboard a 4 engine turboprop bound for Doha, Qatar.  There she had been extensivly interviewed, subjected to a physical examination, then feted by a number of men with impressive looking shoulderboards.  A military vetrinarian had examined both horses (Once she'd convinced Tecumseh to allow the man to approach) pronouncing both suitable for further transport, prescribing a mild sedative for the nervous mare.  She'd had to constantly soothe it during the flight across the gulf.   The great stallion had gone aboard the plane willingly, seeming to enjoy the experience.
Next they were loaded on a monsterous airplane, a C-5 "Galaxy" according to the crew, who also called it "The aluminum cloud."  She who had never flown, never traveled further that Teheran, now found herself on a non-stop flight to the United States.  The crew devoted themselves to her comfort, while apologizing for the length of the flight: One of the men cheerfully explained that the direct flight minimized the number of laws they were breaking!
A fuel stop in Norfolk Virginia, then on to Luke Air Base, Arizona.  Here the horses were stabled, Helen escorted to the base commanders house, where she collapsed on the provided bed, exausted and overwhelmed by the alien world she'd been thrust into.
Surely the Americans meant well, but they were so overpowering!   Perhaps sensing this, the base commanders wife forcefully shooed everyone off, determined to give the young woman time to wind down, acclimate.  That next day was spent quietly, tea, talk and horses.  Both the Commanders wife and her teenage daughter rode, resulting in a trip to the stables, to be introduced to the great War Horse. 
Tecumseh clearly was unfazed by any of this.  He was in his glory: feared by men, adored by women, surrounded by lesser animals, he ruled the stables.  Seeing the great stallion in such good humour, her own mare as well honored consort, restored much of Helens own spirit.  Enough that the Base Commanders wife appropriated a goverment credit card, taking all three to the base PX.  Helen soon found herself well equipped with American clothes, and perhaps her first American friends.
First save for one, and that one further north. Next morning a huge truck took them to Durango Colorado.  Here, for the first time, Department of Defense discretionary funds  chartered a steam powered freight run on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gage railway.  Though a narrow road led to the high mountain town of Silverton, most all heavy hauling was still done by the railroads lovingly maintained 2-8-2 Mikado steam locomotives.  Helen was amazed that the country which had produced the impressive aircraft she'd rode in, still used steam powered trains.  The concept of a tourist railroad was new to her. 
Late summer in the San Juan mountians left her transfixed by its beauty.  She thrilled to the locomotives staccatto  exaust blast rattling about the steep canyons.  Below them a tumbling, foaming river leapt over rocks, through high narrow gorges.  The River of Lost Souls, they called it.  Of course.  Silverton itself was a small town, 500 full time residents, set in a magnificent high valley.  It felt, somehow, like home.
Most amazing of all, was that the media knew nothing of this.  How long it would last could not be known, she could only hope it would be long enough. 
One person waited for them in Silverton.  The Sherriff of San Juan County.  Lucian had hoped for a job with the railroad, perhaps working part time for the Sherriff.  Instead she had learned, he was a full time Deputy, with an occaisional weekend on the railroad, qualifying on the engines.  The Sherriff waited at the bottom of the ramp as they off loaded the horses. 
Another American shock: the Sherriff was a woman!  Complete with badge, gun and cowboy hat.  She waited, arm outstretched.  Helen took the offered hand.
"So you're the one.  I reckon I knew it.  Sour as that man is, had to be a woman back there somewhere."  She was short, stocky, black haired with dark, laughing eyes.  Helen was entranced.
"My name is. . ."
"Helen.  Yep, had to be."
Helen laughed.  "So, where is. . "
"Wish I knew!  Ida had his butt standing right here at attention, waitin'.  Took a week off.  Walks up inta them mountians by hisself, pup tent, old rifle an a fryin' pan.  'Bout as alone as you can get."  The dark eyes smiled at her from beneath the hat brim.  "You gonna change that?"
"I. . .maybe?"
"Don't reckon you traveled far as y'have for maybe."
Americans were a very direct people.  "No, I suppose not."
"Good!  So this is the horse."  The Sherriff craned her neck upward.  "Lord, there's enough for two there.  Y'know, he built a corral out t'his place.  Tried to sell him a horse, comes in handy 'round here.  Said he allready had one.  Sure enough."
Helen grabbed at that.  "He has a place, a home?"
"Sure enough.  Guvermint gave him a valley east of here.  Cabin, barn, enough room to land his plane."
"He has an airplane?"
The Sherriff regarded her with wide eyes.  "Lady, he's got THE plane.  The one with your  name on it."  A bark of a laugh.  "Reckon I'm the only Sherriff in the country can call in my own fighter cover." 
Important things now.  "How is he?"
The Sherriff swept off her hat, rolling the brim in her fingers.  "Damn fine deputy.  Probably have my job whenever he wants it.  Thank god he hates politics.  Don't get much crime 'round here, mostly we rescue lost tourists.  I swear, he goes into these mountains an' scares 'em out!"  Dark eyes fixed on hers.  "Can't say if he's happy.  He's just there.  Like maybe he's waitin' for something.  Or someone."
Helen nodded.  "You say he's out there, in the mountians?"  The Sherriff nodded.  "Is there somewhere I can leave my mare?"
The Sherriff reached for Shafaqs halter.  "Take care of her myself.  But Miss, no tellin' just where he is, an' you don't know these mountians.  Best wait 'till he gets back."
Tecumsehs ears were forward, the horse sidestepping, eager.  Helen climbed into his saddle.  "Perhaps I do not know these mountains.  But I begin to think I know the man.  And this one," she patted the great black neck, "seeks the man he was meant to bear."
The Sherriff nodded.  The woman before her seemed determined, the horse well equipped  "Reckon so."
Helen leaned down.  "But tell me, is there some place in this town I can buy a shovel?"



[0] Message Index

[*] Previous page

Go to full version
Powered by SMFPacks Ads Manager Mod
Powered by SMFPacks Likes Pro Mod
Powered by SMFPacks Menu Editor Mod