Fraidel Rose (2)

I was alone in her- what was it? Lair? Fortress of Solitude? Something like that. I went to the shower-head but there was no curtain. I inhaled through my nose and that was all the motivation I needed, stripped to my bare ass and dialed the water for Hot.

Almost fell asleep under the shower, standing up.

Wanted to look around. Didn’t have the energy. Didn’t have the light, had no idea where her lights were if even she had any. It was almost dark, I’d missed the sunset and wouldn’t make it ten minutes to see the stars. I lay down on the near side of the gun-rack, if the dawn woke me I would see its majesty and if it didn’t I’d be happily asleep.

I woke up to a hurricane. Sat up and looked around and felt like the room was crushing in on me. Then there were lights flashing and I lost my shit and I got it together and I got out of the sleeping bag. Fell over, banged my knee on the plexi-glass, stood up and looked around at nothing.

I watched a helicopter descend right out the window.

Okay. That explained that. I guess. I went to the window and looked down but the view was blocked by the catwalk. Found a piece of plexi that slid and went out and looked down. The helicopter had touched down in the fenced-in clearing. Its rotors did not slow.

I opened my bag and found my headlamp, strapped it on and emptied out my pack. Found clothing. Pulled it on. Repacked my bag. Looked up and saw her laptop was blinking.

Went over to it. Picture of a telephone. No cursor to click it.

“Hello?” I tried.

“Bring your things,” said Fraidel’s voice. “And the laptop.”

I stared at nothing for a minute. Thought about saying half a hundred things. Decided against them all, laced up my boots and headed downstairs. Turned back after only a few steps to grab the laptop’s power cord, because who knows.

Went down to the helicopter. Ducked, far, because in the dark I couldn’t see the blades. The side door was open, a pair of hands reached out to help me. I let them. Didn’t occur to me not to.

It was big inside, two seats up front and two behind. The pilot was wearing a baseball cap, the copilot was drinking soda through a straw. The pilot turned to me and tipped her hat. I just stared at her. The copilot laughed around his straw.

“Where’s Fraidel?” I shouted.

“She’s in Irkutsk” the pilot shouted back. “Picked her up from a clearing about ten klicks south.”

“How long ago?”

“Dropped her two hours ago. Sit down and buckle up.”

I started to protest, then was slammed back into the chair by the takeoff of the helicopter. By the time I got myself buckled in, we were above the trees and cutting the air away.

We landed on some dusty grass just as the sun was rising. There were no trees, nothing was green, I felt like I’d just traveled to the Moon. The pilot motioned for me to get out, but I didn’t see anything.

“There’s a plane waiting just over there,” the co-pilot hollered, motioning vaguely to the left. “Don’t forget her laptop.”

“And Fraidel’s there?”

He shrugged.

I thought about arguing, but the pilot revved the engine and I didn’t think I could shout above it. I shouldered my pack and shoved the laptop in it – I’d been holding onto it the whole flight through – and jumped off. The helicopter rose just behind me and the wind nearly pushed me to the ground. By the time I turned to look up, it was high in the sky and heading away.

I looked around. The sun hadn’t broken the horizon. In the pre-dawn light I saw a row of airplanes, little ones, maybe two dozen. I walked towards them. When they didn’t get bigger, I started to run.

An airplane came in for a landing maybe twenty feet above my head. I threw myself down and I thought my eardrums would burst. It was just a prop plane. I got up and forced myself to keep running. I came up to the planes and they were all prop planes, like something from the First World War. There was a man leaning against one, smoking, holding his cigarette like a dart, staring at me like an idiot.

“Is Fraidel here?”

“She’s in Irkutsk,” he said.

Took me a second to shout at him, “So where the FUCK am I?”

“Kyzyl,” he said. Threw his cigarette. Hit me in the chest. I looked down to make sure I wasn’t on fire, then it was my turn to stare at him.

“Get in,” he said, and swung up the cockpit glass and pulled himself in. By the time I got inside he was smoking again.

“Peter Hardingfel,” I said.

He put on headphones, and started the plane.

We roared up the runway with way less of a roar than I would have been comfortable with. Pulled ourselves over the dunes outside Kyzyl. Felt like we were going slower than I had been in the helicopter. I wanted to ask where we were going. Or who he was. He didn’t make it easy. I decided not to force the issue. Mostly because, it didn’t matter. I was going there, or I was taking a detour straight to the ground.

We landed at Urumchi and a young Chinese girl in a blue uniform was waiting near our parking spot. She looked Chinese, anyway. I have no idea. She motioned for me to give her my backpack and pulled it off my shoulders when I objected. She carried it to a Lear jet and put me on board. I was the only one there.

The flight took off. I didn’t see a soul or hear a sound until we started to descend. Then the intercom told me in grammatical but almost unintelligible English to close all the windows and keep them close. We touched down and I heard the sound of men talking and something being attached to the plane. Refueling, maybe? I pulled out my phone and my GPS had us in Pyongyang. I went into the bathroom and hid on the toilet until we took off again.

We descended again and the pilots told me I could open the windows. I didn’t. The door opened and the same stewardess came onboard to greet me. Then I realized she was in a slightly different uniform, and was Japanese, and I am an asshole. I followed her off the plane.

We were in Tokyo. She brought me to a lounge on the tarmac level, full of pilots of stewardesses, big view of the bottom of a nearby plane. She sat me at a booth in the corner and brought me coffee and something called Japanese Snack. An immaculately-dressed Japanese man came in and called my name, I followed him into to one of those airport golf carts and he deposited me at an elevator. I went up and out a walkway and I was aboard a 777. Sat myself down in a business-class seat and woke up with the touchdown at JFK.


~ by davekov on 22 December 2016.

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