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Catalinas

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Catalinas – by Polly+Anna (3004 words) My Spirit Guide shows the way (1/29/20) no overt sex

Thursday – January 9, 2020

I had just walked down the hallway to the kitchen to get a drink from the kitchen. It was late and I was surprised that the television was on. As I poured some water from a pitcher that I had just removed from the ice box, I listened to a familiar episode of ‘Northern Exposure.’ The one where Ed meets his spirit guide.

“Do you recognize this place?” asked Ed’s spirit guide, One Who Waits.

“I don’t think so.”

“This is where you were welcomed into the tribe. There’s an old saying that if you come back to the place where you became a man you will remember all those things that you need to be happy.”

“I don’t remember anything,” said Ed.

“That saying never did make sense to me… But I thought it was worth a try. When the men of the tribe brought you up here you were three years old.

“Each man told you a story of the tribe; a history. They didn’t expect you to remember everything. They just wanted you to hear the words. And when they finished, they picked you up and handed you man to man so that you would know. Each one of them was your father. Do you remember? Those are your stories. And those men are your fathers.”

My thirst satisfied, I started to walk back to the bedroom.

“Polly,” Lance called softly from the sofa.

I walked over to him he was sitting on the leather sofa. Anna was asleep, and softly snoring. She sprawled half on top of him, pinning him down. It was so cute, they were both naked.

“Could you turn it off, please?” He said referring to the television. The remote was on the coffee table but he couldn’t wake without disturbing our lover.

I turned it off and kissed him on top of his head before saying, “goodnight.”

***

The moon was full that night and it illuminated our curtain-less bedroom quite well. When I awoke there was a tall thin man in a blue diving suit standing next to the bed, he had a neatly trimmed beard and was wearing a blaze orange toque.

I was disoriented and looked for Dale and Bridget who had been in bed with me.

“Who…” I said slowly as I woke up. “Who are you?”

“You don’t remember me Polly?” he said, rather sadly, with a sexy French accent.

I looked again for Bridget and Dale, where were they?

“You cried when you heard that I had died.”

“No,” I said, “no it can’t be, Philippe?”

“But of course,” he said.

Now, I don’t normally have ruggedly handsome dead Frenchmen showing up in my bedroom in the full moon’s glow of the early morning hours. But this was no ordinary ruggedly handsome dead Frenchman. Growing up we had watched Jacques-Yves Cousteau many times on television specials. He would invariably travel to an exotic location and introduce us to something heretofore unknown.

His was a blue and green world of water and sea life. I especially loved the episodes with Jacques’ son Philippe and his beautiful white with blue cowlings and yellow nacelles Consolidated Catalina flying boat. Philippe wasn’t kidding, I did shed a tear or two when I was told that he had died in that airplane.

I got out of bed. I was naked but neither of us seemed to notice. In life Philippe had been significantly older than me. But not actually being alive, he had not aged. Now we appeared to be of the same cohort. He handed me a folded diving suit that matched his and bade me to put it on.

“Why,” I asked.

“Do you believe that all things in nature are alive, Polly; the sky, the trees, the rocks?”

“Oh yes, Phillipe,” I said.

“Good,” he said, “you have many questions, let us go look for some answers.”

We went down the elevator of my apartment building and walked across the street. Even before I unlocked the gate to let ourselves onto the airport property I could see it. Tied down right there in front of our hangar. I could see, it but not truly believe it, N101CS ‘Air Calypso’ Catalina BuNo 2141, was beautifully intact.

“No more improbable than my being here,” he said, as if reading my mind.

I stood in awe of the beautiful airplane as Philippe untied the ropes that tuzla escort bound it to the earth and then removed the control locks and wheel chocks. He opened the right rear bubble observers canopy and folded a ladder out inviting me to look the airplane over as he performed the pre-flight inspection.

I walked around and was back where I had started from examining the airplane’s unique rear observation windows when he returned from his pre-flight inspection. I walked forward and sat in the right seat as Philippe occupied himself starting the starboard engine.

“Would you like to lift it off?”

What a silly question.

Philippe taxied to the end of Runway 30, ran up the engines and looked at me.

“I will call them out to you, in a Cat V1 is 65 knots indicated, V2 is 85, which is also our climb out speed. I have the throttles, flaps and the gear. You just get her in the air.”

Philippe pushed the throttles forward and we accelerated down the runway that ran parallel to the Caribbean Sea. He called out the speeds and I rotated the airplane into the air at 98 statute miles per hour. He dropped the throttle to the second cut out and raised the gear as we continued to climb away from the city.

“Come to a heading of 280, and level off at 4000 feet.”

Philippe reduced the throttle to the third cut out after I leveled out. In time he had me alter our heading to 170 magnetic. Later we descended to 1200 feet. A huge lake appeared in the rainforest in front of us.

“This looks like a promising spot,” he said. “I believe you might possibly find some of your answers down there. I know that you are enjoying yourself. But let me land her. Watch everything that I do, and I will let you have a turn landing the ship later.”

“Your wheel, Philippe,” I said as I relinquished the controls.

Philippe flew over the lake once, and took a good look at it. Then he lowered the wing-tip floats and made four perfect coordinated left hand turns to land softly in its beautiful blue-green water. He didn’t taxi ashore, instead he shut the engines down. Then he climbed down into the nose, what had once been the bombardier’s compartment. He opened the top hatch and threw out the anchor tying it’s line to the cleats on the nose of the airplane.

“Welcome to Paradise,” Philippe said as he stood.

“This is really nice,” I said.

“I fell in love here,” Philippe said.

“Really?”

“A long time ago,” he said. “I was young. I’d just come back from diving in this lake. I spent three days swimming with the Cichlids. I looked up, and I saw this beautiful woman coming out of a hut that was over there. I recognized her. She was one of the college students on retreat here. But I had never realized how beautiful she was before. She didn’t see me. She thought she was alone. After a while, she got up and walked back into the hut.

“What happened to her?” I asked.

“We dated, then I married her. We had two kids, a daughter, we took her diving with my grandfather on the Calypso. Then many years later a son. I watched him grow up, but he’s never met me.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s just something I remember. I was a really good, careful pilot Polly. I killed myself in a moment of inattention. While taxing the airplane, no less. Not landing, not taking-off or flying, remember that. Never take anything for granted. C’mon, let’s go ashore.”

***

“You have true friends that you made into a family, Polly,” Philippe had said before I woke from my dream. Waking caused him and the lake we had flown to… Well, they faded away.

“Family,” he had continued, “that means everything. Being away from mine I realize that acutely. All of you are going to be all right. Just remember to keep your head up in the air. The air like the sea knows, and it will lead you where you want to go.”

Friday – January 10, 2020

I have a nearly perfect job. It’s a short walk past a nice café to work. I spend 45 minutes pre-flighting the airplane and getting it ready for the day’s activity, checking the weather and working out the itinerary. We more or less run two standard routes per day. Each route is about two hours of tuzla yabancı escort flight time through nice warm air, sometimes with a touch of rain. We have a little bit of waiting time in beautiful tropical locations. And our customers are either very happy to be where they’re going or quite content with their stay and on their way home.

My working day is pretty much nine to two-thirty. My whole poly family is here in the city. I have a small but more than adequate, cozy and quite lovely apartment house on the top of a nice building. I can open the windows and it’s easy to fall sleep to the sounds in the breezy tropical air that floats in. The dream that I had had last night was different, but it certainly wasn’t a cause for concern as I drifted off to sleep on Friday night.

Philippe and I were walking along the shore of the lake we had been to the previous day. He had something to show me, and what a something it was. Parked in the green jungle foliage on a small apron of pierced steel planking was a beautiful Consolidated Catalina wearing an overall light grey US Navy paint job.

Philippe pressed the spring-loaded button that opened the small hatch next to the big, port-side, blister canopy. Reaching inside he pulled a lever and unlocked the top half so that we could lift it and thus gain access to the airplane. It opened perfectly. We climbed up the ladder that he had set against the side of the airplane and soon we were inside. It was pristine, like it had just left the factory in San Diego.

The interior structure was painted a zinc green, and completely visible. You could see all of the airplane’s stringers, frames and bulkheads. The bulkheads and the watertight doors were also painted zinc chromate and they had like-new black rubber seals. All of the non-structural parts of the aircraft were painted in a light gray. There was a walkway that ran the entire length of the aircraft, and two more half circular ones around the two M-2 machine guns on their mounts behind the blisters.

We were between bulkheads five and six. There were two spring loaded seats held tight up against bulkhead five. A functioning nautical sextant was mounted to a swiveling arm next to the right one. There were two small fuel tanks on the floor on either side of the right blister, two huge boxes to hold .50 caliber ammo, a gas fueled heater in front of and a toilet behind the left blister. We walked through bulkhead six into the rear gunner’s compartment.

The floor hatch was closed and dogged down. Philippe explained that the seal was like a bicycle tire. There was a small hand pump and valve located next to the hatch to fill and empty it. There were three very familiar looking World War Two .30 caliber ammo cans next to a M-1919 on its mount. On either side of the gunner’s seat there were two tall vertical flare tubes, and on bulkhead six, two metal racks that held additional flares.

Although the catwalk ended at the tail gunner’s seat, we could have crawled across the skin and stringers almost to the rudder. We turned around and walked back through bulkheads six and five arriving in a flying bunk room. There were two bunks that folded down from each of the fuselage sides. At bulkhead four there was the gas-powered auxiliary unit which was attached to a generator and a sump pump. At bulkhead five there were two electrically driven pumps, one for fuel and one for water.

The Catalina was designed a dozen years before the Albatross and twenty years before the Mallards I had flown in. Although they are the same size, they are very different inside. Those Grumman’s have a nice flat floor with multiple watertight bulkheads underneath in a very deep fuselage. The Cat has a very wide less boxy and shorter fuselage that isn’t nearly as spacious. It has numerous bulkheads and watertight hatches that one must pass through. Walking through numbers six, to five and then four was going downhill.

At bulkhead four the catwalk became level. To me walking through that hatch one stepped back in time to the 1920s or 30s when Juan Trippe’s Sikorsky flying boats traveled the world for his Pan American airways. Bump outs for the main landing gear were ümraniye escort just past bulkhead four. They had small windows in the bumps so that you could observe the landing gear.

There was a large crank located there to manually lower the landing gear, and sockets into which that crank can be placed to manually lower the gear and the floats on each wingtip. Forward of the landing gear there are two large storage lockers, one on either side of the cabin. On the right side there is a small two burner camping type gas stove with drinking water stored in two metal tanks above it.

The flight engineer sat on a seat high in the air. His seat is in the aerodynamic pylon that attaches the Catalina’s parasol wing to its fuselage. A throwback from times when flight engineers on flying boats would actually crawl through tunnels in the wings to arrive at the rear of the engines. To maintain them while in flight.

The flight engineer’s control panel contained all of the engine’s temperature and pressure gauges, magneto switches, fuel selector switches, and controls for the cowling flaps. There were glass sight gauges in each wing root showing the actual amount of fuel in each tank, and two cork-ball-in-glass tubes fuel flow meters – one for each engine.

Passing through bulkhead three we reached the navigator and radio operator’s compartment. On the starboard side of the airplane was a four-and-a-half-foot long table for nautical charts. On the port side of the airplane there were about a dozen different types of radios on a rack along with a skinny ‘L-shaped’ table so the radio operator could transcribe the messages that would be sent out and received in code. Each table had an office type chair on a swivel mount.

Bulkhead two was different, it was solid and had a waterproof hatch. But it terminated about five feet above the catwalk. At that point it was open so that one could look over the heads of the pilots and through the front windshield. I could do so by standing on one of the two folding seats against the bulkhead. You had to step up upon walking through the bulkhead as the compartment for the front landing gear was between the pilot and copilot seat. Even so those seats were on raised platforms.

Ducking under the unique horizontal bar that contained both yolks and all of the cockpit’s electrical switches, we made our way to the front, the bombardier’s position. We stepped down again as we ducked under the instrument panel. The aircraft had a tall triangular window in the front, with a Collins bomb and torpedo sight behind it that could be operated by kneeling on the seat. By standing on the seat you would be in position to operate the nose turret and its two .30 caliber machine guns. The ammunition for those guns being carried in six of those familiar GI ammo cans, three on either side.

Returning to the cockpit, Philippe invited me to sit in the left seat. A magnetic compass sat bungeed above the instrument panel. The throttle, mixture and propeller controls were on the roof above my head. The three and an-eighth-inch flight instruments were arranged three across and two deep right in front of me. The two and a quarter inch engine instruments were arranged three across and two deep in the middle of the panel with two radios underneath them. The copilot had a complete set of flight instruments.

‘Air Calypso’had a panel to the pilot’s left with the fuel gauges, cowling flap controls, main and magneto switches, rendering a flight engineer unnecessary. It had a more complete mid-plane galley with four bunks and four seats in the navigator’s compartment and he used the original bunkroom as a storage place for scuba gear. Like many Philippe used the rear compartment for luggage and had sealed the rear gunner’s floor hatch with a tar gasket compound eloquently known as ‘elephant shit.’

“Wow,” I said. “This is amazing, it is a trip seventy-five years back in time.”

“You will know what to do with it,” he said.

“What?”

“Brrrrrinnng, brrrrrinnng, brrrrrinnng.” Went my alarm clock.

What… Oh… Yeah… Morning was here. Lance put his arm across my waist. Oh… It was just a dream.

***

In memorium to Floyd Red Crow Westerman, who performed folk music on stage with Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson and others, author of ‘This Land is Your Mother,’ who played One Who Waits. And of course, thanks to Geoffrey Neigher who wrote season four episode 13 of ‘Northern Exposure.’

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