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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

TLR Chapter 91

Wednesday morning, the day they were to go out to the airport Duke was grumpy. He didn't get the sleep he usually did after working most of the night. He knew Jake hadn't either but he was feeling out of sorts. He wanted to go to see how things were done, but yet he didn't. He was still a bit uneasy, but he had learned long ago to not show fear or concern, but channel it into an angry mood. "Why don't we just drive instead of going through all this?" he grumped.

"I told you, hon, it'll take two days to get down there and two days back, which is going to be a stressful drive. We won't be able to spend as much time at the... convention as we're supposed to, or we'll have to take some personal time to get down there and I don't want to use my personal time for that," Jake explained. "Besides, Luis is expecting us, and I don't want to be rude to him and stand him up or cancel last minute like this.  So, we're going to do the dry run, and if you still feel uncomfortable we'll talk about driving. Alright?"

“James wouldn’t make us take personal time since he’s sendin’ us to this thing,” Duke argued, hearing the rest of his partner’s words he sighed and bit his lip. "'Kay Jake," he said, sounding much younger than his actual years and large frame.

Jake pulled Duke down to give him a kiss.  "That's my boy," he praised. "Let's finish breakfast and head out. It's going to take a little while to get to the airport and I don't want to keep Luis waiting."

Duke agreed, "Yes, I'm hungry." He began to think through the situation and his Marine Corps background kicked in and he approached this with an air of forbearance. When breakfast was through Duke went with Jake and asked, "Are you driving us, or want me to drive?"

Jake laughed, "I'll drive. I've been in the truck with you behind the wheel and I think we'd be safer with me driving... 'Featherfoot'," Jake joked.

Duke shook his head and said, "'re just scared is all."

"You betcha!" Jake smiled. "We'll take my truck and we'll make it there in one piece and without getting any speeding tickets along the way. Now let's get going hon. We have a long drive," Jake said, picking up his keys. Making sure he had his wallet he gestured Duke out ahead of him and locked their door, even though it wasn't necessary on the resort.

Duke followed Jake and climbed into the truck. He glanced at his partner waiting for him to climb in as well.

Jake did a double check to make sure he had everything he needed and slipped into the driver's seat. He smiled at Duke, started the engine and they began their trip.  "It's going to take a while to get to Bangor, hon, so feel free to listen to the radio, put in a disk, or take a nap.  I can tell you didn't sleep well, last night, and I want you awake and alert when we get there." he added.

Duke's eyebrows rose. "All the way to Bangor? I thought we were going to the little airport where James picks up the guests," he exclaimed, but then took a deep breath. "Sorry." He reached over and looked through Jake's CD's and put in a Merle Haggard CD. "Mama Tried" came on and there was an unreadable look on Duke's face as the song played.

Jake saw the wooden expression on his boy's face and was determined to give Duke better memories to dwell on in the future. He silently cursed the woman who had neglected and abused her boys.  She hadn't deserved them.

When they finally arrived at the airport Duke underwent a transformation. Duke the brat was nowhere to be seen. Duke the soldier emerged. Shoulders back, chest out, head up expression serious, bearing confident. "Let's go Jake, I imagine Luis has been waitin' for us and it's not acceptable to keep him waiting."

Jake patted Duke on the shoulder and led him inside, scanning the crowd for Luis. He finally found him and waved.  Luis walked over and with only a brief startled glance at Duke's sheer size, shook both men's hands. "Come on then, gentlemen," Luis said with a smile in his tone, "let me show you what flying is like."

Duke shook Luis's hand, giving a firm grip. He said, "Thank you for doin' this. I've only flown in military transports and never commercially." Duke looked around at the people scurrying around like so many mice. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to things. He noticed the long counters with lines of people and then there were kiosks where people were doing things too.

Luis saw Duke looking around and he said, “The counters are where the different airlines check in their flights. If people have e-tickets, ones they’ve bought on line and printed out they can check in at the kiosks and receive their boarding passes. The boarding pass is what allows you to get on the airplane. You also check on any baggage you have if you haven’t checked it with a porter outside and paid the fee. The passengers once they check in have to bring their luggage to the TSA (Transportation Security Agent) who asks questions about if your luggage is locked, because if it is they’ll have you unlock it and if you have firearms or alcohol and other things in your luggage. Once they clear your baggage then you can head to the security check point.”

Luis led them to the security checkpoint.  "I know you guys don't have carry ons, but it's mandatory that everyone goes through it.  You'll have to take off your boots or shoes as the case may be, and empty the contents of your pockets into a bin to be scanned.  If you’re carrying any electronics with you like a laptop, tablet, that sort of thing then they have to be taken out of the carry-on bag. You're not carrying anything like a blade or anything sharp, are you?" Luis asked.

Duke frowned. "Yes, I always carry a pocket knife. It comes in useful on my job."

"They're not going to allow that through the checkpoint. They'll confiscate it. You may want to leave it in your car before you go through," Luis suggested.

Duke nodded. "Ok, I can do that. Thank you."

They waited for Duke to run back to the truck and back and then prepared to go through the security checkpoint.  "Have your ID's ready," Luis prompted.  "The guys already knew that you were coming, but protocol has to be followed. And untie your laces, remember, they're going to want you to take off your shoes and put them up on the conveyor belt to be scanned before they let you through."

Duke did as Luis instructed, just like he had done in the Marines. His movements were efficient and he worked quickly.

When his partner stood up, Jake went up on his toes, while also pulling Duke down slightly so that he could whisper in his ear.  "It's alright hon, just relax a little."

Duke gave Jake a little nod and took a deep breath. He glanced at Luis to see what was coming next.

Luis brought his friends to the security post and watched as the guard on duty took their IDs. None of them were surprised when he asked them to remove their footwear.  Jake carefully took off his favorite biker boots and waited for Duke to do the same.  After they did as they were told, they went through the metal detector.  Passing with flying colors, the next guard handed them back their IDs and they collected their boots from the counter where all the carry-ons and shoes were deposited after being scanned and approved as safe.  Luis brought them to where their baggage would have been taken to be loaded onto the airplane and showed them to the gate they'd be taking.  They walked down what felt to be a very long tunnel to Duke to enter the airplane.  Luis smiled at the flight attendant who let them in.  "I'd suggest first class for you guys," he said.  "It's more expensive, but considering how tall your friend is he's going to need the legroom.

Duke walked through things with Jake, his sharp mind picking up all the details. 

Luis led them to the empty first class section and had Duke have a seat with Jake beside him.

Duke smiled for the first time and glanced over at Jake. "This is comfortable."

Jake smiled back and patted his lover on the shoulder. "And there are snacks, drinks and movies to keep us entertained.  It will be a smooth ride."

"I recommend that you use the restrooms at the airport before you embark," Luis said. "You'll need to stay hydrated on the plane but it's a three-hour trip, so you may need to use the bathroom.  They're a little on the small side, so if you're claustrophobic it might be an issue. However, they're very clean," he said as an afterthought.

Duke looked at the closet sized bathroom and then at Jake. He carefully eased into the small space and found out he could stand without having to bend his head and shoulders which was a relief and then found he was also able to turn around, but just barely. He sat and realized he could access everything in this compact space. He carefully stood up, turned sideways as though to wash his hands and then eased out the door. "Not too bad, it looked much smaller than it is."

"Now, the only thing that you might have difficulty with is the change in air pressure as you're taking off and landing, but all you have to do is yawn.  Some people say chewing gum is good to relieve the pressure in your ear drums.  Otherwise, it's all smooth sailing, so to speak," Luis said proudly.

Duke nodded. "I know about that from the transports. What are the emergency procedures? We had them on the transport planes, but I'm not sure if they're different here."

Luis said, "We have the door we just came through, which is equipped with a slide that’s also floatable, window exits over the wings and a rear exit in the galley. If the airplane loses power, there are lighted floor arrows pointing to the nearest exit. Sometimes the nearest exit is behind you and not in front of you. If the craft loses pressure oxygen masks pop out from overhead compartments and in case of a water landing your seat cushion is used as a floatation device."

Duke bit his lip and looked at Jake. "What if the airplane is going down?"

Luis said, "It's a rare occasion, but you listen to the directions of the flight attendants, pilot or copilot. You may be asked to cross your arms in front of you and put your head down between your hands to cushion you for a hard landing. There are first aid kits and blankets and pillows on the plane," the man informed Duke.

Duke nodded. He gave Jake a look that only his partner could tell was nervous. He said with his soldier calm demeanor. "Excellent. It sounds like the crew is prepared for just about any eventuality."

Jake smiled. "I'm glad you feel a little more comfortable now, Duke. And as Luis said, it's a three-hour flight, rather than a two-day drive.  I think you'll be fine. Any man who can survive a military transport can certainly survive a first class trip in a commercial flight."

Duke gave Jake a smile. "You have a point there."

"So what do you say, Big Guy, are we a go for the plane?"

Duke thought about everything for a few minutes and then nodded. "Yes."

"Wonderful, hon. I'm so proud of you." Jake grinned.  He turned to Luis, "Thanks my friend. I know you probably had to jump through some hoops to get us this tour, so I really appreciate your time and effort."

"My pleasure. It's not the first time I've had to do this. We have a lot of people afraid of flying, and this makes it a lot easier on them."

"If you're all set, I'll lead you to the baggage claim area where you would pick up your luggage at the end of your flight and then back to the main gate," Luis said.

Jake looked at Duke inquiringly.

Duke smiled and shook hands with Luis. "It did help and I thank you as well. Now I'll know what to expect when we have to fly to our conference."

Luis led the two men to the baggage claim area where the carousels that the luggage would be placed on so they could find theirs and claim them and then back to the main gate and said his goodbyes.  

Jake looked at Duke with love and admiration. "Well, you did it hon. I'll say it again, I'm proud of you."

Duke smiled at Jake, "Thanks I'm rather proud of myself too."

Duke, as they were walking toward the entrance, saw a sign for the restrooms and said, "Jake, I need to use the men's room. I'll be right back."

"Ok hon, I'll wait for you here," Jake said as he watched Duke walk out of sight.  He took out his cell phone and called James.  "Looks like everything's a go, James," Jake said happily. "Duke did great on the run through and I think he'll be fine.  I just have to finalize the plans, and we're all set. Thanks for all your help, James."

James said, "That's great Jake. I knew a little information would help."

"So we'll be ready to go in two weeks.  I'll send lots of postcards." Jake laughed.  "See you when we get back."

James chuckled and told Jake, "I'll make the airplane reservations right away and then bring the e-tickets over to you a few days before you're ready to leave. I hope you already got hotel reservations?"

"Yep, everything else is done. I just had to wait to see if Duke was willing to fly or if we had to drive, but he seems alright with it all now."

"Good,” James said,  “I'm sure the two of you will have a good time. It will be the first time the two of you have done anything outside the resort together."

"I think he'll really enjoy this trip. I have to go now though, he went to the men's room and he should be getting back any moment now. I'll buy you a souvenir from the gift shop before we leave." he joked.

James laughed heartily. "I'll be looking forward to it. Take care and I'll keep in touch."  He disconnected the call and then called the airport to reserve the tickets.

"Bye for now, James." Jake said, hanging up just as Duke arrived.  "Ready to head home, Dove?" Jake asked “Or would you like to stop at the gift shop and see if we can find a few gag gifts for the guys at home?"

Duke grinned. "Sure, let's see what they have at the gift shop."

They spent the better part of an hour looking at and comparing the funny things they found, and deciding on what would be for who, before Duke's stomach growled loudly.

"Let's get some lunch and head back, hon. What do you say?"

Duke flushed a little and said, "I'd say that's a good idea. I'm hungry."

The two men left the airport, got into their truck and headed out in search of anything that wasn't a fast food joint. The enticing aromas of freshly cooked food led Jake to a popular, middle class restaurant and he pulled in, thankful that there was no drive through.  They ordered their food and ate out on the veranda in the sunshine. Jake bit back a yawn. It had been a long day for the two of them and he couldn't wait to get home.

Duke yawned widely as well. They hadn't had much sleep after their shift last night and Duke was looking forward to their bed and Jake curled up next to him.

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