“Oh hey, you’re awake. Good. You want a sandwich?” Bud tossed an unmarked book that he had been reading onto the center console, and got up from the built in sofa to go to the plane’s mini-fridge.
“Not just yet.” Ben rubbed his eyes and sat up.
“Well, I’m having one. Ham’s pretty good.” Bud said, pulling out a sandwich wrapped in foil and canned Schlitz, then returning to his spot across from Ben.
Looking out one of the small, round windows, Ben saw nothing but ocean blue. “So what the hell is going on, here?”
“I couldn’t talk turkey with you until we got you out of the country. Unfortunately, although we’re working to protect America, we can’t hang out around there too much.” Bud said, then took a bite from his sandwich. “Unless we’re on a mission or something.”
Ben was beginning to question the sanity of his friend, as well as himself for getting into whatever this was. Bud detected this, perhaps from the way that Ben buried his face in his hands.
“Allright Sarge, here’s what the deal is. I’ll paint in broad strokes here, because we’ll be coming in for a landing pretty soon, and I want you to have a handle on who these cats are you’re going to be meeting.” Bud said, setting his sandwich aside, “It started with an espionage and paramilitary group Kennedy was putting together because he didn’t trust Hoover, and he was kinda iffy on most of his generals, too. Except one guy. Did you hear about General Schwartz?”
“Sure.” Ben answered, “5 star muckety muck, died in that plane crash. Big news story just before the Bay Of Pigs, then it was forgotten.”
“Yeah, well, he’s not dead. We staged that whole crash thing to get him off the board, He answered directly to Kennedy for this project we’re still working on. All of us, including you and me, have faked deaths, so that we can act with impunity on what we have to do.” Bud said, matter of fact.
“What about Kennedy? Is he not dead, too? Are we gonna go meet him? Maybe he can tell us if Marilyn’s curtains matched her drapes.” Ben responded, as he lit a Chesterfield.
“Nah, Jack’s dead.” Bud said, “Jack’s real dead. And no, they didn’t match, but it didn’t matter with her, you hardly noticed. Anyway, after Kennedy was shot last year, our whole thing just kept rolling, because we were set up to act autonomously. Nobody in the government knew we existed, including LBJ.”
“Yeah, nobody wants to trust Johnson with anything important.” Ben said, scratching his head and gazing out the window.
“I detect that you’re ribbing me a little bit, Sarge, but what you’re saying is actually right. We’re talking about a guy who sent his jacket to the cleaner’s but left the code to activate the nuclear missile silos in it’s pocket. That guy’s not ready for what we’re dealing with. Maybe Jack Kennedy wasn’t up for it, either.” Bud could see that Ben was having a tough time taking in what he was telling him.
“This is a lot to lay on you, Sarge. But I’ve followed your activities since the war, and I know you’re going to be the exact right guy for what we need from you. You and the Captain will hit it off, and then we can get down to brass tacks.”
Ding! Ding! Louise’s voice came over the intercom. “Buckle up, gentlemen. We’re coming in for a landing.”
“That dame’s flying the plane?” Ben asked, taking a draw off his smoke.
“Ha, ha, she can fly a plane and do a whole lot more, Sarge. Take it from me, she’s no shrinking violet.” Bud mused, as he snapped his seat belt in place.
Ben looked out the window, expecting to see a land mass. Instead, he saw that they were closing in on an aircraft carrier. On the side, the words USS INDIANAPOLIS were emblazoned.
“Figures. So if you answered to Kennedy, and Kennedy’s dead, who’s in charge of this thing?” Ben asked, snubbing out his cigarette in the built-in ashtray.
“You are.” Bud smiled big.
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