The Fly By Knights – I’ve got it “ROUGH”

Hey Guys. . . I’ve been busy over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to get the New Site up and running. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a “rough” of the first few chapters of the Children’s Book (and Hopefully FILM) I have been working on, of late. . . I understand that this is a departure from what most of you have grown accustomed to with my usually “Snarky Bits”. . . But, I just wanted to get it out there. . . To be HONEST, I have been getting jerked around by a “Publishing Company” (I SO needed an agent) for the last couple months and thought rather than GIVE them my idea, I figured, I’d share it with you. Feel free to share any comments or critiques. . . If this ends up meaning I don’t get the idea published – at least someone saw it. . . Let me know if you think I need to keep going with this thing (at the very least – take the unscientific poll in the right sidebar – the results aren’t going to make much of a difference, but it will be “fun”). . . I will be back after Mother’s Day with a Brand New and relatively amusing “Bit”. . .

‘Til Then. . . Go Figg’r!. . .

Peace Out – Later


The Fly-By Knights – Story and Illustrations by Dan L Freeburg 


“The Fly-By Knights” There’s a small orange orchard nestled in a far-off corner of Northwest Florida. The farm is inhabited by a rag-tag motley collection of birds. These classic-underachievers all aspire to bigger and better things. They are sub-contracted by a parcel delivery service, headed by a stern and underhanded Eagle,named “Sal”, and his 2 “Crow-nies” (crows – “Ace and Deuce”). Our beleaguered bunch use the orchard’s converted crop duster (at night) to make deliveries. Short local runs around the Southeast. Sal decides to “downsize” and pulls their contract, calling them a “fly-by night” operation and leaving them jobless. Because of the competition from bigger companies all seems lost for our friends. Delivery comes to a halt and their base of operations (the orchard’s hangar) is stripped (by Sal and the crows) of all packages, SAVE ONE. Left behind, among the old orange crates, is found a package marked “TOP SECRET”. Its address. . .the White House. Thinking this their last chance to save their business, our crew decides to make the special delivery themselves. They must fly their broken down plane,against the odds. A rough Everglades, an impending Hurricane, a meddling former-boss Sal, who puts them in further peril when he notifies the military and the President of an “unauthorized” plane heading for Washington. Not wanting to look like he dropped the ball, by non-delivery, Sal makes it look like the crop duster has less than good intentions. The military scrambles to send fighters to intercept the plane. The nation is put on “lock down”. Unbeknownst to anyone involved up until now, there are other problems beginning to take shape. In the waters off the east coast of the United States. A small submarine controlled by a Rogue Evil Commander (Abidab Ahdoo) and his crew have been sitting and waiting with plans of his own for our nation’s capitol. He’s also been watching the drama of our heroes playing out via the internet. Thinking this the “perfect” diversion, the Evil Commander decides it would also be his best opportunity to carry out a diabolical attack. The nation watches as our heroes unwittingly become news on every major syndicate. The nation watching spellbound. Because of faulty communication equipment aboard the old, small plane, the pilots mistakes the fighters jettisoned to stop them, as a convoy meant to escort them personally. Just then, the Evil Commander decides to seize this opportunity to begin an attack. . .”Feathers Fly”. Outsmarting everyone,”accidentally” thwarting the Rogue Commander’s plans and with some nifty flying-the Knights make the delivery. The Commander and his crew are captured. Sal is exposed and fired, the country is safe and the President receives the package. . . postmarked for last Christmas.(It’s July). He opens it to find his Grandmother’s Homemade Fruitcake. Oh yeah, so impressed by their bravery, grit and determination, the President names the Knights the new “Ministers of Defense”. . . 

Chapter 1 – The Man and the Moon

A full moon shone through the window as a heavy rain poured outside. . . The man, seated in a large leather swivel chair, sat back and watched the rain patter against the pane. The man’s eyes fixed on the moon as he sat in the stillness of the early morning. Save for the occasional crackles of thunder in the distance, all was quiet. . . too quiet. Occasionally the wind would gust. The branches of a large tree, standing outside the second-story window, would brush against the glass and temporarily cause him to break his stare from the moon. How large, it had seemed to him. How large and distant. He briefly thought back to the days of his youth. How he, as a boy, would stay up for hours with the telescope he’d gotten for his 10th Christmas and look at the moon and the stars. He’d wanted to be an Astronaut. . . a Space Explorer. He chuckled to himself at his boyhood ambitions. When you’re young, you think you can do “anything”. Just then, the phone on the desk he sat next to began to ring. He reached for the receiver, noting the time on the clock sitting next to the phone. . . 2:00 AM. 
“Yes?” he answered. . . “I see. . . thank you for the information General. . . give me a few minutes”.
He hung up the phone and stood to again catch another glimpse of the moon through the window. A large cloud had started to form and moved in front of it, seemingly “stealing away” some of the its light. He sighed. Sometimes, he thought, he’d wished he had become an Astronaut. A lone silhouette had quietly crept into the doorway of the room, as he watched the moon, now almost completely sheltered from view.
“What are we going to do, Sir?” the silhouette asked, turning on a corner lamp so that he could see her.
The man, turned to her slowly and smiled reassuringly, “I wish I knew”.
“Step up the Alert, Sir?” she asked.
“For now,” he replied, “We’ll go over all of it at the briefing in an hour.”
“And the Press?” 
“They’ll know before we do,” he answered.
“Yes, Sir – I suppose they will. . . Thank you, Mr. President,” the woman said, starting out of the door.
“You ever want to be something else when you grew up, ?” he asked, stopping her momentarily.
“Excuse me Sir?” the woman asked, unsure what he meant.
“When you were a kid, I mean. Was there something you wanted to BE?”

After a moment, the woman replied, “I’m not sure I can answer that, Sir”.
“C’mon Trish, how long have we known each other?” he offered; setting her at ease.
She smiled knowingly, “I wanted to be President. . . Sir.”
“That’s what I thought,” he said teasingly as he slowly eased himself back into his chair and exhaled. “I wanted to be an Astronaut, did you know that?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir – I think you may have mentioned something like that before. I’ll prepare the Press-Room,” she walked to the lamp and turned it back down, “I’ll see you down there.”
The president again sat alone, in the dark, and looked at the clock on his desk. . . 2:15 AM. . . “Too early for this sort of thing,” he thought. It seems that the General who’d interrupted his “lunar musings” a few moments earlier had very good reason to. There had been another “Threat” to the United State’s National Security in the “wee-hours” of the morning. He was “sure” that it was like all the others that had been issued over the past several years. It would be talked about on Television and in the News for a few weeks and then. . . inexplicably, would disappear from the Nation’s consciousness. . . just as quickly as it had arrived. But he knew THAT kind of thinking could be dangerous. Just when everyone thought things were going to be okay, well, that’s when there could be “trouble”. . . for “real”. He reached for the red phone on his desk and pushed a single number and held it to his ear.
“Step up the alert,” he stated to whomever was on the other end. . .
He again moved his chair around to face the window. It sounded like the rain had let up a little bit. The clouds that had covered the moon just moments ago, had dissolved and moved on through the night sky. He could again see the moon. A few stars also joining in to make the sky seem especially bright and clear. His chair made a muffled creaking noise, as he sat back and pondered his boyhood dreams, one last time. How small the moon now seemed. So small and so distant. . . “I should’ve been an Astronaut,” he thought to himself. . .

Chapter 2 – “This is a Tough Room”

The room was bustling and noisy. Several reporters and camera persons had already filed into the Press Room. Having received the call from their “close sources”, well before they received official word from the White House, that the president was expected to deliver a message concerning the nation’s newest “mounting crisis”. A handful of reporters, trusty press passes on lanyards around their necks, waited for the president to make his entrance. The reporters going over the notes, containing questions they hoped they would be able to ask the leader of the country. Camera persons steadying their equipment on tripods, trying to ensure that they would get the best possible angle of the president, when those “tough” questions were asked. Then the announcement:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States”, flashbulbs going off and the low hum of video equipment being turned on, filled the room. Everyone’s attention drew towards the door from which the president entered. He walked in solemnly, and with deliberation, headed directly towards his spot at the podium. He looked quite different than he had, hours earlier sitting in the chair in his office, pondering the night sky and  the promise it had held for him as a boy. Several reporters started barking questions at him, before he even had a chance to settle in. Pausing, only briefly to let out a resigned sigh, he approached the bouquet of microphones before him. . . 

“I received a call earlier this morning from General Sampson overseeing the involvement of our troops abroad”. The room filled with reporters and press people beginning to buzz, like a small swarm of bees. He continued, “It was brought to my attention that a group of soldiers, under the direct supervision of the General, had intercepted a small band of enemy soldiers bound for a remote mining village in the Pugor Province.” (Cameras flashing, the reporters voices starting to grow from whispers to nearly full volume) “It is my understanding that these enemy soldiers were transporting weapons to their allies across the border in a neighboring demilitarized zone. . .”
“These soldiers were captured and taken prisoner with minimal gunfire and have been detained for questioning. However, I think it is important to note that among the belongings recovered by our troops were detailed plans for a large military strike to be carried out against our allies and the people of these United States.”
“While these prisoners are being held, EVERY effort will be made to obtain whatever further information is necessary to ensure that these plots can not be carried out. I believe that whatever information is ascertained by the General’s soldiers will be of great benefit in thwarting the enemies attempts to scare or intimidate us as a Nation.” The room was now at a fever pitch. Reporters clammering over one another, jockeying for position. One that would give them the best opportunity to gain the president’s attention.

“I will take a few questions,” said the president, his eyes scouring the room for a friendly face. 

“Yes, Rusty?” he said, settling for a familiar one instead.
“Thank You Mr. President. With the National Security Threat Level raised again for the 3rd time in 8 months, ‘several’ are questioning your commitment to our country’s well-being. . . How do you respond to that?”
The chatter-turned-barking in the room was now deafening. Reporters practically stumbling over themselves, as if they didn’t get within arm’s reach, they might not hear his answer. 
“Well Rusty, I’d have to ask WHO these ‘several’ folks are?” a little annoyed by the question, “Is it YOU Rusty?” the reporter shrugging it off, “How about YOU, Jillian?” as the female reporter quickly shook her head in embarrassment. “Bill, did you want in on this?” as Bill, obviously did NOT, evidenced by the reporter immediately taking his seat in a folding chair amongst the gaggle of reporters left standing. 
“I’d say by raising the alert level, we are doing our job. I’m positive the General and his troops did theirs. We are letting our nation and the world know that we will not stand down to veiled threats or threats of any kind.” the crowd of reporters quieting a little, but only momentarily. Soon they were begging again to be called on, some yelling the questions and interrupting one another. Never being one to like “rude people”, the president rarely called on these guys. . .

“Yes, Jessie,” he called out to a young reporter he remembered from the campaign trail.
“Thank you, Mr. President,” pleased with himself for being recognized, “Sir, many are asking if we aren’t ‘jumping the gun’, that is to say,  There have been no incidents in nearly 10 years. Aren’t we just playing the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’?” 
“Jessie,” quickly re-categorizing this reporter into the “rude people” column,”I must not be a privy to ‘you fella’s’ information. In fact, I think that’s the first of anything like that I’ve heard. What was that you said about a ‘Gun’?” the reporter taking his seat next to Bill as the president pressed on, “We don’t ‘Play’ in this White House. . . unless it is with my children,” the room laughing nervously, “There is no ‘Playing’ in this administration when it comes to National Security. . . But there IS a Wolf. . . and we are doing our best to safeguard the nation.”

“So does that make us a Chicken Coop?” blurted Jillian, (Of Rusty, Jillian and Bill fame) and immediately upon asking, began to take her seat next to the rest.
“Woah there! Jillian,” said the president, “Don’t sit down so quickly. You were just getting interesting. What did you mean by that?”
She reluctantly rose from her seat next to her bested colleagues, “Sir, I just meant that because of the recent reductions in defense spending and declining numbers of those enlisting in the Armed Forces. . . Well sir, some think we don’t CARE anymore. That maybe we have forgotten what it is we are scared OF. I just ask – if the threat is still REAL. . . then who’s out there protecting us?”

Pausing for a moment, to take the question in, the president replied, “That’s a good question, Jill. . . But, let me assure you that we take EVERY threat as a REAL threat and let me go on to ensure our great nation and the World, that we have OUR VERY BEST on the job. . . “

Chapter 3 – The Chicken Coop 

The bright early morning sunrise rose to greet the crystal blue summer sky. A few white wispy clouds drifting lazily on the horizon. The sounds of crickets chirping in unison, then fading, then chirping again. It was warm, but not too warm. A light breeze blew through the trees of a small orange grove. Beside the grove stood an old barn, at least it looked like a barn – save the large over-sized air sock perched atop its facade. Painted in large, red letters above the door was a sign. It read: “Lendell Fester Farms”. Below it, in much smaller letters was an addition in a different shade of red and not quite as neatly scribed, that said: ” . . . & Knight’s Airborne Delivery Service. A low hum, echoed in the background then began to grow louder. . . and closer. . . An old dilapidated water tower barely stood next to the barn now turned “hangar”. On the narrow walkway someone stood, looking to the horizon with a pair of binoculars. Trying to spot where the noise was coming from. Suddenly she caught the plane in her sights. Then she noticed something, no “someone” hanging from the bottom. “THUMP. . . thu. . . thu. . . THUMP!” Two Big Orange Webbed-feet struck the tops of the orange trees, dangling just inches from the treetops. 

“Dag Nab it!” THUMP. . . thu. . .thu. . . THUMP! “OUCH!” A small biplane skimmed the tops of the trees over the orchard, carrying underneath its landing gear, a reluctant passenger. An ANGRY, reluctant passenger who desperately wanted to be anywhere else at that precise moment in time. “Put it DOWN!” cried the terrified (for a platypus) platypus hanging from the plane’s underside. “Larry! Put it down NOW!” The pilot of the aircraft, a unphased (for a pigeon) pigeon, seemed oblivious to his passenger’s plight, unaware of his friend’s screams. . . or perhaps unsympathetic to his dilemma. “These instruments are all wrong,” the pilot said to himself, in an accent reminiscent of an English stage actor (a BAD one), “If I weren’t so humble, I might find another flying organization to align myself with. One more deserving of my expertise”. 
“Larry! Put the plane DOWN,” the voice from the pilot’s headset sternly instructed.
“No, need to get snippy Gail,” he said to the girl on the water tower, “I can handle this one. I just zigged, when I should have zagged. No problems here.”
The plane began to sputter and stall, drifting wildly from right to left. The wings of the biplane rocked up and down. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, the plane rocketed upward, jerking the pilot back in his seat as he found himself staring straight into the heavens. The plane blasting straight into the sky – as if it had been shot out of a cannon. The Platy-passenger beginning to lose his grip as gravity and the speed of the plane, began to work against him. 
“Oh, dear,” mused Larry, “This is new!” trying to regain his bearings, without letting on that he was.
“Level it out!”, he heard from his headset. He eased up on the wheel and he gained a little bit more control. He started to circle and descend, preparing to land. 
“Woah, woah, woah!” he heard from under the plane, “What do you think you’re DOING?”
 He tried to look under the plane, but only saw a pair of big orange feet. However, towards the earth below, he could see a few “dots” scurrying about on the ground. He assumed his friends in preparation for a “triumphant landing”. 
“Righty then,” he proclaimed, taking a moment to choke down a much needed swallow, “I’d say it’s about time to put this bird down.”
“Ya’ THINK?”, he heard the voice from under the plane, frantically and sarcastically ask.

“Not YOU,” yelled Larry, “I wouldn’t put YOU down, dear boy!”

“I’m. . . NOT. . . a. . . BIRD!” managed the platypus, holding on for dear life.
“Apples and Oranges,” replied Larry, “ORANGES? . . . Get It?” . . . the platypus tightened his grip on the landing gear. He wanted to make it through this disaster alive, so he could KILL him.
Below them, the “ground crew” prepared for an Emergency Landing. Gail, a golden and “well-kept” (for a chicken) chicken, had now joined the rest of the group from her “Bird’s Eye” view at the “Control Tower” – a beaten up water tower, near the hangar. Karl, a hungry (for a buzzard) buzzard and Dwight, a plucky (for a duck) duck also stood below, looking around for anything that might help their buddies get out of this mess.
“Is there anything we should DO?”, asked Gail.
Looking around, Dwight spotted a tractor and some hay in a horse pen nearest the hangar. “I’ve got an idea,” he said, “When I give the word, Just tell him to buzz the hangar.”
“WHAT?”, cried Gail and Karl together.
“Just do it!” He said, “I saw this on Most Amazing Videos and Plane Crashes once”. Then Dwight scurried (as ducks don’t run) over to the tractor, hopped on the driver’s seat and started it up. The engine roared to life as he quickly began moving the hay around into a large pile.
Karl, slowly began to creep away from Gail towards the hangar. “Where do you think YOU’RE going Karl?” Trying to hide a knife and fork he was holding behind his back, he coyly looked at her, “You know they’re my friends, right?”
“Yes, Karl,” she replied, not wanting to really know where this was going, “Where did you GET those?”
“And sometimes, accidents happen, right?”, he ignored her, “Like, sometimes those in trouble don’t always ‘Make It’?”, he asked, taking out a kerchief and tying it around his neck as a makeshift bib.
“KARL!” she screamed disgustedly, “You need HELP!”
“Okay, Okay,” said Karl, “Mom, just always said to be prepared for an emergency.”
“That’s NOT what she meant, Karl,” Gail snapped, looking at him with the shame reserved for his “disgusting moments”.
“I’m a Buzzard, Gail, ya’ know? Emmerrrrggencccies?”, now tucking away his dining utensils.
“Then wear clean underwear Karl,” said Gail sharply, “. . . and your mom was a vegetarian!”
“Rest her soul,” said Karl. Gail shooting him a suspicious glance, as he looked to the plane in the sky. 
“What?”, she asked.
“Oh, nothin’ “, said Karl, “Hey. . . I think they’ll be okay”, pointing to the distressed plane as it circled above, trying to rid himself of Gail’s “evil eye”. 

From inside the hangar, a clanging noise sounded. Like someone was knocking together pots and pans. Karl, hearing this started towards the sound with curiosity and more than his fair share of hunger pangs. “Where are you going NOW?”, Gail called after him. “I’m just wonderin’ who’s rustlin’ up some grub!”, he replied, as he headed towards the noise. Through with his nonsense, Gail directed her attention towards her friends in the sky. “Are you ready!”, she hollered over to Dwight, who was finishing moving the hay into place. “Almost!” he yelled, “Tell Larry to go ahead and buzz the hangar! But NOT to hit it! When he gets to it, tell Shredder to JUMP!” Gail looked at Dwight incredulously, “Are you SERIOUS?!”, she asked. “Just tell Shredder to aim for the haystack!” Dwight had seen Karl running into the barn and wondered what “else” was going on. The banging and clanging stopped, a pig suddenly squealed and ran from the barn, looking back over its shoulder in anger. Bouncing out from the hangar’s large door (not so much bouncing, as bumbling and stumbling) nearly knocking over Karl, came a bright pink (for a flamingo) flamingo carrying a LARGE bucket filled with water. He loped clumsily towards Dwight spilling most of the water along the way and yelling, “I got an idea boss!” 
“You gonna’ put out the fire?” Karl asked, following behind him.
“Nah,” he answered, “Shredder can JUMP into this!”
“Oh, Brother,” responded Dwight, “Never mind that! Get over here and give me a hand!”
Gail, figuring this was as good a time as any, spoke into her headset, “Okay, Larry! Dwight says you need to buzz the hangar. Get as close as you can to the horse pen. . . and LOW! When you’re comin’ up on it, tell Shredder to jump!”
“Larry!. . . Larry, can you hear me?” she asked, worried that there was something wrong with their equipment, “Larry?!”
“Ha, ha, ha,” she heard him bellow through her earphone, “THAT’S your PLAN?”
“Larry, just DO IT”, she scolded, “Dwight says he’s seen this done before. It’ll work!”
Suddenly, the plane began to sputter again. Larry glanced down at the instrument panel and noticed something he hadn’t before. . . the fuel gauge. . . and it read EMPTY. “Gail, my pet?”, he said looking over the side of the plane, making sure he could still see the big orange feet, “I hope he saw this WORK! . . . I’m coming in!” Black exhaust began to chug from both engines as the plane began to stall and shift violently from its holding pattern. “What’s going on up there?” yelped Shredder, swaying back and forth. “Nothing to worry about, I assure you. . . are you SURE you’re not a BIRD?” Larry asked. Lining the plane up with the hangar, Larry began a descent. A little faster and less steady than he might have liked. “WHAT?”, cried Shredder, noticing their altered flight path and his friends, scrambling around in the rapidly approaching distance. “When we get over the haystack, JUMP, my friend!” exclaimed Larry. They were closing the distance. . . fast. The ground below growing closer beneath them and the smoke from the propeller engines now billowing and gasping, the wings rocking back and forth. Larry putting his flight goggles down to shield his eyes, prepared for impact, “Oh, dear!”, he said. As the plane approached, everyone knew it wasn’t going to land gracefully. Scattering to the side,to avoid being landed on, Dwight jumped over the pen’s fence. Karl followed suit. Leaving the flamingo standing directly in the path of the oncoming plane. . . frozen in place. Gail watched from a safe distance, as the plane swooped from the sky, heading straight for her friend. . . and his bucket. “DUCK!” she yelled to the bird, “DUCK PACO! DUCK!” The flamingo didn’t move, holding his bucket firmly as the plane made a beeline for the hangar. 500 feet . . . dropping. . . 400 feet . . . falling . . . 300, 200. . . Larry, still trying his best to guide the plane, now decided it was best if he closed his eyes. Below him, Shredder saw the haystack now coming on fast and decided to close his eyes too. Paco, stood his ground and felt the air from those big orange feet whiz by his head and over the pen. Shredder yelling, “AAAAHHHHH!” Larry, bracing himself. . . and . . . .”BAM!”

Smoke and dust filled the air. Feathers from the many chicken cages lining the walls inside the hangar filled the sky. Dwight, Gail and Karl all picked themselves up from the ground where they had taken cover. They all looked towards the hangar. At first unable to see anything for the dirt and smoke. Then it began to settle. They all looked at each other and were afraid to look back at the barn, for fear of what they might see. Then they heard something. “Very Nice!”, they heard, now able to make out the tail of the plane sticking out from a very large hole in the side of the hangar. It was Larry. “Very Nice indeed! Wow! That was TERRIFIC!”, they heard him coughing. Then they saw him emerge from the door to the hangar, brushing himself off as he walked towards them. “Did you SEE that? I nearly missed the building altogether”, shaking his head in feigned disbelief, “If ‘I’ hadn’t done it myself, I’d say that was nothing short of Brilliant!” 
“Where’s Shredder?”, asked Dwight abruptly shrugging off his cocky friend, “Is he okay?”
“Shredder?” asked Larry, “Oh yes, I think you may want to locate that one.”
The threesome followed Dwight around the corner and there they saw them, sticking out from a decimated haystack . . Two Big Orange Webbed-feet. . . moving. Slowly sitting up spitting bits of hay from his bill, Shredder cleared his throat. He was intact. . . intact and UPSET. He dusted himself off and slowly got to his webbed-feet. He was battered and sore; and whispering angrily underneath his breath. Looking at Larry, he said, “JUMP? Are you MENTAL?” 
“It was Dwight’s idea, my dear boy. If you should blame anyone for your misfortune it should be your pint-sized cousin.”
“Zip it Larry! We’re NOT related!”, said Dwight elbowing past Karl towards the pigeon.
“I’m. . .NOT a BIRD!”, said Shredder standing at Dwight’s side.
“Well, I think that goes without saying after THAT performance,” Larry replied.
“Why, I oughta’. . . You nearly KILLED me!” said Shredder trying to push through Dwight’s minimal arm restraint.
“And it seems as if you NEARLY repaired the intake manifold. Good thing you finished the landing gear”.
“Finished it?. . . I was working on it when you TOOK OFF!” 
“Guys, guys! Knock it off, I think there something wrong with Paco,” said Gail motioning to their flamingo companion.
There, standing in the center of the horse pen, bucket in hand, was Paco. . . staring at them vacantly, mumbling to himself. . . “I got a bucket,” said Paco, “. . . I got a bucket”. 
Gail, concerned for her friend, walked over and waved her hands before his glazed-over eyes. “Paco, are you okay darlin’? . . . Paco?”
They joined her in front of the flamingo and took turns trying to get his attention. Nothing seemed to work. 
He just kept staring straight ahead, visibly shaken by his “close call” saying, “I got a bucket. . I got a bucket. . . “
After a couple of minutes of this Dwight, grew visibly frustrated and grabbed the bucket of water from his hands, hoisted it above his taller friend and turned it over, drenching the flamingo. Paco, shaken free from his trance-like state, looked at his friend.
“Are we good here?”, inquired Dwight.
The newly-alert and very wet Paco shook his feathered brow. Snapping out of it, he answered, “Oh. . . Hey Dwight!. . . You got a bucket. . . did it WORK?”
“Worked great, buddy,” Dwight lied. 
Then the bunch, having just narrowly escaped disaster, turned together to survey the damage.
“If you folks will excuse me,” said Larry, “I think there’s somewhere ELSE I need to be. . . Oh yes! Now I remember!. . .May I borrow someone’s cellular phone?”
“Zip it Larry!”, said Dwight, “. . .We’ve got some cleanin’ to do”.
“Are you SURE, you two aren’t related?”, Larry said, motioning towards Shredder. . .

Chapter 4 – The Hammer Falls

It was late in the afternoon. The team had spent most of the day using the tractor to carefully pull down the side of the barn and extract the plane from the large hole it created when Larry “landed it”. It wasn’t easy. The front end of the plane had seen a lot of damage. But when they finally got the plane out, Shredder (the mechanic of the bunch) was shocked at how few repairs it would take to get the “bird” up and flying again. The plane itself was a mess, beaten up and old. But as far as he was concerned, it was “Air Force One”. He’d spent a lot of time keeping that old plane running. After all, they had a job to do. . . 
“How’s the plane look, pal?”, asked Dwight walking up to Shredder who was tinkering with a propeller.
“Just a couple rolls of duct tape and a couple spot welds oughta’ do it,” he replied, turning a wrench in one of the prop engines compartments.
“And you?. . . How you doin’?”, asked Dwight, noticing Shredder’s tattered and dirty overalls.
“I’m cool Cuz,” he replied, “It’s all good, but you REALLY need to talk to Larry. He’s gonna’ kill one of us one of these days. . . or himself.”
They looked at each other and shrugged, laughing.
“I KNEW it,” Larry chuckled, as he strode towards them confident and beaming, “You two ARE cousins!”

They turned towards him, looked at each other. Dwight rolled his eyes and spoke, “Larry. . . give it a rest.”

“Right then,” he said, “No matter. I thought I felt my ears burning. Were you chaps getting my flight plan ready for this evening?”

“YOUR flight plan?”, Dwight yelped, “That’s rich! It’s MY turn in the rotation Larry. . .MY night to fly. . . and you don’t even HAVE ears”

“Yeah,” Shredder added, “and if it wasn’t for me,” turning back to his work, “well. . . you’re lucky to be flyin’ anything oughta’ here tonight”.
Larry continued on as if they hadn’t said anything of any importance, “Someone needs to get Gail in here. As I recall, I was given a ‘short run’ last night. I hardly call that a mission!. . . and I HAVE ears, you just can’t SEE them”

“Mission?”, Dwight scoffed, “We’re a Delivery Service Larry! …And your ‘short run’ practically took all night! You got lost… again!”
“Lost?”, challenged Larry, “I assure you, I followed the flight plan I was given by your girlfriend, to a tee!”

“She’s not my. . . ” 
“What’s going on guys?”, Gail said strolling up and surprising them, “Are you at it again?”

“Speak of the temptress,” cooed Larry, “I was just informing these boys that the flight plan you furnished me with last evening was impeccably conceived.”

“It’s NOT a flight plan Larry,” corrected Dwight, “It’s a ‘list of addresses‘ “. You drop the packages at the addresses. Then you LEAVE.”
“You make it sound so demeaning lad,” Larry countered, “Parcel delivery is a time-sensitive operation!”
“And you got LOST. . . again! Who ever heard of a “homing pigeon” with NO sense of direction?” asked Dwight, not so much asking as declaring.
“Boys, please!”, Gail crossed her arms, having heard enough, “Is the plane ready Shredder?”
“I could use a hammer,” he replied looking back at the plane.
“A hammer?”, she asked?
“Yeah, I need to knock some sense into these two!”, he said shaking his head.

Dwight looked at Larry, “It’s MY night,” he whispered.

“Mine.” countered Larry.
Gail looked at the two and shook her head. She looked towards Shredder and smiled, “Let’s find you a hammer.” . . . 

(To Be Continued?. . .)

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