Monday, June 9, 2008

"The Western Inn"

Lightly edited and added to. It pretty much gets through day one.

I'm still trying to figure out what to incorporate from work and how.

There were a few uh, interesting moments at The Western. Not too many but too many to cram into one nights worth of tale.

What follows is a fictional account. Any resemblance to places or people; living or dead is their own damn fault.

Rated R for Adult Language and Situations.

The Western Inn
7666 NW Route 66
Bethune, OK

William George arrived in Okay City, OK with his truck and his toolbox.

William George made his living as an itinerant aircraft mechanic. Rolling from town to town wherever the work lead him.

Once again the road lead to Okay City.

The license plates say, “Oklahoma is OK!” That summed it up for William George. Oklahoma IS ok. It’s not bad and it’s not great. It’s just ok.

That Sunday afternoon in February after he made his way off of I35 and headed West on I40, he picked the first motel that looked reasonably safe and convenient.

His tool box, lashed to the bed or the pick-up was foremost in his mind. To lose it to theft would be an overwhelming loss. Not just the expense of replacing it but the work lost without it. Without it, he couldn’t work to replace it.

The last place he stopped for gas in Texas was just south of Dallas. It had been breezy but still shirt sleeve weather.

Okay City was another world. The wind was hard out of the north and bitter.

William George hustled into the motel office and scored a room for the night.

He backed into a space in front of his room and hustled inside.

Once inside he immediately cranked up the heat and threw open curtain, to keep an eye on the tool box.

With the bed pillows stacked and a cold beer on the night stand he made a few phone calls and fell asleep with the TV on.

At six am. He lurched out of bed and looked out the window. “Still there.” the tool box was still closed and lashed in place.

The recruiter had told him to report at seven-thirty a.m. Having worked in the same facility previously he remembered the start time as seven.

With plenty of time but no coffee pot in the room William George hurried to get ready and get a few cups from the lobby before he had to leave.

He pulled on a light jacket and stepped out the door.

“Shit!!!” 20 degrees a stiff wind and the truck windows frosted solid.

Once again he hustled to the lobby.

No coffee ready.

He checked out and hustled to the truck.

“Shit!!!” The inside of the cab was a deep freeze.

William George put the key in the ignition and turned it.

‘rauhh rauhh rauh rau’

The cold had sucked the life out of the battery.

He hustled once again to the lobby to call a taxi for a jump start.

“Yellow Cab.”

“I need a jump at the Overnight Motel.”

“Twenty dollars, up front, whether it starts or not.”

“I figured that. About how long?”

“30 to 45 minutes.”

“Great. I’ll be waiting.”

At least there was coffee brewing now. He took a Styrofoam cup and pulled the half full pot from the burner. Still brewing, the stream of hot coffee made a huge sizzling puddle on the burner, the counter and the floor.

He made a half hearted effort at cleaning up the mess and hustled back to the truck, ‘Maybe if I try one more time…’

‘rau, rau.’

“Damn it!”

Funds were tight and a twenty dollar “whether it starts or not” jump start was not in the budget.

A couple came down the stairs and began to get in the car in the next stall.

“Excuse me! Good morning. Do ya’ll have any jumper cables?”

“No, I’m sorry.”, the woman replied from over the roof.

“But, we’ve got a jumper box at home.”, the man added before getting into the passenger side.

“I could go get it…”

“She’s got to take me to work first…”

“But, I can be back in about twenty minutes.”

“Great. I’d really appreciate that. I just got to town and today is my first day of work.”

“Oh man, I’ll be back. We only live a few blocks from here.”

“I’ll be here. Thanks!”

William George hustled back to the lobby for another cup of coffee.

He stood there, peering out the plate glass window at the sunrise and the building traffic, “This does not bode well for my last trip to Okay City.”

For William George, EVERY trip to Okay City was to have been the last.

He’d grown up 90 miles from the spot where he stood.

1981 had been his first attempt to escape.

Again in 1982.

Finally, he thought, he’d made his break and gone to Dallas. Once there he’d started a new life and career.

That career took him first to Selma, Alabama. From Dallas County Texas to Dallas County Alabama overnight.

Eight years later that career brought him back to Okay City for a year.

At the first opportunity he was gone again for nearly four years.

He had returned to lick wounds and get back on track in 2000 and got stranded in the Okay City for several years.

Atlanta provided a year or so respite until he got angry and quit a job where he was caught up in “Political Crossfire” and budget crunching.

He’d returned for another year and it was back to Texas. San Antonio, Texas.

San Antonio was the place where he’d long ago decided that if he had to live in the United States of America it would be in San Antonio in the By- God- Republic of Texas.

19 months later he was back again, in Okay City.

Every time it carried a lump of defeat.

‘I can’t do any better.’

‘I can’t make it anywhere else.’

“I’ll have to go back to the Okay City. Goddamn it!”

Not yet late for work but the inevitable approached with the sun.

‘Wait a minute?’, They live right around the corner but are staying in a motel? How or why does that work?

William George returned to the freezing pick-up. He didn’t want to miss the rescue. Whoever it turned out to be. He just hoped that the cab and the lady with the jumper box didn’t arrive at the same time.

As it turned out the lady that just lived around the corner form the motel returned before the taxi showed. You can almost always count on those pirates to take longer than they estimate.

She rolled the back window down and said, “There ya go!”

William George snatched the box and connected it to the already exposed battery.

“Come on baby doll…”

He turned the ignition switch and the engine responded with the usual growl.

“Any wonder why I love you. I’ll get you a new battery.”

He quickly disconnected the box, slammed the hood, coiled the cords around the box and returned it to the reopening window, “Thank you so very much!”

Immediately back in the cab, he jammed the truck down into second gear, hauled ass out of the parking lot and immediately hit the first traffic light red.

“Damn”, he immediately felt guilty, “I should have at least offered her some money.

After having to stop at each and every traffic signal between the motel and the hangar he arrived 15 minutes late.


He punched in and asked the first guy he saw, “Where do I find Don the contractor coordinator?”

“That’s me. You George.”


“Lemme introduce ya to Keenan, he’s the Floor Supervisor.”

“Uh, I know Keenan. I’ve been here before.”

“Great, yeah, he’s right in here. I’ll introduce ya.”


William George knew Keenan very well.

When Don said, “Keenan, this is…”

Keenan looked up from his desk and said, “Get your tool box and get to fucking work.”

Don thought, ‘That’s just Keenan.’

William George just grinned and went to find the fork lift.

“What the fuck are YOU doing?”, it was Stavros.

“Looking for the fork lift.”

“Oh goddamn you’re not here to work are ya?”


“Pull the Dodge around. I’ll unload it for ya.”

With the Snap-On treasure chest on the old familiar floor William George scanned the deck for work to do.

Don the contractor coordinator approached, “We’re wrapping this one up for storage.”, and walked away.

‘Bullshit’, thought William George, ‘There’s gotta be something better to do.’ It was then he spotted James, the sheet metal lead man on the next airplane over.

“Hey! I heard you were coming back. How was San Antonio?”

“Had it’s ups and downs.”

“Mostly downs?”

“A couple of deep downs.“

“Glad you’re back.”

“What have ya got going? Need any help?”

“Spar repairs. I need some sealer scrapped.”

“Beats putting plastic on windows. Which fuel cells.”

Eight A.M. and he was back at work.

Most of the old cast of characters were still around. William George enjoyed the welcome he received. He really liked it a lot. It began to bring him up from one of the ‘deep downs’ of San Antonio.

It didn’t set well with some of his fellow contract employees.

Contractors are expendable. They can be fired in less time than it takes a NASCAR Cup driver car to shift gears.

A couple of the guys felt themselves drop a notch in the standings without even a race being run. Penalized, so to speak.

It really didn’t help that the F.N.G. just buddied up with a NASCAR Official.

James has no qualms about firing contractors and has the full support of management. He earned it. James made his bones as a contractor and is a sheet metal artist.

William George set about scrapping sealer from the seams of various fuel cells. It was a really crummy job but all the crummy jobs have to be dooe before the plane gets out the door.

One thing about scrapping sealer from fuels cells is you have to look inside with a flashlight and mirror and identify your target.

You can’t see a thing once you shove your arm in the hole but you can see what’s going on around you.

William George began to notice; these two guys cliquing up over there, that guy on the computer more than anything or anyone else, that guy wandering around with a parts requisition in his hand, that guy walking from place to place talking to whomever was around.

‘Sucks to be you guys.’

At Two P.M. James was packing up for the day.

“James, what time do you come in?”

“Five-thirty. You can come in early if you want to.”

“See ya in the morning.”

Four P.M. finally ticked around.

William George headed back out to the Dodge, “Crap, I don’t have a place to go ‘home’ to.”
He headed towards Route 66. A piece of what was left of the Mother Road anyway.

Having been in the Okay City too many times before he knew that the farther East he went the more expensive it would be to find a room.

He turned West not knowing what might remain of his memories.

Less than a mile down the road Mother provided.

An ancient tourist court with a yellow banner flipping and flopping in the incessant Oklahoma wind, “Free Cable and Wireless Internet”

“The Western Inn”


Rodolfo said...

Are you gonna make this into a book? The first draft that you posted hit a sweet spot because you can feel some kinda crescendo building up in the story. This extended version still has that feel but not as much. Maybe it should been a new chapter or something. Still impressive though. Better than anything I can write for sure.

David said...

This is just drafted.

I'm still trying to sort out some of the stuff that goes on at work and some of the weirdness that went on at that little motel.

There weren't very many incidents at the motel but, a couple were doozies.

So, let's just say that I'm working towards a complete short story.

I do want to do a collection of hangar stories/ legends.

Like, the two chowder heads that decided to 'borrow' a Baron from a paint shop for a joy ride...

Rodolfo, what is required by the reg's for a newly painted airplane?

Figure out the answer and you can deduce the outcome of the joy ride.

Rodolfo said...

Not ignoring the question. just caught up with crap. man all i can think of at the moment are displays of N-number markings. would that be in the 43?

hey man what would you say is a reasonable starting rate at a small repair shop that services a flight school? btw I'm not taking my oral/practical until sometime august. I figure I'll work at a shop over the summer as a good refresher. there's this website called that rents out aviation videos and I rented the king study guides as well. waaaaay better than buying it. Saved a few hundred bucks. thanks in advance.

David said...

I COULD be easy on you but I'm not gonna be.

How many airplanes have their N number on the flight controls?

Oops! I guess that was a clue.

Let me know when ya get a handle on the question.

Videos? Are they on VHS? We didn't have videos!

Seriously, we used the test guides with the answers in the back. We highlighted the correct answer on each question in all three books.

Read them, over and over ad nauseum. BUT! Only look at the correct answer EVERY TIME!

That will get you through the written part. JUST take your time! Sure, 70% is good enough and it wont show up on your license. Nobody will know your score BUT you.

The practical is a whole other deal. It depends on the DME.

My practical was a joke. A hoax even. I searched a 172 for a few part numbers and serial numbers and filled out a 337. That was about it.

I have friends that got grilled!

I've seen people get a Real Practical. Witnessed it. An old DME putting folks thru rope and dope tests!!!

Wages? Man, I don't know what to tell you Rodolfo.

Last night, I talked to a friend from A&P School. (15 years since the last time I saw him in San Francisco.)

We took our O&P on the same day so his license probably is dated like mine, 07/07/88.

Anyway, He went to San Fran and I went to Selma, Alabama.

Did you know that in 1988 $8.10 an hour was, "Damn good money, in Selma!"?

It wasn't.

And, $16.20 wasn't good money in San Francisco either.

I had more spendable income at the end of the month than he did. Not much! But more.

You knew that tho. Right?

So, if you can pay your bills at the flight school, go for it.

If yo can gut it out on 'not enough money', do so.

That 3 to 5 years starts when you start turning wrenches. Not when you started school or when you got your ticket.

Rodolfo said...

Weight and Balance!

David said...

Ahhh, very good Grasshopper!