Friday, July 11, 2014

Chapter 25

As the group exited the locker room, Captain Sherwood offered Peggy Lee and Ian the use of his office to prepare for the shoot.  “Just don’t try to go outside yet,” the Captain instructed.  “All of the exterior doors are locked and sealed until we clear the Spore Zone.  You will hear an announcement when it's safe to exit.”
Graham, Charley, Captain Sherwood, and the escort soldiers went up to the bridge, a large room at the rear of the boat with floor-to-ceiling windows, which, when not obscured by fog, overlooked the boat’s long deck two stories below.  Graham ordered a soldier to bring Peggy Lee and Ian a pot of coffee and some cookies.
When the boat cleared the pier, Charley pulled Graham aside.  “Sir, I didn’t mean to be argumentative down below.  I just thought your initial inclination to return to HQ made sense.”
“I understand, Charley, but Peggy Lee is under a deadline and well . . . .”
“Yeah, but deadlines can always be pushed back – especially for someone like Peggy Lee.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to delay for a day or two, make sure everyone’s healthy, get the bags, and then come back out here?”
“Perhaps I let Peggy Lee talk me into pressing on too quickly,” Graham said, smiling, “but she’s a pretty convincing woman.”
“Yeah, I see your point.”  After a moment, Charley asked, “So what do you think of your chances?”
“Chances of what?”
“Your chances of getting somewhere with her?  She clearly likes you.  But you gotta play your cards right with a woman like that.  You gotta have the right approach or you risk getting rejected right away.  Do you have a plan?”
“Yeah, I have a plan.  My plan is to do nothing,” Graham responded.  “She’s here in a professional capacity.  And I’m an Army representative – the Colonel in charge of these facilities in fact.  I can just imagine the headlines:  ‘Army Outpost Filled to the Very Top With Aggressive, Sex-deprived Perverts.’  I’m certainly not going to try to hit on Peggy Lee.  It would be completely inappropriate.  Not to mention the fact that she would slap me silly if I tried anything.  She is way out of my league.  You and I both know it.”
“Sir, with due respect, you’ve got it all wrong.  She’s totally into you.  I could see it within the first five minutes of being around you two this morning.  Ian can see it, too, I’m sure.  Shoot, the hover transport pilot could probably see it on the cabin cameras.  You just need to play your cards right.  Again, with all due respect, don’t be a coward.  She’s one of the most beautiful and talented women I have ever met.  You’d have to be crazy not to at least give it a try.  I’d be all over her if I was in your shoes.  She’s sending you positive signals left and right.”
“To tell you the truth, Charley, I’ve never been good at reading these kinds of situations.  We did have a really nice time last night, just the two of us in the planetarium.  And . . . well . . . I guess I can let you in on a little secret.”  Graham lowered his voice.  “I asked her if she wanted to go out beyond the fog curtain to see the stars tonight after dinner.  She was totally into the idea.  But I was not planning on making any advances.  I’m at least ten years older than she is.  So my plan was to take her out there for a little while tonight, show her the stars, and, well . . . who knows?”
“Now you’re talking, Chief.  You never know with women these days – she might make things a whole lot easier for you by making the first move.  If she doesn’t, though, my guess is that she will be waiting for you to do it.  So you’ve got to act decisively when the time is right, okay?”
“We’ll see,” laughed Graham. 
“There’s only one thing that I’d add to your plan,” Charley said.  “You need to find a way to bring some wine or booze or something out there with you.  I bet I can rustle you up something when we get to the Platform.  I know some soldiers had a batch of reconstituted burgundy going a couple of months ago.  It won’t win any awards, but it should do the trick.  Supplies are always limited, but if you want, I can hunt around this afternoon.  A couple of the guys on the Platform owe me a favor or two so I should be able to get my hands on something for you by tonight.”
“Sounds good.  I’m completely dry.  My flask is back in my bag on the wrecked transport vehicle.  I’m not sure she really would have appreciated my white lightning anyway.  But please don’t say anything to anybody.  I was planning on keeping the whole star-gazing expedition under the radar.  Just say that you want the wine for yourself.”
“Ten-four, good buddy” Charley said.  “In fact, I will start right now.  Those escort soldiers were out on the Platform just a few days ago, right?  I will ask them if they have any leads.”
“Thanks, Charley, but don’t make it too obvious.  I’m trusting you.”
“Not to worry.  I’ll hook you up with the finest vintage available.  I’m glad to be of service, sir.”

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