Chapter 53. Singapore
After he left Hiroshima, Japan, Tom’s plane traveled over the expansive eastern Pacific Ocean, the early day was clear and broken clouds. The Pacific Wizard’s upgraded twin engines operated so smooth and so well-balanced, one would hardly know they pushed the big plan at hundreds of miles-per-hour as he wandered around the open expanse of the big jet alone.
Tom walked the length of the plane, using the restroom. At his designated altitude, he still flew slow compared to the commercial airliners.
Not meant for blistering speed, his craft and home was a yacht, after all, a flying boat. And even with the upgrades in the engines, it still traveled at a sedate speed of a little less than six-hundred kilometers-per-hour, about thirty-percent slower compared to commercial passenger jet.
But, it was his home.
He passed over the water, the autopilot followed the path programmed in the flight computer. The Japanese were sticklers about accuracy and with the unusual private jet, made good and sure that he had the proper data set logged into the computer.
He stood behind the pilot’s seat, he did not sit back down, just stood there and watched the machine fly on itself with the automatic guidance system engaged. He had spent a lot of time in the plane in recent weeks. Although his arm was no longer oozing blood, he kept applying new, clean dressings, if the air-pressure changes caused some unexpected problems. The last thing he wanted, to lose the use of his injured arm.
It would have a scar for some time that would be impressive to show off. But for now it was an angry line that crossed his forearm, as if someone hit him with an ax.
It was quite impressive to the unprepared, if he could show it off. But there was no one to show it to while being on the Pacific Wizard in mid-flight.
Tom took a deep breath and let it out in a controlled slow exhale, it felt so good, he stretched a second time before he went to his desk and picked up the tablet computer. It was the one he used so often to write on and sat back in the pilot seat, where he could keep an eye on the displays.
Radar indicated several aircraft above and below, a heavy jet was passing over him going the same direction. He read the display and looked the specs up on his computer and shook his head at the numbers it displayed on the size and speed of the larger plane.
Laughing, the engines on the passenger jet was larger by far than the two that powered the Wizard. Even with the engine upgrades when he purchased the big jet through his company, the specs made him a tiny bit envious.
If he could get another upgrade and put those on his yacht.
Laughing out loud again, he realized he would have to have the engines out on longer stalks or have divots pounded into the fuselage of the plane to fit the big fan-powered blowtorches.
A man could stand up inside the big airliner’s engines if he had a mind to.
He could spend all day in the air with Kaylee if he had the plane like those. Except for the cost, some twenty-five thousand US dollars per hour!
She would have to paint a lot to sell her creations to help offset the cost of flying a privately owned seven-eight-seven.
*Even if it is just a fantasy.* Tom shook his head. *There was no way to buy one of those wide-bodied birds.*
The memory of the woman echoed in his head.
His shoulders sagged. He had spent almost the last two hours not thinking of that raven-haired artist.
She had made him laugh, and even if she had not intended to do so, she had hurt him to the core of his heart.
More than he would ever admit to anyone except himself. It was important to him that she kept her promise to… He forgot the other man’s name except he was a congressional aide of some kind.
Shaking his head, he returned to his writing, trying to keep Leonard the Leafy Sea Dragon and his friend Weeds, on a child’s level of understanding. This story had become one about keeping promises.
“A promise kept, makes a person’s word valued.” He typed on the screen in the word bubble of Wendel, the Weedy Sea Dragon.
Still, as he wrote the adventures of Leonard and Weeds his mind drifted to the mote of loneliness in his mind.
The autopilot computer chimed, it was time to make radio contact with Singapore and begin his descent.
Checking his fuel, he was still had a third of his operational fuel left. Traveling the way he had of late, the service techs in San Francisco had fitted his yacht with fuel cells and turned the luxury jet into a virtual gas-can with wings.
Tom, hopped from one city to the next from book-con to comic-con for signing of books and traveled alone, he had flown the great circle route with no one to talk to in the big plane.
Still, he had the computers and could video chat with anyone he chose. But he had no one to call. So he followed his schedule, his eyes settling on a the event that he had attended after Dr. Manga’s installation, the event where the sponsor set him up with a date-for-hire.
He laughed sadly at his perception of the date, that woman came from a company the organizer hired at the Frankfurt comic-con to escort him so that he would look even better with the beautiful woman on his arm.
Tom laughed as the night had progressed and the escort was in fact, more than an escort. With a Master’s Degree in biology and organic chemistry. She was wonderful to talk with an ability to see both sides of an argument, a quick wit and the ability to shut down the probing questions on her relationship with Tom.
Even when one person tried to prove that she was some gold-digger with no brains.
‟I hoped you would slap down that SOB from the vomit-rag tabloid, but jeeze!” Tom commented when they were alone and he laughed. The sight of the tabloid reporter made to look like an imbecile tickled him. “That was beyond good!”
She called herself Krystal with a slight Saxony-German accent, and Tom immediately doubted that was her real name. As far as her education, he could not prove she lied about a Master’s Degree, and she could talk with anyone about nearly any subject. Even the most recent journals of learned circles of chemistry.
When Tom started to talk to her the next morning, she picked up the phone called someone, then told him to get dressed.
‟We are going to breakfast.” She smiled. Taking him by the hand and led him out the door of the hotel.
‟Sorry about last night, I have a lot of things…”
‟Shhh… Mister Harte. Things happen, sometimes they don’t. You are awesome and you did a lot of public interaction at that event. In total, I am very impressed with your work.”
‟You have read my books?”
‟I’ll read the rest tonight, but I read all the children’s books while you slept.” She tapped her phone.
‟Wow. That’s a lot of books, I’ve written for a quite a few years now.”
‟I can read two-thousand words per minute. That’s measured, sir.” She smiled. ‟I can type one-hundred words-a-minute, and I speak five languages, there is little that gets by me.”
‟Anything else? Why are you with me, why not at your own convention?”
‟I’m still in debt for school and a chance compete for a place on the Olympic Archery team.” She said as they stepped into the elevator, alone. “I need to purchase some equipment to keep up with the other competitors.”
Tom laughed, then she kissed him deeply.
‟That’s for being wonderful.” She said softly, coughing with a guilty sound.
‟You said you couldn’t kiss me last night.”
‟Yes, I broke the rule. Sue me.” She chuckled as the doors opened. No one was there to snap pictures or talk to them. She knew the way around the crowded hotel.
‟You are good.” Tom said, looking around. They had come out of an elevator facing away from the foyer and walked out a side door.
‟Logistics and protection. Part of the job.” Only then did Tom notice that Krystal’s eyes were quick to take in everything.
‟We can walk out now. We have reservations at the Meadow. It is where we will meet some of your cohorts in crime.”
‟My cohort… What?” Tom looked sideways at her.
‟The other authors. Each one has an escort to get them there and on time.”
‟So you are a babysitter?”
Krystal laughed. It was a musical sound.
‟I am an escort, but our company requires special skills that is beyond the typecast Hollywood version.” She said softly. As they got into a dark-windowed limousine. ‟I am here to make you look good and to keep you safe.”
‟And I thought you were just smart.”
‟Not bad for a call girl?” Crystal said. ‟Don’t worry about my emotional state. I am well compensated to keep you safe.”
‟Who would want to hurt me? I’m just a storyteller.”
‟You don’t know?” Her face became serious, no longer a tall, Nordic beauty that graced the floor, but a military-esque hard look of a bodyguard. ‟There was a threat to the convention. Because of your novel and movie, it is felt that you are a high-value target.”
‟Oh crap…” Tom boggled. “So you are a bodyguard? But just not armed.”
“Oh yes, sir I am.”
“Please for the thousandth time? Call me Tom.” He said.
“Yes, Tom, I’m armed. I carry devices always within reach.” She slid up her skirt, where he could see she carried four knives and two small pistols with silencers in thigh holsters. “Point two-two caliber with sound suppressors. Power is not as important as placement.”
Tom could not get his mind off what was under her skirt for the rest of the trip in .
That was over a week ago. Today he stood inside the Wizard far above the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean descending into Singapore. Here, he was to meet with a local publisher and distributor for children’s books and he received an invitation to stay at a high-mountain villa. He would to try to get his stories published in the island country. A fresh market for him.
The autopilot chimed and returned control to the human pilot and Tom guided the big jet down into the approach lane.
Slow descent and a perfect touch down with mild weather, the Wizard rumbled down the taxiway to where the crews indicated with their long, bright-colored batons.
The engines powered down with the typical sound of jets and Tom stood out of his seat. Opening the door, and stepped out into the sunshine of the beautiful southeast Asia day.
A few hours later, Tom would wish to never see such a day again.