|Triked, Tricked, Trolloped
by David Shaw ©
was split into 5 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
"It's just like riding a motorbike, only with a better view and without all the road hazards," Brett said soothingly. "Why don't we go up for just five minutes and if you don't like it I'll bring you straight back down again."
"How would I tell you what I was feeling with all the noise?"
He held up a cable that hung from his helmet, showing me a plug at the end of it: "The helmets have earphones and a mike built into them. We can talk to each other as easily as we are doing now. Believe me, you'll never want to come down once you've tried it."
Then he sort of looked sideways, to where Jeff was standing a few paces away, and lowered his voice a little: "Or would you rather spend the rest of the day stuck here?"
I didn't think Jeff heard that. Or if he did I'm sure he didn't hear the insinuation in it that I did, a hint of surprise that somebody like me was wasting her time in this sort of situation. Or maybe I was hearing things which weren't really there. While I was standing undecided Brett reached underneath the back seat and took out a helmet, then a neatly folded set of overalls like the ones he was wearing.
"I can adjust the headband on the helmet for you, Sandra - there's not much I can do about the flight suit but. Normally, you'd need at least a jacket to keep the wind off but not now. A day like today, the only cool way to enjoy yourself is flying."
Jeff came over and looked at the helmet and overalls I was holding: "You're surely not going to try this, are you, Sandra? You'd be scared stiff."
If he'd wanted to stop me flying then it was the worst possible thing he could have said. Of course he doesn't really think of me as a frail woman - he often says that he'd faint if he had to deal with some of the bloodier situations that come along in my job. It was simply a typical case of a male opening his heart and his mouth without remembering to put his brain somewhere in the loop between them. And he knew it as soon as I did, hastily trying to back up without totally backing down. "I mean I'd be frightened myself, to go up in one of these things. Anybody would be, to fly around hanging underneath a few strips of alloy and fabric. And the hospital can certainly get by without you for one day."
It was too late though, my temper was up. "I'm not going to miss a shift if I can help it. Anyway, I'll probably never have another chance to do something like this and I want to give it a go, just to see what it's like."
"Aww, come on, Sandra, people crash in these things. It happens all the time."
"People crash in cars as well and that happens all the time."
He was genuinely concerned about me, not simply trying to carry on the squabble we'd had before, I knew that. But I wasn't going to let him stop me now that I'd made my mind up. After all it had been pretty much of a wasted day so far and here was a chance to do something I could talk about for weeks afterwards, something exciting. It would have been hard to live myself if I'd turned it down. The only real question, the one I was being very careful not to ask myself, was whether I was as excited by Brett Reynold's obvious interest in me as I was at the idea of flying in his plane.
Adjusting the helmet was no problem: trying to get into the flying suit was. It was cut for a man's body, a big man, and I'm a short girl, yet the seams around my hips almost reached breaking strain; I had to go behind the wagon and take off my shorts before I could wriggle into the suit. The real problem was in front though. As much as I tugged at the zip, I couldn't get it up past my breasts. Like my hips, they've always been too large for easy packaging. Eventually I had to go back to the men with everything hanging out over the zip and only the damp material of the tee-shirt between me and them. Not only that, but carrying my shorts in my hand as well.
Brett's mouth twitched a fraction before he looked away at the horizon as I held the sides of the overalls together while Jeff pulled the zipper together with brute strength. It was a minor demonstration of gentlemanly modesty which ended as soon as Jeff wasn't looking at him, because Brett's eyes immediately fastened on my squashed tits with frank interest. Like Sylvester eyeing Granma's canary, I thought, and hoping to find a way into the cage. If that was really what he hoping for he was in for a disappointment.
I watched in surprise as Brett knelt down behind one of the back wheels. There were three protruding metal legs that attached the wheel to the pod and in between them was a piece of metal about as long as my arm curved into a 'C' shape. It was apparently held onto the top leg by a clamp at each end, which he undid. Then he stood up and reclamped the 'C' onto one of the support arms on the side of the control bar before doing the same thing on the other side of the ultralight. I asked him what he was doing.
"You'll have to sit in the front seat, Sandra, to keep the weight distribution right. The control bar will be in front of you but I'll have my hands on these extensions from the back seat to do the piloting. That's what I like about these ultralights, everything is as simple as it can be. A control bar and a foot throttle and that's about it."
He bowed like a courtier and stretched out his hand towards the pod: "My lady, your sky carriage awaits."
After all the trouble he'd gone to I couldn't refuse to give it a try however nervous I felt. I wasn't any more nervous than Jeff though, who watched Brett strapping me into the front seat with a kind of desperate look on his face as if I was going up in a space shuttle. Mind you, I don't think I would have felt much different myself if I had been about to blast off. It was hard to believe that I was really going to go up into the sky in this thing. Brett held the helmet over my head and quietly talked to me as I smoothed my hair back.
"As soon as this is on, I'll plug in the intercom cable and switch it on. All you'll hear is static until I plug in as well. Nod your head if you're OK and then I'll untie the wing tip and straighten the wings. When the bar is horizontal in front of you just hold it steady while I get in the back. All clear?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Fine. I've pinned the front throttle so it can't be worked. The only thing you have to worry about are the bars underneath your feet - they're for steering the nosewheel, so don't press on them when we're taking off and landing. The rest of the time you can waggle them around as much as you like. OK?"
I nodded, and again after the helmet was on. It looked bulky but it was surprisingly light. I'd never worn one before, never even been on a motorbike because I thought they were dangerous. No wonder I held onto the control bar nervously when it settled over in front of me. I could feel my hands trembling on the rubber handgrips and then realized it wasn't just me that was twitching but the wing as well, shivering and bobbing at the wind's touch. I saw Brett speak to Jeff, and afterwards Jeff took off his own shirt and walked down the beach with it, off to one side on the soft sand. I wondered what he was doing. Then Brett came back with the corkscrew securing pin hanging by its lanyard from his wrist. He knelt down by the front of the pod, grinned up at me, put his hands on my knees and spread them wide apart.
I gasped in surprise, the noise muffled inside the helmet, and then realized he was bending forward to stow the pin away underneath my seat. Which was a totally innocent thing to do I guessed, but what wasn't so innocent was where his knuckles brushed against me as he slipped the lanyard off his wrist. But again, it something that was over and done with before I had a chance to even let go of the control bar. It might even have been a genuine accident, but I didn't think so. It was a clear message, as if I already needed one, about what Mr. Brett Reynolds would like to do with Mrs. Sandra Pearson if given even half a chance. Well, there was one thing about it, at least I was a lot safer from his advances in his plane than I would have been in his car. Uh!
I felt the pod settle down as he got into the back seat. The back ledge would probably be a better way of describing it, higher than the front seat and so close to it that Brett's legs were stretched out on either side of me with my elbows brushing against his knees. Never again would I complain about the economy class seats in jet planes.
A moment later the engine started and everything began vibrating, as though I was sitting in a massage chair. That wasn't bad but even with the helmet on the engine noise was uncomfortably high. A hundred metres along the beach Jeff was standing still, holding his shirt up above his head. I realized that it was an indication of which way the wind was blowing.
My headphones clicked and I heard Brett's voice very clearly: "OK, Sandra, I've got the control bar now. You'll probably want to hold onto the sides of your seat to begin with. This damp sand will hold us back a little but we've got eighty horsepower pushing us and we'll soon reach flying speed. We'll take off about where Jeff is now. Is everything OK with you?"
I clutched the handgrips on either side of the seat and tried to swallow a lump of solid air down my dried out throat: "Yes, I'm fine."
"Good girl. Feet off the pedal bars and hands off the control bar for a moment or two. Apart from that relax and enjoy the views. . . ."
The engine roared even louder, the ultralight began moving, I held onto the arm grips with a death grip, we were moving faster, much faster, a small wave was breaking along the beach, toppling over into white water, Jeff was getting closer and closer, the vibration was getting worse - oh fuck, I must be mad to be here!
Suddenly the vibration stopped, the engine seemed a lot further away and I was looking down at Jeff's upturned face. Then the control bar was pushed away from me and the nose of the pod lifted up towards the sky as if it were a rearing horse. I couldn't help myself from looking down, to see the sea suddenly growing wider with the breaking waves along the edge of it like crinkled up tearings of white tissue paper.
"How are you feeling, Sandra?"
"Alright - I think."
"OK, we'll level out now, and fly straight on for a few minutes while you get used to things."
Getting used to so many conflicting feelings was going to take longer than that. In one sense I felt totally exposed, with only the finger thick vertical support bar in front of me and the wind drumming against my overalls, yet behind the helmet's faceplate there was a peaceful little world where I could talk to Brett without any effort at all. The wind seemed to be blowing away the noise of the engine as well, making a combined background noise which wasn't really bothersome at all. I suppose it would have been a miserable experience on a cold day without thick clothing, but it had been a scorching forty degrees down on the beach and the blast of moving air was as wonderfully cooling as Brett had promised it would be.
In another sense I was totally confined, by the straps, and by the control bar pressed
close against my chest. In another way - a breathtakingly marvelous way - I'd never felt
so free in all my life. Who hasn't been a kid dreaming of finding a way of flying like a
bird? Not being shot through the sky miles high watching old movies, but real flying, down
around the tree tops and hurdling over hilltops with giant's steps, being able to lift
your eyes up to the distant horizons or down to something so close you feel you can reach
out and touch it. Of course we've all felt like that, and most of us have grown up and
forgotten the dream. And now, suddenly and totally without expecting it, I was living my
dreams for real.
This story was split into 5 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by David Shaw.|
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