John and Steve unloaded mail and a package of supplies. John noticed Marta immediately. Red hair cascading past her shoulders, cotton skirt, and khaki shirt seemed out of place. He could tell she had a unique and special relationship with the Dani people. They looked up at her and smiled, as if to share her joy when the plane arrived.
And she’s beautiful; the voice in his head told him.
He had to subdue that voice, because there was no chance for a relationship. But the voice still spoke to him, silently, seductively.
“This is going to be a hard battle,” he replied a little too loudly.
“What was that?” Steve asked.
“Oh, nothing,” he replied. “Is that Marta Springer, by the way?”
“Sure is. Help me with the supplies, and I’ll introduce you.”
Marta ran up to help. “I was so worried about you when your plane went down. I’m so glad you made it out of there.”
“Besides replacing a window and recovering from a fever, I’d say everything worked out just fine,” said Steve.
“I take it this is John?” she asked.
“That’s right, John Braddham, pleased to meet you,” he said, taking her offered hand. Her grip was tight and sincere, yet her hands were soft.
He was amazed at her emotional and mental strength that helped her endure all the years under the extreme circumstances he had only for a short time experienced. He doubted his fortitude or whatever he might consider a driving force to keep him committed. The incident of the forced landing nearly sent him home packing. Even so, he decided to stay, blaming his resolve to be an airline pilot. I’m committed to something. But is it enough to keep me here?
“Marta, this guy is incredible! He can handle an airplane like a
P.O.W. veteran. In fact, he has already been accepted full-fledged into the program. We’re just getting him familiar with his route,” said Steve.
“Already?” Marta exaggerated her surprise. “Don’t you usually train pilots longer?”
“Between losing pilots and convincing Jason that John is ready, I’m able to accelerate the program,” said Steve.
“I guess you are familiar with Jason’s thoroughness,” said John.
“Yes, I am,” she nodded. “He’s firm but fair. I know he rubs some the wrong way, but he is a wonderful person and a great leader. He just takes time to warm up to, but when you do, he makes a faithful friend. I can rely on him for anything.”
“Well, that’s what I keep hearing,” said John.
“John saved the day,” Steve interjected. “That night was enough to leave an impression on even the toughest of heroes. I’m convinced we wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for him.”
“We were praying for you all night. As if the weather and landing weren’t dangerous enough, we heard you had to deal with the Yali. I’d love to hear what happened sometime,” Marta invited.
“You give me too much credit. But if you want to hear the scaled down version of the story...” John was about to finish when two strangers came into view.
Numah and a young man named Tucker walked up on either side of Marta. Numah tugged on Marta’s shirt.
“Oh, excuse me. John, I would like you to meet my good friends, Numah and Tucker,” said Marta.
John smiled at Marta’s two companions. The woman was small and dressed in a grass skirt and a dingy T-shirt with “Sunny” emblazoned in bold red letters. The twelve-year-old with her was a little shorter with tattered shorts and a dark, long sleeve shirt. Both were adorned with bone and leather jewelry. “I am glad to meet you both,” John said.
Numah giggled and wrapped her arms around John’s neck. The gesture caught John off guard and after a few steps of back peddling, he regained his balance. He stood a long second with his arms stretched wide before smiling and returning the hug. “You didn’t tell me they were so friendly.”
“We had the same cultural experience. It’s just something they don’t teach you in school,” Marta laughed.
More of the villagers approached and John almost bowled over in laughter. He guffawed audibly before Steve could suppress the rest of his reaction with a timely elbow jab to the ribs.
The circus of assorted characters crested the small hill and walked toward the amused newcomer. Most wore traditional dress consisting of grass skirt with no tops for the women and for the men, nothing, save the gourds of various shapes and sizes.
“John, please,” Steve begged.
“I’m sorry, but this is incredible. They are wearing squash. What does it all mean?” asked John.
“Nothing in particular. You’ll get used to it,” Marta said sternly. “C’mon, I’ll introduce you around.” Marta took the lead up the path to the village as Numah scampered up from behind.
“He right handsome man, Marta. You like?” Numah asked in her native tongue.
Marta tried to ignore her, continuing up the path in silence.
Remember, 100% of all royalties will be applied to Jeff's mission trip to Asia. Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing. Jeff is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. He also owns Red bike Publishing. Published books include: "Get Rich in a Niche-Insider's Guide to Self Publishing in a Specialized Industry" and "Commitment-A Novel". Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook". See Red Bike Publishing for print copies of: Army Leadership The Ranger Handbook The Army Physical Readiness Manual Drill and Ceremonies The ITAR The NISPOM