The following is a work of gay fiction. If the subject matter is offensive or you are to young to read it, please exit now. See Chapter One for Copyright Information. John Tucker JETjt@aol.com.
Monday, high above the Colorado Mountains
Butch checked his instruments again when the jet-powered helicopter was 30 minutes into its run from Grand Junction toward Denver. He was 10 miles south of the trajectory they had flown at this same time the previous day. The rotary winged aircraft first climbed and then dove, keeping a near-constant height above the ground where the crew could best see any traces of a crashed aircraft. Without the homing signal that all commercial and most corporate aircraft were now equipped with, the chances of spotting a downed aircraft were vastly diminished. They had to search the old fashioned way, by flying over a pre-established grid, back and forth until something was spotted. Ahead lay the area near where the aircraft had disappeared.
“Pilot to crew,” Butch announced over the microphone to the headphones worn by the co-pilot and two paramedics, “We’ll be flying over the area where the plane disappeared soon, keep an extra sharp lookout.”
Each of the crew radioed back their acknowledgement as the chopper continued its flight.
60 miles ahead in a deep crevasse
Tom Stanley made his way back to the small galley of the crashed plane. The air temperature was still below freezing in the aircraft’s cabin, so he kept a blanket wrapped around him. Having made the trip several times now, he was able to judge the distance from his seat much better, placing his hand at countertop height without the sightless fumbling of his early trips. Opening the door to the small refrigerator, he took out the last of the food he’d found and two bottles of water, then returned to his seat. Handing a sandwich and a bottle of water to the injured officer, he took his seat, wrapped himself up as best he could with his arms still free and took the plastic wrapping off of the sandwich he’d kept for himself.
“That’s all the food,” he announced. “There are four more bottles of water, then we’re out of that too.”
“After we eat, I’d better look around,” Sunderson said. “Maybe we could put out a marker or flare or something. From the looks of things, we’d be pretty hard to spot from the air.”
“Can you walk?” Tom asked.
“Well, I made it to the toilet a while ago. It hurts like hell, but I think I can, at least for a short distance. You could go along for support. I can see, but if I fall I’m not sure I can get back up.”
“I’ll do whatever I can,” Tom assured the officer. “If we can’t be spotted from the air, we’re ‘goners’ unless we do something. I doubt that we can hike out, but at least we could start a fire or lay out something that would let us be seen.”
The Homeland Security car approached the building where Ron and Tyler were scheduled to meet with Adam Jenkins, the Deputy Director of the FBI. The men could see a new building going up on the grounds formerly the exclusive site for the CIA.
The building that the car was headed for was the temporary headquarters of Homeland Security until their move to the new building. It was the former CIA Headquarters but now held not only the top staff of the CIA, but the office of the Deputy Director of the FBI who was assigned as liaison between the FBI headquarted in D.C. and the Executive Offices of Homeland security to insure the coordinated efforts of agencies in a unified front in the fight against terrorism.
Having cleared the first two security stops, the car pulled up to the front entrance of the building under a portico protecting visitors from the often-inclement weather.
“There will be another security check inside the doors,” the driver announced. “It should be only a minor inconvenience, as the Deputy Director has sent down a staff member to escort you to the office where you will have your meeting.”
The car pulled to the curb and stopped. Ron opened the door on his side of the car and stepped out onto the walkway followed quickly by Tyler who closed the car door after him. The car pulled away toward the parking garage in the distance.
“Guess it’s too late to change our minds,” Tyler quipped.
“I hope they’re ready for us,” Ron commented. “I hate bureaucracies as you well know. I especially hate the bureaucrats that run them, mostly because they often put on airs that they are better than anyone else.”
“We can always say ‘no’ to whatever they’ve cooked up,” responded his brother. “It wouldn’t break my heart.”
“I guess, we’ll just have to confirm what they have in mind,” Ron countered as they reached the doors that opened for their admittance. Passing by two uniformed guards armed with assault rifles, they stepped inside.
“Gentlemen,” they heard as a young man in a suit approached, “my name is Chuck Brinkman. I presume that you are the Turners?”
“Yes, I’m Tyler. This my brother Ron.”
The men exchanged handshakes.
“We’ll go through one last security check, then we’ll be on our way to meet with Mr. Jenkins. Please step this way,” Brinkman said, indicating a manned security station where another two armed guards sat behind the personnel operating the electronic equipment.
Following their guide they quickly passed through the electronic detectors and submitted to a quick ‘pat-down’ for weapons. Plastic passes with their photos were handed to them as they completed the search.
“I thought there would be even more security to get in here,” Tyler commented almost tongue-in-cheek as they followed Brinkman.
“This is the ‘public’ part of the complex,” Brinkman offered. Once inside this part, you can’t get into any offices without security cards. In addition there is much more security to get into the ‘secret’ areas. Even if you work there, you cannot enter or leave without being searched. Prior to 9/11 security was good but now it’s several notches higher.”
The young guide stopped at an elevator, inserted a card from his pocket, and the doors slid open for their entry.
“I wish I could describe the features of the security here,” the young man continued as the elevator began it’s climb, “but even I don’t know all of it, and what I do know I am not allowed to reveal. I can tell you though, that these buildings are well guarded, both with human security, and with electronic measures and counter measures. It is more secure than the White House because there is no need for the public exposure and access that the President’s residence requires. Many people think that this complex is full of intrigue and excitement. I can only tell you that such happenings are rare. For the most part, most of what happens here is just laboriously digging out facts and analyzing them. We have the best of electronic computers and other equipment, but nothing can take the place of good old human sweat, toil and deduction.”
The elevator stopped, the doors slid open and the men exited the conveyance. Another guard was visible in each direction a short distance from the elevators.
“This way please,” the smiling guide said, indicating the direction they needed to go.
Walking slightly ahead of the two visitors, the young man continued down the hallway before pausing before a pair of carved entry doors. Unlocking the door with his electronic pass, he pulled the right hand door toward him and indicated that Tyler and Ron should precede him. The men entered a beautifully furnished waiting room, where a receptionist sat facing the door. Looking up, she smiled at the visitors, while Brinkman led them to her desk.
“Messrs. Tyler and Ron Turner to see Mr. Jenkins,” they were announced by their escort.
“Welcome gentlemen,” she countered. “The Deputy Director is expecting you. Please have a seat, and I’ll tell him that you’ve arrived.”
“Thank you,” Ron said as the three men moved to the indicated seating area.
They had just settled down on the modern furniture when the receptionist announced that Jenkins was ready to see them. Rising from their seats, they followed Brinkman down a short hallway to another pair of impressive doors. After knocking, Brinkman opened the door and motioned the pair of visitors to step inside, then followed them.
The Deputy Director remained seated as the trio approached, only rising from his seat when the men reached his desk.
“Mr. Jenkins,” Brinkman said, “I’d like you to meet Mr. Tyler Turner and Mr. Ron Turner. Gentlemen this is Mr. Adam Jenkins, the Deputy Director of the Homeland Security Department.”
The men exchanged handshakes and the customary pleasantries, before Jenkins motioned to the three chairs across his desk and asked the visitors to sit, before seating himself again.
“Could I offer you some coffee?” He asked.
“No, thanks,” Tyler answered. “We had breakfast not long ago.”
“Very well,” Jenkins said looking at a folder opened in front of him before beginning to speak. “First, I’d like to welcome you to the Department of Homeland Security. Second, I’d like to apologize for my attitude in our telephone conversation a few weeks ago.”
“You’re forgiven,” Tyler said with a smile that caused the Deputy some visible irritation at needing forgiveness.
“You said in that conversation that we, namely Aztec-Turner Security, might be of some assistance in the fight against terrorism,” Tyler began. “Could you tell us what you have in mind?”
“Yes, of course,” Jenkins replied. “I will start by saying that it’s come to our attention that your company has been growing at a phenomenal rate, capitalizing on the security concerns of our nation. You are to be commended.”
“Thank you,” Tyler responded. “I’m surprised that you noticed our modest operation.”
“We notice everything that has to do with our country’s security,” the Deputy countered.
“I hardly think it was worth planting a mole in our company,” Tyler challenged.
The Deputy nearly choked on his coffee at Tyler’s accusation.
“We… uh… we didn’t,” Jenkins denied.
“Let’s go Ron,” Tyler said as he rose from his chair. “I can’t tolerate dishonesty.”
Ron stood and both men turned toward the door.
“Uh… Wait!” the Deputy stammered.
“Yes?” Tyler asked.
“Well alright, we did,” Jenkins admitted. “We wanted to assess your capabilities. We’ll have him removed immediately.”
“Not necessary,” Tyler explained. “He decided to come to work for us.”
Jenkins was dumbfounded. “How?…What?”….
“It doesn’t matter,” declared Tyler.
“I suppose that you checked us out personally too?” Ron asked.
“Well, of course,” Jenkins went on covering his discomfort with a bureaucratic smile. “It was important to know what kind of men we were in bed with.”
“I take it that you mean that figuratively,” Ron said with only a hint of sarcasm.
“I’m sure that you are aware that we’re gay,” Tyler challenged.
“Well …yes,” Jenkins revealed with reluctance. “In your case it was decided that it could be overlooked.”
“You don’t have to overlook it on our account,” Ron stated. “We’re big boys and we can take care of ourselves.”
“Well, you must admit that having gays in sensitive positions is not desirable.”
“It’s only that heterosexual bigots have made it so,” Ron challenged. “If gays were accepted in society freely, there would be no reason to fear the potential of blackmail.”
“You have a point, but society is what society is. We have to live with it.”
“To a degree that’s true,” Ron conceded, “but it reminds me of the logic that several southern Governor’s took regarding segregation.”
“Are you accusing the U.S. Government of bigotry?” the deputy asked.
“If the shoe fits wear it,” Ron said throwing down the gauntlet. “The President’s promotion of discrimination against Gays certainly seems to fit the mold.”
“Are you referring to the President’s stand on the sanctity of marriage?”
“In a nutshell, yes,” Ron said. “I’d like to know how discriminating against gay couples sanctifies marriage? I don’t know of one gay couple that ever caused a divorce between any heterosexual couple. Further I don’t know of any gay couple that caused any straight couple’s marriage to become less holy. It seems that couples made up of men and women need no help with that! The proposed constitutional amendment is a sham. It’s a thinly disguised attempt to discriminate against gays. And to think that it’s coming from the highest office in the land is beneath contempt.”
“I presume this means that you won’t help us,” Jenkins concluded abruptly.
“Not at all,” Ron replied. “One thing has nothing to do with the other. I happen to think the President is way off base in not promoting equality amongst all his constituents and we plan on spending an immense amount of money to oppose the amendment, but that has nothing to do with international terrorism.”
“You’ll help us then?” The Deputy asked, now really confused.
“We’ll listen,” interjected Tyler. “So far you haven’t told us anything, not that it matters much. We already have a pretty good idea of what you have in mind.”
“How… uh… “
“Cut the crap!” Tyler barked. “We’re in the security business. We have ways of finding out what we want to find out. All it takes is money and time.”
“What do you know?” Jenkins asked.
“You told us the beginning of it yourself,” said Tyler. “You want us to couple our resources with that of the Federal Government to uncover terrorist attempts and to locate cells, and hopefully leadership of the Islamic terrorists. Beyond that, you wish to use our personnel and resources in covert activities against suspected terrorists. We’re not sure what you offer in return, but we’re willing to listen. There are some things we will not do, though.”
“If we feel that you or we are treading on human or personal rights, we’ll hold back and perhaps withdraw.”
“We now have the law on our side,” boasted Jenkins.
“Perhaps so,” Tyler countered, “but you have to remember that even if it’s a law, it may still be a bad law. Abuse of that law could result in it being declared unconstitutional if personal rights are abused. Remember the rounding up of citizens of Japanese descent during World War II? Now it’s considered a violation of human civil rights, but at the time it was considered just a measure of expediency. What happened to citizens of German descent? Nothing happened because they were white and racially unrecognizable. Regardless, if we feel that personal rights are being violated, we won’t participate.”
“It sounds like you are not very anxious to help.”
“The Government doesn’t have a very good batting average when it comes to personal rights versus what the Government wants to do,” Ron declared. “Sometimes it’s just the Government acting in sheer stupidity, and other times it’s on purpose.”
“What then are you willing to do for us?” Jenkins asked.
“First, besides the training you offer, we’re willing to hire specialists who have knowledge of how the terrorists think, act and work,” Tyler began. “Next, we’re willing to share our knowledge with you as we uncover suspected terrorists or terrorist activity. Finally, we’re willing to participate, if legally authorized to do so, in operations to break up terrorist rings, and to thwart attempts of terror.”
“That’s all we ask,” the Deputy responded. “We’ll pay you well for your efforts.”
“We’ll accept compensation for our costs only,” Ron declared. “We want to make no profit off of helping the country. We aren’t defense contractors.”
“That’s most generous. I’m sure the President will be pleased.”
“If you’d care to set up an initial planning session, we’ll be glad to send representatives to attend. They will be fully authorized to act on our behalf,” Tyler stated. “It can be as early as you like.”
“Would two weeks be enough time?”
“Yes, that would be fine,” Tyler assured the Deputy. “If you’d let my office know the schedule, I’ll review it. I can assure you that within the limitations we’ve already set, my people will be very cooperative. At the moment, I’m planning on sending Gary Franklin who heads up our Atlanta office. He’s an ex-FBI agent.”
“That would be very satisfactory,” agreed Jenkins.
“Fine. Is there anything else?” Tyler asked.
“No,” the Deputy Director declared. “Our people can work out the details when your representatives arrive.”
“Good,” Ron said as he stood and offered his hand. “It was nice meeting you sir. Have a good day.”
“It was also nice meeting you,” Jenkins responded as he shook both Ron’s and Tyler’s hands.
“Good day,” Tyler concluded as both men turned toward the door, “Would Mr. Brinkman escort us out?”
“Of course,” Jenkins agreed. “Good day.”
Ron and Tyler followed the escort through the door, but before it closed, Ron heard Jenkins mutter, “Damned meddling politicians. They have to involve civilians!”
* * *
Colorado, in the crashed plane
“It’s moving,” Tom Stanley said as the door of the aircraft opened slightly.
"I can see through the crack in the door,” the sergeant who was standing behind him said with encouragement. “I don’t know if the door will clear the cliff beside us, but it looks like it will open up enough to slip out onto the snow which is just below the door sill.”
“Get the two raincoats in the closet behind you,” Tom requested and he opened the door further. “Maybe if the plane is hidden we could put them out on the snow where they’d be visible.”
Sunderson turned, opened the small closet by the galley and extracted the two coats.
“They are bright yellow,” he informed his former captive. “That should help.”
As the door swung upward 2/3 of its fully opened position, it struck the stone cliff, halting its travel.
“That’s as far as it will go,” Tom announced.
“Step aside and let me look behind the plane. Maybe I can see what we’re up against.”
“Okay Sergeant,” Tom agreed, stepping away from the door opening.
The officer moved with an expression of pain to the door, then stuck his head out and looked toward the tail, or what was left of it.
“What do you see?” Tom asked.
“It looks like the plane is totally within a crevice. Unless someone looked directly into the opening we can’t be seen.”
“How far into the crevice are we, and can we get out?” inquired the released captive.
“We’re only in about ten feet beyond the tail,” Sunderson reported. “I think we can get out too as the snow appears to be shallower in the crevice than out in the open.”
“Do you think you can go with me?”
“I think so,” the officer responded. “My legs and arm hurt, but I think I can stand if the snow doesn’t get too deep.”
“If you can make it to the back of the plane, you can tell me where to go with the raincoats.”
“I’m sure I can make it to the opening into the cliff. That way I can see where we are.”
“Let’s go then,” Tom said. “If you’ll direct me, I’ll go first, then I’ll help you out of the plane.”
“Good,” Sunderson agreed. “Let’s go.”
* * *
Meantime in the RET rescue helicopter.
The aircraft topped the ridge of a range of mountains and swooped down into the narrow valley between. Looking off to the left, the pilot, Butch, and one of the EMTs looked up the narrow valley.
Suddenly as the plane began its climb up the opposite slope toward the next range, the co-pilot, Jake Arrow shouted, “I’ve got a homing signal!” Before Butch could react, Jake again yelled, “I’ve lost it.”
Butch pulled back on the stick immediately slowing the aircraft’s forward motion, and by kicking the rudder pedals, he had the chopper make a circling turn and reversed its direction. Settling back down the slope at its assigned altitude above ground, it was only a few moments before the co-pilot announced hearing the signal again. Butch once more pulled back on the stick.
“What direction is it coming from?” he asked quickly.
After a short moment’s pause Jake answered, “from the North.”
Butch banked the helicopter, pointing the nose up the valley.
“I’ve lost it again,” Jake announced.
“I’ll turn further east,” Butch announced his intended movement. “The signal must be very narrow and when we turned, we got out of its path.”
Thirty seconds later, Jake yelled, “We have it again.”
Butch made a slow turn back in a Northerly direction.
“Let me know if you lose it,” the pilot instructed.
Continuing at a ground speed of 30 knots, the aircraft moved up the narrow valley and in 10 minutes the end of the valley was approaching.
“I’m going to gain altitude,” Butch informed his crew as he pulled upward on the collective. “There’s a ledge ahead and I want to give the edge of it plenty of clearance.”
The aircraft began to rise and soon passed over the edge of the escarpment.
“Look ahead,” Jake shouted, “There is a deep trough in the snow.
Once over the anomaly Butch again pulled back on the stick cutting their forward velocity in half.
“Keep your eyes peeled, guys,” Butch ordered. “I think we’ve hit paydirt.”
Outside the jet aircraft.
Tom and Sergeant Sunderson stood behind the plane near the entry of the narrow chasm where the fuselage of their transport was lodged.
“Holy Shit!” Sunderson exclaimed. “I don’t know how the pilots did it, but they threaded the needle when they aimed the plane into the crevasse. It must have taken a ton of skill and some damned good luck to keep us from being smashed into solid rock. We owe those guys our lives.”
“A lot of good it will do if we don’t get rescued,” remarked Tom.
“For sure,” agreed Sunderson. “You might make it out alone if you could see, and I can see but wouldn’t make it a mile with these broken legs. I think we’d better put out the raincoats. There is a piece of wing about 20 feet ahead of us. If you go straight out you’ll run into it. Place the raincoats on the wing. That will keep them above ground where they might be less likely to be covered with blowing snow. Afterward, we’d better return to the plane.”
“Okay,” Tom said, then he began to count his paces away from the lawman, as he pulled and lifted his feet through the snow with each slow step. Suddenly he paused.
“Do you hear anything?” He yelled at his companion.
“Damn right!” the officer screamed back. “It’s a helicopter coming right at us in the distance! Wave the raincoats!” he ordered, waving his own arms up and down.
In the helicopter, Butch was the first to see the tiny movement up ahead.
“There they are,” he shouted in joy. “Radio the control center that we’ve found them.”
The co-pilot switched the radio to the Control Center’s assigned frequency. Quickly informing the Center of their success, he relayed their position and informed the Center that only two survivors were visible. The Controller at the Center responded that they would direct a second helicopter to the site so that the survivors could be transported to the hospital by the RET chopper, while the second would look for any other survivors.
By the time the co-pilot signed off, Butch was carefully lowering the helicopter into the snow 30 feet away from the now visible broken-off wing and 50 feet away from the entrance of the fissure where the broken tail of the jet could be seen. As the craft settled to gain solid footing, the EMT’s slid the rear door open so the paramedics would be ready to exit as soon as the aircraft stopped moving.
Butch felt the wheels of the craft hit solid earth and began to ease off on the collective slowly in case the hidden ground gave way under the weight of the machine, causing it to tip. As soon as he was sure that the earth would not deal them any surprises, Butch feathered the rotors and cut the engines’ throttles, then finally turned off the ignitions that lit the aircraft’s twin turbojet engines.
The two EMT’s were moving as fast as the snow would permit toward the injured men while Butch and Jake tended to shutting down the helicopter. Since both survivors were standing the medics had left the stretchers that were part of their rescue package in the plane.
Reaching Tom first, Del the EMT leader asked, “Are you injured?”
Tom responded with a shout to be heard above the helicopter’s winding down engines, “I’ve had a blow to the head and can’t see. Otherwise I think I’m okay.”
“Stay here, we’ll be back in a minute to take you to the helicopter,” Del ordered before following his partner to Sgt. Sunderson.
“We’ll need a stretcher here,” Buck the other paramedic announced as Del arrived at the second injured man. “He thinks he has two broken legs and a broken arm.”
Del signaled to Butch and Jake who were just descending from the helicopter to bring a stretcher for the policeman. Minutes later the stretcher was on the ground by the injured man and he was being lowered onto it. Ten minutes afterward, both the survivors were strapped onto stretchers aboard the rotary craft and IVs were started to offset any dehydration or shock they were experiencing. Butch and Jake were again in their seats in the front of the aircraft and beginning the start-up. Jake read aloud the pre-flight checklist while Butch turned knobs, flipped switches and pushed buttons ‘by the numbers.’ Halfway through the list the rotors began to turn and the engines began their customary whine winding up their revolutions to the point where the ignition, firing up the engines, could be switched on.
Completing the list, Jake put the clipboard in its holder, and switched on the radio, informing the Control Center of their readiness to take off. They were directed to fly to Vail where the small hospital there would attend to the wounded. Too, they were informed that a second helicopter would soon arrive at the crash site, and a FAA accident team was leaving Denver on a military chopper to investigate the crash.
As the RET jet-powered craft began to lift off, another voice was heard over the radio. It was the second helicopter co-pilot who informed Butch and Jake that their ascending machine was in sight. Jake wished them well in finding other survivors, then switched back to Air Traffic Control as the chopper climbed through the thin air into the night.
An hour and a half later, Ron and Matt’s home.
“Turner residence,” Parker announced into the no longer ringing phone.
“Parker. This is Butch in Vail, Colorado. Is Matt home?”
“Yes, Mr. Butch. He just came in. Hold please.”
Parker quickly punched the buttons to transfer the call to the phones in Ron and Matt’s bedroom suite.
“It’s Mr. Butch sir. He said he was calling from Vail Colorado.”
“Thanks Parker, I’ll take the call.”
“Butch!” Matt exclaimed, surprised at the early call.
“We found two of the survivors and brought them to the hospital in Vail,” he revealed. “It’s the two passengers: a Sergeant Sunderson and Tom Stanley.”
“How are they?” Matt asked.
“Sunderson has both legs broken and one broken arm, plus minor cuts and bruises. Tom Stanley was blinded in the crash.’
“Wow! Any news from the doctors as to the probability of his gaining back his eyesight?”
“Not yet,” reported Butch. “Apparently neither man sustained life threatening injuries. There is some other good news too. One of the pilots has survived. They were buried in snow that had entered the cabin. He’s on his way here now in a second helicopter. His condition is critical as he’s suffering from severe hypothermia. This is a good hospital for that condition though. They have lots of experience with treatment of cold temperature injuries. Unfortunately the other pilot didn’t make it. His body will be taken to Denver, once the other pilot is delivered here.”
“Good work, Butch. I’ll let Ron know as soon as I talk to him. When are you returning to Las Vegas?”
“We’re taking off shortly for Grand Junction. We’ll file our reports there and refuel. There should be a couple of hours of daylight left then, so as of now we’re planning on coming back tonight.”
“If you’re too tired, come back tomorrow,” advised Matt. “And when you get back, take a couple of days off. I’ll let Jan know.”
“Thanks Matt. I’ll give you a call tomorrow sometime.”
“Whenever you’re ready,” offered Matt. “Again, thanks and a great job.”
* * * * *