Slippery Slope

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Bombing Part 3

Bombing: Skiing fast and recklessly without regard for the safety of others or oneself.

Tom walked over to the low wall, looked up and down the beach, and walked back.

“See him?” Chuck asked.

“No, it’s too dark. But I think he’s gone. He didn’t want to take on you two fellows.”

“He’s a son-of-a-bitch,” Terrance said as he returned his machete into the sheath at his waistband.

“Hey, Terry,” Chuck admonished him, “There’s a lady here.” He pointed to Kristy.

“Sorry,” Terrance said to her. He smiled. “I saw you on the beach today.”

“Yes, I remember you,” Kristy smiled back. “Great drink.”

“You selling rum and coconuts again?” Chuck turned quickly to the younger man.

“Yeah, Cuz. But not here – at the timeshare properties.”

Chuck eyed him suspiciously, “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure!” Terrance raised up his palms.

Chuck nodded slowly, narrowing his eyes.

“Grab a broom from the back.”
Terrance retreated as Chuck came around the bar to investigate the damage from the broken glass.

Chuck said to them quietly, “My cousin’s been told not to sell his drinks here on the beach. Management catches him and we’ll both lose our jobs.”

Kristy felt bad for having inadvertently ratted Terrance out.

“I’m sorry,” she said to him.

Chuck massaged his eyebrows with his fingertips.

“It’s not you. It’s not Terry. It’s that S.O.B. People fighting, thinking violence is the answer. That’s not the way. It just makes things worse, sets things back.”

Terrance appeared with the broom. Chuck put out his hand to take it over the bar from him but his cousin waved him off. He walked around and began to sweep the floor near the end of the bar. The couple who had been there was gone, having quietly made their exit soon after the glass hit the floor.

“Thanks, Mon.” Their quarrel was over.

Chuck looked back to Tom and Kristy.

“Sorry for all the disturbance,” he said and then slapped his forehead with his hand, “Your burger!” he exclaimed.

Kristy put up her hand, “Please don’t bother. It’s fine.”

“Revolution or no, you have to eat,” he replied and went back behind the bar.

Chuck headed through the narrow kitchen door as Terrance continued sweeping.

“Do you think we should leave?” Kristy whispered to Tom.

Tom shook his head, “No. Let’s stay. Go ahead and eat.”

“You don’t think that guy will come back with some friends?”

“I doubt it. I think Chuck and Terry gave him a pretty strong message.”

Kristy hoped so. But the man seemed awfully angry.

Chuck came out with her food. As soon as she saw it, she regained her appetite. The burger smelled delicious and the plate was piled high with fries. Still, she was anxious about all that had happened.

“I could take this to go,” she suggested.

“No, stay!” Chuck insisted. “I know that guy, a little. He’s a hothead – but mostly all talk. Plus, you’re my only customers now,” Chuck swept his hand around the empty bar. His affable demeanor and good mood had returned almost as quickly as it had vanished. “And,” he added, tilting his head, “we’ll protect you, Kristy.” He flexed his thin arm, his bicep barely showing.

Kristy looked from Chuck’s face to his arm, and then at Tom. She smiled, “I wasn’t worried for myself.”

Chuck let out a big laugh and then turned up the volume on the television. They all watched silently as a reporter described the scene at the International airport. The local police force remained in a standoff with the men who had taken it over and Special Guard units were being called in. Meanwhile, leaders in the community were calling for calm and trying to negotiate a solution. A drone showed the scene inside the airport with several plumes of smoke rising from equipment and vehicles.

“Do you know what’s happened to your plane?” Kristy asked Tom.

He shook his head. “Hard to say. They may destroy it. They may try to fly it out. I’m more worried about my personal plane. I have a Cherokee stored there. Just bought it a few years ago,” he threw back his whisky. “I sure hope she’s okay.”

“Do you think those guys could really fly out in a plane?” Chuck asked.

Tom shrugged, “Don’t know. If they want to get out, it would seem logical. Of course, they’d need a pilot. And some hostages, innocent civilian types, so they don’t get blown out of the sky.”

“Where’d you learn to fly?” Chuck asked. He leaned against the bar and shook the water from a tall glass.

“Military,” he replied. “I flew sorties in Afghanistan.” Tom looked at Chuck, “I was probably about your age when I flew my first one. What are you twenty-five, twenty-six?”

“Yeah, Mon,” Chuck responded, “Twenty-five.”

“How long have you been a commercial pilot?” Kristy asked.

“About ten years. How about you, Kristy? What do you do?”

“I’ll guess!” Chuck interjected. He ran his eyes up and down her face and shoulders. “You’re a model.”

Kristy laughed, “As if! You are smooth, Chuck. No, I work at a ski resort. I patrol the slopes, give lessons, fix equipment – whatever they need me to do. I also do mountain search and rescue.”

“Rescue?” Chuck asked, “Like first aid and that kind of stuff?”

“Yeah, I have first aid training and I know CPR. We respond to medical emergencies and accidents. We have to do lots of field exercises to be able to stay on Search and Rescue.” A shadow crossed her mind as she thought about the avalanche and the fact that she was still suspended from County SAR.

“So that’s why you’re so fit,” Tom observed, smiling widely at her.

“Yep. Can I get another one, Chuck?” She held up her glass and hoped the conversation would turn in a different direction.

Chuck poured her another punch and placed it in front of her, “Skiing. I had a bad experience with that.”

“You did? I’m sorry.” Kristy wasn’t sure she wanted to hear about a ski accident right now.

“Yes, in the States. Cold like I never felt before. Snow like I never seen before. Beautiful place in the Northwest. Great slopes, indoor pool, fireplace.”

Curiosity got the better of her. “What happened?” she asked.

“I broke my leg.”

“Oh, no! Was it your first time skiing?”

“It was. But I wasn’t skiing when I broke it. It was six years ago and I was too young to drink in the States. I swiped a bottle of whisky from the bar, got bombed, and went outside. I was standing on a hill.” Chuck put his hand up and did a long, slow sweep with it. “The view was magnificent. Purple mountain majesties – just like the poem. I was dressed in my new ski outfit,” Chuck skimmed his hands along his torso, “All white with yellow trim and reflective stripes. I literally felt on top of the world. Then this big guy came zooming down the mountain and – Bam!” Chuck smacked one hand against the other, “Skied right into me. I went flying and broke my leg. My mother was so angry she started beating on me right there. I can laugh now, but then...it was crazy.”

Kristy’s eyes widened. She recalled responding to an incident at the foot of the Black Diamond slopes with two people hurt: a skier with a suspected broken arm and a man with a suspected broken leg. When she and her team arrived at the scene, one of the victims was being yelled at by a tall, impeccably dressed, older man, and slapped repeatedly around the head by a woman wearing a long black fur coat. They had to peel the petite, surprisingly strong, woman away so that the young man could be treated. Kristy never got a good look at his face, but remembered he was all in white, and moaning in pain.

Kristy shook her head in disbelief, “Charles? Chuck – your name is Charles, right? I remember that! It happened at my lodge. How could I forget that white ski outfit - and how pissed your parents were.”

Chuck stared at her, stunned, and then shook his head, “It is a small world. Amazing how and why people cross paths.”

“Incredible!” Tom chimed in, “Did you treat him?” he asked Kristy.

“No. But I helped to hold his mother back!” Kristy laughed. Chuck laughed good naturedly.

“The responder that stabilized your leg was my friend,” she stammered on the word. “My friend, Derrick. Another drink, please, Chuck?” Kristy drained her glass.

Chuck filled her glass again, shaking his head and then excused himself. A group of people had descended from the path that led from the casino and were taking seats at the bar.

Tom turned to Kristy and leaned in. “Derrick, huh?”

Kristy squirmed a little in her seat, “Derrick, huh, what?”

“I figure he’s the reason a beautiful girl like you would be on a tropical island all by herself. Am I right?”

Kristy gave him a long look and then stared back into her glass.

“No,” she said and then added, “And yes. He wasn’t what prompted me to come here but it’s partly that.”

“He must be a damned fool. So what else?”

She continued to look at her glass. “A bad experience,” she echoed Chuck’s words. “There was an avalanche. It was bad.”

Tom touched her arm. “I don’t know what happened, Kristy, but everyone needs to take a break now and then. It’s okay.”

Kristy looked back at him. His blue eyes were kind, honest, a little red from whisky, but still, he was just as sexy as could be. Looking into his eyes, she felt a warmth growing in her belly, fueled by rum punch and pure lust.

“Thanks, Tom.” She put her hand on his knee. They sat like that for a long moment.

“Can I ask another question?”

“Sure,” Kristy answered.

“How old are you?”

Kristy smiled. The age that Tom had said he was when he was in the service was not lost on her.

“Twenty-seven,” she answered.

“Whew,” Tom whistled softly.

“What?” Kristy tossed her hair and pushed a lock of it behind her ear.

“I have a daughter that’s as many years old as the difference in our ages.”

“How old is she?”

“Fourteen.”

Kristy did the calculation quickly in her head.

“That’s not so bad,” she countered, “unless you’re still married to her mother.”

Tom gave a short laugh, “No. Divorced.”

“Sorry,” Kristy said quickly, “I don’t mind the age difference, I just don’t want get involved with someone who’s married.”

Tom pushed a lock of her hair that had fallen onto her cheek back behind her ear.

“So we’re getting involved?” he asked.

“Absolutely.” Kristy ran her hand a little further up Tom’s thigh and leaned in to gently kiss him, lightly skimming her tongue against his lips. She pulled back just enough to look up at him through her eyelashes.

“Excellent,” he replied.

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