I was sitting in the hall way outside of Erica's room with my face in my hands. I smelled a very enticing aroma. I looked up and all I could see was cleavage as my head was pulled in between two very nice breasts.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and reluctantly pulled back. It was Carol, I knew she was up here so was not really surprised. “Hi Chad, we have you a suite at the Duluth Hilton. Louise and Dotty will be in later tonight. But For right now you need a meal, a shower and a nap.”
Carol had a car waiting at the main entrance of the Hospital, Might know it said US Army on the front door the big surprise was the driver... it was Clancy. He was trying to salute as I was trying to give him a big hug. We compromised and shook hands as we laugh.
“How did you talk General Thomas in to turning you loose.”
Then I heard a booming voice, “Clancy Open this Damn Door.” Clancy opened the door and General Thomas was trying to climb out with a cast on his left leg. I asked what happened he mumbled something inarticulate.
Clancy laughed …” He tripped over a rug and fell on his butt.”
I saluted the General and asked what he was doing up here . “Do I have to have an ulterior motive to ofter my sympathy?”
He Laughs, “Well maybe.” he puts his arm around my shoulders, “ I need your help.”
“Well let's hear it.”
“ The war is winding down and the OSS has to evolve. I want you to fill two positions in the new Organization. No. 1) I want you as as my XO and No. 2) I want you to command the training school at Langley. There is no rush I know you won't be leaving here until your wife is ready.”
“General there will have to be a lot of thought and discussion between my staff, my wife and the girls. As it stands right now I would say no … but it is not only my decision to make.”
Carol spoke up, “ General right now I out rank you, he needs food and rest... not your incessant yammering. It is time for him to get to his hotel room.” Every one got into the car and Clancy drove us to the Hotel. I don't know if anything else was said or not I had laid my head back on the seat and went to sleep.
I awakened when the car stopped at the entrance of the Hotel. Carol led me to my room and called room service to let them know it was time to serve my meal. Within 5 minutes there was a knock on the door. The waiter lifted the cover to reveal a T-Bone an inch thick and a large baked potato stuffed with sour cream and chives with cheddar cheese. I just hope I can stay awake till I finish.
I began slicing off a piece of the steak and the pink liquid seeped out. Medium rare just like I like it. I struggled to stay awake till I could finish this steak, It wasn't easy.... my head kept drooping and I dropped my fork twice. Finally I finished my meal, undressed and started for the bathroom. That was the last I remembered until I heard the phone ringing six hours later. The floor was hard, not very comfortable and it was cold too.
I cot up very stiffly and picked up the phone, it was Johan, he wished to know when we were going to start on the plane. Donald had already started on the engine. I told Johan to start pulling off the damaged parts and lay them out so we can access our needs.
Finally made it to the bathroom. I brushed my teeth and shaved then into the Bath tub. It was an extra large tub and it felt so good to soak in water so hot it loosened the knots in my muscles. I lay my head back and dozed while I soaked.
There was a change in the water It seemed to rise and slosh a bit then I felt smooth soft skin touching mine. My eyes flew open as a pair of lips met mine. I pushed the naked body away and looked in her laughing face... It was Louise.
“Louise what the hell are you doing.... get out of here... where is Ralph.” Louise climbed out of the tub still laughing.
“Oh Chad … I wish you could see your face. To answer your question Ralph is in the other room.” She picked up a robe and put it on and walked into the other room.
I heard them talking but could not understand them. I dried off and grabbed a robe off the shelf. I followed her in the other room. I saw Ralph coming my way smiling and with his hand held out. He didn't seem angry.
I shook his hand... He said, “Well I guess she didn't get a chance to ask you... “
“Ask me what?”
“ Well maybe I should start at the beginning, after we had our conversation in Germany I met up with a French partisan group. I stayed with them till D-Day we sabotaged everything in our way. The day we met up with the troops I was shot by a sniper.”
“ I was shot in my private parts.” I cringed at the thought... Ralph continued I spent weeks in a field Hospital then they flew me back to the states and spent months in Bethesda. The results is louise and I can screw like rabbits but no kids.”
“Which brings us to the question.... Will you screw Louise and knock her up.”
“Are you serious? My wife is in the hospital in a coma and you want me to be unfaithful you are nuts.”
“But Chad we are not in a big hurry and we understand you want to talk to Erica, But will you consider it?”
The rest of the day was spent with the old ...do you remember when... We each had a tale to tell.
Ralph told of his and My first meeting in Cologne at my office. He said he felt, from the looks of my Staff, that his life was surely in danger.
I went back to the hospital … saw Erica. Talked with the medical staff and was told the induced coma would be about 2 weeks depending on her progress. I gave them the hanger phone number of the Hanger, and my room. I looked in on Erica and headed for the hanger.
Johan had pieces of wings and cowlings scattered all over the hanger floor and Donald had done the same with the engine. Johan and I went over the salvageable parts and made a list of parts that would have to be replaced.
Donald was more positive he felt the engine was salvageable just clean put back together and start. His biggest problems seem to be hydraulic and oil lines... they were a mess. I climbed into the plane and took a look at what was my responsibility... The instrument panel... all it took was one look.
Over 50% of the gauges were toast. The panel itself was bent double I got my tools and started removing everything. The insurance people had written the plane off. I had made a offer at junk prices and they had accepted. That meant if we managed to restore it... I would own the plane out right.
The nice part about it was Donald and Johan were on extended leave .. so they were still on the payroll. Me too and Erica was on medical so we were all getting paid. “Thanks Uncle Sam.”
I located a local machine shop that had the capability to build a new panel using the old one for their measurements. The machinist put me in touch with a small company that could handle all the tubing. As well as the hydraulics, most of the control valves were still working so that was a plus.
Being at an airport we were able to find the structural parts we needed to replace. But one thing we couldn't replace so easily was the windshield. We had to order one from Beechcraft... The Plane was a C- 45 Model 18 on Floats. While in use by the USAAF its designation was the Expediter.( this model later on would go on to be a favorite of bush pilots).
Everyday I would go to the Hospital and check on Erica. It maybe wishful thinking but she looked liked she was getting a bit more color in her cheeks. After a day at the hanger we would all meet at Donald and Johan' s two bed room Kitchenette.
Maria and Mina would have dinner prepared and ready to eat when we got there. After the meal we would relax for a while and just talk. We discussed the Generals offer for after the war. Johan and Maria wanted to buy some land near my holdings and they wanted to farm. Donald wants to open a garage in the nearest town closest to where we would settle.
I hated to go to the room in the hotel... It was so boring and so empty. I had just finished with my shower when the phone rang. I answered to a voice I did not recognize asking to speak to me. I identified myself and asked how I could help him.
“Hello Colonel, this is Tobias, you know Roper's partner ”
“Hey glad to hear from you, How is Roper doing? And Just call me Chad.”
“ Well Chad Roper is why I am calling you... Roper (I could hear a waver in his voice), Roper went down this morning. I need an extra set of eyes to help me find him. Will you help.”
“Of course I will. Meet me at Hanger 19...Uh what time do you want to depart.”
Tobias said, “I will taxi over to that hanger between 0530 and 0600. Is that okay. “
“That's fine, will see you then.”
I contacted Dotty and had her speak with her sisters, then I contacted the Hospital and checked on Erica's condition. And ask them to contact Carol if there was any change. Next I called Johan and Donald. They said not to worry they had plenty to do. Then I called the front desk for a wake up call for 0430.
Now to bed … I wished I could say and now to sleep but... My mind began to go over different scenarios. It didn't help and slowly I drifted off to sleep. Unfortunately 0430 doesn't take long to come around. Soon the phone was ringing off the hook. I answered, it was the front desk. I thanked them and requested a thermos of coffee and six sandwich s.
A quick shower. Picked up the thermos and bag of sandwich 's and I was on my way. The darkness was complete without the headlights I would be totally isolated. It took about 30 minutes to arrive at the hanger.
I dressed in my flight suit and gathered my binoculars my survival knife and my pistol. Now I wait for Tobias. At 0543 I heard his engine nearing the hanger, I stepped outside and waited.
He didn't have to ask if I was ready, he expected it. I climbed He contacted the tower and was directed to proper runway. Tobias was smooth with his take off and smooth was the sound of his engine. We made small talk
“What happened, I asked? “
“Roper took in a couple of fishermen to one of our cabins and was on his way back when his engine quit he restarted it twice but it wouldn't stay running last he transmitted was 'I am going in' Then nothing. I hope he was still on course. If so we should find him alright.”
After almost 2 hours Tobias pointed to a very solidly forested area “From now on we have to be alert.”
I got out my binoculars and began to scan. We made four passes over this forest area to the south shore of a medium sized lake. On the fifth pass I notice a whisp of smoke. I pointed out the smoke. Tobias headed to that area, we found a narrow meadow and it was obvious Roper had tried to set his plane down.
It was also evident that the meadow was not very smooth. The pontoons had been sheared off almost immediately. After the path made hash out of Ropers plane. What was left of his plane was askew and the tail was in the air. There was no way we could land.
“Tobias do you have a portable radio and a parachute and I guess I had better take your first aid kit.”
Tobias let me take the stick while he located what I had asked for plus a .270 high powered rifle wit a scope, “Might need this too.”
It had been at least 2 years since I had done a low level jump but that was exactly what I was going to try. I had Tobias climb to 5000 feet and traverse the meadow from north to south. I looked over the area. On the next pass I stepped out and as soon as I was clear of the plane I opened the chute.
I grabbed the lines and guided my way to as near the plane as I could safely land. Luckily the wind as mild and caused no problem on the way down. As soon as I Touched down I pulled the radio out of my pack and tested it. Tobias acknowledged me at once. As long as a plane was close we would have communication.
Tobias maneuvered around and landed on the lake. We had agreed that once he landed and contact was made I would shut down the radio to conserve the radios battery. It had a hand crank but that was a last resort.
I made my way to the plane, I was able to enter I found Roper crumpled atop of the instrument s and the wind shield. I checked hie cardioid artery ...he had a pulse. I tried to check him out before trying to move him.
I looked for bleeding, I found some dry blood but no evidence of current bleeding. I ran my hands over his body and discovered a large lump on his forehead. I unzipped his flight suit and his whole chest and stomach was a mass of bruises, I checked his arms and found his left wrist was broken.
I worked my way down his legs and discovered a compound fracture on his shin. I contacted Tobias and told hm what I had found. “We were going to need a Helicopter to take him out of there I will bind up and splint as best as I can before trying to get him out.”
Tobias was not happy when I told him to head back and arrange the rescue but he finally realized I was right. I told him the radio would be off till 0600.
I wrapped his chest and stomach I found some tongue depressors I used as a splint for his wrist
I trimmed a four saplings for splints for his leg. Once I had him bandaged I tied his legs together and his arms to his body. Then I began working him out of the plane which wasn't easy since the whole plane was on a slant.
I gathered wood for a fire. I took off my pack and pulled out my thermos there was just about enough coffee for a cup. There was also 2 more sandwich' s so I had a poor meal. I gathered more wood enough to last all night, I hope.
I woke up around two or three am. I put more wood on the fire. I took a a look around and spotted a wolf trying to make his way to us. He was showing no fear of the fire. I leaned over and picked up the .270.
I took careful aim and shot the wolf just below the jawline blowing his throat wide open he dropped instantly. Two more jumped up and started to run off I aimed and fired dropping one more of them. The third one seemed to realize his friends or pack mates weren't coming . He howled twice then moved off and howled again.
I went back to sleep.
I awoke to silence, I looked around, I had slept with the rifle in my hands. I was not sure what had awakened me. I eased my fingers toward the safety. It was the wolf with a rabbit in its mouth. It stood , took a couple of pace toward me. I followed its movement with the rifle.
The wolf dropped the rabbit jumped back and bent down with its fore paws as if it was bowing to me. The give away was its tail it was wagging rapidly and it yelped playfully. I looked the wolf over it appeared to be a crossbreed of may be Wolf and Siberian Husky.
One think was sure it wasn't afraid of the fire. I began to think this was a tame animal that got lost in the woods and the wolves adopted him. I held out the back of my hand towards him, just to be safe the rifle stayed trained on him,
He raised back up and slowly eased forward till his nose touched the back of my hand. I heard him sniff drawing in my scent. Then his tongue darted out and licked the back of my hand. He jumped back picked up the rabbit and brought it and laid it at my feet.
I pulled out my knife and skinned the rabbit. I made a spit out of a sapling and stuck it between a couple of rocks with the rabbit over the flames. The wolf lay down and watched the rabbit cook. I checked Roper he seemed to be okay. I turned on the Radio.
I found myself talking to the wolf, telling him all my troubles. I said, “I can't keep calling you the wolf, he perked up at the sound of my voice. Let's see my favorite dog stories were by Jack London. I know we will call you 'Buck'. “ he must have liked it he jumped around and barked.
Buck watched every thing that I did but mostly he watched the rabbit. I swear he was drooling. I spun the rabbit around to cook the other side. It was if Buck knew what I was doing. Although he stuck his head forward he did not get up.
At about 0615 Tobias voice echoed from the radio it was not good news both the Helicopters at the airport were unavailable. One was down with the motor being overhauled. The other is on a mercy flight to a Hospital in St Paul. It is reported they are having problems and will have to be checked out before it is certified to fly again.
“I have Donald, Johan, Ralph and a Sgt Clancy with me we are going to trek in to get you. It will take us about four days. I am going to survey the area and look for the closest access to you. Oh and keep that rifle handy there are wolfs and bears in this area.”
“Yeah to the wolves I killed two last night out of a pack of three. The third one brought me breakfast and is watching it cook. Turns out to be almost tame I think it was someones lost pet. I will leave the radio on till you set down. Over and Out .”
The rabbit was done, I pulled it off the spit and cut off the back legs and tossed the rest to buck The meat was very succulent and I wished I had cut off more but had no doubt Buck would bring more.
I climbed back into the plane and made my way to the cargo area. I found what I was looking for quickly, rope, Even better a block and tackle. I hooked it to the tail hook and tied the other end around a fallen tree whose bole was about 24” in diameter.
I pulled and pulled and continued to pull. Buck thinking it was a game grapped the rope and assisted me in pulling. Finally the fuselage shifted and I was able to tip the plane until I had it level. Now I could search the cargo area without standing on my head. I hated to move Roper but I felt it better to have him inside than out in the weather and easier to protect from predators.
I had found a ground sheet with difficulty I got Roper on it and was able to pull him inside. Once he was settled Buck stuck his head inside then leaped inside and curled in front of the hatch as if he was on guard.
I looked in the cargo area first thing I found was the survival pack. I continued till I found the tool box. It wasn't necessary to remove the seats for more room. Roper carry a lot of cargo during the main fishing and hunting season. The seats would fold down and then latch to the sides of the plane.
I kept looking... ah finally … a machete and an ax. I took them both and went out side. I did not need to go very far the large fallen tree was a treasure trove of wood. Some of the limbs were bigger around then my thigh.. I began cutting wood .
I had been cutting for an hour when I heard Tobias' s plane flying over the meadow I looked up and waved. He wig wag his wings, he made 5 passes before the radio sounded off “Chad from what we can see we will be coming in from your North East. That appears to be the thinnest way into you. The problem is it is also the longest in distance. Four days maybe wishful thinking.”
As for me I wasn't worried with the survival kit I had plenty of C rats and canned water for a weak. I had been dribbling water into Ropers mouth I guess I could do the same with some soup to keep him hydrated. But Medically.... I just don't know....
“Tobias I can stick it out but I am not the concern Roper is.... and I just don't know what to say about him he is still out. I guess all I can say is come on as fast as you can. Tobias had brought another radio pack. We agreed on noon for contact time. I had ripped out some wires and rigged a crude charger from the planes batteries to the radio so I had a fully charged radio.
I had enough wood for my night time fire and then some. I decided to take a nap but first I checked on Roper and dribbled a bit of soup and water past his lips. He gave me a little hope... his tongue came out and he licked his lips. I lay back for my nap.
I was startled out of sound sleep by what sounded like a baby's scream followed by an angry growl and a yelp. I sat up and saw a cougar trying to enter the hatch Buck was keeping it out. I had read about the Flora and Fauna of Minn. It had said that there were about 50 sightings a year but but was rarely confirmed. Well this one is real...
I reached for my rifle... it wasn't there.... thru the hatch I could see it leaning against a Log. I did have my Luger. Buck was jumping back and forth keeping the Cougar at bay. I called out to Buck. “Buck back. “ He must have been somewhat trained... he did as I said.
The Cougar tentatively placed a paw inside the hatch. It opened its mouth, growled and pushed forward. I aimed and fired twice, Both ripped thru the roof of the Cats mouth and entered its brain. The Cat leaped backwards and landed in a heap
I checked out Buck and found claw marks on the right shoulder. I checked the med pack and got a packet of sulfa powder and shook it on to the wound. I checked the body of the cat it was a beautiful pelt. Which set me to thinking. I broke out my Knife and skinned the cat then went to the wolf carcasses and skinned them as well. Then I drug the bodies over to a ravine about thirty yards from the plane. Hopefully this will keep predators away
Buck and I slipped into a routine we worked together I don't know if I was training him or was he training me. The last contact wit Tobias had us watching the North East section of the meadow … On The 6th day they walked out of the trees......