Zeke 04

“You have a clipboard?” Zeke asked.

Sally pulled one from a desk drawer along with a few sheets of typewriter paper.

“And how about the log books?”

She went to a file cabinet in the corner of the hangar, on the far side of the two aircraft and brought them to Zeke.

“Wow, 1943 army trainers. Do you have any history on these birds?”

“Daddy bought them both new still in their shipping crates at a Houston surplus auction. I don’t remember how much they cost, but I think I could find out if it’s important.”

“It’s not. Did he assemble them himself?”

“Daddy was a bomber pilot flying out of England during World War II. In 1943 he was shot down over Germany and finished out the war as a POW. Back in England he and his crew chief were best of friends in spite of the notion that officers were not supposed to mingle with enlisted men.

“After the war he and Momma had made a road trip to Post, Texas to see Sergeant Pugh and offered him a job getting these two biplanes ready for spraying,” Sally explained as she followed Zeke on his walk-around.

“When was this?” stopping for a moment, listening more closely.

“I think it was during the winter of 1946. It’s in the records.”

Zeke nodded and continued his inspection. He was finished by noon and they returned to the yellow table.

“Well?” Sally asked.

In spite of her shapeless, baggy clothes Zeke could understand why Dan was attracted to her. He imagined she would steal the show in a party dress. Reminding himself why he had come calling, he kept his opinions to himself.

“They’re both due for periodic inspections. That won’t necessarily be terribly costly – well, the tires have to be replaced and wheel bearing packed, compression check all the cylinders – but it will take time – probably about 10 hours for each bird if we’re lucky and don’t find any ugly surprises. Then it could get costly and consume more time.”

“Can you spare me the time?” she asked.

“Let me find out.” I need to make a phone call. Do you have a phone?”

Sally pointed to a black wall phone near the entryway. “Do you want me to leave so you can have some privacy?”

“No. It’s nothing personal. I just need to touch bases at home.”

She started lunch while Zeke dialed the North Dakota number and then stepped outside and leaned against the door jamb. She had it ready to serve when he stepped back inside and returned the receiver to the hook. After claiming a place at the table She sat a plate of food before him then served herself.

“Well?” she finally asked, scooting her chair closer to the table.

“I can spare ten days then I have to high tail it home. That means we need to get cracking on these birds. Some of this you can do. You probably already know how, having grown up with them.”

He worked up a list of routine parts and she headed for town while he started the periodic.