All his passengers gawked at the view from the aircraft windows as Juan did a slow roll around the area. During one of the turns, the solar arrays reflected a blast of sunlight that forced everyone to quickly turn away from the bright reflection. The young ones were genuinely impressed with the mammoth wind turbine sentinels slowly rotating in the ever-present warm gusts across the Chihuahuan Desert.
Petra and EZ sat holding hands with their husbands. Their children, Granger, JW, Satya, and Auri mushed their noses against the windows, fascinated with the landscape below. None of them wanted to miss any part of this adventure.
Juan’s voice came in over the intercom. “Alright, everyone. Showtime is over. I need you to all find a seat and buckle up so I can land. This will not be a smooth landing because there isn’t a regular runway for us. In other words, strap in tight and hold on to your butts, now!”
The parents frowned, the children giggled, and Julie simply glared at her husband from the copilot seat. Juan caught the glare and quizzically asked, “What? What?”
But Julie just moved her stare to the windshield and their approach to the almost runway.
Juan loved flying with his lovely wife of over two decades. Her honey-colored hair was still long with silver highlights, which he undoubtedly created from his antics over the years. Her hair accented her fair skin and beautiful smile. Still fit and trim from routine workouts and martial training between the two of them, she would always be his co-pilot in all ways.
Juan grinned as he feathered the jet’s speed as much as he could without stalling to make the landing as gentle as possible. As soon as he touched down, rock, soil, and plant debris went flying everywhere behind the aircraft. When the nose gear touched down, a storm of dust flared up just behind the cockpit, threatening to engulf the whole plane. Juan pulled back on the throttle to minimize the amount of dust being consumed by his engines. The quick deceleration helped to slow the aircraft down, but the semi-loose soil played havoc with the landing gear as Juan was fighting with the fishtail action until the aircraft stopped.
It took a few minutes for Juan to get his breathing and heart rate under control before he confided to his love. “Good, I made it through another landing.” Before he could move the aircraft, the dust had to settle so he could see where to taxi the plane.
This gave the children time to squeal with joy and petition him. “Uncle Juan, that was great! Can we do it again?”
Juan muttered under his breath so that only Julie heard, “Not unless you want to see Uncle Juan have another cold rush of poop to the heart.”
Julie stifled her giggle so as not to be asked to repeat what the children had missed.
Juan slowly maneuvered to the bunker area that had concrete parking suited for the plane. By design, the overhang kept the plane out of sight. In their early days, Juan and Carlos had placed their moving business in this remote area to avoid unnecessary questioning from the local authorities. Because that moving business had not really been deemed legitimate by most sovereign nations, Juan was not really anxious to do much explaining to the young ones. The other adults were happy to keep mum on the ancient history. Trouble was, Quip couldn’t.
Everyone piled out of the aircraft to see the old desert hideout and do rapid exploration. Before anyone got very far, Quip innocently yet loudly asked, “Juan, did you and your team ever get that rattlesnake problem under control?”
It had the effect Quip intended, and the children quickly regrouped and continuously scanned the area for anything slithering.
Once Quip had the attention of the audience, he gaily asked, “Is this where you staged the aircraft before flying out the drug dealer monies to launder it in the Cayman Islands?”
Much chagrinned, Juan slowly closed his eyes in hopes that everyone could unhear the illuminating statement. The banter only got worse.
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