A Place to Crash I hate flying commercial. I'm a tall guy, and twelve hours in coach class does nothing for my temperment. Neither did spending forty five minutes in line at US Customs upon landing. So I was pretty grouchy when I finally made it to the counter. I had to stifle it, though. Look natural. I handed the lady my passport. "Welcome home, Mr. Hale," she said, looking through it. "You've been away a long time. What on earth did you do over there?" "Pipleine technician, natural gas mainly. Paid well, but I'm ready to come home and eat bacon again." I put on my best impish grin. She smiled sweetly at me. "Well, again, welcome home." She stamped my passport. "It's good to be back, Ma'am," I said, and walked away. Making my way through the crowded terminal, I pulled out my Nokia cell phone and turned it on. NO SERVICE, it told me. What? I cursed aloud as I realized my phone wouldn't work in the United States. Get a tri-band, they told me. Works anywhere in the world, they said. My butt. Muttering to myself, I found a payphone, used my credit card, and punched the digits. The phone rang six or seven times before I got an answer. "Hello?" "Jeff. I'm at LAX. Can you come pick me up? I need a place to crash." "What? Who is this? It's two in the morning!" "Nightcrawler." "Nightc...Mike? MIKE! What the hell! It's been like a year man!" "Long story. Can you come get me? I'm tired, and I don't really have anywhere to go." "Uh...yeah....yeah, sure. Gonna be a couple hours. Can you wait?" "I'll be here. Thanks." Two and a half hours later, my friend arrived. He bombarded me with questions, and I frustrated him by not answering. I wasn't trying to be distant, I really wasn't; fatigue was setting in. I fell asleep in his car and didn't wake up until we were back at his place. As the first rays of dawn began to peek in the window, I found myself sitting across Jeff's kitchen table. He still looked astonished to see me. I'm sure I looked like hell, too. "What's going on, man?" He asked me again. "You disappear for a whole year, and I hardly get an email from you. Now you fall out of the sky and want to stay at my place? What the hell?" "I need a weapon," I said. "What? Why? Look, we're cool and everything, but..." "It's important," I said, interrupting. "Uh...yeah. Wait a minute." He left the table, and returned with a pistol in his hand. He laid the Beretta 92FS down on the table, along with three loaded magazines. "Not really your style, but it's all I can spare." I inserted a magazine and chambered a round. Satisfied, I set the weapon back down. "This will do. Thank you. I need new ID, too. This passport's gotten too broken in." I laid my Parker Hale passport down on the table. Jeff picked it up and looked at it. He chuckled. "Parker Hale. That's funny. Come on, man. I need to know what's going on here. You're asking a lot." I sighed deeply, and collected my thoughts. "So there I was..." TO BE CONTINUED*... *Only, of course, if I have the blessing of the mods. It's been two years since I've engaged in such antics and it was a bit of a misappropriation of the forum. If there's any problem, please, simply remove the thread and I'll understand. I must say, though, I miss the spontaneity of this kind of writing... **Assuming I have time. Most days I'm kind of gone for fifteen hours a day. NOTE: Okay, I've got the go-ahead from Oleg. So, here's how this works. I'm writing the story spontaneously. I only have a rough idea in my head of how the story is going to go. It is 100% fictional, and I make no bones about that. I can only wish I was half the badass I am in the story. It's written in rough draft format with little proof-reading or editing, so it's going to lack some polish. Please bear with me on that, and thanks again for all of your support.