Travel Mates

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Watcher

The City had two major airports within a five-mile distance. To the north was Abraham Lincoln International Airport, the third largest airport in the country, with its endless rows of gleaming jet planes laid out like a vast winged army. South of the City, just off the Cross-Parkway, was the Jonah T. Parker airport, named for one of the City’s original founders.

But The Watcher wasn’t interested in the big boys. He was twelve miles further down the Jefferson Parkway, at the miniscule, private Henderson Airfield. The light rain didn’t bother him in the slightest. He had spent too much time in far away places, in much worse weather conditions than a little mist.

He sat in the tree line one hundred yards outside the airstrip, picked up the collar of his camo windbreaker, and peered through the lens of his high speed Canon digital camera at the Travel Club private plane.

Even in an airfield filled with only Cessnas and small private jets, the Travel Club jet stood out like a sore thumb. It was white and gold, looked like it had cabin space for about fifteen people, and had the Travel Club company logo on its tail.

The Watcher had one job. “Keep surveillance on that plane until it takes off,” his superior had told him. “I want pictures and descriptions of every person who gets on that plane today.”

“How do you know they are flying today?” he had uncharacteristically asked.

“Ever since 9/11 you can’t fly without filing a flight plan. Hell, you can’t get a freaking fruit fly up in the sky without a flight plan.”

The Watcher didn’t ask where the plane was going. It didn’t matter to him one way or the other. If they needed him to go where the plane’s occupants were going, they would simply send him there. The Watcher had learned over time that Travel Club wasn’t the only company with seemingly endless resources.

So The Watcher stopped asking questions, picked up his gear, and headed to Henderson Airfield. Security was for the crapper. He could have gotten himself on board the plane if he so chose, but instead disappeared into the trees and settled in to wait. Others would have passed the time wondering about who would be showing up to get on the plane, but not the Watcher. He wasn’t paid to wonder. He was paid to carry out the dirty jobs his superiors needed taken care of. He was a fixer. No fuss, no muss. And today his job was to watch an airplane and take some pictures. It was all the same to him. So long as he got paid well, there were very few jobs out there he wouldn’t do.

A small prop plane roared down the runway and into the gray sky. The Watcher gave it a second’s glance before shaking rain off the brim of his hat and focusing on the plane. He leaned back against a tree just a bit, not too comfortable, just enough to not tighten up. He didn’t mind the wait though, he been in much uglier spots than this. All in all, it was a pretty fine day.

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