By Tom McCrary
It’s a warm evening as the sun lazily droops its way to the horizon over the Pacific Ocean. The warm and embracing rays of the sun come through the front windows of the one story tropical bungalow.
In the small main room there is a wide table against the concrete wall. My mom, dad, and brother are sitting at the table preparing for dinner as the sun’s rays soften through the tall windows facing the ocean. I’m sitting at the corner of the table next to my brother while my son paces beside us. A wispy female figure stands near looking on. My brother is 10 years old while everyone else is their current age and dad is still healthy and happy.
It’s 6:55 by the round clock on the concrete wall in front of the table and I start becoming nervous about catching my plane for my upcoming trip. Andrew tells me that I have plenty of time to catch my flight at 7:30. Young Judd sits silently beside me but also let’s me know it’s not time to go yet. So we talk and eat and enjoy our time together for a long while.
The talk at the table about my upcoming trip is lively and pleasant as we all talk at once. Everyone is confused as to why I would travel west completely around the globe just to go to the east coast of the United States. Wasn’t it shorter just to fly directly east from the North-westernmost U.S. they clammer? A half map / half globe appears as I show them that the great circle is shorter and faster. The great circle is the way to go over the globe.
Time is running out and in an agitated manner I stand up abruptly and vigorously declare to everyone that I must get going. It’s late and I can’t miss the plane. There’s more chatter from the table but I strongly argue that it’s 7:15 and I must make the plane at 7:30. The party agrees and wishes me well as they continue to eat and chat.
In a moment I am walking from the ocean side toward an open-air airline terminal under a palm tree shaped roof. There are lots of people going places and milling about. None of whom I recognize. In the distance I spot two silver cylindrical podiums for checking passengers in. People hustle about as if they were shopping in a mall at Christmas time; but they don’t seem to be traveling today.
I start making my way to the airline check-in and cross over a set of wide-gauge railroad tracks then another set of normal gauge tracks angling away from each other. As I step over the railroad ties and rails a train on the wide gauge line plays some music and announces a dinner outing. It’s tempting and I do enjoy trains, but I continue towards the airline check-in. The train moves ever so slowly down the track in slow motion and I see the lights of the dining car illuminate the empty tables with their stark white table clothes. People start to enter the dining car to find their seats for the nightly dinner excursion. Although I don’t see them I sense that the 3 Wentz kids and their mother will be dining on the train this evening.
As I look at my watch; the departure time is coming nearer and I need to hurry on my way and check-in to my flight. I’m now beginning to become more panicky and anxious; I can’t miss the plane. Must get to the plane.
The attendant checks me in but realizes that I’m missing the 3rd leg of my flight. From here I’m to fly to Russia, then Iceland, then to the Northeast US. We look closely at the tickets that resemble red bookmarks, long and narrow, but can’t find the 3rd leg of my trip. My heart pounds and my palms sweat. I look very closely at the writing on each ticket. The language in the tickets is difficult to make out but looks to be in a foreign alphabet. Another minute passes. Only a few minutes left until the plane departs. I’m becoming warmer and more nervous. My guide escorts me to security to look through my bag. We don’t have time I protest. Gotta go. My guide let me know softly and calmly that we have time but need to check the bag first. But where is my 3rd ticket? It’s worrisome. Why is it missing?
As people come and go all around me in the open air mall, I shift my weight from leg to leg trying to make the security guards go faster. Another minute ticks past and can’t miss my flight. Just when I think I’m clear the security people find small bags of odds and ends. I explain that I like everything separate and organized. They look at each other silently and agree. Must hurry it’s just 2 minutes until the plane leaves. Gathering up my clothes and bag in my arms I rush past loads of people toward my departure gate.
I make my way from the open air entrance through a single-story terminal with its off-white walls funneling the mass of people towards our gates. Passing each departure gate one after another I look through the windows to see in the distance the silver plane at my gate. I should be able to make it just in time. The silver fuselage and tall silver tail becomes larger through the windows as I get nearer to the gate. People pay no attention to my rushing. My heart beats faster. It’s warmer. One minute until departure and almost there. But my ticket? I’m missing the last leg over the great circle. More doubt continues to creep in. What am I to do?
Reaching the gate I speed past the seating area full of people and down the enclosed jetway. The din of the people becomes muffled as everyone continues to rush about behind me. What am I to do about the missing ticket? I must be the last person to board because the jetway is empty. I hear a clock’s second hand tick louder and louder. It’s almost 7:30. Approaching the end of the passage I see that the plane door is still open. Instead of hurrying on to the plane I stop suddenly at the end of the passage.
A calmness comes over me. My heartbeat slows and my breath calms and becomes easier. I put down my bag and clothes. It’s 7:30. Time stops as I stand looking at the plane. I made it.
Between the plane and the jetway is an open space. Looking through the open space I see the silver nose of the plane then the wing and the tall silver tail. The plan is dark inside but I don’t see anyone. It occurs to me that this isn’t my trip after all. I’m here to see the plane off. My mind is at ease and I sense the plane is at ease. Without a sound I say goodbye and it seems that the plane says goodbye too. The large silver doors close as if it were smiling. The engines start and the plane slowly makes its way toward the airstrip.
Back in the dining car the train has left the station platform while the people aboard are all enjoying their meals even though I can not see them. Standing in the open air at the end of the jetway passage I see the silver plane holding at the end of the runway while the engines increase full power. The brakes release free with a squeak and the plane lunges forward, rolls towards the runway dip and instantly takes off skyward. This makes me very happy and I smile. Have a nice trip. So long.
What I didn’t know during this dream was that W. Budd Wentz died on January 10th, 2015 at 07:30 am. He took a deep breath and departed. His hair still thick and as silver and shiny as ever. Skamp, student, warrior, doctor, researcher, teacher, tennis player, dad, husband, friend. Bourbon and cigar in hand.
In the winter of 1944 Lt. Wentz flew 28 missions in “My Best Bette” a silver B-17 Bomber. On his first mission with the crew he had to emergency land in Belgium after being hit by flak and escape back to England. On his last mission he had to emergency land in Germany after being rammed by a German ME-109 and escape back to England.
Our paths and journeys are all different. Safe travels and may we all seek what we need to find and learn.
Blue skies; no clouds.