“Please.” Maggy pleaded. “I need that hangar. The empty ones are too small and you know it.”
“No!” Clyde wiped his hands on a clean towel, the bright yellow wing of a vintage airplane perched on tables in the middle of the WWII era hangar. The mechanics, who were busy with a propeller, stopped what they were doing and looked at Maggy.
“But, we had a deal, right?” She questioned, voice steady but insistent as she moved closer to the cast iron stove in the corner, the fire beckoning from behind the glass.
“Yeah, we had a deal, but not until spring!” Clyde was looking at the airplane wing.
“I know, but, I didn’t know they were coming until late this morning,” Maggy went on, “and I did try to call you but there was no answer so, I —”
Clyde’s jaw had quickly advanced to the twitchy stage. His scruffy salt-and-pepper beard moved up and down even though his head was perfectly still. She’d learned to read Clyde’s tells a long time ago. When his whiskers started that up and down thing, it was time to wrap up the conversation and get on about your business.
“It’s full of trucks and a bunch of Stearman guts,” Clyde said. “You have no idea what it would take for us to clear that hangar this afternoon in this weather.” He pointed in the direction of Hangar Six. “And, frankly, I don’t think you care.”
“That’s not fair,” she objected, holding her hands over the hot stove. “You said that hangar was plenty big enough for a jet that size and your old airplane stuff, you know, if necessary?” She knew exactly how much and how long it would take to clear that hangar because she’d seen them move stuff around all the time, even got to help a few times. They could have it done in an hour or so, at the most.
“Old airplane stuff? Old airplane stuff!” Clyde picked up a wrench.
Maggy stiffened, trying to suppress the fight-or-flight adrenaline factory powering up inside her. She had neither the time nor the energy for his alpha-dog posturing right now.
“I’m sorry, Clyde. I really am. I don’t know what else to say to you. I need that hangar. I need. That. Hangar. And you know that I care. That is so unfair and you know it. You know it. I don’t understand why you’re so mad about this?”
“Christ, Maggy. You’re talking about a G Five. It can sit outside for a few days. If those jets can sit outside in Siberian winters, they can sit outside in our little high desert snow storms right here in the good old U S of A.” Clyde pointed the wrench in the direction of his mechanics, who turned their attention back to the propeller. “The answer is no.”
Maggy left the warmth of the stove and stepped directly in front of Clyde, moving in close, the wrench less than an inch from her chest. She lowered her voice. “I can’t explain right now, but —” The wrench and Clyde both smelled of engine grease. “I’m begging you. Two of my closest friends are on that plane. Please.”
He lowered the wrench and then tossed it onto a cardboard box. “What are you up to Maggy? Huh? What is it? I can count on one hand, one, the number of jets that have landed on this strip over the past decade, three of which have been in the past few months: two Cessna Citations, a Challenger, and now a Gulfstream. And all met by you or Viktor. What are you doing?”
“I need you to trust me.” Maggy repeated, picking Millie’s hair from her coat, a convenient action to mask the adrenaline induced tremble in her hands. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Clyde raised his hands in surrender, an expression of disgust on his grizzled old face. “You better not be doin’ anything illegal on my property, Maggy. I swear.”
“Illegal?” Maggy mused. “I’m not involved in anything illegal and I certainly would not bring it to your little airport if I was. Illegal. I’m offended that you would even — ”
Clyde’s whiskers stopped moving. “You’re offended? You’re offended. Christ, Maggy.” After a few seconds, he nodded to the mechanics but spoke directly to her. “This is the last time, you got it? No more.”
She gave the mechanics her best look of “I’m sorry,” but was met with stares as cold as the blowing snow outside. Blowing snow in which they were about to spend the rest of the afternoon moving “old airplane stuff” and trucks out of Hangar Six to who knows where.
“I promise. And thank you,” she said, reaching out to Clyde, intending a thank-you hug.
“Don’t,” he said leaning away. “Just, don’t.”
She stepped back. “I really am sorry. I —“
“Yeah, I know,” he said, putting on his heavy coat.
She made her way to the side door of the hangar, the smallest of six remaining at the remote airstrip. The small hangar also doubled as Clyde’s “office,” which was comprised of a lopsided chair, an old military desk piled high with papers, and a long row of file cabinets against the far wall. A faded photo of Clyde with his long lost daughter, Clara, hung loosely over the file cabinets. Maggy forced herself to look past the photo as she walked by.
“Hey, um…” Clyde called out as she reached the door. “Good luck tonight.”
“What?” Maggy withdrew her hand from the knob. “Aren’t you stopping by?”
“No, I’ve got some, um, FAA reports that I’m behind on, and…” Clyde stammered. “But, the guys’ll be there, right guys?”
“Save it; I understand,” Maggy waved him off. “Thank you again for the hangar. Viktor will be here to meet them.” She opened the door, the cold air seizing her vocal cords. She cleared her throat with a light cough. “Drinks are on me tonight guys,” she said to the mechanics before the wind slammed the door hard behind her.
Copyright 2021 Krystyn Hartman