First Night: The Conflict Between Hope and Cynicism
Story by Dr. Lee Brazil
Foreword and Epilogue by:
Written by Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved
BERMUDA AIR SPACE
December 21, 2019, 6:38 P.M.
Cynicism: Idealism gone sour.
~ Will Herberg
Lee awakened to the pilot announcing that passengers should take their seats and check their seatbelts, since there was turbulence up ahead and the landing at Bermuda might not be a perfect one. Lee rubbed his eyes and pulled his seatbelt tighter. Dr. Wagner stirred briefly and then resumed his snoring. A number of people were in the aisle arguing with the attendants about the need to take their seats when the plane hit the first patch of “bumpy air,” as the pilot had called it.
Suddenly, the plane seemed to lose altitude. “Bumpy air,” agreed the young man sitting across the aisle from Lee, as he opened the in-flight magazine. Lee nodded and checked his seatbelt. A few people standing in the aisle started to move toward their seats. The plane lunged up and then down. A woman talking to a friend lost her balance. Her friend caught her before she fell into the aisle. The flight attendant was on the intercom again.
“Please,” she said, “Please take your seats.”
A few more of the plane’s tipsy passengers moved toward their seats, holding on to the backs of seats, luggage compartments, and their fellow passengers. People were still talking and laughing. But before most could reach their seats, the plane began a free fall like the descent of a roller coaster. Lee hated carnival rides. He felt his seatbelt dig into his waist as he was lifted off his seat. His heart was starting to pound. He was trying to take deep breaths, but couldn’t. The plane heaved again. Lee’s stomach felt like it was going to explode and its contents come gushing out his mouth and nose. Conversation and laughter had stopped.
The plane pitched to the left and then began a forward plunge toward earth like an elevator car whose cable had snapped. There were screams and gasps as anything and anyone not secured by a seatbelt or stowed flew through the air and bounced off the cabin ceiling, walls, and passengers.
Somehow the pilot and crew managed to regain control of the plane. The plunge to earth slowed, and the plane righted itself. The air became calm again. The bright lights of Hamilton could be seen in the distance. Tragedy had been averted, and the CIA’s best and brightest from the French office were saved to spy another day.
Unfortunately, the air turbulence combined with a considerable amount of alcohol and party food had negatively impacted the digestive tract of most of the passengers. The sickening odor of vomit began to fill the plane. When the plane reached the gate, Lee and a number of other passengers were immediately on their feet and ready to exit
As Lee made his way past the galley, he heard someone call his name. Not Jones, or Smith or whatever it was supposed to be for “security,” but Brazil.
A large, black man was standing at the end of the galley next to the cabin door through which crewmen were now loading food and drink. He smiled and motioned for Lee to join him. Lee mouthed, “Me?” and the man nodded. Lee wasn’t sure. He looked around for a member of the crew to ask what, he wasn’t sure. But most were busy helping others to their feet, icing bumped heads and finding bags and suitcases that the owners, in an alcoholic fog, could not remember into which overhead compartment they had been placed.
The man motioned again for Lee and, as if propelled by some sort of invisible force, Lee stepped over boxes of snack food and assorted liquor and beer to reach the crew exit. Just as he started to speak, the man turned and started down the stairs. Lee followed without hesitation.
The sky was dark and the night air was heavy, but cool and smelled of the ocean. Lee took a couple of deep breaths. The two reached the bottom of the stairs and moved quickly across the tarmac toward an old gray Lincoln Town Car parked on the edge of the runway.
The man opened the driver’s side door and motioned Lee to the passenger side. Lee complied, taking a seat next to his guide.
“I take it you’re the person who was sent to . . .”
The man nodded as he started the car, slipped it into gear, and headed the Lincoln in the direction of the nearest exit gate. The small airport at this hour of the early evening looked almost abandoned.
Lee continued, “You work for the Agency…I mean the United States government?”
Turning to Lee, “David,” he said. “David is my name, but we cannot talk here.”
As they approached the gate, the guard opened it, smiled and waved them through.
For a while they followed a gravel road that ran parallel to the airport’s runway. It soon turned into a narrow, newly paved road. The lights of the airport faded. It was pitch dark. There was no moon. It was only 7:00 or 7:30 Bermuda time, but Lee’s biological clock told him it was the wee hours of the morning European time and he should be asleep. He was having difficulty keeping his eyes open. Lee shook himself and rubbed his eyes. “Where are we?”
“More importantly, where the hell are we going?” asked Lee.
“Not far,” said David. “Twenty-five miles is a short commute in the United States. In Bermuda, it’s the length of our country.”
“You’re from Bermuda?” asked Lee.
“Yes, I am now,” David said with obvious pride. “I came here many years ago. It’s a long story which I will tell you tomorrow.”
“Okay,” said Lee with hesitation. “That’s something I need to know?” asked Lee.
“You’ll understand when I tell you. But tonight we rest. Tomorrow we talk.”
They turned off the paved road onto sand and broken pavement. Lee could hear the ocean. The car’s headlights reflected off of piles of debris, rotting building and aging concrete bunkers. An old military base, Lee was thinking.
“Let me try it again. Where are you taking me?” This time he said it with some force.
“I told you, we will be there in a few minutes.”
Lee started to object, then thought better of it.
David pulled the car into a driveway that ran on an incline to a large concrete structure. He pulled the car up to two large rusted metal “blast” doors.
“Dr. Brazil, please open the glove box and hand me the garage door opener.”
Lee complied, retrieving a large gray metal object that looked to Lee like a Buck Rogers ray gun. He handed it to David who pointed it at a particular spot on the left door. The doors began to slide silently back. David pulled the car into the bunker as the doors closed behind them.
“That’s one heck of a garage door opener,” observed Lee.
David smiled. “We will spend the night here,” said David as he slipped out of the car. Lee followed him into a dimly lit room. The room was filled with electronic equipment, some vintage World War II, and others high tech. In fact, so high tech that Lee could not recognize the equipment. He looked for a corporation label on the equipment or a serial number, but saw none.
“Your bed is over there,” David motioned, “and there’s food in the kitchenette if you are hungry.”
Lee was still looking at the room and the equipment.
“The bath is in that corner,” David said pointing. “Did you hear me?”
“Ah . . . yes. What is all of this? Where is the deluxe room on the beach? What’s with the I Spy bunker?” said Lee, motioning with his hand and hook and looking perplexed.
“We have been planning for your arrival for some time,” said David.
“My arrival?” said Lee with concern.
“We are staying here because their infrared scanners cannot detect our presence.”
Lee smiled. “David, you’ve lost me on that one. Whose infrared scanners?”
“For tonight, just let me say, Dr. Brazil, that if the party who was supposed to meet you at the airport had, you would be dead by now. So, enjoy your good fortune. We will talk in the morning. There are towels and clean clothes on your bed. I have work to do before tomorrow, so if you will excuse me…”
Lee stood for a few seconds, while David, appearing not to take notice, busied himself at one of the Star Wars Galactica control panels.
Lee decided to take David’s advice. He washed his face. There were deep dark circles under his eyes. As his father would have said, “You look like hell warmed over.” Less than twenty-four hours ago he was sitting in a hotel room in France. Now he was in a World War II era bunker in Bermuda with some guy who was telling him he had saved his life and he should be grateful.
Lee’s brain was too tired to give all this more thought. At least not tonight. He did think of Liz. She would be worried. He’d left his cell phone in Paris. He hadn’t talked with her for a day, but if he had the phone, it wouldn’t work inside a reinforced concrete bunker.
Lee sat down on the bed. He took off his shoes. He checked to make sure that the package was still in the breast pocket of his coat. The Greatest Hits of Rock ‘n Roll, Volume I, was still there. David had said nothing about the package. Maybe . . . no, David knew about the package. That was the whole point of Lee being there, he assumed.
Lee moved the “clean clothing” to the chair by his bed. The clothes looked like a workmen’s uniform. On the breast pocket there was an insignia of a cruise ship. The Saint, the one that sailed out of Boston to Bermuda. Lee shook his head and closed his eyes.