Chapter 34 - Unexpected Reunion
Doug waited impatiently at Metro Airport for the others to arrive. He could scarcely believe what was happening. He knew, of course, exactly what had happened, Jeff hadn’t made a secret of his plans and his job in archeobiology was really only a means to an end. Doug had never believed it would be possible though, and he had good reason to doubt it. Still, this man Downes had sounded serious and if they had the 1998 Jeff Rand in custody, then clearly something was afoot.
A few minutes later, a black limousine arrived at the corner and out stepped Roger Horn, looking dapper as even in what Doug guessed was a $3000 suit. He had a small valise with him. He turned back towards the limo even as Doug approached.
"Michael, I really believe you can help us, please come with me," said Roger.
Doug couldn’t hear the response, but he was sure it was in the negative. Mike and Jeff had had a falling out years earlier and their friendship had come to an end. Over the years, several people had attempted to make peace between the two of them, but it just never quite worked out. Their conflict had ended Mike’s attendance at Winter Camp, something all of them, particularly Jeff, regretted.
Roger shut the door to the limousine and signaled to the driver to leave. Doug was a little disappointed, he’d liked to have had a chance to convince Mike to come with them. Roger turned to face him and extended his hand. The two shook hands and began comparing notes. Doug guessed that Roger had probably known about the plan before it came to fruition. Although Doug and Jeff were good friends, Jeff sometimes told his most hare-brained schemes only to Roger or perhaps Steve. Doug’s tendency to use good judgment made Jeff unwilling to share his wild capers with him.
Together, Roger and Doug entered the airport. Although their flight was strictly military and would not require commercial travel, they still had to pick up the third member of their party. As they hurried through the gates, they exchanged information on their families and businesses as they went. Like most of the Winter Campers, they were fast friends, but only spoke at length with one another for a few days a year, so there was a lot of old news to catch up on.
They arrived at the gate for the flight arriving from St. Louis just as the first passengers debarked. There was a loud thumping sound coming down the gangplank and craning their necks they could see Steve coming towards them, lugging an oversized bag. The bag was too big for him to carry and he swung it ahead of him then dropped it, producing the sound they heard. He smiled and waved when he saw them, then continued a rather animated conversation with a twelve year old boy who was walking alongside him. As the two finally reached the end of the plank, Steve produced a business card from behind the boys ear and handed it to him, instructing him to keep in touch.
"Some things never change," said Doug.
"True enough," replied Roger, "no matter how much they should."
"Let’s not get into that conversation," asked Doug, "We’ve got more important things to worry about than Steve’s third childhood".
"Fourth," came Steve’s reply and Roger moved forward to help Steve with his bag. As he approached, Steve heaved the bag onto one end and depressed a button, small wheels and a handle appeared and Steve picked up his pace, beginning to move towards them rapidly.
"Doug, Roger, good to see you both again. Too bad it doesn’t look like we’ll be having any fun on this trip. Any idea how or why Jeff did it?"
"I think we all know why," said Roger, "and how isn’t much in question either. The big question is can we talk him out of it?"
"Agreed," said Doug, "but right now, we’ve got a plane to catch."
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