Book 2 Chapter 5 Section 2 Running and Flying Tales of Dead Armadillo Novel about Crosscountry Running and New Braunfels Texas By Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved

 

 

Coach Bob could only barely believe it.  He knew Ace had run the Eden Home the day before.  Yet it was Ace running before school.  Ace had said he would.  Bob knew he had intended but now it was happening.  It was dark it was chilly.  Ace had a college day.  He made note of the time and decided he would time Ace he saw his car at the high school in the parking lot.  The logistics for this had been worked out.  Tuesday was supposed to be a long run anyway.  Ace was holding true to an unsaid promise.  Coach Bob picked up a cup of coffee then to the athletes parking went outside started grading worksheets.  He found a sample packet of Gatorade and mixed it up.  Doc saw him as Doc was prepping for morning treatments.  "Would you believe Ace is doing his workout before he leaves early for a college day?"  Doc smiled "No I am not surprised.  So you going to give him a quart and make sure he can shower and make it back here without being tardy?"  Coach Bob said "To make sure he stays out of trouble I am going to drive him home grade papers in his driveway and make sure he is not tardy."  Coach Noel Scott saw Coach Bob grading papers on Stephen's car.  That's surprising he thought as he walked to his boss he could see why he commented, "That's dedication."

Ace could be seen in the distance doing a hard kick to school Coach Bob continued "Wish Raul would have more that and his discipline."  Coach Bob asked "Did you tell him to run?"  His assitant Coach Noel replied "I told him what the rough run was and he is doing what the team will be doing today"

"Hey Ace where did you run from" Coach Bob asked "Mom dropped me at Taco Bell."  Stephen was now being referred to by his hld Denton nickname Ace replied.  Coach West saw Ace arrive "Coach P would say you are acting like a senior right now."  Stephen had butted heads with Coach P.  Ace had called Coach P a screamer.  The two clashed. Coach West had chosen the words to make a point show a real compliment and to make a point of a deeper loyalty. The three coaches were very different Coach Scott was a bridge between the two. Stephen responded "Thanks for the reminder.....that is where I am heading today Amnesty meeting tonight memorial Doc Bowman picking me up at the airport giving a quick tour of UNT driving me to Braums the meeting Kharma and back to the airport."  The two faces from Denton smiled.  "Just like Doc" Coach West said with respect and smile to a former coworker.  The English Prof Doc and the football Coach got along in Denton.  The football Coach Realized Doc Kent Bowman had done the right thing.  Braums and Kharma were Denton code.  Coach Bob said "Yeah you gave me something I can use if I see people slacking today drink this I will drive you to your place to shower lets get in my car."  

Stephen King was in Coach Bobs’ car and he sped off counter flow to Stephens home.  Stephen had 20 minutes to shower.  Stephen quickly showered and put on a pair of jeans and Midnight Oil Concert T-shirt.  He walked out and in the car "That's not going to restored your freak credibility over here."  Stephen responded "It’s not for over here my blood runs purple today."  Stephen King declared where his heart was that day.  Ace might be on campus but he would be miles away.  He gave the team its run now he was free to deal with a personal issue.  The bell could be heard from the faculty lot behind the cafeteria and Stephen quickly walked to his first period class.  Stephen commented it was great show in reference to the Concert at the Starplex.  Coach Bob smiled. 

Amanda saw Stephen as he walked.  She asked "Did you run this morning?"  Stephen King replied "Yeah from Taco Bell the old fish walk in reverse."  The two had done it as a part of Spring Fling years before they both knew what it meant.  They made it to class.  She saw face Stephen was pulling away fast and appeared to be ready to be more brazenly abrasive that that day.  She could not comprehend that grief was constant.  She felt the need to reach out realizing her teammate had done an act of loyalty for the team and was now giving himself permission to be elsewhere.  Amanda was glad that the run had occurred.  Stephen then said "Do me a favor.”  Amanda asked “What?”  She was surprised "Have a good run today!"  The smile was warm.  Ace meant it.  There was a struggle Stephen knew he had to deal with something that he would carry the rest of his life he also had an obligation to support his team. Love of both worlds was quite real. Stephen continued "Today I am facing up the fact the world lost a beautiful woman who will always be 17."  Amanda replied "Sorry about your friend she must have been special."  The face shown was puppy like.  Stephen King aka Ace was hurting but trying to love his team.  Along the way Brett passed by "Have a safe flight amigo".

When the bell for the last class rang Stephen dialed up flight service on a pay phone.  An administrator was nearby the route of flight was known.  The adminstrator heard the call sign and saw a pad along with a circular slide rule and making notes.  The senior was doing math.  Ace then walked out to his car.  The flight had been planned in detail and the post frontal weather had left a mass of nice dry air and the need for a letter jacket to be worn at altitude especially in the evening.  The extent the flying had effecting Stephen King's running had been real but it was hard to see unless you were an aviator.  Stephen King went to New Braunfels Municipal he unchained his father's airplane.  He locked the grief up he was about to face.  He had the long detailed check list as he began preflight.  It was methodical it was a true walk around the airplane.  As he was doing it he was losing his ground bound status. 

Coach Bob when the group was in the locker room said "If you are wondering Stephen is on his way to Denton he his taking a college day to attend a function for his murdered classmate....he ran from Taco Bell on the loop this morning back here."  I drove him to his place to shower.  That is as far as you are running."  Aero was surprised glad he thought of us.  Tom replied “It would be nice if others had that level of commitment.” The tone was gentle matter of fact.  Tom was looking at Raul implying he knew he was shorting his talent.  It was one of the few times Tom actually confronted someone. Coach Bob was more then happy to have him do it.  He hoped it would have an effect. Tom was happy Stephen had given him the opportunity to voice a gripe he had.  Tom very rarely griped but when he did he could make a point.  The group changed and went to the field to stretch.

Aero had processed things and realized Raul was shocked at one of Tom's rare comments.  Serg commented that Raul had it coming he coasted on talent.  Aero was learning.  Bo did not seem surprised.  Tom had spoken what Bo wanted to.  Bo realized from Tom it was far more stunning.  There had been more then a little truth to it.  Raul was angry.  French Fires could see the point.  They stretched.

Tara, Amanda, Linda and Leisha joined the group and they headed out.  For Tara it was another struggle against heat and realizing the vision embracing it as if it was hers.  Kimber had encouraged her in the locker room.  Bo quipped "Would you believe Stephen did the fish walk in reverse running it."  Serg replied "He is driven."  Tara commented "He loves this team...it has rubbed off on me."  The single act was leadership on the team.  They headed out. Tara was learning what it was like to be a part of something bigger then herself. She was 3rd in the female line up.  Kimber had preached a sermon with actions that was having an impact.  Tara was growing up and learning much.

Tara knew the route and for her it was calm patience on Ohio using California to grab a whisker of speed.  The slightly cooler air helped.  For Bo he had the tool of a guilt trip to sick on Raul if he had to.  Coach Bob’s strike had been effective as he watch Raul move with some speed.  Tom watched Raul took off harder the gap widened as they turned on California.  The kick was having some effect.  Regional’s were a possibility for the team he wanted Raul to make it to state.  He made it trucking through Lakeview he felt senioritis kick in he wanted to run hard and make this run count towards something and he was a little bolder taking the down hill down Lakeview to the road that would take him to the golf course.  Tara was behind him seeing the drive she to felt her heart smile.  The faith in her was controlling her making her better.  She was third fiddle on the team she was beginning to savor Amanda's success as part of her own.  She was also feeling for the guys so long dominated by the girls she was learning to appreciate their success.  Bo had made a pass at her which she had appreciated and shot it down.   Amanda could see surge by some of the guys in a distance as she turned down the road that had shade.  It felt nice to have guys winning.  She felt the ease in pressure as the boys Varsity had come to fame.  Raul's speed had taken the spotlight off her somewhat she did not mind it.  She was not aware of the fact that Tom had chastised him.  She did note he was running faster as a result him and French Fries had faded from view.  She also wanted this season to be strong for her.  Amanda saw Golf course come into view she was keep track one third.  Leisha as she turned on could see Tara 50 yards ahead of her the two Dentonites were wishing they were with the third who was enroute to Denton.  What she did knot know was the girl’s life who had been taken and the fact that visceral shock would give way to a deeper wail.  The Denton that had shaped Tara and Stephen King was different then the one she left.  Amanda was now crossing the channel dug by slave labor.  She focused on Seele ahead.  She would stop by see her old PE teacher.  He was her inspiration so long ago.  She was getting intrigued. As Tara was now making her way around the Wursthalle sloth and faith waged a war in her soul she was making progress.  Finally she was back in the shade of the area near the play ground.  She could see Amanda go to parade run.  She decided to do that once past it she was struggling when she crosses Walnut.  She could see the modified route Amanda was taking.  Bo was driving hard as he attacked Laurel Lane.  He was realizing it was now a matter of now or never.  The team now had a legit shot of Regional for the boys.  Amanda had talked to him about in on one level resenting her super star solo status of Unicorn crosscountry.  He had once dated her and found her far too high maintence yet he cared about her and that in addition to senioritis shoved him forward he could hear Anna's mom cheer him on.  Tom was behind but he could hear the cheer break the silence on the hill.  It would be nice and his reverie was busted.  He surged a bit up the hill Serg was cheered on next.  Anna’s mom would provide power for the rest of the team including Leisha.  One by one the runners crossed walnut and headed the final leg back to school.  They were tired and worn out.  Coach Noel Scott had exceed waiting for them he made sure they did the crunches and push ups. 

Doc Bowman greeted Stephen King at Denton Municipal during a conference period from Ryan.  He took him to the admissions office while he taught his last class.  He would meet Stephen later at the EPA a coffee house owned by the family of a classmate.  The tour was a formality.  Stephen was actually interested in attending Schreiner or William Jewel.  The large chocolate malt from Bruams went well with the brownie.  Stephen would have to pick up a cup of coffee at the Kharma Cafe for his flight home.   

Tara was eating dinner.  In her house a calm harbor relatively unaffected by the event that  that had shaped forever Stephen King.  Ace had always straddled the line between jock and freak who found his way at Denton Bible he was a dweebs morphed into other things in Denton.  New Braunfels seemed shocked that the dweeb was long gone.  The family talked about the run.  Tara's mom had seen her by Seele and it gave her opportunity to talk the students about dedication getting good grades and adapting.  They had been distracted anyway so it was way to turn a negative into a positive.  For Raul it was beef and rice in flour tortillas he and Linda had worked up big appetite and grandmother knew how to cook.  The house was warm family relationships were tight.  Linda could see her brother different then her.  In his own way he was turning his back on the family.  She was dimly aware of the guilt trip Tom had put on her brother.  He had great talent finally his bad attitude was being shoved into check.    

Finally tears filled Ace's eye.  He was surprised as he walked the halls he actually missed the campus.  In all the force of the event tears had never flown.  The shock had finally worn off the pain was different no less real.  The pain could now fly.  Her photo the realization it was after the shock a time to cry and let flow out.  The tears started healing the sun burn started healing the scar forever would remain.  For a teammate of a different set of school colors who lost her cousin that night would always hurt.   Ace filled out an urgent action this as an Amnesty International Meeting.  His Denton friends could see a Stephen different then the one had been left.  They though embraced him with open arms.  He could feel the unity of a different set of friends coming together around him.  He seemed relaxed  and his joy of being among his friends flowed easily.  His former English teacher said "You got you wanted in more ways then one."  She realized his heart had never left New Braunfels.  Yet that night it was clear he had become far more Denton then she had dared realized.   To a girl Ace confided "Why can't their be less factions and people get along over there like they do here."  Justin commented you sound like Mike's sister.  A soccer player asked how she was doing.  Ace told him and then quipped he had earned the nickname Ace in New Braunfels.  The unity in the group was powerful.  The New Braunfels class was full of factions and rivals the Denton class was united as the trials they had endured had burned them together.  Jaime who had given him a hard time looked at him "You are not one or the other you are both you got the scar to show you DHS Ryan class of 1994"  Stephen nodded.  Ace was given ribbon by the girls mother.  She had heard about the flight "Thanks you are a true friend."  Three hours of flight time and the day was grueling in its own right.   

While he was doing that homework was done by his teammates TV was tuned on in a couple houses as Stephen  drank a cup of Kharma cafe coffee and he relieved himself at Fox 51 restroom before pre-flight.  Justin drove him from there to the airport He had fueled the bird up at their pumps after a preflight.  It was an extra few steps but the top off had been smooth Stephen was happy that the battery had not died.  Stephen went methodically through the checklists from preflight to taxi to pre takeoff.  He did the smooth looking downwind to base to final before quickly took the active. 

The takeoff was like the start of race furious yet controlled.  The 180horse power four banger made noise Stephen had respect of the airplane and her for an 82 mile an hour take off.  She took the sky.  Like running the action was there 35W was beside him.  The take off was like a start then quickly to climb then cruise.  As the end of the runway disappeared a couple hundred feet below him the gear was retracted.  He called Ft Worth radio and activated the flight plan.  He eased off the power and pulled the prop back to a notch then to cruise.  His altitude was limited to stay out of the busiest airspace above.  The two radios were nice.  Listening to Alliance ATIS he called their tower and transitioned their airspace he was below DFW airspace the Mode C things were working as well as they should.  Then from there he called Meacham where the bulk of his flight training took place he was in his neighborhood.  He was careful to begin the climb till after clear the upside down cake of the DFW TCA. 

The airspace had been memorized By Stephen and he started the climb staying out of the TCA Once he did he dialed in Waco Regional ATIS and then called Waco approach as he was west of Hillsboro he had the twin VORs set to create a check point with different two indicators.  Two given radials crossed at specific point.  The methodology and calm of keeping a cockpit organized and an effective crosscountry flight had translated to crosscountry running.  Anticipation planning a strong core meant one not flexible one was fluid.  The VFR flight would not be without electronic help.  There was the incessant crosscheck between plan reality and the next step.  He was squawking 1200 to west of Hillsboro. 

He crossed the point where he could go up 8,500 and started the climb.  He dialed in another VOR and turned the cards on the VORS to get them centered where a point to call Waco Approach was.  He had already listened to ATIS so he had the altimeter The son of Army flight instrument examiner had the values of military aviation sunk into his core.  The things that made him a better pilot had exploded into running. The ruthless hunter on course was born in an airplane cockpit.   The result was a season that more effectively used his strengths.  The physiology of young heart and good lungs were an advantage at altitude.  His father and he had seriously discussed oxygen requirements and the planned route of the flight.  Some conservative recommendations called for it  above 6,000 for night.  The FAA regulations had the ceiling higher.  The temp dew point spread was over 20 degrees for most of the route leaving cloud above him.  He called Waco approach and was given a transponder code.  The radar coverage and controller on the end of the radio was another layer of safety and back up as Stephen handled navigational chores in the sea of black with the red cockpit light.  The flight instruments maps a small flash light red filtered and beyond him one set of lights was the earth he was above one set of lights were distant stars.  The sound of the engine and prop filled his hears.  South of Waco the band of towers was a sign post like a dip in a crosscountry course.  The wind correction angle was higher then anticipated as winds from the west were rolling.  The bad news slowing the flight down good news that dryer air allowed for a clear sky above.  He was handed off to Gray approach.  He could see Austin creeping into view and the distinct light globs of Temple Belton and Killeen.  The points of different points of inbound radials were marked on the sectional.  He also used the ADF rotating card.  The location for WBAP had been mapped and when it the airplanes course crossed a bearing on it another checkpoint was crossed.  The Comanche was a good traveling airplane it was heavy yet responsive on the controls it could be trimmed incredibly precisely to maintain a given altitude with only period adjustments.  It took effort to be taken from straight and  but once disturbed it was responsive.  Corrections were easily made the airplane through its feel telling the pilot what it was doing.  The questions where am I where do I need to be at this point were incessant their answers dictated the next step for Stephen that defined life in the cockpit or life in a race.  As he called Austin Approach he started a descent and he would end it after he had cleared inbound traffic to Mueller.  He dialed in ATIS it was nice having two radios plus an ADF.  While the flight occurred under VFR flight rules having electronic waypoints was useful back up.  Use tools at your disposal.  He kept the squawk he had been given at Waco till Austin ended service near San Marcos.   

He keyed the mic and the lights of New Braunfels appeared off the nose.  He landed taxied it to tie down and chained the airplane.  A call to flight service was made via pay phone he had landed safely.  He walked to his car it 10:30. 

 

 

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