Bill and Larry were going to fly to OSH together for the Saberwing display, but in order for Larry to do so, the Phase One hours had to be flown off. Bill was test flying solo that morning to help fine tune the engine before the more regimented tests could take place.
Outside, under the shade of the hangar, Larry and I took a seat and watched as Bill took off. Paul, the veteran A-10 mechanic, shared a few more stories about his service in Korea as Bill circled a few times in the pattern then departed the area.
Later, I felt like taking a nap, so I walked back over to the terminal building and went into the pilot’s lounge and lay down. When I woke up, I saw a school bus parked just beyond the window. The high school freshmen were there, and I had a lesson to teach.
I went out to the Dove and pulled off the canopy cover. It was not long before Jerry and the Cook County youth arrived on the tarmac.
Jerry took a few moments to give a brief introduction, and then he pointed to me and handed the lesson over.
I felt kind of bad that the rear seat was missing and that I could not give any rides that day, because I could sense a great deal of enthusiasm from the 14-year-olds, most of whom had never even been airborne before. I was so thankful to be working with my favorite age group---high school freshmen---that I got a little tongue-tied in my own enthusiasm as I informed the students about the mission, about building Descending Dove, and about flying her through America over the course of 40 days. I felt for a time that I was in heaven with kids of my own. And to a certain extent, I really was.
After the students got back onto the bus with Jerry and departed, I went over to the Azalea hangar again to ask about the possibility of going into town to do some laundry. I was carrying around about twelve days of funk in a fish net and I needed to get it all washed. Kyong said that she would gladly give me a ride into town. There was a laundromat right next to a Piggly Wiggly
about 2 miles away.
After Kyong dropped me off, she told me to text her whenever I was ready to go and she would drive back over to get me. I thanked her and went inside. I had the whole laundromat to myself.
There wasn’t any bleach or laundry soap for sale in the laundromat because the dispenser was inoperative, so I walked over to the Piggly Wiggly and bought some. I came back and got two loads started.
I was sitting there in the laundromat for only a few moments when I looked outside and saw a young couple approaching from the parking lot. The young man had tattoos covering his neck and arms, and he was wearing baggy pants and a low-brimmed baseball cap pulled down over his forehead. The woman was an attractive blonde with her hair done up in a bun. She was wearing laced-up sandals, shorts, and a black tee-shirt that said, Blah Blah Blah
in different typesets. Both of them walked in and sat down. Neither had any laundry to do.
When the young man saw me and made eye contact, he would not look at me again. Instead, he pulled a cell phone out of his pocket. The two made small talk for a few minutes, and then the young man suddenly got up and left for no apparent reason, leaving me alone with the blonde woman.
She was sitting in the chair directly across from me. For about five minutes, she was fidgeting and staring out the window into the parking lot at everything and at nothing at all. Then she suddenly turned to me and said, “So, do you have any change so I can get something to eat?”
I told her that I did not have any change. I told her that I did not have any change but that I would be more than happy to get her something to eat. What did she have in mind? The young woman wanted to go next door for a Subway sandwich. So I took her over there and bought her a meal. As she was ordering, her boyfriend came in and saw what was transpiring. The woman told him that I was getting her something to eat, and then he turned around and walked back out.
She brought her food back over to the laundromat and ate. Then she began telling me her story. Her name was Rebecca.
Rebecca had 3 children, all boys, and they all lived with Rebecca’s mother because the State of Georgia had taken them out of her custody under court order. She had been in trouble with the law, had even seen some time in jail, and now she was on probation. She was certainly very confused and suffering from wounds of the heart that became more apparent the further we talked.
I told Rebecca that she was deeply loved, that she was especially blessed to have three boys. Then she took a letter out of her purse. Opening it, she took out a crayon-colored drawing of a bear that said in a caption, “I love you, Mommy!”
It was from her 7-year-old.
I told Rebecca that her mother loved her, that Jesus loved her, and that I hoped she would soon find the path to freedom that the Lord had already mapped out for her.
Then her boyfriend walked in with a soda and he put it on a table, spilling some in the process. He said something unintelligible to Rebecca, then left.
He came back in a little later after Rebecca and I were finished with our conversation. He picked the can back up and left the laundromat for the last time. Soon after, Rebecca got up and thanked me and shook my hand. I wished her the best. Then she was gone.
Kyong picked me up from the laundromat after only a couple of hours there, and I thanked her for being so kind and helpful. She told me it was no problem. The airport courtesy car was in the shop being repaired for something she knew not what, and Kyong was very happy to help.
Back at the airport, I sorted my clothes and repacked them into ziplocks and organized them all into my rucksack. Outside, a storm was brewing. And I could feel it coming.