Previously on HFN: Spencer’s Secret
Scott Air Force Base spreads across over 3,500 acres in the western part of southern Illinois and employed about 5,500 active duty personnel, another 2,300 Air National Guard and Reserve members and close to 5,000 civilian employees. Adding over 1.5 billion dollars to the area’s economy, it’s considered one of the largest employers in the state.
Several times the base has narrowly missed the base closing and realignment list. Named after the first enlisted man who died in an air accident back in 1912, Corporal Frank S. Scott, the base has since grown to include many groups under the 375th Air Mobility Wing, and under each group, several squadrons. Kate, John, Spencer, Andrew and other friends worked for the Security Forces Squadron, or SFS for short. Kate sometimes thought it was all rather complicated and was glad she didn’t have to keep it all straight.
She was having a hard enough time keeping her life straight. John and Ruth were now both gone, and she was fretful of one and relieved of the other. Each day that passed, seemed to make Kate feel worse. She said a quick prayer each night and morning for John, not sure that anybody heard them, she not being particularly religious.
That evening, Kate sat with her cocker spaniel, Buttons, and watched a movie. The pile of tissues multiplied beside her. She emailed John right after work, but hadn’t gotten a reply yet. Her heart grew heavy and she had no energy to do anything. She even skipped dinner, since she had no appetite.
The following Monday she had a staff meeting and barely arrived on time. She slid into a plastic chair next to Spencer, as it was the only empty seat in the conference room. His face lit up and he said, “Good morning.”
“If you think so,” she replied. She slapped her hat in her lap, not having time to stop by her desk first.
He frowned and looked away.
Kate only half listened to the spiel about multi-cultural diversity. Frankly, she was quite sick of the word “diversity”. She wondered if CEOs in China or Japan held these kinds of meetings and what happened to the US being known as the “melting pot”. But no one ever asked her what she thought. She did what she was told and gave herself to the Air Force, her master. Kate looked around the conference room, thinking about the ones not in attendance-either because of leave, TDY or death. John was one of a dozen or more that were absent.
“We’re all in this together, and we need to support each other,” the speaker droned on. Kate had heard it all before, at every base and every year since she signed her life away. Air Force life wasn’t as glamorous as she’d hoped, and the pay wasn’t great considering the danger, but it had many benefits. She got to meet all kinds of people, had a free gym membership, could get cheaper groceries, could travel a lot, and carry a gun. She saw more of the world than the average Joe and she liked traveling, except to Iraq or Afghanistan, neither of which she enjoyed.
“You all right?” Spencer whispered.
“Fine,” she answered automatically. “Just bored,” she added.
“Ditto.” He smiled, encouraging her. “Want to go to lunch later?”
“Sure, why not?” Kate replied without thinking. What did she say yes for? She didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. But before she could change her mind, Spencer spoke up.
“Great; my treat.” Spencer seemed pleased, but Kate didn’t know why. It hadn’t been that long since they had dinner at Spencer’s.
The meeting of no purpose finally ended and Spencer followed Kate out of the room. “I’m parked in the back forty.” He turned down the hall.
“Okay, I’ll see you later. Wait for me by the back door?”
He turned back around and said, “Sure.”
What do you think Spencer and Kate will discuss at lunch? Are you enjoying the story so far? Do you have any idea what direction the story will go from here? I’d love to hear what you think!
Next time on HFN: Spencer and Kate at Lunch