and I had been enjoying our ‘cottage by the sea’ for almost three weeks now,
but had discovered, that aside from uninterrupted connubial bliss, we were,
frankly, bored, despite the paradise of Australia’s Lord Howe Island.
we’d taken full advantage of the amenities. Snorkeling, hiking, sailing, beach
combing, etc. And especially eating. I wondered if I’d have to punch a new hole
in my belt! Make that two new holes. Emmie was also complaining that she needed
to go on a diet, but frankly, her extra pounds went to the right places, like
‘cottage’ had a full kitchen, and the rental agency had stocked it with what it
felt Americans our ages would like when not going out to graze. And those early
morning and late night munchies were welcome when we weren’t exploring the
native cuisine. Which pretty much, wasn’t a single cuisine at all except for a
few indigenous foods such as grubs,(actually quite tasty if prepared
correctly), Emu, and free roaming Kangaroos (culled from over populating the
reserves set aside for them), and Island Crocodile, (doesn’t taste like
Australian fare including Lord Howe Island's, was a combination of imported
cuisines from several immigrant cultures, including, of course, British.
couldn’t bring herself to try the grubs,
and neither of us could stomach the thought of trying the mainland’s ‘Roo’. Mentally
hard to consume what reminded both of us of stuffed animals and storybook
characters. Emu was another matter. Being a bird, it was easier for us to
simply think ‘poultry’. Very very big poultry.
we stuffed ourselves with Fish &Chips, Aussie BBQ Brekki’s from McDonald’s
(a down under version of an Egg McMuffin boasting two barbequed sausage
patties, among other things).
Chinese, Thai and Indian, French, Spanish, Greek and even Hungarian and of all
things, Tex-Mex! Indeed both the
mainland and the island were melting pots of cultural dishes. Which
necessitated that we stock up on the pink stuff. A lot of the pink stuff.
as we were, after the first few expeditions about town, most people, locals and
tourists, pretty much left us alone. The odd photo of ‘the honeymooners’ did
surface on CNN now and then, but we weren’t really news anymore.
interfering with TV, radio, cell phone, and internet reception, were. And of
course, Lee, now as president of the United States, was still newsworthy.
vetoing or approving congressional bills, welcoming ambassadors, giving a prize
turkey the presidential pardon so it wouldn’t end up on someone’s Thanksgiving
dinner plate some months down the road, and even personally requesting new
trials for convicted criminals due to insufficient evidence at the time, he’d
been a busy boy. There was just one problem.
was in the news as well. As in this morning’s newscast.
he was saying from behind the bars in the visitor’s center, “It's still hard to believe
that Lee was asked to take the job. I know it was during an emergency, but all he pretty much does is PR stuff,
so I suppose
he makes a pretty good First Lady.”
choked at the insult, spilling my cup of coffee on my hand and the
dear,” Emmie said. “Ron will say anything to slight him, he’s so jealous.”
mean,” Ronald continued, “it’s not that there’s been any earth shaking event or something
that a military mind is used for. Why didn’t they just hold the election and
swear in the winning candidate early, like the original plan when the president
and his underlings went belly up? In a manner of speaking. I hope, along with the
rest of us that the former president recovers completely, and the others that would
normally take his place.”
Nelson,” the anchor said, as the screen returned to fuzzy images of Lee signing
documents, and greeting dignitaries to white tie dinners, “is not alone in his
sentiments. Why draft the captain of the Seaview when the only problem was getting someone to
fill the temporary vacancy before the election. One of the candidates has actually
reneged on his wanting the Nelson-Crane to fill in and has formally requested the election be
held early. Congress is on a brief recess, so it won’t be brought
up for a vote again until they reconvene. What do you, the public, believe? Let
other news, there has been no word on when the atmospheric interference from
sunspots will lessen. Nature will simply have to take its course.”
it off,” I sighed.
Emmie said, “is it my imagination or does Lee look a little sick?”
just tired, dear, but he does look a little haggard.”
Oh gawd, how I
wanted to call him, but he didn’t need me to check up on him. He was the
president, for God’s sake.
go to the Bowling Club,” I changed the subject, "we haven’t tried it and everyone
says it has great food, and we could get in a little exercise as well.”
For breakfast?” she asked, incredulous. “We came all the way here to a tropical
paradise and you want to go bowling?”
a better idea?”
“Not really. I just hope
their café is open this early.”
if it isn’t, we’ll build up our appetites. I’ll start up the golf cart.”
we’d rented a golf cart, a preferred mode of transportation for many to avoid
traffic jams, and limited parking on the island. And my international driver’s license took
care of the legalities for driving 'down under'.
already enjoyed two games when several other visitors lined up at the windows
to point out the Flying Sub!
She was circling in her descent for a splash down in the harbor nearby.
I could vocalize my questions, the center’s manager approached along with a
me, Admiral,” the officer said, “we’re sorry to interrupt your game, but you’re
wanted dockside. Right away. We have a car waiting.”
idea what it’s about?” Emmie asked.
be back as soon as I can,” I told Emmie.
going with you.”
just shop talk from Seaview. You know how bad communications have been.”
minutes we’d divested ourselves of our bowling shoes, put our own back on
and were whisked to the dock, where Kowalski was waiting with Riley.
sir. But the skip..er..the president’s ordered you to Washington for a meeting
with other brass, er…scientists….”
hesitated, then said quietly, “There are no sunspots, sir.”
furrowed my brows in confusion.
wants you right away, sir,” Riley said, “no time to pack.”
arranged a commercial flight to Santa Barbara for the missus,” Ski added.
really sorry about busting up your honeymoon, ma’am,” Riley said. “I’m here to
like, personally escort you home on a military flight. Everything else is going to be grounded.”
Emmie, “I’m sorry. Duty, apparently, calls.”
thought you said you were useless.”
kissed, rather longer than strictly necessary and then in response to a gentle cough from Ski, boarded the flying sub
with Ski, while Riley stayed behind with
Emmie as we took off.
could only imagine what CNN was going to make of this.