Meets Its Match
by Kathi Stringer
It was a cloudy day as the silver bird emerged
from the clouds into a flight pattern. The aviator flipped the
switches to prepare for landing. He checked his altimeter,
leveled out the machine and touched down after a smooth
decent. It was a perfect landing. The engine sputtered as he
taxied down the runway. With experience and ease the aviator
manipulated the rudders until the plane swung next to a hatch.
This story took place in a small peaceful town. Most of the
residents knew each other on a first name basis. However, that
day there was a problem. The sheriff responded to a call
concerning a vagrant loitering on a city bench. He had seen
his kind before on routine patrol. On occasion his task was
clear up the bothersome vagrants when they appeared. The city
just didn't put up with the unsightly trash and his job was to
keep the city safe.
The man looked disheveled and worn. His face sprouted wiry
hairs in contrast to his sunken eyes. It appeared he was dazed
or perhaps lost in thought. Either way, he looked impaired and
that made him dangerous. He had to go.
The law inquired as to the identity of the demented. He
responded, "Howard, my name is Howard Hughes." The
sheriff chucked, "Yeah right, I'm the Easter Bunny."
He opened the rear door of the squad car and ran him in. The
man continued his resolve as to this identity. It wasn't going
to well. He must be drug addict or completely psychotic. The
man was put behind bars to keep the town safe.
A few hours later a sheriff's friend rang his office for a
friendly chat. In passing the sheriff rolled his eyes and
said, "You won't believe who I have here today, Howard
Hughes." It was a good chuckle for both of them. On the
uptake his friend thought he might have a look at the stranger
anyway. I mean after all, he was the junior vise president for
a small satellite division of Hughes Aircraft, which was the
main employer in town. It should be entertaining regardless.
Art Kemper, the Hughes executive arrived. Nicely groomed and
professionally dressed, he looked at what appeared to be a
homeless nobody. His wrinkled clothes matched the man's foul
appearance. Art introduced himself as a Hughes Aircraft
executive and the inquired as to his name. The lost soul
glanced up from this bunk and replied, "I'm Howard
Hughes." Art admitted he had never seen Howard Hughes
before, but he did have one additional question that would
clear things up. Art humorously asked, "Well now Howard
Hughes, that is if you are really Howard Hughes that is, who
do I work for? The vagrant's eyes became focused and steely as
he replied, "You work for Dan Ferguson, and Dan Ferguson
works for Hal Thomas, and Hal Thomas works for Ed Mason, and
Ed Mason works for Noah Dietrich, and Noah Dietrich works for
me." The sheriff grinned as he turned to look at Art.
However, Art was not smiling. Something looked wrong. He
looked financially terrified in response to stranger's reply.
The words did not come as his eyes motioned to the sheriff
there may be hell to pay. "My God Mr. Hughes," said
Art in all sincerity. "It was an oversight. I'm so sorry!
Sheriff, you had better let this man out of jail. If he wanted
to, he could lay this whole town to waste with the flick of a
pen." Stunned, the sheriff was stunned.
The vagrant climbed into his plane and with the turn of the
switch power surged into the engine. He was Howard Hughes, a
record-breaking aviator, inventor, playboy and billionaire. He
was one of us.
Jan 9, 2003
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