After calling Sarina, Soldier Sam dropped in on Cupid. Soldier Sam didn’t have an idea for a Valentines Day Activity to submit yet, and he caught Cupid in a hurried moment flying off to a producers' conference.
Sarina was surprised she and Soldier Sam were invited to step in before Cupid was off to the races..
Cupids office was about what you would suspect. Sarina thought the red walls with hearts painted on it was a nice touch.
There were no letters worth reading on Cupids desk, but there was some bourbon in a cupboard and presently Sarina took a seat on the couch and started drinking.
“Don’t fall asleep, Sarina” Soldier Sam suggested. “You have to be quick and alert when Cupid gets back.”
Soon, Cupid returned to his office and was not in a receptive mood and looked at Soldier Sam with almost indignation.
'Of all the damn nonsense! We get a hurry call--heads of all Valentines Activity departments. One guy was late and we had wait for him. He comes in and gets bereted for wasting time.
“They say time is money, but in this case, planning time cuts into the fun Sarina and I am hoping to have on Valentines Day” observed Soldier Sam.
“Then what do you suppose?” Cupid continued. I lost all my arrows. I’m pretty sure I remember where I left them, but…”
Soldier Sam wanted to make it clear that Cupid would not associate the happening with Sarina. After all, Sarina was starting to warm up to the idea of a Valentines Activity, and wanted Cupid to get his arrows back if not for her, for everyone else.
“I stopped all the meetings with the activity planners” Cupid explained. 'I instructed everyone to stop everything they were doing to locate my arrows.' He sank despairingly into a chair,
'I don’t have much time to talk to you guys today, Cupid motioning at Sarina and Soldier Sam. I have to get a few activities on the calendar schedule . Got your idea yet, Soldier Sam?'
'No I don’t have an Idea totally worked out yet,' said Soldier Sam, but..I was thinking maybe Sarina and I could Hit up a go-kart track”
Sarina jumped into the conversation: Go-kart tracks can be Tons of fun, Soldier Sam, but many Go-kart tracks aren’t always indoors, the weather would have to cooperate.”
Soldier Sam agreed, “the Go-Kart Track might be slick with ice but I’ve never met anyone who went around a go-kart track/demolition derby and was bored doing it”.
"And you, Cupid?" Sarina asked, “What do you think about the Go-Kart Track for a Valentines activity?”
"I've heard only the general line for justifying such an adventure for Valentines Day," said Cupid with director's caution, "but it seems you two could handle it, you know, give it your best effort and make a fun day out of it”
Cupid winked at Soldier Sam. "I didn't know you still had original ideas to propose to Sarina, since you have tried to get a date with her for so long, I didn’t think you had much a brain."
Soldier Sam glowed with the compliment, but Sarina, even though she was considering doing the Go-kart track thing didn’t jump on the bandwagon just yet.
'All right then,' said Soldier Sam. 'I'm going to stand over there and put the magic on you while you say your line.'
'Oh, for God's sake!' said Sarina. 'Listen, I'll support this concept I have my schedule right over there. Here, I'll get it.'
Sarina dashed into the other room and Soldier Sam felt the relief. Maybe Cupid would approve this Go-Kart Track idea but the jury was still out.
"It's important nobody talks about this" cautioned Sarina. "Those Honchos running the Valentines Day Activity Directorate would find some way of shooting it down.
Cupid responded, Let’s work hard on so we can get the script done we'll finalise it with the Board of Directors"
"I agree," said Soldier Sam "They have run the studio so long that--well, I don't know what the outcome would be. It’s not like Sarina and I could find tickets to the track by ourselves, but if we can get those tickets, well.. we’ll be off to the Races!”
Sarina was surprised. She didn’t know how tough of a ticket the Go-Kart Track would be on Valentines Day and that getting those tickets lined up was the hinge upon which swung the great Valentines Day Activity proposal
Sarina’s response was clear. “Let’s Go Soldier Sam. Lets do everything we can to get that Go-Kart Track Ticket for Valentines Day. That sounds like so much fun. And I can drive like the devil when I get the chance!”
Soldier Sam’s Training for New Starship Missions was not at all like what he expected. Rams Mascot was not a typical Instructor.
Soldier Sam listened, incredulous, at what Rams Mascot told him, and he suddenly felt a new respect for Rams Mascot. Soldier Sam was trying his best, but Rams Mascot was pushing him to his limits. With this respect came the sinking knowledge that what Rams Mascot was telling him was true. As he slipped from sight, Soldier Sam heard Rams Mascot one more time before he made his rounds around the training range to ride the dark sky by himself.
Prior to this deployment, there had been a week-long briefing, and every officer has been required to submit their own written sketch of the plan from memory to the chairman. If ever the officers could claim that they contributed a solid piece to the operation, the chief garrison of the battery could surely do so. The plan of attack devised by the chairman was elaborate, and the company could be viewed as divided into several different specialties, each with a distinct tasking: the organization party at the rendezvous, the battery reconnaissance party, a taping party to guide the unit on its way, along with breaching, assault and reserve companies.
“Task success equals mission success” may hold true in theory as long as Red is constrained. But in our experience, rarely in the real world does the sum of the tasks successfully completed equal mission success. to note that there is no experimentation in the usual sense in Fleet Problems. We are not notionally employing systems and weapons that are not already deployed in the fleet. Each unit attacks the problem using what it has physically on hand today. So commander developing and executing a plan must be based on our warfighting intent rather than ticking off a discrete schedule of individual training objectives.
The officers had made it worth the effort because they held the last line of defence before objections by the Mainland had been made.. One side made promises of supply substitutes for the fleets, even while the other maintained priorities in other programmes. It was up to the officers to decide to form an alliance with HQs so the supplies would be hammered through It would prove difficult to reestablish communications with the mainland even while much of the chairmans motivations had been developed over time to address this issue with HQs. The incident in question was still in disrepute when the officers came together to deliver a solution to change the principal policies.
LAST DAY ON EARTH ACTIVITY
Sarina was driving up to the Burger King Parking Lot for Lunch, and her spirits mounted still higher when she opened the door to the fast food establishment. Sarina was hungry.
Sarina started walking into the restaurant, but didn’t see any customers sitting at the tables. When she walked up to the counter, no worker was there to greet her and punch in the order.
Sarina was curious, so she scanned the back of the kitchen and didn’t see anyone there either. Burger King was totally empty!!
After waiting for some time, Sarina turned to leave and try her luck at another restaurant down the street.
And that’s when Soldier Sam walked right up to the counter to greet her.
“I’m here to help” Soldier Sam was friendly. “Is there anything you would like me to do for you today?”
Sarina was thinking he didn’t look exactly like anyone she would expect to find serving her at Burger King.
Soldier Sam wasn’t smiling but his desire to work that afternoon was evident.
Solider Sam’s speech was direct and practical; in spite of clear exhaustion. The kitchen area was quite orderly and gave Sarina confidence to eat lunch at Burger King that day;
"'This menu is better than anything I had dreamed of,' said Sarina.
"'Well, Miss, that's not a wise way of beginning a bargain, if you'll excuse me.' Soldier Sam replied. “I could charge you through the roof for your meal, take you for everything you got.”
However, Soldier Sam took no advantage, of Sarina’s admission; and they struck the bargain as Soldier Sam opened up a little bit.
“ I wouldn’t mind if you come behind the counter so I can teach you how to make your order” Soldier Sam said surprisingly. “It will make your Burger King Lunch Experience more interesting.”
Sarina had not planned on making her lunch, but Soldier Sam had a point. How boring is it to just stand there by the Soda Fountain waiting.
“It helps to have a can-do Do It Yourself attitude in Life,” Sarina decided.
Now it occurred to Sarina that she might do very well with Soldier Sam, so this was settled and Sarina jumped over the countertop into the Kitchen.
“Where do I start?” asked Sarina.
To this day, Soldier Sam can hardly describe the happiness he experienced having a customer.
“My friends call me Sarina, and your Name Tag says Soldier Sam. Pleased to meet you!” Sarina was generous.
“I keep myself busy” Solider Sam explained, even though this place has been empty except for me for the last 10 years”
“I have a sharp appetite for meals, and practice my skills every morning. Then I wind up the day’s work planning my next Adventures” Soldier Sam explained. “You know, directing manoeuvres to the beach and back from my remote work station.”
Sarina observed that Solider Sam was not used to talking much; and when she started to addressed him, Soldier Sam seemed at times unable to give attention.
It was as though Soldier Sam strayed off to some small job he had forgotten, and his eyes wore a listening look, like he was waiting for Sarina to talk.
"Well, that is what I'm coming to. That, so to say, this is just It!!” Sarina exclaimed. “I’ve always been curious what happens behind that counter. I mean what is it like?” Sarina inquired.
“Well, every morning I wake up, I Start my day practicing my skills by making one order of everything on the menu, so I am at the ready should any customers walk through that door. Meals prepared to the moment.” Declared Solider Sam.
Whoppers, with and without cheese, sometimes with bacon and special sauce, regular cheeseburgers, chicken sandwich, fries, onion rings, and everything else you could imagine!”
“As we Like to say in commercials: ‘Have It Your Way’ But I don’t do Fish Sandwiches. They’re Disgusting!”
In a hundred little ways Soldier Sam’s orderliness, these preparations, seemed to read Sarina’s interest.
“Did I wish the roses renewed in a bowl upon the dining-table, considered Sarina. Sure enough at the next meal they would be replaced by fresh ones”.
Did Sarina want to try the “Impossible Whopper?” Soldier Sam had mastered that task as well..
“Soldier Sam must have surprised and interpreted a glance of mine.” Considered Sarina. “And yet I could not remember having anticipated the Flowers at the Table adjacent to the Drinking Fountain.
And how on earth had Solider Sam guessed the very roses, the very shapes and colours I had lightly wished for? Sarina was amazed.
“This is only an instance, you understand.” Explained Sarina.”Every day, and from morning to night from here on out, Solider Sam, I want to happen on other surprises, each slight enough, but all together bearing witness to true love.
"I am a light eater, Soldier Sam”. Explained Sarina, as you might guess, I’m not going to order every item on the menu right here and now.
“So you 'Ready up' at four in the morning every day, Soldier Sam? That’s what the Store Hours sign says on the front door” inquired Sarina.
I’m always ready, Sarina” answered Soldier Sam. “As for customers, never a trace, but there is one guy who visits on every Holiday. He helps me come up with new material for my short stories.
And there is never a trace of customers.
Sarina began to understand Solider Sam’s predicament.
After learning about the Broiler, Sandwich Prep, and Grease Pits, Freezer and Trash Receptacle, Sarina went Straight for the Orange Soda and called. 'What is wrong with this tap?' Sarina asked. 'The rest of the restaurant is well enough supplied.'
"'I don't know, Sarina. I never use it. I save it for Special Occasions, You know, to treat myself on Holidays.” Answered Soldier Sam'
"'But there must be a reason; you must grow tired washing up the plates and glasses in the kitchen and every thing else you do every day. Aren’t those enough justification for you to drink what you want every day? Come around to the back with me, and we'll have a look at this Syrup Fill.
"'It's as plain as daylight,' said Sarina. 'The pipe between the two is choked.' And Sarina clambered up a ladder to reach the top of the Soda Fountain.
"'I wouldn't, Sarina” warned Soldier Sam. You might disable all the Soda Flavors. Then what am I to say to customers?’
"'But I want the Orange Soda for my flowers.' Sarina protested. 'I thought as much!' said Sarina, as she twisted the Ring and immediately the Orange Soda began to flow.
Sarina turned triumphantly to Soldier Sam and he was shocked. That was a problem he had never figured out how to fix.
Soldier Sam regained his composure. He was ready to take Sarina as she was. Like a Ms. Fix It Pro, after all, she is a Treasure.'
"Let me tell you, Sarina” began Soldier Sam. “Running this Kitchen isn’t the most interesting things I do every day.”
Really, Soldier Sam?” responded Sarina.
“Well, the best part of working here.. You would never guess!” Soldier Sam continued.
:”There is a secret hiding in this restaurant. The paper you put on top of the dining trays? You know the entertainment that is meant for kids when they eat out?”
“Yes. Go on! I’m listening.” Sarina exclaimed.
“There is a Secret Treasure Map!” Soldier Sam started to explain. “There are landmarks everywhere with dotted arrows between them and you have to solve the Puzzle!
Soldier Sam was getting more excited now that he had someone to explain it to. “There are Peel-Off Stickers for each Island. I study it all afternoon and even at night sometimes. It’s Fascinating!”
“Wow!!” Sarina was interested.
I’ve got it almost figured out. But the problem is..” Soldier Sam paused.
“What? What’s the Problem?” Sarina encouraged.
Well, I haven’t talked to anyone else except the Guy who comes in the restaurant on Holidays. He’s My Best Friend.”
“He knows a lot about a lot, but it’s all his past experiences. You know, Gangbanging, Professional Boxing, stuff like that. He doesn’t know any more about what’s going on in the world that I do.” complained Soldier Sam.
“Tell me Sarina, have there been any advances in Technology over the past 10 years?” inquired Soldier Sam.
“You haven’t had the opportunity to investigate?” Sarina was shocked. “Tons of Stuff has been going on. But it’s just a bit too much to explain before Lunch which by the way.. I’m getting Hungry. Are we almost ready to eat?”
“Just give me the very most important developments, then. You are the first opportunity I have had for an update!” Soldier Sam asked.
“Well, Far and Away, the biggest advancement in technology has been in Predictive Maintenance. Sarina noted. Practically every part on engines and other pieces of machinery can be hooked up to sensors that detail the real-time condition of the equipment performance during operations.”
“Actually, that doesn’t surprise me,” stated Soldier Sam. “That’s exactly the kind of stuff I have been independently working on for these 10 years.”
“Maybe since I didn’t talk to everyone in the field that talks to everyone in the field.. Well, Maybe I have reached some independent conclusions.”
“Maybe You have, Soldier Sam, Maybe you have” responded Sarina.
“But Sarina,” realized Soldier Sam. “Now that that Orange Soda Tap is fixed we can fill up and head to the table to eat our lunch. The Food is Ready!
And sure enough, Sarina and Soldier Sam found it so—the Soda was flowing freely from the Fountain and they were all set to dive into their Meal.
So Sarina and Soldier Sam picked up their trays and headed for the Best Table in Burger King. The one with the most Roses.
Sarina and Soldier Sam leaped over the front counter without pause and ran to the Table. There Sarina and Soldier Sam reached for the Cardboard Burger King Crowns and put them on, Laughing.
The Ring that Sarina fixed on the Orange Soda Tap was not the only Special Ring that Lunch. For they had an Unlimited Supply of Onion Rings too! With extra Zesty Sauce!
Sarina and Soldier Sam were not afraid to eat their Lunch right then and there in the completely vacant Burger King--not even one little bit. In fact, the notion that anything might go wrong had never crossed their minds.
But something else was there that Lunch that neither one of them could have imagined that morning when they had started that day.
They had Discovered the solution the Ring Problem on the Orange Soda Tap. The world would never be the same again!!
If the mission is successful, You and Rams Fans will be the first to see the new planet. The Starship was entered into commission when the Sun exploded and destroyed the entire planet Earth.
Despite having spent your life supporting the Rams and training for this very purpose, the thundering excitement you feel nearly gives you a heart attack the moment you break Lightspeed with your Starship.
It is Rams Stadium Highlights that leave your crew speechless and awestruck. Monitor readings and everything else seem fine during your intergalactic journey so far. Finally––with a lengthy transmission time you receive a communication from another planet, but it is just added to the list of planets with terrain that would not support Rams Football.
You are excited about arriving at a planet soon, but there are some crew members who would rather stay within the confines of the ship than to settle and build a New Rams Stadium in a harsh, untamed world.
From Soldier Sam’s perspective, abandoning a spaceship that had survived all this time without Rams Football, in favor of a new dangerous mission would be crazy. Solder Sam is sights set on winning over the crew to his audacious plans for take over.
Soldier Sam mission is to convince the crew to believe it was only a pipedream to believe such a planet could support Rams Football. To those aboard your ship such as Soldier Sam, Home is this Starship plain and simple and plans are in the works to build an even greater starship, one that can reach the edge of the universe and see what is beyond.
You will have to convince Solider Sam otherwise before he breaks ranks with you and start to think he could lead a mutiny against the very idea of a planet hosting a Brand New Rams Stadium..
Sarina slapped her hands over her ears, only aware an instant later that the Starship’s entire hull had rung like a massive bell. There was another pop, even more enormous, but Sarina felt it rather than hearing it. She was already deafened.
The Radio Crackled. Sarina and Soldier Sam both heard the noise.
“Rams Mascot is that YOU?!!” Sarina was shocked.
“Wait, Rams Mascot, I can’t hear you. Speak up!” Sarina shouted.
“Rams Mascot we have a bad connection. Hold on while Soldier Sam and I fix the ship so we can hear you. Sit Tight! Don’t Go anywhere, We will reestablish the connection,” Sarina Promised.
On the monitors, Rams Mascot’s visual was flickering on and off. Sarina and Soldier Sam saw debris falling, being tossed around.
Sarina and Soldier Sam were running toward the video console, dragging themselves along the rails where they could. In some cases, just falling and crawling.
“Why evac instead of putting out the fire?” Soldier Sam asked.
“Because the venting would cause an oscillation?” Sarina guessed.
“Let’s go back to the shuttle,” Soldier Sam said. “Let’s get out of this sector The crew can take care of themselves. They let us establish our position when they were already evac’ing.”
Sarina looked at Soldier Sam. She wanted to fold up and fall silent. Go along.
Soldier Sam looked at Sarina. “Who put you in charge?”
Sarina ignored Soldier Sam “Why are those decomp doors sealed?” Sarina asked.
“Faulty sensor, it looks like,” Soldier Sam replied. “They came down all over the hub when we blew the fire out.”
“We could have foreseen that”, Sarina admitted. “But we didn’t.” And now, she realized, it was going to cost the two of them a lot.
“We should evacuate too,” Soldier Sam insisted. “The crew members who should be here doing this job already bugged out.”
“They’re trapped,” Sarina said.
“The crew?” Soldier Sam was upset. He hadn’t reclipped. From the way the crew was looking at them, Sarina thought they might be right behind him.
“Our people. Our Rams Fans” Sarina exclaimed
“They’re not all Rams Fans,” Soldier Sam observed. “They should have stayed, then.”
“Well, they didn’t expect a decomp, that’s for sure.” Sarina responded.
Soldier Sam didn’t look at Sarina, but her hopes flared. Maybe she couldn’t just leave all those Rams Fans there.
Sarina and Soldier Sam were not the best Space Detectives in the Universe, it was true. But they were trained, and it was their job to save them if it was at all possible.
“Where are You, Rams Mascot?” Sarina shouted into the radio receiver.
Rams Mascots voice came through loud and clear.
“WHERE ARE YOU, RAMS MASCOT?” Sarina wanted to know as soon as possible. “Can the Planet’s Terrain and Atmosphere support Rams Football”
“I’m on Planet CALLISTO! “Check it out, Sarina!”
Planets fast rotation creates strong jet streams, separating its clouds into dark belts and bright zones wrapping around the circumference of the planet.
Sounds perfect for Rams Football” exclaimed Sarina.
Locked in combat with the NFL over his betting escapades, Soldier Sam won some points, lost a few, but could not get the NFL execs to accept his Malibu home as a “working office.”
“What do they think I use it for?” Soldier Sam asked Rams Mascot.
“They don’t know,” said Sarina. “They just sense it isn’t for work.”
“Then let them come up and see it,” said Soldier Sam. “I’ve got nothing to hide.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” said the cautious Sarina. “I’d settle.”
“No way,” said Soldier Sam. “I’m entitled to have whatever kind of office I like. Send ’em up.”
In truth, Soldier Sam worked a little in his setup and played a lot. But what business was that of the NFL’s? For all they knew, he slaved away in the place from dawn till midnight and never had any fun there.
The Ocean View? He needed it to put him in the mood for hard work. The best NFL players in history probably had a dozen such places, all over the globe, each of them a party house. Why not one for Soldier Sam?
We are coming to Rams Planet, Rams Mascot! But we have to make 2 Stops.
First we are going to Planet X for some Upgrades to our Starship since we expect to Drift for Long Time to land on Rams Moon.
Then New Starship Upgrades for Big Fight to get from the Moon to Rams Stadium.
We are going to make a day of it on Planet X while our ship gets fixed. It will be an Adventure!! Then we will go on a Day Trip on Your Rams Moon too.
“Look, Solder Sam!” Planet X is fast approaching “ said Sarina. Prepare for landing!!”
They will feel the plane slow down and the cabin crew will prepare them for landing.
PLANET X ADVENTURE ACTIVITY
One of Sarina’s most memorable all-time moments will always be the Great 2020 Earthquake in California. It makes a better recitation than it does a piece of film media, for it is almost necessary to throw furniture around, shake doors, and bark like a dog, to lend the proper atmosphere and credit to what is admittedly a somewhat incredible tale.
Still, it did take place, and, as you will see, is not precisely a fair or accurate description of what actually occurred, but it is the way in which the members of Sarina’s family invariably mark the occasion every year..
It happened that night, then, that Sarina had decided to sleep in the attic one night, to be away where she could consider California Life. The Ram’s Mascot a.k.a. “Rammie” opposed the notion strongly because, he maintained it was not always safe up there.
As so often in California, an earthquake would be none too kind to an attic. But there was no dissuading Sarina, however, and after a long day at work, she went up the narrow twisting stairs and closed the attic door behind her.. The attic was quite a piece of history, and everyone in the complex heard suspect creakings as she settled in for the night.
Sarina was usually in bed somewhat early, but up again a short time later to protest bitterly against Soldier Sam, Sarina’s dog Yogi and “Rammie” who were always in in the habit of playing over and over, namely, "I just called to say I Love you," an R& B classics by no other than Stevie Wonder or sometimes “This will be an everlasting Love” a great rendition by Natalie Cole.
The records had been played so many times that its grooves were deeply cut and the needle often kept revolving in the same groove, repeating over and over the same words. "I just called to say I Love You." It was this reiteration that generally got Sarina out of bed to complain.
On the night in question, however, everyone had all gone to bed at about the same time, without much drama. Yogi, the resident dog at the complex, as a matter of fact, had been in bed all day after becoming quite exhausted chasing tennis balls. It wasn't severe enough to cause craziness and Yogi was the last canine in the world to give way to that.
Nevertheless, he had warned Sarina, Solider Sam and Rammie that day, that some weather stations were predicting an earthquake in the next 24 hours.
Just as predicted, a powerful Earthquake rocked all of California in the middle of the night.
The Earthquake instantly awakened Rammie on the second floor right below the attic, who came to the immediate conclusion that his worst premonitions were realized: the quake could render the attic a disaster area so Rammie screamed, "Let's go Rescue Sarina!"
Soldier Sam slept on an army cot in the kitchen every night one of those affairs which are made wide enough to sleep on comfortably only by putting up, flat with the middle section, the two sides which ordinarily hang down like the sideboards of a drop-leaf table. When these sides are up, it is perilous to roll too far toward the edge, for then the cot is likely to tip completely over, bringing the whole thing down on top of you, with a tremendous banging crash. This, in fact, is precisely what happened, when the earthquake went down.
Soldier Sam was at first unconscious of what had happened when the Earthquake rolled it right onto the floor and it toppled over on him. It left him still unhurt, for the cot rested above him like a canopy and he did not wake immediately, only reached the edge of consciousness and went back.
By this time Soldier Sam was conscious of what was going on, in a vague way, but did not yet realize that he was under the cot instead of on it. Awakening in the midst of loud shouts of fear and apprehension from Rammie, Soldier Sam came to the quick conclusion that he was dreaming that we were all trying to "Rescue." Sarina.
Not knowing what else to do, Soldier Sam grasped the bottle of bourbon at the head of his bed and took a big gulp.
He leaped out of bed and inspected the window, and saw it had crashed and rained on the alleyway below.
It was at this juncture that Soldier Sam, in trying to get up, had the strange sensation of feeling the cot above him. Foggy with sleep, Soldier Sam now suspected, in turn, that the whole uproar was being made in a frantic endeavor to extricate him from what must be an unheard-of and perilous situation. "Get me out of this! Soldier Sam shouted out.
It was this shout, rather than the noise of Soldier Sams’s cot falling, that awakened Sarina in the attic. Rammie’s refrain had become, rescue Sarina!" and "You're all right!"
Soldier Sam found at last the light switch in the kitchen, unlocked the door, and joined Rammie at the attic door.
Several hours before the earthquake…
Before the earthquake, Yogi who was wakeful, decided to pretend that craziness was on him, in order to have, as he later explained it, some "fun." He got out of bed and, going to Sarina’s room in the attic shook her and said, "Sarina, the Earthquakes time has come!"
"Hmm?" said Sarina, with drowsy confusion. "Get up, Sarina," said Yogi, but with a certain gleam in his eyes. Sarina leaped out of bed, and rushed to escort Yogi from the attic, locked the door behind him, and went back to sleep.
But after the earthquake hit, a few hours later…
By this time Rammie, still shouting, was trying to open the door to the attic, in order to go up and Rescue Sarina out of the wreckage. The door was stuck, however, and wouldn't yield. His frantic pulls on it only added to the general banging and confusion.
Sarina, farthest away and soundest sleeper of all, had by this time been awakened by the battering on the attic door. She decided that the house was on fire. "I'm coming, I'm coming!" she cried out in a slow, sleepy voice--it took her some time to regain full consciousness.
Rammie and Soldier Sam could hear Sarina crawling out of bed upstairs. Soldier Sam pulled the attic door open, with a mighty jerk, and Sarina came down the stairs, sleepy and irritable but safe and sound. A great smile came across Rammies face the moment he saw she was in good condition.
Sarina began to orient herself to the situation. "What in the name of God is going on here?" she asked.
"You've had a bad dream," Rammie said.
This vexed Sarina. "I tell you Yogi busted up into the attic and interrupted by beauty sleep to announce the Earthquake and told me my time had come," she said.
Sarina was determined to run outside the house to inspect the neighborhood.
Soldier Sam ran after her and caught her at the door and tried to reason with her. He shook her a little, trying to wake her completely.
"Now, what?" demanded Rammie pulling Sarina and Soldier Sam apart. Rammie was capable, fortunately, of handling them both and never in Rammies life was alarmed by their actions..
"What's the matter with Sarina?" Rammie demanded. Soldier Sam said he didn't know. Sarina had just straight ran towards the door.
"Where did you think you were going?" Rammie asked Sarina. Rammie looked at Soldier Sam.
"Look out for Soldier Sam!" said Sarina to Rammie. Rammie looked at Soldier Sam.
The Earthquake had stunned Soldier Sam. He had no notion that at this moment, Sarina thought he had gone out of his senses; Solider Sam could only believe that she had gone out of her’s, or that, only partially awake, she was engaged in some form of running in her sleep.
Rammie went to Yogi’s door, unlocked it, and tiptoed through into the room. Yogi was lying in his bed, breathing easily, as if he were fast asleep. It was apparent at a glance that he was not as exhausted as was thought earlier in the day.
Rammie gave Sarina a look. "I tell you he did," said Sarina.
Their presence in the room finally seemed to awaken Yogi and he was-- or rather, as to be found out long afterward, pretended to be—astonished, shocked and confused. "What's the matter?" Yogi asked.
"Nothing," said Rammie. "Just Sarina had a nightmare."
"I did not have a nightmare," said Sarina, in a matter of fact tone.
The situation, before all present would let it drop and everybody went back to sleep again, became, as such situations in such a motley crew group usually did, rather more complicated than ironed out.
Sarina, Soldier Sam, Rammie and Yogi argued the thing for perhaps an hour after which Rammie convinced Sarina to sleep in the Trophy Room for a while "You're be safer there Sairna," said Rammie, firmly, as he shut her door.
Soldier Sam could hear Sarina grumbling for a long time, with an occasional unsympathetic retort from Rammie.
The situation was finally put together for Solider Sam like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. Solider Sam had been having a dream, and it was clear to him now that Yogi’s earthquake prediction before he went to sleep had a profound effect on him.
"Solider Sam was going on and on, Ramblin’ about California at this infernal hour of the night," said Sarina. "He came into the attic and asked me to name towns in California." Rammie looked at Soldier Sam.
"I just asked her," Soldier Sam said. "I was trying to think of one and couldn't sleep."
“What was that?” asked Rammie. “Soldier Sam, you had a dream last night?”
“I sure did, Solider Sam, replied. “I’ll tell you all about it!!”
That day, Soldier Sam had been trying all afternoon, not successfully, to think of the name Thousand Oaks. It seems now like a very simple name to recall and yet on the day in question he thought of every other town in the state, without even coming close to Thousand Oaks.Twentynine Palms was the closest he came, although it was not very close.
Long after Soldier Sam had first started to rest on the cot, he was struggling with the problem. He began to consider the wildest scenarios as he lay there in the dark, such as that there was no such town, and even that there was no such state as California.
Soldier Sam kept repeating the word "California" over and over again, until it became meaningless. If you have ever lain awake at night and repeated one word over and over, thousands and millions and hundreds of thousands of millions of times, you know the ridiculous state you can get into.
So Soldier Sam got up from his cot and walked up to the attic. It was right after Yogi had awaked Sarina but still before the Earthquake hit.
"Um?" Sarina mumbled. Soldier Sam eventually got her to wake up, with a glaze of dream and apprehension in her eyes. "
What's the matter?" Sarina asked. Soldier Sam must have, indeed, have been rather wild of eye.
"Wha's it?" said Sarina, sitting up, in readiness to be of service. The thought must have been going through her mind that Soldier Sam was crazy, or at least on the verge of going crazy.
"Listen," Soldier Sam said. "Name some towns in California quick!"
Sarina was still half asleep. She started with the obvious ones: “San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, Santa Monica, Twentynine Palms….”
"It’s not Twentynine Palms, but also involves tree counting," Soldier Sam snapped.
"Thousand Oaks," said Sarina, smiling in a faint, strained way which Soldier Sam now understands--but didn't then--was meant to humor him. When he was thinking about it during the Earthquake he fairly leaped for the Kitchen after running down the hall, his coat-tails and shoelaces flying.
So now, as the earthquake started to subside, everyone was eating some breakfast Rammie had cooked up, Soldier Sam finally had put the puzzle pieces of his dream together and the Shaking of the Earthquake had finally stopped and the Sun was coming up.
Rammie would not let the group discuss the affair during breakfast. "We'll go on to something more elevating, like the beauty of Sarina" said Rammie.
"Get some sleep, both of you," Rammie said. "I don't want to hear any more out of you today. Tearing up and down the hall at this hour in the morning!"
So Sarina and Soldier Sam went back to their stations. "Are you all right?" Sarina called to Soldier Sam. "Are you?" Soldier Sam Asked. "Well, good night," Sarina said. "Good night," Soldier Sam said.
It usually takes only seconds to take off from the ground. Things may seem a little tenuous at first, but that’s just because of moving through the different altitudes.
"Soldier Sam," remarked Sarina, "there doesn’t seem to be any signs of life about your house of refuge."
"No," replied Soldier Sam "Funny they don't see us!"
A broad stretch of lowly coast lay before the eyes of Sarina and Solider Sam. It was of dunes topped with dark trees. The roar of the surf was plain, and sometimes they could see the white lip of a wave as it spun up the beach. A tiny house was blocked out black upon the sky. Southward, the slim lighthouse lifted its little grey length.
Tide, wind, and waves were swinging the dingey northward. "Funny they don't see us," said Soldier Sam.
The surf's roar was here dulled, but its tone was, nevertheless, thunderous and mighty. As the boat swam over the great rollers, the partners sat listening to this roar.
"We'll swamp sure," said Sarina and Solider Sam simultaneously.
It is fair to say here that there was not a life-saving station within miles in either direction, but the they did not know this fact, and in consequence they made disparaging remarks concerning the eyesight of the island’s life-savers. Sarina and Solider Sam were upset and surpassed records in the invention of dirty words.
"Funny they don't see us." Soldier Sam repeated.
The lightheartedness of a former time had completely faded. To their sharpened minds it was easy to conjure pictures of all kinds of incompetence, blindness and, indeed, not quite right. There was the shore of the populous island, and it was bitter and bitter to them that from it came no sign.
"Well," said Sarina, ultimately, "I suppose we'll have to make a try for ourselves. If we stay out here too long, neither of us have strength left to swim after the boat swamps."
And so Soldier Sam, who was at the oars, turned the boat straight for the shore. There was a sudden tightening of muscle. There was escalation in the brain workings.
"If we both don't get ashore--" said Sarina. "If we don't both get ashore, I suppose no one would know where to send news of my finish?"
They then briefly exchanged some addresses just in case either one would make it and not the other. As for the reflections of them both, there was a great deal of unhappiness in them.
Perchance they might be formulated this: "If I am not going to make it, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? And to have wonderful anticipation of Celebrating Sarina’s Birthday Celebration!!
“Was I brought here merely to have my spirit dragged away as I was just about to Celebrate my Birthday, Solider Sam?” asked Sarina. “It is preposterous. If fate cannot do better than this, it should not be in the business of management of our fortunes.“
“Yeah” Solider Sam replied. “If fate has decided to not let me celebrate Sarina’s Birthday why did it not do it in the beginning and save me all this trouble? The whole affair is ridiculous.”
“Surely not after all this work." added Sarina
Soldier Sam had an impulse to shake his fist at the clouds: "Just you try and cancel Sarina‘s Birthday Party, now, and then hear what I call you!"
The billows that came at this time were more formidable. They seemed always just about to break and roll over the little boat in a turmoil of foam.
There was a preparatory and long growl in the speech of them. No mind unused to the sea would have concluded that the dingey could ascend these sheer heights in time.
The shore was still afar. Soldier Sam was a clever surfman.
"Sarina," Solider Sam said swiftly, "This boat won’t last a minute more, and we're too far out to swim. Shall I take her to sea again, Sarina?"
"Yes! Go ahead!" said Sarina.
Soldier Sam, by a series of quick miracles, and fast and steady oarsmanship, turned the boat in the middle of the surf and took the tired boat safely to sea again.
“So, here we are looking at the space between us and the moon and the adversaries that we just saw are there?” asked Soldier Sam.
. “Yes, that is them.” Sarina replied. The adversaries took over the transport ship that you came from and made it their base. They are running a very secret operation on the Moon and want to take it over as a home.
MOON ADVENTURE ACTIVITY
Sarina and Soldier Sam had just completed a successful mission at the Base and were sharing a taxi to LA for the Rams Game.
By the time they were halfway to LA, Sarina realised Soldier Sam was incapable of talking intelligently about sports.
Soldier Sam was okay, he went halves on cab fare etc., but he refused to argue. He didn’t seem to know how.
Sarina was used to everyone in the Bronx who disputed everything she said, every step of the way.
Soldier Sam stuck to simple observations like the Rams sure scored a lot of touchdowns last week” But when Sarina asked him who scored the touchdown, if they were passes, running plays or special teams, he had no answer.
Sarina attributed it to the fact that Soldier Sam was from Wisconsin and thrilled to be anywhere else.
Soldier Sam didn’t mind riding in a taxi from Twentynine Palms at all, but Sarina had wanted to steal a helicopter from the base.
Sarina rested her eyes while they cruised along with Soldier Sam making the occasional announcement.
“Hollywood. Palm Trees. The Pacific Ocean.”
Sarina was getting tired of it. Anyone would know that.
Later in the ride, Solider Sam said, “I never thought I’d see a LA in real life.”
Sarina turned and looked at the side of the road streaming out behind them. Two Red Heart Spots winked back— reflectors nailed to a tree stump.
“Lets Stop for Tacos” Solider Sam suggested.
Sarina voiced her opinion they should wait until they go to LA to eat.
Soldier Sam didn’t mind waiting and said “I’m so glad I got to come with you to the Rams Game, Sarina.“
Soldier Sam’s imagination was bright and capable of seeing wonderful sights, life a UFO passing by over the Mountains. This latest plan popped up soon after they passed Taco Bell and Sarina decided to let it ride.
Soldier Sam grabs his backpack and puts on a Packers hat.
Sarina snatches off the hat as quickly as he put it on.
“May I have my hat back please?” Soldier Sam says.
Sarina examines the hat. “A Packers Hat! I never saw such a thing!”
“It‘s an old hat. May I have it back please?” Soldier Sam asked.
“Sarina!” cries the Taxi Driver. “Give Soldier Sam his hat back this instant!”
Sarina tucks the hat close to the window.
Soldier Sam looks out the window, sees more Mountains fall behind and wonders if his friends back in Madison will be watching the Packers Game
“Excuse me. Excuse me!” The driver is talking to Sarina. “You can give Solider Sam his hat back, you know.”
“No, that’s all right,” Soldier Sam says. “I can just get a Rams Hat at the Stadium.”
“A Rams Fan now, are you?” Sarina said derisively.
“Sure thing” Soldier Sam replied. “Ever since I’ve been based at Twenty Nine Palms”
“Where are you from again ?” Sarina asks.
“Oh, really?” Sarina asks.
“And your friends?”
“They’re all from Chicago and watching the Bears Game today.
“I’m kind of curious,” Sarina says. “Do you watch the Bears Games too?”
“I’m hungry. I want to stop and eat, Solider Sam suggests again
“But we’re going out to eat in LA,” Sarina says.
The cab driver was getting tired of Solider Sam. “There you go, Soldier Sam. Looks like you have to wait until we get to LA. And don’t you go jumping out of the car now.
“I’m sorry, but we don’t have time to stop and eat now. Besides, we will get a much better meal in LA. Sarina hoped she had heard the last of it.
So what are you then, anyway? Are you going to support the Rams or the Packers this year? Sarina wanted an answer.
“What do you mean?” Soldier Sam says.
“You know, what are you? You can‘t support both Teams.”
Soldier Sam was confused. He didn’t understand. He really didn’t care that much about football anyway.
Soldier senses that Sarina is asking a question he can’t answer. It is as if she is asking him something he had never thought about before.
Here’s your hat back,” Sarina says. “Are you going to put it on again? What’s your team now anyway?”
The question still confuses him. Football was a game to Solider Sam. He just likes watching all the action on the field during big games,.
As far as Solider Sam was concerned, after 60 minutes has been played and the players leave the field, the interest stops there. They all say the same thing anyway.
“Put it this way, Soldier Sam” Sarina says. “Who would you pull for if the Packers and the Rams were in the Super Bowl?”
Soldier Sam was tired of the sports teams he has followed his entire life. He had adopted all of Sarina’s teams like the Yankees and all Syracuse Orange sports. But he didn’t give a shit about basketball and only liked watching the Orange if Sarina was.
“Sure you do know the answer to that, Soldier Sam,” the Taxi driver says. "How would you feel if Sarina wanted to go the Super Bowl with you?”
“That’s an easy one. The Rams, of Course. I am based in California now and I support pretty much anything Sarina wants to do in life” Soldier Sam was 100% positive what he wanted when it came to supporting Sarina.
“Are you sure, Soldier Sam?” Sarina wanted to seal the deal.
“Yes.” Of course, Sarina” Solider Sam replied. If Sarina wanted to know all along if Soldier Sam would support her and her teams for Life, why didn’t she just ask?
“So is that it? You’re a Rams Fan? You know what that means, don’t you? Sarina was persistent
The cab driver looks back and smiles at Soldier Sam
“Calm down, Sarina” the cabbie says, his eyes back on the Road. They were approaching the outskirts of LA.
“How would you like it if I interrogated you, Sarina?” Soldier Sam asked. “But that‘s not what a real man does.”
“I’d like you to to come and sit with me at the restaurant, Soldier Sam,” Sarina says smiling.
“I’ll order you a special drink. Have you ever had a Bloody Mary with tons of non-standard stuff like burger Sliders and Cheese Curds?”
Solider Sam says :"Never!" and nods enthusiastically. Already he feels better.
“My God, Sarina“” the taxi driver interjects. “A man that is that easy to please? Hold on to him”
Soldier Sam was waiting patiently for his meal as the cab started to slow down because they were coming into the city.
“About time we got here, “ Soldier Sam was glad they had arrived at the Stadium before the tailgating crowds, and was looking forward to getting a Rams hat while Sarina stopped at the Will Call Window at the Stadium to pick up their tickets before they got to the restaurant.
Solider Sam wanted to make a good impression on Sarina’s friends so they would approve of the Partnership.
Soldier Sam got his Rams hat while Sarina got the tickets and hoped that would make Sarina more happy about his existence.
On the way to the restaurant Sarina talked about her friends who would be at the Game.. Soldier Sam tried to remember all their names but knew that he would find a way to fuck up as usual.
As they approached the restaurant after the driver let them off, Soldier Sam opened the door for Sarina like always, just one of the many things he does to show how much he Loves Sarina.
“Do you have a reservation for lunch?” the hostess greeted them.
“Yes, Table for Two… Sarina.“ Sarina hoped they would have a good view of a television at their table, because she still can‘t get enough of ESPN.
When they sat down at the Table, Sarina tested the television to make sure it works, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to see all the pre-game Hype.
“How many times did I tell you it‘s going to be a blast today? Sarina said Don’t you know, Soldier Sam? This is LA!”
Sarina and Soldier Sam ordered their lunch, for Soldier Sam the usual Bacon Double Cheese Burger with Mozzarella Sticks and Onion Rings. Sarina was eating light, but also ordered Onion Rings too, so she and Soldier Sam could both have Rings.
Having Lunch together was a way to build a relationship full of considerate words and actions..
Sarina and Soldier Sam talked about different things and somehow got on the subject of whether Rams Fans should have a committed relationship with someone from a place like Wisconsin. Sarina said all things considered, she thought it was a bad idea.
"Why?" Soldier Sam asked.
Sometimes Soldier Sam got this look blank look of confusion on his face and just stared down at the ground.
When Sarina saw him like this she knew she should keep his mouth shut, but she never did. Actually it made Sarina talk more. Soldier Sam had that look now.
"Why?" he asked again, putting his burger down on the plate.
"Listen," she said, "I went to school with Midwesterners, I’ve worked with Midwesterners, and we've always gotten along just fine. I don't need you coming along now and implying that I'm discriminatory
"I didn't imply anything," Soldier Sam said, and began munching on his burger again. "I just don't see what's wrong with someone who lives in California ending up with a Midwestern person, that's all."
"They don't come from the same culture as we do. Listen to them sometime - they even have their own language. That's okay with me, I like hearing them talk" - she did; for some reason - "but it's different. A person from their culture and a person from our culture could never really know each other."
"Like you know me?" Soldier Sam asked.
"Yes. Like I know you." Sarina replied.
"But if they love each other," Soldier Sam said. He was eating his burger faster now, not looking at her .
“Oh man“, Solider Sam said.
"Don't take my word for it. Look at the statistics. Most of those relationships break up." Sarina kept on going.
"Statistics." Soldier Sam was now munching on the Mozzarella Sticks at a terrific rate, just swiping at them with his hands. Many of them were greasy, and there were a couple just stranded in the Marinara Sauce.
"All right," Soldier Sam said, "what about someone moving to LA from the Bronx like you? I suppose you think the same thing about East Coast West Coast couples being in successful long term relationships.
"Yes," Sarina said, "as a matter of fact I do. How can you understand someone who comes from a completely different background?"
"Different," said Soldier Sam. "Not the same, Like by that reasoning we shouldn’t have gotten together.“
"Yes, different," Sarina snapped, not pleased with Solider Sam for resorting to this trick of repeating her words so that they sounded bad.
"That burger is a mess, Soldier Sam" Sarina said.
Soldier Sam began to try and put his burger back together, giving a lot of attention to the tomatoes.
"So," Soldier Sam said, "you wouldn't be with me since I am from the Midwest. Well, that's what you said, didn't you?"
"No, I did not. This whole line of questioning me is ridiculous. If you had stayed in the Midwest we probably wouldn't even have got together. You would have had your friends and I would have had mine. The only Midwesterner I ever really knew was my camera man at ESPN, and I was already going out with you by then."
"Then you probably would have been going out with a Midwestern Girl. But doesn‘t matter anyway because we are so close " Sarina picked up a ring with her hand and put it in her mouth.
"Thank you,” said Soldier Sam and started to go to work on his Rings, just like Sarina did.
Sarina payed the bill and they went outside. The sky was clear. They hired another cab and the traffic was steady and light.
Soldier Sam and Sarina both immediately regretted the little fight. Why would all that stuff matter anyway? They thought of all the time they had spent together, and how close they were, and how well they knew each other so they both wanted to talk about another subject on the way to the Stadium.
They both promised to make it up to each other by ordering extra drinks at the Rams Game.
“So, Soldier Sam..” Sarina started a better conversation. “What do you have planned for the Twenty Nine Palms exercises next week?”
“This week I am taking more notes at the Air Combat Simulation Center, in preparation for the Live Fire Exercises next month. The Troops are still behind in getting reps for the manoeuvres.
Sarina is paying the cab driver and they both get out of the taxi. Finally they are at the Stadium for the Rams Game and Sarina is beaming in all of her beauty and glory.
“So how would you describe last week’s work at the Simulation Center if you could write your own review just for yourself?“ Sarina asked as they walked up to the Gates.
Soldier Sam smiled.“ I described how states were formed and battles fought. You may see my books standing straight up on the shelves of libraries. They stand up like sentries.”
Although Soldier Sam writes boldly he doesn’t like the spotlight at Twenty Nine Palms. There are many books here. Nations march back and forth in the books. It is often quiet for Solider Sam during most days but in the books a great thundering goes on.
Napoleon leads an assault on a distant compound.
General Grant moves some artillery into position.
Alexander streaks across the manoeuvre space
But Soldier Sam was really paying attention to Sarina, her loveliness now going through the turnstiles into the Stadium.
Solider Sam and Sarina were now almost finally to their seats on the 50 yard line after grabbing a full tray of drinks.
“I'll tell you what!!“, Soldier Sam exclaimed, “Sometimes the whole life of this world floats inside and radiates outward from Sarina for me. “
Now it is time for the Rams Game to start.. Soldier Sam and Sarina are both so very Happy and Excited beyond all comprehension for the Game to Finally Kick Off!
RAMS PLANET LANDING
Soldier Sam was a little troubled in controlling it, but Sarina fled like she was swinging like a bird in the air and took great pleasure in looking at the scenery of the different stars as they passed over.
The chairman was informed by the reconnaissance unit that several units of fleets had deployed from the Mainland, and the information suggested that they would be breaching our perimeter sometime that day. As far as our unit’s mission, the patrols would not really be considered a big find if we were to engage, although they would be facilitating a key link in maintaining supply routes, which would be quite a bonus for our unit since supplies from our own depot were slow and unreliable in delivery to our regiment.
Once we had boarded, the officers decided that it would be sufficient to simply dump the supplies to render them useless to the Mainland, since they were not of the type and size that would be required to sustain our unit until a steady stream of supplies was to arrive and be cleared for delivery to our unit. Based on the intelligence we received from the Mainland unit, it was suspected that the other forces deployed would try to do most of their work at night and lay low during the midday sun, as to avoid interdiction and presumably use the time to make contacts with the Mainland.
The officers discussed the problem at length and decided that, in spite of this new information, we would form up and begin a search mission to interdict other Mainland supply routes in the hope that we could gather some supplies that would actually be of some use to our unit. The officers would make every effort to ensure that discovery of our units would be avoided and minimize the possibility that our approach strategy would not be reported to the Mainland, who could then deploy additional units.
The chairman planned an action that would cover the line with a series of stops, sweeping out the area to be stopped along a broad base of the wedge-shaped inlet in case the Mainland supply convoy were to break back through the line. The whole objective of the mission was to achieve surprise, and it was essential to commandeer the entire flank to get into their correct positions without being noticed in addition to ensuring that the timing be such that each fleet was in position by the time the interdiction was to commence.
The mission required a lot of coordination with the members of our flank, and the various forces had to travel some distance and had to approach the targets from several different directions. A long approach march was employed so that, even if our presence would be detected, it would not be clear to the sentries on the Mainland exactly what direction from which we would be intent to advance eventually.
The chairman had identified another potential concern, namely, that the officers did not know the terrain very well, and it was considered to be unadvisable to carry out a traditional programme of reconnaissance prior to the action because of the possibility that the unit could be detected sooner. The chairman had arranged the flight of a drone over a trajectory, so it would appear as if we were approaching from a particular direction to the Mainland. Because of a deficit in the technology employed by previous drone sweeps, however, the officers would have to rely on old photographs of the area we would be approaching from, which included passage nearby several islands.
The flanking fleet was to start from several different positions, and each unit had different distances to cover, so it was important to time the tasking of the units in certain order. It was essential for those that had the longest trajectory to traverse should not be blocked by the components of the fleet that had to make strategic stops. There had to be absolutely no question of one of the flanks having to pass through another to get forward to their positions. We were approaching an open space with no islands in sight and were drawing closer and closer to the area in which conflict was likely.
The signal communication networks got their sets working and started to take in reports from the various stops and search parties. So far, so good thought the chairman. Reconnaissance came up over the air to verify the position of the flank, so the officers figured that the unit had arrived at the rendezvous without detection or major incident. The officers always thought that this was the worst part of an operation, although this period of time was absolutely essential since some allowance had to made for some part of the force losing their way, therefore taking longer to get into their respective positions later than initially planned.
For the time being, there was really nothing to do except for to begin the search and impatiently wait for something big to happen. It was essential to keep the air clean¸ free of communications and to stop transmitting. This was not the time for general chit-chat. There was something unnerving and strange about the silence, although almost impossible for the officers to define. The search area was narrowing, as the search partly moved closer and closer to the Mainland. It seemed certain that, if there were suspect fleets in the area, they would soon be cornered and possibly interdicted if the conditions were in our favour. The officials back at Oceana headquarters were silent and distracted with other matters, so we would be on our own for the duration of the exercise.
“But what about Rams Mascot? They blasted him with a ray gun but maybe we can still help him?” Soldier Sam asked.
“Unfortunately, coming into contact with the adversaries, he probably had a lot of trouble with them.” Replied Sarina.
Sarina and Soldier Sam felt defeated, and their oxygen tanks began to give them a warning sound. They knew that it was time to make their move.
Sarina walked down the corridor of the Rams Practice Facility, past the Head Coach’s Office, and the Video Room Service, “Play-by Play,” Our Specialty. The Logo Legend on the ground-glass panel next door said, “Ram’s Press Office [also Maintenance] Director, Rams Reporter Sarina.
Sarina let herself into the Press Office and said Good Morning to the Maintenance Guy.
“Well, you certainly look like something that woke up late and rushed to work,” he said. The Maintenance Guy has a quick tongue.
The Maintenance Guy kicked open the bottom drawer of his desk, tossed a Bottle of Bourbon right into her hand, and set fire to a cigarette.
“I could use a drink this morning,” Sarina said slowly. Her face was veiled, watchful. There was something complete about a bottle of Bourbon first thing in the morning; Sarina knew the day would go smoothly after that.
“Any customers?” Sarina asked.
“A Rams Fan by the name of Soldier Sam was here first thing in the morning and said he would be back when you get your act together today.
“A Rams Fan?”inquired Sarina.
“He would like you to think so.”
Sarina nodded toward the inner office to indicate that she was going in there, and then did.. It would not be the last drink of the day for Sarina, to be sure.
Just a short time later, Soldier Sam burst in the door.
He had a Rams Jersey on with the New Blue, Grey Bone and Sol. it looked even more curious that way. Out of breath from sprinting down the corridor, he circled the desk,looking for another chair, and then, spotting a chair next to the massive cabinet where Sarina keeps a change of bourbon, ran to it. Sarina got up from her chair and walked to the cabinet.
The Maintenance Guy was deep in a Crossword Puzzle.
“See anyone come in here?. Was that Soldier Sam?”
There was a thoughtful line between his brows. “Say, what’s a five-letter word meaning an interception returned for a Touchdown?”
“Pick-6,” Sarina told him, and turned her attention to Soldier Sam.
The Maintenance Guy let a cigarette burn down between his fingers until it made a small red mark, and Sarina asked Soldier Sam what his business was this morning.
“Hi,” Solider Sam responded. “You the Rams Reporter?”
Sarina answered in the affirmative.
“You—you’ve got to help me.” said Soldier Sam.
“My friends call me Sarina,” she said pleasantly.
“Sarina.” Soldier Sam rolled the syllables on his tongue. “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that name before. I love it! Very Beautiful.”
Sarina wasn’t sure what to say.
Sarina planned on getting rid of Soldier Sam without much conversation, but she wasn’t telling him that right away: She was playing it safe until she knew what was up.
When Soldier Sam spoke again, it came with a rush. “Sarina, the Chargers Mascot thinks I’m trying to sell him fake tickets for the Big Rams Stadium Show.. But I swear the tickets are legit—I got them right at the Ticket Window myself. If I could only find out how the Tickets were altered. I even offered them bourbon but they wouldn’t tell.”
“Suppose you take it from the beginning,” Sarina suggested.
Soldier Sam drew a deep breath. “You’ve heard of Diamonds they sell at the Mall?”
Sarina said she didn’t.
Well, Soldier Sam continued “It’s a tremendously valuable piece believed to have a storied history, and was eventually passed into my possession. I put it in a Locked Heart Shaped Safe Deposit..
“And now it’s gone again?” asked Sarina…
“No,” Soldier Sam said. “At least, it was in the Safe when I left the Bank Vault just a short time ago.”
Sarina leaned back, pretending to fumble a notebook out of the desk, and studied Soldier Sam again. This was going to be a lot more intricate than she had thought.
Solider Sam was getting even more excited. “Last night I was examining the Rams Stadium Tickets which were also in the Safe. You know them?”
“Of course, they have a counterfeit guard hologram on them, with the New Rams Logo don’t they?”
Soldier Sam’s eyes darkened, lightened, got darker again. “How did you know?”
“I haven’t been the Rams Reporter for nothing. I also Moonlight as a Detective. Go on.”
“I—I knew right away something was wrong when the Chargers Mascot screamed and upset his behaviour” Soldier Sam explained
.I tried to tell him the New Logo was the counterproof badge, but he carried on like a madman. He’s been suspicious of me since—well, ever since I made that bet with him last season.”
“Just how much bourbon were you pawning the tickets for?” asked Sarina.
“A lot” replied Soldier Sam. More cases than anyone could carry. So much in fact you would have to have a few shopping carts with you.
Oh, Sarina” Soldier Sam continued. I’ve got to win back his confidence. You could find out how they faked those Tickets.
“What’s in it for me?” asked Sarina.
“Anything you want.” Soldier Sam motioned for his assistants to bring a cart of bourbon in. “I’ll run to the market and get you more if you like.”
“This’ll hold me for a while,” Sarina said. “If I need any more, I’ll make sure to let you know right away.” She got up. “Oh, while I think of it, how do these diamonds of yours stashed in the heart shaped vault of yours tie in with to Tickets?”
“It doesn’t,” Soldier Sam said calmly. “I just threw it in for glamour.”
“I kind of wish they were part of the Story, Soldier Sam was disappointed. “That sounds interesting.
“Well, I could make up a mystery like that for you another day, Sarina” Soldier Sam promised.
“I always wanted to know someone named Soldier Sam. It’s so Patriotic.” Sarina admitted..
“Where’d you learn my name?” Soldier Sam was surprised.
“I haven’t been a Reporter/Detective all this time waiting for nothing, Soldier Sam.” Sarina answered.
“Let’s go solve this mystery, and then maybe that other one another day.” suggested Sarina.
Sarina grabbed a bottle of Bourbon for the road and led Soldier Sam down the corridor twists and turns and stepped outside into the bright Sun.
Sarina and Soldier Sam first went looking for the Rams Mascot at the New Stadium and took the road down the street to the Stadium, a trip that was now familiar to Sarina.
Sarina knew the Rams Mascot had no connection with the Ticket Caper, but in the Reporter Business you don’t overlook anything.
When they got to Rams Stadium, the Rams Mascot was ready to greet Sarina and Soldier Sam at the gate and led them to the Press Box where more Bourbon was stashed.
Sarina asked the Rams Mascot if it had seen any first editions of the Tickets.
“You got the wrong pitch, Sarina,” answered the Rams mascot “That stuff is hotter than Fuego at a Margarita Fire Side Grilling Event. And we all know how those go!! So tasty!” exclaimed the Rams Mascot.
“Maybe Soldier Sam will smarten you up,” Sarina said. There’s plenty of Liquor Store Discount Outlets around here for anyone who knows why those Tickets were Fake.
“I might talk for that” responded the Rams Mascot.
“Start dealing.” the Rams Mascot motioned toward the back. Sarina took a step forward. A second later, Sarina got a sudden headache. When Sarina recovered. she was on the floor and Soldier Sam was looking over her with great concern.
“Someone Socked Me,” said Sarina, I think it was the Rams Mascot—”
“High Octane Offense” responded Soldier Sam. He held up the Rams 2020 Playbook, Unabridged. “You tripped on a loose board and this fell off a shelf on your think tank.”
“Yeah?” Sarina said skeptically. “Anyways, where has the Rams Mascot, gone. Did our line of inquiry upset him?”
By the time Sarina quickened her pace in search of the Mascot. Sarina left Soldier Sam behind in the Dust. But that was by design for Soldier Sam.
Soldier Sam’s Plan was to nail Sarina with a Football Pass so perfect, the Rams would Sign him right that day after a quick combine. Soldier Sam had always claimed he could run a solid 4.26 40-yard Dash.
“Reach for the stratosphere, Sarina.” Soldier Sam’s voice rang clear as a Bell.
“Well, Sarina, “so you found out how the Tickets were Faked, didn’t you? Fantastic!” Soldier Sam said sarcastically.
“Sure—a military grade 3D Pinter, of course,” Sarina said easily. “You knew it all along, Soldier Sam. You Scoundrel!!!
And you planned to make even more Fake Tickets!. Then you’d collect all that Bourbon, enough to start your own Liquor Store” exclaimed Sarina.
But you didn’t count on me!” Sarina said Triumphantly.
“You?” Soldier Sam was getting to the point of moving from sarcasm to mockery. “What are you going to do about it?”
“This! Sarina snapped the Field Tarp out from under Soldier Sam and he went down in a swirl of comedy. The football whizzed by Sarina into the Upper Deck.
“Sarina!!” Suddenly the sarcasm and mockery switched into concern. “Don’t turn me in. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” Soldier Sam never wanted to try to sell counterfeit Rams Tickets again as long as Sarina was the Rams Reporter.
“It’s no good, Solider Sam. You’d only double-time me again!” responded Sarina.
“Try me!” Soldier Sam challenged.
“O.K. The Rams Store Team who designed your Rams Jersey—what’s their name? Would you even know if you are wearing a Counterfeit Jersey?”
“Come on Soldier Sam they’re your dice.” Sarina wasn’t going to cave on this one.
“I won’t tell you. I can’t.” explained Soldier Sam. It’s a secret between this—this store and me. We made the Deal I wouldn’t buy the Jersey when it was on Sale. They wanted to make me wait for it to be regular price again. And I agreed!”
“They wouldn’t be loyal to you, Soldier Sam. They’d sell you out fast enough.” Sarina promised.
“Oh, Sarina, you don’t have to do this. You don’t know what you’re asking.” I promise I’ll never ever try to sell counterfeit Rams Tickets for my Bourbon Profits again.”
“For the last time.” warned Sarina.
“Oh, Sarina don’t you see? “I’ve got so little. Don’t take that away from me. I—I’d never be able to hold up my head in Los Angeles again if I didn’t have my Rams Jersey” Soldier Sam was even more concerned about the Jersey than the Liquor.
“Well, if that’s the way you want to play it…” Sarina picked up the phone and dialed 911.
On Sarina’s trip back to the Rams Training Facility, after they took Soldier Sam away, she stopped at the Liquor Store again, just in case the Maintenance Guy had gone overboard with his drinking today.
After getting back to the Rams Training Facility, Sarina made her way to the office. “Need me any more tonight?, Sarina asked the Maintenance Guy.”
“No.” the Maintenance Guy replied “Thanks, anyway. I’ve got my quota.”
“Sarina, would—would you tell me something?” the Maintenance Guy inquired.
“As long as it’s about Football,” Sarina Replied.
“What’s a ten-letter word meaning ‘When the Stakes are Highest for the Rams’?”
“CRUNCHTIME!!” Sarina exclaimed, and went back to Reporting.