This is the second part of a fiction serial, in 777 words.
On the twentieth of July, Mel was at Belfast Airport to meet the two helicopters. The equipment had been collected the day before, and Glen and Anita had stayed overnight in a nearby hotel. Glen insisted on checking everything one more time before they took off. Then after Anita had boarded, he walked across to Mel, extending a hand.
“Unless you hear otherwise, you can send the choppers back on the second of August. If we have enough decent footage before that, I will contact you on the sat phone, save you a few quid by coming back early. We have to be in the Scilly Isles by the fifth to film an old shipwreck, so please don’t let me down with the pickup”. Without waiting for a reply, Glen walked over to the helicopter, and got in next to his wife.
Mel went back to the main terminal to wait for his flight back to London.
The next week was busy, putting together a job in Israel to make a documentary about the Red Sea. Mel knew that it was little more than a travelogue, designed to promote tourism to that country. So he intended to dress it up with a lot of underwater footage, to make it look more like a nature film than a sales pitch. He had been hoping to get Glen and Anita onto that, but after Balleycragg, they were booked solid for almost two years.
By the time Friday afternoon arrived, Mel had been sneaking the vodka bottle out of his desk more times than usual. Stephanie had left him over his drinking, but he told everyone that it was because he was always working. Good for her that she didn’t tell anyone otherwise. A hefty divorce settlement had kept her onside where that was concerned.
Before leaving that night, he asked Tamara his office manager if there had been any calls from Glen on the sat phone, and she shook her head.
One less thing to worry about over the weekend.
The Israel job went tits up early the following week, making him mad at the time wasted and money spent. There was some trouble on the West Bank, rockets being fired, the usual stuff. But the commissioning company pulled the plug, reckoning the Israeli tourist industry was not destined to be primetime viewing anytime soon.
There had still been no message from Glen on Balleycragg, so he contacted the helicopter company to confirm that the pickup would go ahead as arranged. With the job in Israel not happening, the mysterious ruins off the coast of Ireland could be given his full attention.
After some afternoon screenings in the viewing room, Mel went into his private bathroom to change for his dinner date that evening. Two big swigs of Listerine for his vodka breath and a good splash of expensive aftershave later, he was in a taxi heading for Sartoria, in Savile Row.
Caroline Conroy was one of the best documentary presenters on television, and he had been trying to get her to work for him for over three years. Then during one of many phone calls, she had shocked him.
“Mel, I have a good deal with Pangea Films, and I am not about to leave them to work for you. But if you ask me out on a date one night, I won’t say no”.
So he asked, and she didn’t say no.
The meal at Sartoria was their third date, and Caroline had intimated that she might stop over at his flat that night. “Savile Row? Oh that’s much closer to you in Bayswater than to me in Chiswick. You might find yourself with an overnight guest”. When he reminded her he only had one bedroom, she had chuckled. “Well we only need one, don’t we?”
They were halfway down the second bottle of wine before the main courses arrived. Caroline was looking wonderful. Her dress was low cut without being tarty, and a little too short without showing anything. She was in a garrulous mood, so Mel left her to do all the talking as he admired her bobbed hair and sparkling teeth.
“The thing is, Mel you could never match the salary package I get from Pangea. I mean, you’re a great guy and you make some excellent films, but they have been around since I was a kid, and they are still the benchmark in our industry”.
He was just about to reply when his mobile rang. Even on a date, Mel always answered his mobile.
“Mister Whittaker? This is Tim Drew from Drew’s Helicopters. I have some bad news for you I’m afraid”.