When I first retuned from Afghanistan, I retired from the military and started commercial flying. In this roll I visited all over North America and worked in very isolated locations. During pauses in flying or bad weather days, I remembered many things about my year in “The Stan” and figured I would write about it someday. That quickly turned into a writing an article, then playing with first and third person dialogues, rewriting and then just getting a pattern that worked (for me) and brainstorming, accepting the fictional dialogue but to tell the really cool story.
I want to remember and give honourable mention to a few people that saw me write for several years in the back of a 412 helicopter while sitting deep inn the bush of Northern Alberta near the oilsands of Fort McMurray. I had the opportunity to fly for 2 summers with the same crew and survey clients. As the clients trudged and sweated through the muskeg and pine bog, I sat in the helicopter with the mosquitos, wasps and horseflies pounding out words for Shakedown.
Significant to this story is also something my daughter said just before I left for a tour. I had ordered a helmet and it arrived in the box. It was suppose to be a dark blue colour but I had mistakenly pointed out the light powder blue portion of the company logo to the helmet company so it came in that colour. As I opened the box the day before going to work, my daughter’s eyes lit up and she said: “Oh Dad, thats a pretty girl’s helmet!” I sighed in emasculation as she laughed at me.
So off I went to the field proudly defending my helmet to my clients. Even the young lady client took every opportunity to tell me how “pretty” it was and that they would love to swap “accessories” with me some time.
Anyway, one afternoon I set up a nice breezeway through the cabin doors of the Bell412 helicopter and sat in the back typing away. As I wrote “Go For Shakedown” dialogue, I was unaware that I was vocalizing my words as I typed. To Jeff, Kelly and Kirsten, who were having a break in the grass beside the helicopter, all they heard was moaning from inside the cabin. I came out of my hypnotically focussed state as I heard off in the distance a series of orgasmic moans. Then I finally realized what I was doing and looked outside to see them rolling in laughter in the grass mimicking my grunts.
“Hey, I vocalize when I work! I can’t help it.” I explained as I started to laugh at myself.
“Okay that does it!” Kirsten said. “That helmet! Those noises! From now on you shall be referred to as Blue-balls.”
And for the rest of summer and into the following season, I was know as Blue-balls.
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