Space Madness – Chapter 14
Former astronaut Nancy Line returns from exile after a public nervous breakdown to assist NASA in faking a moon landing.
Chapter Fourteen – Anything Goes
“I’m sorry, Jeremy. But I’m afraid I have to let you go.”
“Mr. President, if I can just expla–“
The line goes dead and former White House Chief of Staff Jeremy Wolfe slams his cell phone on the passenger side dash of the black ops team’s Humvee as it races east through the desert. Jeremy quickly dials and First Lady Mabel Wayne answers.
“Jeremy, what’s going on? I just heard William let you go.”
“You gotta corral your man, Mabel.”
“That’s Madame First Lady, Jeremy.”
“Not when I’m unemployed, it’s not. You gotta bring him in on the truth. If he doesn’t hire me back, I ultimately can’t contain this situation.”
“I’ll talk to him. Just don’t shoot anybody until I call you back.”
LAPD Detectives Ricky Faulk & Harry Schette are driving astronauts Nancy Line & Tony Graziani across Texas.
Harry is leaning over his seat, laughing with the astronauts. “We thought you were drug dealers!”
Nancy giggles. “Oh my goodness, us?”
“Then, when we figured out you were those astronauts, we thought you were cooking meth on the moon!” Harry cackles.
Ricky glances in the rear-view mirror. “I wasn’t as on board with that one.”
Nancy places her hand on Harry’s arm. “We really appreciate you two getting us to the Gulf of Mexico.”
Harry shrugs. “Hey, those government guys were gunning for us just as much as you.”
“You really expect us to live on an oil platform in the middle of the ocean,” Tony frets.
“Just until we can get a lawyer and a reporter to tell our story. The boys on that platform helped me out once when I hit a low point.”
“When you tried to kill me.”
Harry’s eyes light up. “Oh my gosh, you’re that Nancy Line. The astronaut who tried to kill the other astronaut for sleeping with another astronaut.”
Nancy purses her lips. “Yup.”
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know there were enough astronauts to have a love triangle.”
Ricky glances at his partner. “You didn’t think there were three astronauts in the whole world?”
Harry smiles and turns to the back seat. “So, are you guys gonna get back together?”
Nancy says “No” and Tony says “Maybe” at the same time and they glance at each other.
“You…you faked the moon landing?”
“We couldn’t afford to actually send a shuttle up there. Cutting NASA’s funding was one of your campaign promises to the right.”
The First Lady rests a palm on President Wayne’s knee in the Oval Office and he brushes it off. “So you just don’t do it. If you can’t afford it. You don’t do it.”
“Your approval ratings have never been higher.”
“You deceived the American public.”
“We gave them the reality they wanted and all but assured your reelection in the process. If we can catch those astronauts before they talk to someone, that is. Hire Jeremy back, Bill.”
“Sometimes I wonder if the American people elected me or you.”
The First Lady rubs her husband’s back. “I think we both know the answer to that, dear.”
“Heh, yeah. So…me, or..?”
“Ain’t you them astronauts?”
Detectives Faulk & Schette have pulled into a gas station in East Texas and an obese old man toweling grease off his hands is staring quizzically at Nancy & Tony.
Nancy smiles. “No, we get that a lot.”
“Bert! Get out here, honey.”
Another grease-caked old man in overalls hustles out of the gas station and pecks the first man on the cheek. “What is it, Hank dear?”
“Ain’t these them astronauts what were on the tee-vee?”
“Oh my stars, I do believe you’re right.”
Tony hands over some cash. “We’ll just be on our way, gentlemen.”
“Not so fast, Mr. Graziani.”
The astronauts spin around to see a black Humvee pull into the gas station and Jeremy Wolfe and his black ops team pile out.
The astronauts put up their hands and Jeremy raises his. “Relax, we’re not gonna shoot. I don’t work for the government anymore. I was thinking we could work out a–“
Jeremy’s phone rings, he answers and grins. “Bad news, gang. I’m not unemployed anymore.”
Send all hate mail to ethanrbooker@