The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

BOOBIE BROTHERS FACE REALITY

Across the beach, Fred started to come around. Still unfocused, he looked over at Amelia with concern. On his hands and knees, he moved over to her and started talking in a quiet, concerned voice.

Dooley, Talli, and Dylan moved several steps farther away to give them privacy.

Dooley gestured toward Amelia. “Why exactly were you looking for her?” he wondered.

“Like I said, she’s a great female flier,” Dylan explained patiently. “I heard she was going to land at Howland Island, so I went there to see her.”

“Wait,” Talli interjected. “You’re telling us you what? Like a lady flyer groupie?

Dylan looked at him with a curious expression.

“That is so cool!” Talli exclaimed with enthusiasm.

Without acknowledging Talli’s interruption, Dylan continued her story. “When she didn’t arrive on schedule, I decided to be a one boobie search party.”

“It’s a big ocean,” Dooley noted. “How did you happen to end up here?”

“No idea,” Dylan admitted honestly. “I was about two miles east when I saw the plane in the distance. By the time I got here, the plane was in the water and you guys were doing your thing.”

“Well . . . ” Dooley started to say.

“That was really amazing,” Dylan beamed. “I mean, I once saw a dolphin rescue a surfer fifty yards beyond the breakers, but I never even heard of a boobie saving a human. When they get back to civilization, you guys’ll be famous.”

“Yeah, when they get back to civilization, “Dooley repeated. “About that . . . ” he started to explain.

“Now that you’ve seen her, what do you think?” Talli cut in.

“I didn’t just see her, I helped rescue her,” Dylan glowed with pride. “I’m gonna be able to tell my grandchildren about today.”

Talli watched Dylan intently.

Dooley nodded toward the humans. “Since she and Fred, I’m guessing that’s Fred Noonan . . . ” he began.

Dylan looked over at Amelia and Fred as Fred started to get up, only to drop down heavily to the sand once again.” “Of course it is,” Dylan affirmed.

“Since neither Amelia Earhart nor Fred Noonan were ever heard from again, I’m guessing our little rescue didn’t really change things,” Dooley suggested.

“What?!” demanded Dylan visibly irritated. “How can you say such a thing? There are probably search parties out right now.”

“They won’t find her,” Dooley stated.

“I never thought blue-footed boobies could be so cold,” Dylan fumed.

“Why do you think we have blue feet?” Dooley shot back.

Talli looked from Dooley to Dylan and back again.

“Uggh, men!” Dylan groaned in frustration.

“What is it you want us to do, uh, Miss ah . . . Dylan, right?” Talli asked.

“Good for you,” she snapped sarcastically.

Talli nodded toward Dooley. “Dooley’s my brother.”

“I wouldn’t be bragging about that too loudly,” Dylan cautioned.

“Don’t be too hard on him,” Talli tried to explain. “He’s trying to get back to his wife and kids. We’ve been away a long time.”

Dylan stared at Dooley for a moment, then turned to the younger brother: “How about you?” she asked Talli. “You have a wife and kids back at the ol’ nest?”

“No. I’m not married,” Talli answered sheepishly. “But I’ve been working on my mating dance.”

Dylan found that admission amusing and endearing, “You didn’t really just say that, did you?”

Dooley turned to an embarrassed Talli. “I don’t see what else we can do here. Let’s go look for that maelstrom.”

Dylan was shocked. “You’re kidding?” she said. “You two yahoos actually look for whirlpools?”

“It’s a long story,” Talli told her. “So, when we leave, what are you going to do?”

Dylan answered immediately and with utmost confidence. “I’m gonna fly over this island for however long it takes and make sure the rescue party finds Amelia.”

“Wow!” Talli said.

Dooley just shook his head. “It’s not going to do any good.”

Dylan reacted angrily. ”You can’t know that!”

Dooley shrugs, knowingly. “Actually,” he said, “I can.”

“Great! A know-it-all,” she dismissed, annoyed.

“Not all,” Dooley corrected her. “But I do know a lot.”

“He does,” Talli agreed.

Dylan shook her head defiantly. “Not every story is true.

Dooley responds calmly. “Agreed. Except this isn’t a fairy tale . . . it’s an historic fact.”

“Hmff,” Dylan snorted. “Whatever. I’m staying here until the rescue.” She turned her back, dismissing the discussion.

“Suit yourself,” said Dooley. He turned to Talli. “Let’s go, Bro.”

Talli looked tentatively from Dooley to Dylan. “I, uh, maybe I should stay and help her,” he said timidly.

Shocked, Dooley cried, “What?!”

“I said,” Talli repeated, “Maybe I should stay here, too.”

Dooley looked from Talli to Dylan and back to Talli. Dooley pointed toward a rock and announced, “Family meeting.”

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