Flying Grounded (Romantic Suspense)
As soon as the indicator light showed wheels-on-ground, Penn felt the cockpit bob as someone climbed the steps and hovered behind him. He glanced at the mirror. Finch, with his ever-present clipboard. Two, in fact. The familiar electric blue plastic clipboard Finch never seemed to be without and a battered brown pasteboard one tucked under his armpit.
“You’ve got injuries, Captain Penn. You’ll want one one three four,” Finch said, reaching over Penn’s shoulder to punch in the code to start the new recorded message to the passengers.
Batting the hand aside, Penn entered the code, leaving bloody fingerprints on the keypad. Finch hissed and grimaced. You’d think he had to personally clean the cockpits, Penn thought.
In the mirror, Penn watched Finch check his immaculately starched and pressed shirtsleeve for blood smears, then glance at the dangling harness in the right-hand seat.
“Who was your co-pilot?”
“Which Russell? We have three on payroll at Gant-Hang.”
Payroll, Penn thought. It had taken less than a week for him to realize Gant-Hang administration considered pilots mere employees. Not the highly trained, career professionals they truly were.
He turned to look at Finch. “I’m new here. His name tag said Russell. We didn’t take time to introduce ourselves.”
“Oh, that Russell,” Finch said, not responding to Penn’s dig, nor making a note on his clipboard.
“Here are the reports you’ll need to complete, Captain Penn.”
Penn hadn’t yet figured out how Finch managed to make the honorific sound like a put-down.