Apologies for the unexpected hiatus but I have returned! (And as a side note to the update I posted on Facebook during the week, Mum found a bamboo purse like Sofia’s in a second hand store but it was $250 dollars I mean what is that.)
But never mind all that now, because we need to talk about this guy:
THAT, Fletcherfans, is Flight Navigator Frank Fletcher (also known as Mr JB Fletcher), recently rescued along with two of his crew after his cargo plane went down in the Alaskan wilderness. Unfortunately the plane and one of the crew, Gagliano, were not found.
Cut to the present, where JB gets a phone call from her friend Bonnie Phelps, wife of Clint Phelps, one of the other crew members, with some astonishing news. The Dixie Damsel has been found and Clint has been asked to go to the Air Force base. JB is stunned, but thinks there’s something Bonnie isn’t telling her. Bonnie confesses that Clint thinks something is up.
Jess heads straight to California, to Crawford Air Base, just to see what’s up and is struck down with a terrible case of nostalgia. Inside, Clint and Bonnie are delighted to see her and they reminisce about the girls living in San Diego while Clint and Frank flew between Korea and Japan during the war. Clint tells JB that Frank would be furious that the plane has turned up, as it would mean that General Havermeyer would finally get the Cadillac he made them transport back to America from Japan all those years ago. They are joined by Major Kevin Cooper who tells JB her presence isn’t required and that he will be back to interrogate Clint once the other crew members have arrived. JB demands answers.
Major Cooper asks JB what Frank told her about the events surrounding the downing of the Dixie Damsel and she tells him what she knows – that there was a terrible storm, they tried to fly over it and couldn’t and that they bailed when the pilot set the controls to automatic. She also says that she knows Galiano got seperated from the rest of the crew but she wasn’t sure what happened. Cooper thanks her and tells her she’s free to return to Maine and that he will have Frank’s duffel bag sent up to her once it has been retrieved from the plane. Jess is set to argue the point when a rumble of engines signals the arrival of the Dixie Damsel, which despite being stuck in a snow drift for 35 years was still flyable. Convenient.
Jess, Clint and Bonnie go out to watch the plane pull in and are amazed to see Lee Goddard emerge from the plane. Clint asks him what’s going on but before he can reply they see an American flag draped coffin being put into the back of the coroner’s car. It’s Sergeant Gagliano. Clint refuses to believe it, saying Gagliano bailed with the rest of the crew but Lee tells them it was impossible – he’d been shot in the chest and never left the plane.
Clint is furious when Cooper suggests that one of the crew members was responsible for the death of Sergeant Gagliano but Cooper is unmoved.
Outside, Jess and Bonnie are talking when Gagliano’s niece Sylvia arrives with her father’s cousin Nicholas Rossi to see Cooper. Jess offers her condolences but Sylvia wants no part of it, in light of the fact that one of them killed her father. Awkward.
Clint and Lee emerge with the news they have to return to the base at 0830 the next morning. Clint is inclined to get the hell out but Jess warns against it. Lee thinks a better idea is to go get some Italian food instead. Meanwhile, Cooper receives Frank Fletcher’s personnel file and asks if the other crewman – Ray Dressler – is coming but his current whereabouts are unknown. He then receives a phone call from General Havermeyer who proclaims he will be arriving at 1000 the next morning to collect his car.
Back at the hotel JB bumps into Sylvia again and tries to mend fences, saying how much she much she loved her father.
“Nope,” says Sylvia, “I hated him for 35 years”
They are joined by Nicholas Rossi, who tells Sylvia it’s cold, and to go back inside. He tells Jess Sylvia is full of grief and doesn’t know what she’s saying.
That night at dinner Jess and Lee are exchanging stories about their late partners when Lee asks Jess if she has anybody
Any moves buddy boy Lee were planning to make are unfortunately stymied with the untimely arrival of Ray Dressler, the other crewman from the Dixie Damsel.
Ray is feeling particularly verbose on this fine evening but unfortunately he loses his audience when he refers to Cooper as the ‘uptight gentleman of the coloured persuasion’.
Lee tries to warn him off but Ray is drunk and gives zero bothers about life, Gagliano (who was a lazy so-and-so), officers (arrogant) and lie detector tests – they all have to take one in the morning but he’s got nothing to hide.
Back at base the next next morning Clint is first up on the detector test. While he’s in there Bonnie tells JB that Clint said two nights before the doomed flight took off Ray Dressler went AWOL, and was almost replaced but turned up in the nick of time. Nicholas and Sylvia arrive to view the body and get the cold shoulder from Ray Dressler, despite Dressler’s belief he recognises Nicholas.
Finished with Clint, Cooper calls JB into his office, accompanied by Lee Goddard. Inside, he tells her in his mind there is an inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the polygraphs – Frank Fletcher killed Gagliano.
Before Jess can Hulk out completely, Cooper is informed that General Havermeyer has arrived and departs. Jess is cool and measured, by which I mean she shouts something about Cooper appointing himself Judge
Judy Jury and Executioner.
Jess is convinced that there was another person on the plane, but she doesn’t know how to prove it yet. On rifling through Cooper’s desk, however, (attagirl) she finds a picture of Gagliano’s body and goes straight to Cooper with it. Gagliano isn’t wearing a parachute. Cooper doesn’t want her any where near the hangar but General Havermeyer tells her to go right ahead and look. Inside, she notices that there are airholes drilled into the unlocked trunk of the Chevy, something that is news to Havermeyer. He tells her to investigate away, but later Cooper tells her that she has until Havermeyer departs the next day. If she hasn’t got proof, the case is closed.
After a hard day’s digging around in the archives trying to find out more information about Pete Gagliano JB meets Clint, Bonnie and Lee for dinner. Ray is also at the restaurant so JB decides on a little friendly interrogation which yields nothing more than some racial epithets, a suggestion that Clint was involved and a lot of slurring. Nice. The situation improves slightly when Ray goes outside, gets stabbed and then comes crashing down on a table back in the restaurant. Sucked in.
In the hospital he comes clean about what happened between Clint and Gagliano. Gagliano caught Clint in an afterhours geisha house and was blackmailing him to stay on the crew of the Dixie Damsel, which made no sense to Jess since everyone said Gagliano was lazy and didn’t want to work. She has a sudden idea and goes down to the base to test it out.
Clint and Bonnie arrive to request permission to leave. Cooper tells Clint he is free to take his duffel bag but Clint has no need of it and goes off into the sunset. Nicholas then arrives looking for Gagliano’s duffel bag for Sylvia, who he says wants the bag as a memory of her father.
Jess points out to Cooper that it’s weird someone who doesn’t want to claim the body wants to claim an old bag, and a quick investigation reveals THE BAG IS NOW DIAMONDS.
And that’s not all.
Cousin Nicholas was actually Gagliano’s partner in smuggle-crime, and when the heat got to be too much in Seoul, he got fake papers to get him to Japan, where he hid in the trunk of the car. What happened after that, noone knows. All we do know is that Lee Goddard has just told Jess he’s taking her to Tucson for the weekend to hear the sales pitch of a life time. So for now…