Mitchell AFB officers’ club was typical of most clubs in the United States. The main area of activity was the bar and cocktail lounge paneled in dark wood and decorated with framed pictures of fighter planes, plaques, and other memorabilia reflecting the history and mission of the base.
It was about 8:00 p.m. when they arrived. The usual TGIF crowd that gathered around 4:00 had thinned out to a few well-oiled diehards. Their entry did not go unnoticed: two cosmonauts in white jumpsuits, one being an attractive female accompanied by two also comely females in street clothes followed by an AF officer not recognized as part of the currently assigned base personnel.
Monique spotted the phone bank in the entry hall, and she and Natasha headed for phones while the others proceeded into the lounge area. As they entered, an admiring whistle came from the bar, and Misha’s expression turned cold with piercing eyes. Major Smith introduced himself to everyone at the bar and then introduced his guests, announcing loudly, “I would like you all to meet commander Sokolov, Russian cosmonaut, and Dr. Bescond, French cosmonaut, both recently returned from the Mir space station. They were brought down by our shuttle day before yesterday. Maybe some of you caught it on the news.”
There followed the usual handshaking and “glad to meet you” greetings by all. One young captain, however, followed up with, “You Russkies sure know how to do it, getting locked in a tin can with a beautiful girl in space, not all that bad.”
Like a shot, Misha’s fist hit the captain square in the jaw. It was so fast that no one was immediately aware until the officer staggered backward.
Babette, totally surprised, grabbed Misha’s arm and said in French, “I’m sure he meant no offense, Misha.” In her mind, she questioned, Is he reacting to what he thinks is a disparaging comment about the Russian Space program, or is he really defending my honor?
Major Smith quickly calmed everyone, and there were apologies on both sides. Babette and Misha proceeded to the lounge.
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