By Kim McFarland
Launchpad walked into his home. He was not due to get off work for another few hours, but he'd had another crash. It wasn't a memorable one - he'd even been able to get the plane into the air afterwards! - but Mister McDee had blown a fuse and fired him on the spot. That hadn't fazed Launchpad any more than the crash had. Scrooge regularly fired him, and then rehired him the next day. It was all part of the routine.
He took out the spiral-bound notebook he used as his diary. While turning to the current page, he noticed that the recent entries all looked the same, with only minor variations. It looked like it was written in code, in fact. He had developed a kind of shorthand - one symbol for a crash, followed by the craft's name and one to five stars; another for maintenance and repairs, and others for the other dozen-odd things he usually did. It was his habit to jot down something about each day - but, looking back, there hadn't been much lately that was memorable enough to take the time to describe.
He frowned. He put the pencil in the notebook to mark his place and set it down. He took one of the earlier notebooks out and opened it. It was one from five years back. These entries were much longer. He remembered that he used to spend a lot of time writing down everything that he could remember about the day. A lot of it had been about the kids.
He'd written so much back then because each day had been unique. Even if it was a dull work day, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webbigail and Bubba were always up to something. He missed them. Oh, he still saw them, but they were growing up. They had lives of their own now.
And his job consisted mostly of flying cargo or people from here to there. It was nothing to complain about. He enjoyed flying. It was certainly safer than getting into dogfights and trying to stop the latest Beagle Boy attempt to empty the money bin (why did they keep trying? They'd never get past Gizmoduck!). Things weren't dull now, not really... just predictable. He followed a routine that he had become comfortable with. Even being fired after his crashes was a part of that routine.
Routine. That word stuck in his mind. Maybe that was the problem. Without knowing it, he'd fallen into a rut. A safe, comfortable one, but was that what he wanted?
The intercom on Scrooge's desk buzzed. "Launchpad McQuack is here to see you, Mr. McDuck."
Scrooge did not look up. "Send him in."
Launchpad strolled in. "Hi, Mr. McDee. Just stopped by to drop these off." He placed a set of keys on Scrooge's desk.
Scrooge glanced at the keys. "What's that for?"
"You know, it's the keys to the McDuck hangars and planes. I'm giving 'em back."
"Oh. This is about when I fired you yesterday. Forget it, you're back on payroll." He pushed the keys across his desk toward Launchpad, then went back to his paperwork.
Launchpad did not pick up the keys. "No - I think I'll stay fired this time."
Scrooge looked up, annoyed. "If it's a raise you're looking for, forget it." he warned.
"No, Mr. McDee. I'm serious. I think it's time I moved on."
"Move on? What nonsense are you talking about, Launchpad?" At first he had thought that Launchpad had been trying to bargain with him. Now he was not so sure. He seemed too cheerful.
"Well, all I do now is fly planes-"
"Imagine that. I wonder how that snuck into your job description."
"Sure, but pilots are a dime a dozen."
"Who told you that?"
"You did. Most every time you've fired me." Launchpad continued earnestly before Scrooge could speak. "Anyway, there's nothing wrong with the job. But any old pilot could do it, you see? And Gizmoduck protects your money bin. I'm sorta getting rusty."
"If you're just bored, Launchpad, I'm sure I can find something interesting for you." Scrooge crossed his arms.
The sarcasm was lost on Launchpad. "Nah, that's okay, Mister McDee. But, you see, you don't need me here anymore."
"So, what're you planning to do?"
"Oh, there's a few things I could do. I could hook back up with `The Flying McQuacks'. Or," he said with a thoughtful look, "I could move up the coast, to St. Canard."
"Move up THERE? Whatever for?! That city has so much crime it's practically a death trap."
Launchpad had a faraway look in his eyes. "Maybe there's some derring-do to be done there."
Scrooge rolled his eyes heavenward. "Ach. When will you grow up?"
"Hey, I'll keep in touch with ya. Soon's I get a place I'll give you the number. If ya need me for something, all ya gotta do is give me a ring."
"You are serious about this. Well, all right, Launchpad. I'll treat this as your two-week notice."
"Right-o, Mister McDee. Catch ya later." Launchpad grinned and turned to leave.
Scrooge watched him go. He would be back once he found out nobody else would hire someone who had a habit of crashing everything he flew or drove, no matter how cheap he was willing to work. He'd be back.
Launchpad stuck his hands in his pockets and whistled as he walked home. If he had been unsure beforehand, he had convinced himself while talking to Mister McDee that this was the right move. He had thought before about how neat it would be to move to St. Canard - well, now he would actually do it! A big city like St. Canard had an air of romance and intrigue that fascinated him. It even had a resident mysterious vigilante! He had been clipping articles about him from the St. Canard Times. Who knows, Launchpad thought, maybe, just maybe...
All characters copyright © Disney. Story copyright © Kim McFarland. Permission is given by the author to copy this story for personal use only, provided no changes are made to the story or the credits.
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