(You can read part 8 here)

Dedication of this essay falls to SOFREP’s own brother Ryan B; thank you for your generosity in my time of need.

“Memorize this route” the driver of the temporary car I was in told me. Ol’ Jed was a millionaire first thing this morning and now I was being driven smartly along a circuitous route, one that I was supposed to be memorizing, but one that I had given up on some ten turns ago. If anything, I was just staring out the window at something memorable that happened to me years ago.

But then it happened.

“There’s a white envelope in the glove box. Take it and you are free to go.” A crack of the lid gave way to a long white envelope lying just a-top the vehicle owners manual. “Say…” I thought to myself, “That envelope is the size that airline tickets would fit nicely into.” I grabbed it and beat feet away from the car.

Opening the envelope I felt like Charlie from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tearing open the candy bar hoping for the golden ticket. The usual page of edicts was what first came into view, but it was folded around other docs. Opening the page did indeed finally reveal airline travel tickets: one-way travel to Frankfurt, Germany.

Germany was not at all where I expected to travel to, but I was mildly elated to be progressing to a different phase of this adventure, one that would bring me closer to the end of it all, and back to some normality, if ever that could be found in Delta. Well, after all, ‘normal’ is relative, so normality is what I craved to return to.

“Also, und warum fahren Sie nach Deutschland heute?” (So what brings you to Germany) small-talked the business man in the seat next to me. My instructions had no provision to explain my travel abroad. I needed to tap dance my way through this; come up with an incredibly boring and generic reason why I was traveling to German this day.

“I have no clue” just wasn’t going to sound good, and: “I’m going to meet with a contingent from National Geographic to search for the remains of Adolph Hitler,” would be just too sensational, and draw great interest and attention. Punching a body in the face and running typically worked, but not so much in a tube at 30,000 feet.