She looked for things. She looked for hours, days, sometimes weeks. When she found them, She reported to others. The others would take care of them. Sometimes, the others would tell her to destroy what she had found. But, she always found them.
For thirty-seven years, she had looked for things, she and her crews. Her crews came and went, but she was always there, always ready, always waiting for the call to look for things.
She was good at looking. She was the best. She looked for things in all weather conditions, day or night, rain or shine, in hurricanes. She did it safely and efficiently, with blind trust in those who told her what to look for.
She had received awards for finding things and bringing her crews back safely. She was proud of that. She loved her crews and they loved her. They knew they could trust her. They knew she would return them home to loved ones.
She loved the songs of her crews, their scents, their voices and laughs. She loved their serious manners when they were finding something. She loved their exultation when they found what they were looking for. They were a team, she and they.
She had no idea that was her last mission. When she landed with her crew, all had seemed normal. But, as her crew departed, they patted her gently. Some had tears in their eyes. Some couldn’t, wouldn’t look at her, but walked away slowly. They were quiet. Few unnecessary words were spoken.
After the crew left, She was alone. It was cold. It was cold. She wasn’t used to being alone.
A man came to look at Her. He spoke into a radio. He told the person that she would do well in Arizona. That the dry air would do her bones good. That they would inspect her and strip her in the morning.
When the sun rose, men in coveralls approached her. They had clipboards and flashlights, and wore heavy boots. Their hands were rough on her skin and their movements abrupt, not like the men that used to take care of her. Those men had treated her gently, tenderly, with loving care. Their hands were soft and their movements slow, methodical, knowing. When they struck her, they winced, not wanting to bruise her or hurt her unnecessarily. When they removed her bones and extremities, they were careful. She loved them for their care of her. They loved her. She knew they were sad she was going away. She knew. They would always remember her. They had left their blood on her, in her, rapped their knuckles and torn their flesh caring for her. Tender loving care. They would remember her into old age. They would look into the sky to see if that were her. Yes.
They would love her and miss her.
The men in the heavy boots opened her up. They inspected her all over. Her most intimate parts were entered, tapped, marked, logged. They began to strip her. First her insides were scraped clean of equipment. Then they stripped her outside.
That was the worst part. They stripped her of her identification, the symbols that made her unique, that told even those she looked for who she was. She had liked that. The sight of her struck terror into those who tried to hide from her. She always found them, she and her crews. No one could hide from her.
When the men were done, when they had removed the parts they wanted, drained her lifeblood, and scraped her identification away – all but one. One form of identification would follow her forever. Her identification plate, etched with her Place and Date of Birth: Burbank, California, USA, 2 October 1980; Parents: Lockheed Martin; Identification Number: 161126-5707; Type/Model/Series: P-3C Orion – Orion the Hunter; United States Navy.
United States Navy. She would treasure the memories of her service – Antisubmarine Warfare, and Search & Rescue – until she rusted and returned to the earth from which she was dug.
When the men were finished, they attached a tow bar to her and towed her to a special parking area. There were others of her breed there. She recognized many of them. Thank God she wouldn’t be alone.
The air was dry. It was hot. She would last a long, long time in the boneyard. Thank God she wouldn’t be alone. Thank God she would be remembered.