As Peoria’s not so scenic sights rolled pass the limousine’s windows, David’s thoughts weren’t on the scenery outside, or even on the funeral itself. No, his mind was busy trying to make sense of everything that had happened, especially the night of Sam’s death.
He had been the one who had made the half-hour drive out to Sam’s house to tell Margaret about the crash. All the way out to the house he kept thinking about Kate and about Dr. Malcolm.
Funny, he thought, how the intense hatred he’d felt for the man had sated itself over the years. Rationally, he knew that Dr. Malcolm had nothing to do with Kate’s death. It was the very fact that he was alive, and not Kate, had fueled his anger toward the man. And the questions. They kept coming. He’d wake in the middle of the night, sweat dripping from every pore, from having wrestled with those questions.
”Why hadn’t Dr. Malcolm been at the office that day?”
“What had taken him away?”
“Why was Kate opening mail, for him, marked ‘personal?”
“What had the good doctor been working on in that lab that would have made him a target?”
“And finally, where was the good doctor now?
As he remembered it, Dr. Malcolm had been terribly shaken by Kate’s death, because he like everyone else, had assumed that the bomb, which killed her, was meant for him.
He recalled, Dr. Malcolm had tried visiting him at home, shortly after Kate’s death, but he’d been in no mood to see him, because quite frankly, he did blame Dr. Malcolm for Kate’s death. She had no enemies. And she certainly didn’t have any that had bomb making skills.
He’d heard, through the Police investigators on the case, that Dr. Malcolm had decided that it was best if he took his research to another area of the country. David hadn’t seen or heard from Dr. Malcolm since.
A little ‘What if’ was slowly worming its way deep into David’s thoughts. What if he’d been more forgiving towards Dr. Malcolm at the time, would Dr. Malcolm had been able to make planes safer and his good friend and mentor would still be alive? Again, his thoughts went back to the night Sam died.
He’d parked his navy blue Ford Taurus in the shrub-lined driveway, and instantly the motion lights had come on. His pathway to the front door was clear of obstruction, he remembered thinking.
His stomach churned with the anticipation of an unpleasant task. His mouth was as dry as sandpaper. He searched his right upper inside jacket pocket for the clear plastic box of Tic-Tacs he kept here.
He stepped from the car and crossed the inlayed red brick driveway and rang the antique style doorbell. Through the door he could hear the phone ringing. He thought to himself, “Oh God, don’t let that be an over-eager reporter trying to get a quote from the grieving widow.” He began ringing the doorbell with even more urgency. He wanted the news of Sam’s death treated with sympathy and respect and not delivered as just another sound bite for the ten o’clock news.
The Sam Larson he knew was a fifty-five year old white man with all the signs of middle age – a receding hairline and a protruding beer belly. He was well into his third marriage and had three grown children. To look at him, there’d be no way you’d think he had game. However, Margaret, his third wife and final wife, was closer in age to him than to Sam. Marriage, not women, was his weakness.
He could handle women. He just couldn’t handle being married.
All his children were by his first wife, Sandra and were steadfast in their loyalty to her. Sandra had taken over half of Sam’s wealth. Their divorce had necessitated Sam starting over and his purchase of WKXR TV.
His second wife, Tina, by Sam’s own account, was the result of a mid-life crisis. He had done all of the usual things associated with a man turning middle age. And he’d done them all in precisely the right order, he use to joke.
After twenty years of marriage, he’d bought the bright red sports car and started having an affair with a younger woman, Tina. It was no surprise to him or anyone else, watching his melt down, that his second marriage quickly ended in divorce.
It was after his divorce from Tina, that he decided to give himself and his wallet a break. He reasoned that he needed time to adjust to being middle-aged, divorced and vulnerable.
After two years of lying off women both figuratively and literally, his mind and heart were clear and ready for love again. That’s when he met, or rather hired, Margaret, his third wife.
Married eight years now, Margaret had come to WKXR the long way round as she called it. A failed modeling career and a string of unsuccessful romances had left her yearning for a quieter lifestyle.
Margaret was thirty-nine years old, petite with a body that stopped traffic and a sense of style that artfully mixed ‘New York Fifth Avenue’ with ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. She was both socially astute and business wise.
He was sure Margaret had something to do with Sam hiring him. It was Margaret who had helped take care of both him and Kaila in those first few days after Kate’s death, before his mother had arrived. It was Margaret who had helped his mother find suitable renters for her house back in Indiana rather than sell it. “You never know whether you’ll need to move back someday,” she’s said to his mother. He owed this woman a lot. But most of all, he owed her the courtesy of being there when she needed someone.
After about twelve rings Margaret came to the door. She was dressed in a tan cashmere sweater and tan wool slacks. Gold leather mules adorned her feet. He had learned about shoes from Kate. Margaret’s long brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail with a brown floral print silk scarf. Her hazel eyes were red from crying. The TV in the living room was droning out reports about the crash.
“I got board waiting for Sam, she said, and decided to watch some TV for amusement.”
They stood in the doorway sobbing, holding each other up and sharing their mutual pain. Later, he made coffee and permitted Margaret to tell him all about the Sam Larson she knew and loved.