Flight 404 Chapter 24

Chapter 24

Frank woke up suddenly around three o’clock in the morning in a barricaded bedroom wondering out aloud, “who else would have access to all areas of the airport without causing suspicion or undue attention?  A cop!  That’s who!  A police officer could go into all those places without anyone raising an eyebrow.”

He shook off the mix of Scotch and sleepiness and wondered how he could have been so stupid. 

For the Iowa crash, he’d taken it upon himself to question the grounds crew and maintenance crew but he’d never questioned any of the policemen regularly assigned to the airport.  He’d done the same thing in Indiana.  Effectively, he’d eliminated an entire group of people as suspects just because they wore a blue uniform. 

His mind reeled from the implications.  If headquarters was upset about him questioning the airlines ground and maintenance crews, he could only imagine how much rancor he’d stir up questioning cops as suspects.  Still cops had as much or more access to an airport’s secure areas as airport personnel.

Damn missing notebook!”  In it, were the names of all the people – EMS personnel, doctors, nurses, state and local police officers — present at both the Iowa and Indiana crash sites.

“Was it possible?”  “Could a cop, an officer of the law, have done such a thing?”   He thought about the terror he’d felt earlier that night and realized it was more than possible.  That cop had scared the living hell out of him, proof being the triple dresser blocking his bedroom door.  He needed coffee to think clearly. 

He swung his feet over the side of the bed and momentarily forgot about his arthritic left knee.  The pain felt like a sharp knife was being plunged deep into the side of his knee.  Grabbing the knee, he pulled back hard against pain as he let out a string of curse words.  The cold moist night air had stiffened his left leg into a v-shape.  It took a couple of minutes of massaging the troubled leg before he was able to hobble over to the door and push the dresser out of his path.  Now, he needed coffee and Tylenol.

Out in the hallway, he was cautiously quiet.  The living room was at one end of the hallway and the kitchen was at the other.  He decided to check on the living room first. 

Before going to bed last night, he had strung and old blanket across the living room window.  The room was peacefully dark.  The only light in the room came from the TV he’d left on as a means of alerting anyone trying to break in that there was someone home. 

He crossed the room in the pulsating glow of the TV screen.  An overly hyper little man was busy hawking his rotisserie ovens.  The little man kept droning on about how moist and juicy meats tasted when they were cooked in his exclusive rotisserie ovens.  “Rotisserie ovens,” quipped Frank. “Who the hell wants to buy rotisserie ovens at three in the morning?”  “Nobody — that’s who!”  “Nobody, except a fat cook with a bad case of insomnia!”  He picked up the remote from off the couch and click, the TV screen when black. 

Oh shit!   He’d forgotten to turn on a light before turning off the TV.  With the window covered and the TV off, the room was pitch black. 

He still needed to check the lock on the front door before heading to the kitchen.  He crossed the room again, this time in near total darkness and caught his left foot on something in the floor, causing more pain to his already throbbing knee. “Damn damn, damn,” he blurted out as he limped over to the nearest wall and held on until the pain subsided.  It took a moment before he could think clearly again. 

His mind went over all the things that were supposed to be in the room.  There should be nothing, on the floor in that area, he thought.  He drew in a quick breath, took a couple of steps backwards toward the couch, grabbed the TV remote, and the room glowed in a soft gray light.  The little man was still selling rotisseries.

It was the stack of newspapers from the front hallway.  A puzzled look crossed his face.  He looked from the newspapers to the front door and back again.  He didn’t remember moving the newspapers.  Panic gripped him.  Was there someone else in the house?