As I stood there watching Frank simultaneously get reacquainted with and interrogate his friend, Rebecca Schuster, I couldn’t help but notice that this mousey little girl was not a killer. I had more of a killer instinct than she did. Growing up as a black girl in a Chicago ghetto and spending years making a living as a model, I had to either developed a killer instinct, or got trampled under by those who had. Looking at Rebecca, I had serious doubts that she had any information that would help us.
Still the clues had led us right to her door. If it wasn’t her, then it was probably someone she knew. She looked the type that would let a man persuade her to do just about anything.
And then, there were the oddities. For instance, she was wearing a drab gray jumper over and equally unimaginative white turtleneck, everyday plain hose, and cheap flat black Mary Jane shoes. Yet on her nails was the latest – and by no means inexpensive – Chanel Le Vernis nail color in Mimosa. I had contemplated buying that exact same shade but considered it too daring for someone in mourning, because as advertised, the bright yellow color was never intended for wallflowers. Either she wasn’t who she appeared to be or she was having one hell of a personality conflict. I decided to withhold judgment until I knew more about her.
Jesus, I thought we were here to find Sam’s killer and possibly Kate’s, and not to have some odd high school reunion or whatever the hell this was. I knew immediately after meeting Rebecca Schuster that this was a god damn waste of time. This little girl wasn’t responsible for bringing down Sam’s plane. God, she could barely look at us let alone plot something as intricate and demonic as sabotaging a plane and killing everyone on board.
However, the more I stare at her, the more familiar she looks. But I know I’ve never met her. Can’t say I’d really remember her, though. She’s the kind of woman you instantly forget. You can tell she has the personality of a pet rock. And the more I listen to her timid voice, the more I think we should this lead. It’s obviously led us down the wrong path.
I could be back at WKXR right now instead of here wasting time. I didn’t want Mildred, or anyone else for that matter, getting too comfortable in the General Manager’s chair. I was sure she was in my office, seated at my desk, using my office the very same way I used it before it was mine.
Checking my watch, I still had a couple of hours left before the morning crew left and the evening crew took over. I can still find out what’s happening back in Peoria and have a say about what goes out over the air. I checked my watch again.
Watching how Rebecca avoided eye contact with David and Margaret, I decided it might be best if I conducted this interview without them. I was pretty sure both of them had already decided that Rebecca was not the saboteur we came here to find. David was looking at his watch and his attention was elsewhere — I suspected back in Peoria. And Margaret was, well – Margaret. Cool, faraway, and aloof. I didn’t know what the hell Margaret was feeling, but I could tell she made Rebecca far more nervous than either David or I did. I thought maybe, Rebecca might relax a bit more if they were gone.
I caught David’s attention and made a slight motion with my head towards the door. Thank God, he took the hint.
As Margaret passed the chair where Rebecca was sitting, she glanced down at Rebecca’s hands and said, “Nice nail polish. Chanel isn’t it?” For a split second, I saw a glimpse of the Rebecca I came here to question. The Rebecca that had frightened the old neighborhood more than two planes falling out of the sky. The Rebecca that loved to go around pretending to be some guy named, Lester. The Rebecca that loved to kill.
I pulled the photograph of all of us in our younger days from the breast pocket of my jacket and shoved it across the desk at Rebecca. I decided to take the direct approach. File clerk or no, Rebecca worked around cops. She would have easy access to everything she needed to get past airport security.
“Do you remember this?” She looked at the picture and back at me.
“Rebecca, someone is killing our old friends. Do you know anything about that?”
“Is that why you’re here?”
“Rebecca we both know you had some problems with these guys. I need to know if you’re still holding a grudge for what happened.”
“A grudge! You think I’m still holding a grudge against you, Sam, and Curtis after all these years. Let me tell you, I never think about you or any of the guys in that picture. I have more current and pressing problems to think about than something that happened back when I was twelve. Now get the hell the out of here.”
“Not yet! Rebecca they sent you away – after the incident. You must have felt angry about that.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m talking about you, and how you changed after the plane crash. About how you became someone else — someone who enjoyed killing.
“Enjoyed killing? Are you calling me a killer?”
“Rebecca, you tried killing Saul’s dog. I was there. I saw you and so did Sam, Curtis, and Saul. And now, two of the boys in that picture are dead.” I hammered my point home by pounding my fist into the desk.
“And you think it’s me!,” she said jumping to her feet.
“And I thought you were a friend. You’re just like all the rest – accusing me of … of things I didn’t do. You’re a liar,” she screamed.
I saw the flash of murderous rage in her eyes as her hand reached for an iron paperweight sitting atop some papers on her desk. I remembered it mimicked the New York skyline. For a moment, I thought she was going to hit me with the thing. Clearly, I had pushed too far. I decided it was best if I finished this interview at another time.