Earlier in the evening, I’d stopped at my local Jewel grocery store and picked up some eggnog, brandy, and Christmas cookies.
Mrs. Oliver had left the lights on for me and the house was welcomingly warm. I removed my heavy wool coat and winter boots and put the eggnog and some of the other things I’d bought in the fridge. The brandy I left out on the kitchen counter. A note from Mrs. Oliver was taped to the refrigerator door letting me that the nursery had dropped off the small tree I’d ordered for the family room.
I poured myself a drink, put on a small strip steak to broil, and sifted through the day’s mail while I waited for the steak to cook. I couldn’t help wondering where Frank was at this moment and what he was doing.
After we’d compared notes on the encounter with Rebecca Schuster, Frank and I had gone back to Sylvia Abramovitz’s to talk with her son, Saul. David had left us earlier, saying he had an idea he wanted to check out. That left Frank and me to drive back to the airport alone.
I found out that he was divorced and that it had been a contentious divorce. And he, like me was still grieving the loss. By the time we reached the airport, I knew he’d never remarried, had no children and had been with the NTSB for some twenty years. He hated his new boss. His favorite color was blue – no surprise there. He’d taken his flight training in a little nowhere town in the east. All in all, not bad for a forty-five minute car ride.
After dinner, I settled down in the family room to watch Luther Vandross’s Christmas Special and try my hand at decorating the tree the nursery had sent over. I was doing my best to get into the spirit of the season. A special Announcement interrupted the show and my decorating.
“There’s been a plane crash in New York’s Flushing Bay.”
I dropped the box of expensive gold ornaments and ran for the TV remote. The announcer was Craig Taft, one of our senior anchors at WKXR. I turned up the sound.
Nations Air Flight 625 out of LaGuardia in New York and bound for Orlando, Florida has gone down in Flushing Bay. There were reportedly one hundred fifty-three passengers and seven crew members on board.
No, it can’t be. Right away, I reached for the phone. Trembling with fear, I dialed his number. I got a gruff and irritated, hello.
“Frank, it’s Margaret Larson.”
“I take it you’ve heard the news”.
“About the Nations Air crash. Yes I have.”
“Frank, was … was he on it?”
“Yes, he was.”
“Was he killed?”
“No. Unfortunately for him, he survived.”
“What do you mean by that.”
“In his haste to escape, he may have drowned some twenty or so people.”
“Where are you now?”
“I’m already at LaGuardia.”
“I’ll call David and we’ll meet you there. Where are you staying?”
“Hold on a moment.”
While I waited on hold my mind raced over the most irrelevant things. What to tell Mrs. Oliver, my housekeeper? What luggage should I take? What to pack? What does one pack for Christmas in New York while searching for a killer? A killer who has killed three hundred and eighty-nine people, one of them my husband.
Frank came back on the phone. “We’re staying at the LaGuardia Hilton. Ask for me at the desk.”
I called David on my way upstairs.
In minutes I was fully packed. I decided on a few casual things for day and few semi-formal things for dinner. I was nervous and every inch of my body was shaking as I packed. I sat down on the king-sized bed with its hand-stitched wedding ring print quilt in tones of dusty rose. Sam had given it to me as a wedding anniversary gift. My hand caressed its surface and I felt the tears threaten as I remembered our nights in this bed. Not all of them were sexual but every one of them was intimate. I needed to know why someone would deliberately kill so humble of a man. A blaring car horn signaled the arrival of my taxi.