Skepticism showed on Agent Carlos Sanchez’s face as he listened to Frank’s story.
Instinctively, his right hand found the exact spot on his forehead that always ached whenever he was under extreme stress. Without his being fully conscious of it, his right hand began massaging the throbbing vein. The vein had probably turned a dark angry blue and was standing out like a beacon by now. Excedrin Headache number 5889, he thought, Frank’s badge number. But he reminded himself that he had not achieved his current level of professionalism by letting his temper rule his actions.
Slowly, he pushed back the chair, from his temporary desk in LaGuardia’s Control Tower, and came around to where Agent Roberts sat. He leaned in close and studied every square inch of Frank’s face. This man, he said silently to himself, has proven time and again to undermine his authority, whether out of prejudice or vindictiveness he didn’t know. And truthfully, he doubted whether Frank himself knew.
“Frank, why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?”
“Agent Sanchez, with all due respect, I did try and tell you that I suspected someone was sabotaging those planes. But as you might recall, both you and Headquarters told me I was chasing ghosts.”
“Well, that was before I knew you were personally involved in the matter.”
“I had nothing to do with what happened to those planes,” Frank said jumping to his feet.
“That’s awfully difficult to believe at this point Frank. You’re telling me that someone sabotaged three different planes and that a different friend of yours just happened to be on each one of those three planes. And then you just happen to be the investigator assigned to the crashes. It’s damn inconvenient being one of your friends isn’t it, Frank,” yelled Sanchez.
“No, sir it’s not. I didn’t know any of my old boyhood friends were aboard those planes until later.” Frank realized arguing with Sanchez would only make his look guiltier, so he calmed himself as best he could and sat back down.
“As you know, my part of a crash investigation concentrates on the plane and why it went down. I never had a reason to check the passenger manifest on either crash. That’s Agent Schlade’s job. I didn’t think to look at the passengers, as a reason for the crash, until after the incident with the Reporter at Thompson Airfield. The reporter involved in that incident worked for Sam Larson, one of my old friends. He told me about Sam Larson being Sam Larstein.”
“Later that same reporter, David Walker, along with Sam Larson’s wife contacted me about Curtis Brooks. That’s when we started putting two and two together.”
He decided to leave out the part about his personal computer being used to send the offensive email to Sam Larson. That, he knew, would come out later.
Agent Sanchez walked over to the Control Tower’s window and watched as Nations Air Lines Flight 625 was being lifted out of Flushing Bay. The rain/snow mixture had ceased and the moon hung full and heavy on the horizon. If it weren’t for all the emergency equipment and a line of corpses lining runway 1LWest, it would have been a beautiful morning.
Agent Sanchez did not turn and face Frank as he spoke, “Frank your official report on Flight 404 lists the cause of the crash as weather related. Changing that will mean going before a review board.”
Frank read between the lines of Agent Sanchez’s statement. He knew, without a doubt, that his career was at stake. He thought for a moment before answering.
Agent Sanchez took Frank’s silence as an admission of guilt. This time he turned and faced Frank, the vein in the middle of his forehead was a dark purple blue. “And you know, of course, that your warning to Mr. Abramovitz, got a lot of people killed. If he hadn’t panicked and opened those doors, we might have had more survivors.”
“Sir?! I told Saul Abramovitz the same thing I told you. I thought telling him might stop him from boarding any plane.”
“Irregardless of the fact, telling him and not me, made you complicit in this matter. You’re off this case as of now. Agent Eisner will replace you immediately. I expect a full written report, of everything you’ve told me, on my desk by later today.”
Agent Sanchez went back to the window and watched as Flight 625 was lowered onto dry land. Of the one hundred sixty people on-board, one hundred twelve people were counted as survivors, thirty-five were known dead, and thirteen were listed as missing. Only time would tell under which category he would later list Agent Roberts’ name.