Mr. President 2016 – Chapter 2


Chapter 2

THE HEAVY BLACK Chevrolet Suburban pulled up as close to the yellow crime scene tape as possible.  The whole place, with the flashing emergency and police lights, was a scene straight out of a television police crime drama. Continue reading

Flight 404 Chapter 85

Chapter 85

The house slumbered a gray restless sleep of darkened hallways, leaky faucets, banging pipes, and appliances turning on and off.  Every sound Frank knew by hard.  It was the sound of the kitchen door closing that quicken his pulse.

Lester Schuster eased down the darkened hallway leading from the kitchen to the living room.  He’d let himself in through the garage where it connected to the kitchen.  Normally, it only took him a couple of minutes to get the door open but tonight he’d been a little more excited than usual and it had taken longer.  But he was in no hurry. 

He hadn’t bothered bringing a flashlight, he’d been in this house so many times he knew every inch of the way even in the dark. 

 As he looked around, he realized that Frank had changed nothing about the sad little house he’d fought so hard to keep.  He attended Frank’s day in court.  And Frank had been as blind to him as always.  It added an extra special thrill to the game knowing that he was going to kill Frank in his own home.

He knew without a shadow of doubt where Frank would be in the house.  The spare bedroom is where he usually slept.  That fool still couldn’t sleep in the master bedroom.  Too many bad memories.  Nothing like the sight of your wife screwing some another man, in your bed, to really mess up your head.    He almost felt a twinge of compassion for the poor bastard, because he too, knew what it felt like living with memories that haunted you.  “Well, after tonight old Frank won’t have to worry about that anymore.  After tonight, he’d sleep for a long, long time.

After a few minutes, in the hallway, he reached his goal.  He poised outside by the spare bedroom door and listened for any activity within.  Not that he expected any.  Frank didn’t have enough balls left to even bring that Black bitch home. She, was a sure bet. After all, she’d liked him enough to follow him around.  That should have been enough of a clue for even a dumb fuck like Frank.  If it were him, he would have jumped her bones during that first trip to New York, that is, if he had a liking for dark meat.

After a few minutes of listening, he was satisfied that there was no one else in the house.  He crept into the room, removed the forty-five he’d tucked into the back of his belt and aimed it at what he thought was Frank’s head and pulled the trigger.

POLICE! Put the gun down!  NOW!  Someone was shining a flashlight in his face.  PUT DOWN THE GUN!  NOW!  Cops were everywhere – screaming orders all at once.  PUT THE GUN DOWN!  There was nowhere to run.  He was surrounded.  Another policeman turned on the lights in the room.   HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!  GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES – ON YOUR KNEES!  He dropped the gun.  It made a hollow muffled sound on the carpet.  Strong arms were pulling him up and cuffing his hands behind his back.  Then one of those sons of bitches reached up and pulled his wig from his head.  Rage engulfed him.  He felt naked.  Betrayed by something he couldn’t control.  He struggled but there were two of them now, holding him firm.  He yelled, “put it back on, put my hair back on, you bastard.”

Detective Bradley Shaffer grabbed him by the jaw and put his face in Lester’s.

“You freak, let me show you what you shot.”  With that, he walked over to the bed and yanked back the blanket revealing a life size dummy.

“Thought you had him, didn’t you.  Well your killing days are over.”

“Frank, Margaret.  Get out here.”

We had hidden in the one room where, Frank said Rebecca would not look for us.  We’d hidden in the master bedroom.  I was glad she hadn’t peaked in, because if she had, she would have caught us engaged in some rather adult like behavior.  The gunshots had ended that.

By the time we exited the master bedroom, the Police had Rebecca surrounded and handcuffed.  She was struggling in vain to free herself.  Frank let go of my arm and walked over to Rebecca. 

“Why?”   Why kill all of those people to get even with us?”

“First of all, I’m not Rebecca, you idiot. My name is Lester.  Lester Schuster.  Get it right. And secondly, you’ve got it all backwards.  I was going to kill those other people anyway, because I knew I could.  You and your friends were the icing on the cake.

“Get him out of here, said Detective Bradley.”

“Sir, where do we put him,  ah-er  her?”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got a special place for that.  It’s called Hell!”


Flight 404 Chapter 84

Chapter 84

Mrs. Sofia Alverez met her grandchildren’s plane as it arrived at Aeropuerto de Mexico Benito Juarez in Mexico City all the while wondering why her daughter had decided, at the last minute, not to accompany the children on the flight home.

She had prepared for this day by washing and pressing the only decent dress she owned that was suitable for Mexico City.  With it, she wore the faded yellow hat and shoes that she saved for Sunday Mass, and she carried a brightly colored hand woven basket filled with food for the journey home, a two hour bus ride into Mexico’s interior.

When she saw the children, she burst into a wide toothless grin and  threw her arms around the bewildered little twosome as they stepped from the arrival gate.  She had questions, so many questions, but they could wait.  For now, she was going to enjoy having her grandchildren home.

After they had boarded the rickety old bus for home, Christina pulled and envelope from her backpack and handed it to her grandmother. 

“MaMe said to give this to you, Tete.”

“What is it mehoe?”

“I don’t know.  MaMe made me swear not to lose it and not to open it.  She said it is very important that you have it.”

Sofia Alverez was puzzled by the large brown envelope that must have weighed at least two – maybe even three pounds.

The package reminded her of a drug envelope.  With so much drugs smuggling going on in Mexico, she was tempted to throw it away.  But who smuggles drugs into Mexico.  No one, that’s who.  The package had to contain another substance.  Her sun browned hands gently caressed the package’s outer surface hoping to gain some insight as to its inner contents.  As she caressed the package, two sets of brown eyes met hers and their hearts, she could tell, were heavy with fear.   Where was Maria?  And what did this package contain?  And why was it so important?

“Christina, what else did your mother say when she gave you the package?”

“Not much, Tete.  She was crying and she kept yelling, “Get on the plane, Get on the plane, now!”

“Where did your mother go?”

“She went with the man.  The same man that came to the apartment and drove us to the airport in his truck.”

Juan, Maria’s son, who had been so quiet and still, leaned forward and patted his grandmother’s knee to get her attention. When she leaned her face close to his, he whispered, “Tete, he had a pistol.”

Her wrinkled eyes were immediately filled with concern.  “Did you know this man, Christina?”

“No, Tete.”

Sofia comforted her grandchildren as the old bus jerked its way up the winding road to the little village of Merida that would be their new home.  Neither child had ever lived in Mexico. 

This was not like Maria to abandon the children.  Something was wrong but Sofia did not want to worry the children anymore than she already had.  She had to pretend, at least for now that everything was alright.  In the morning, she would walk over to the little clinic and ask the doctor there to make the phone call to Maria in New York.

Slowly, she pealed open the brown envelope and stacks of green American dollars were inside.



Two weeks later, Dr. Henry Sorisosen, MD, PhD of Pathology called Mr. Lin and reported that the body found on runway 22E was not that of a forty year old woman of German descent, but rather that of a thirty something female of Hispanic descent, who had given birth to at least two children.  And that she had not died of a fall from a plane nor had she been run over by a plane.  She had been strangled.

Mr. Lin faxed over Maria Alvarez’s medical records.  He decided to wait until he had confirmation that the body was that of Maria before he phoned the tiny clinic in Merida, Mexico. 

But first, he needed to call Agents Sanchez and Roberts an inform them of Dr. Sorisosen’s findings.



Flight 404 Chapter 83

Chapter 83

“JFK Control Tower to Trans Air Flight 200.  We have a situation on the ground.  Please respond.”

“What kind of situation JFK?”

“After your take-off, a body was found on Runway 22E.

Captain Zukerman and his First Officer exchange puzzled glances.  “Say again JFK.  I don’t think we heard that correctly.  It sounded as if you said, “a body was found on runway 22E.”

“Affirmative, Flight 200.  A body was found on runway 22E after your take-off.  We need to know if you’re experiencing any difficulties.”

“JFK are you saying that we ran over someone?”

“Negative Trans Air.  We believe you might have had a possible stowaway.”

“Stand-by JFK.”

“Dennis, call Alexandria and have her do a passenger check.”

“JFK this is Captain Zukerman.  We’re having one of the Flight Attendants check the passenger manifest to see if anyone is missing.  It’ll take a few minutes.  We’ll get back to you, JFK.”   

“Captain Zukerman, my name is Agent Sanchez.  I’m with the NTSB and I’m heading up the investigation of the body found.  As part of that investigation, I’d like to be certain that the young woman’s body, did not impact the condition of the aircraft.  Are you experiencing any difficulties handling the plane? 

“WOW, the NTSB is already on the case?”

“Yes sir, Captain Zukerman.  It’s not every day a body falls off a plane.”

  “No.  I guess you’re right.  My copilot and I were in the middle of our in-flight checklist when you radioed in.  We’ll finish that while we wait on Alexandria.”

“Dennis, you got that checklist.  Let’s go over it again.” 

Minutes weighed like hours as Agent Sanchez waited and watched the minute hands of each of the seven clocks which hung strategically over the controller’s consoles inch their way around each clock.  There was a clock for New York, Mexico, London, Rome, Sidney, Cairo, and Belize.

“Agent Sanchez.  All paying customers are accounted for and the plane checks out just fine.”

Agent Sanchez relinquished the radio back to the controller.

 “Roger that Trans Air Flight 200.  Continue your heading on zero zero nine east at twenty-six thousand feet. 

“Trans Air we will now hand over control to Heathrow. It’s been nice serving you Trans Air Flight 200.” 

“Roger, that JFK. Good luck with your situation.”

Captain Zukerman set his radio frequency to that of Heathrow’s, and leveled off at twenty-six feet, and engaged the autopilot for what he thought was going to be a smooth ride into Heathrow.

“That was weird.  A body on the runway.  Who the hell do you think we ran over?” Dennis asked.

“Probably one of the baggage handlers.  Those guys always think we can see them in those dinky little trucks they drive.”

While they were talking, the two hundred mile marker sounded.  Captain Zukerman buzzed Alexandria and asked if she would bring him a cup of coffee, cream – no sugar.  Dennis ordered a diet Coke.

“Trans Air Flight 200 this is Heathrow.  Welcome to International Waters.  My name is Daniel and I’ll be your Flight Controller for the remainder of your flight.” 

“Trans Air Flight 200 acknowledging transmission.”

“Trans Air maintain headings.  You are on course for London’s Heathrow airport.”

“Roger that.”

The two men resumed their conversation at the point where it was interrupted by the Heathrow controller and settled in for the remaining ten hours.

About five hours in, Dennis took control of the plane, or watched the autopilot, while Captain Zukerman did his customary meet and greet to reassure the passengers that all was well.

His first stop was the First Class Section where he made sure he informed the passengers that they were about three quarters of the way to London and at the deepest point over the Atlantic Ocean.

As Captain Zukerman was talking with a bubbly sixty-year old woman from Iowa on her dream vacation to London, the Boeing 747 encountered a storm.  Dennis flashed the Fasten Seat Signs and radioed Heathrow for instructions. 

“Heathrow, this is Trans Air 200.”

“Acknowledged Trans Air.”

“Heathrow, we are experiencing some turbulence.  Permission to climb to thirty thousand.” 

“Acknowledge.  Permission to climb to thirty thousand.”

Captain Zukerman entered the cabin and slide into the Captain’s chair and took control of the plane.  “This reminds me of my days flying for FedEx.  Come hell or high water the customer always had to get their package.”

Dennis surveyed the heavy dark gray storms clouds looming in front of the cockpit window.  “It just scares me shitless.  I can’t imagine what’s in those damn fluffy things that make so much noise and lightening when they bump into each other.”  Captain Zukerman laughed in spite of the senselessness of the statement and reached for the radio.

“Heathrow, this is Trans Air Flight 200 requesting permission to climb to altitude thirty-two thousand.”

“What is your problem Trans Air?”

‘We are still experiencing turbulence at thirty thousand.”

“Trans Air what is your fuel reading.”

“We got enough, Heathrow.”

“Permission granted.”

Captain Zukerman eased the Boeing up through the gray clouds and driving rain, up to where the sun was shining brilliantly.  Dennis let out and audible sigh of relief.

Captain Zukerman was so impressed by the beauty of the sky above the storm that he decided to actually fly the plane instead of putting her back on autopilot.

Alexandria rang from the stewardess cabin and asked if it were ok to serve the passengers alcoholic in hope of calming some frayed nerves.  “Go ahead.  I’ll put her back on auto and come back there and help convince them that we’re not crashing today.

When Captain Zukerman engaged the autopilot, the plane bucketed as if one of those gray clouds they’d escaped a few minutes ago had come up from below and smacked into the belly of the plane. 

Forty-five seconds later Trans Air Flight 200 crashed into the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean.


Flight 404 Chapter 82

Chapter 82

We were walking down the main concourse of the airport when security found us.  A body had been found on Runway 22E. 

“Rebecca?”  The name fell out of David’s mouth.  He seemed almost hopeful as he asked.

“They don’t know who it is, answered one of the security guards.  The body was too badly damaged for a positive ID. But, we’re assuming it is the woman, the two of you were chasing.  Mr. Lin wants you back in his office!”

“It has to be Rebecca, I said.  Who else could it be?”

We wasted no time in getting back to Mr. Lin’s office

“If it is her, David and I, are the only people here who have met Rebecca more than once, Frank told Mr. Lin.  I think we would have a better chance of identifying her.  If it is her?”

“You’re quite right,” Mr. Lin said.

“I think I’ll check in with the control tower, and make sure everything is OK with Flight 200,” said Agent Sanchez.

“Margaret, why don’t you wait here until we come back?  If that’s alright with Mr. Lin, Frank said.  I looked at Mr. Lin, who was looking rather sullen and I figured the man was going to have a lot of phone calls to make in the next few hours, and I would only be in his way. 

“I’d rather go with Agent Sanchez to the control tower, if that’s permitted.”


Flight 404 Chapter 81

Chapter 81

As Agent Sanchez, Frank and I argued with Trans Air’s representative, Captain Zukerman was listening to his First Officer call off the runway checklist and had been unaware of the people who had danced between life and death beneath the wheels of his plane. 

“Tower, this is Trans Air Flight 200, requesting departure on runway 22E.”

“Roger that Trans Air.  Your flight heading is zero zero nine, your vector corridors are clear, wind speed two knots coming in from the east. You are clear for take-off Trans Air Flight 200.”

Captain Zukerman put his foot to the pedal as his First Officer called off their ground speed – 40 – 60 – 80 – 100 – set flaps at 2 – Roger  – flaps set at 2 – 120 – 140.  “We’re up!”  The jet lifted its nose soared into the air as if it were any other creature born to fly.

We made it back to the concourse area just in time to witness Trans Air Flight 200’s lift off for Israel. 


“All we can do now, Margaret, is wait.  And pray.”


Flight 404 Chapter 80

Chapter 80

“I can’t call back a plane based solely on your suspicions!”

“Agent Sanchez, as an NTSB Agent, you know all too well that that type of cancellation can only come from the FAA.”  Dirkson Lin, spokesman for Trans Air, practically spit his denial, to call back Trans Air Flight 200, in our faces. 

“Do you have any idea how much it costs to return a plane to the gate, disembark a hundred or more people, search the plane, refuel the plane, and reload all of the passengers?  Do you have any idea of the cost?”

“If, you, Agent Sanchez, or even Agent Roberts, had called our Security Office and had made them aware of your suspicions before Trans Air left the gate, then perhaps.”

“Well can you at least confirm Elise Rivera’s employment with your airline,” asked Agent Sanchez.

“My problem with that gentlemen, is that you can’t confirm for sure whether Elise Rivera is this Rebecca Schuster you’re looking for.

“Well, can you tell us the exact nature of the work Miss Rivera does?” asked Frank.

“Again, gentlemen, you can’t even confirm whether or not she did anything at all to that plane.”

“We have reason to think she did!”  Frank’s boss was beginning to get hostile as the minutes went by and Flight 200 got closer and closer to departure.

“What I can tell you, is that we absolutely do not allow our cleaning staff anywhere near the inner workings of our planes.”  He said while pointing his ballpoint pen at us to emphasis his point.  “And it’s never been proven that Rebecca Schuster or Lester Schuster or whatever name this person is using, had anything to do with the downing of those other planes.  I only point this out because, if I’m not mistaken, your name, Agent Roberts, is on two of those crash reports as certifying that Flight 404 crashed due to weather conditions and Nations Air, both pilot error and weather related conditions.”

“Those reports were done before we realized Miss Schuster’s involvement.  And as we said before, Miss Schuster was a member of the New York Police, and would have had easy access to the airport through Security.  We suspect she might have used her knowledge of security practices to gain access here, also.”  Agent Sanchez was doing his best to convince Mr. Lin, but I could tell he was getting no where.

  “Are you insinuating that our security is lack?  As I’ve said before Agent Sanchez, Miss Rivera was personally vouched for by an employee who’s been with us for at least five years.  Without a warrant, I can’t allow you access to her personnel file.”

“Can you at least tell us the name and address of the employee who vouched for Miss Rivera?  Perhaps we can talk with him or her,” I asked.

At that suggestion Mr. Lin stood up came around the desk and opened the door to his office.  It was clear he wanted us to leave.

Flight 404 Chapter 79

Chapter 79

Frank and I had followed Elise Rivera all morning.  We were watching her, when we spotted David in the airport terminal.  We watched as he went into the gift shop, bought a magazine, and came out.  We watched as he found a seat some rows from Saul and his family. 

We were watching as Saul, his wife Rose, his daughter, and Sylvia all boarded Trans Air Flight 200 to Israel, while the rest of the family waived farewell.  David’s attention was riveted on the little family.

Ours was on Elise Rivera as she went about her job of emptying trash cans.  Frank’s body stance the whole time was tense as if he were waiting to spring into action.  When the gate attendant closed and locked the boarding gate, he literally let out a sigh of relief.  “She didn’t try anything,” I said. Too many people around, perhaps.”

Unfortunately, we’d both taken our eyes off David.  That’s why we weren’t prepared for what happened next.

The boarding door was closed, the camera crews were packing up to leave, and Saul’s family was standing by the gate windows waiting for the plane to pull away from the boarding dock.  Elise started loading her little cleaning cart, and suddenly David was on his feet screaming, REBECCA!  REBECCA SCHUSTER!

“I guess he identified her from watching those tapes over and over.”  “For whatever reason, he’d seen through her new disguise as Elise Rivera.

Next thing we knew, David was charging across the room brandishing a thirty-eight and demanding that Rebecca stop and put her hands in the air. 

Everyone else around him had turned to stone transformed by the presence of a gun. Everyone except Elise Rivera.  No. Elise ran for a door marked, ‘Employees Only.’  David went through after her.  And Frank went after David, but not before telling me to get that plane stopped.

I was literally banging my fists on the gate attendant’s desk.  “Call Security!” Get someone down here, now.”  Little did I know, Security was already on the way. 

I turned around and was facing Frank’s boss.  “What are you doing here?, I asked.”

“I saw the two of you leave the office together.  I figured you were up to something and I didn’t want to be the last to know.  So, I followed you.  Now which way?”

“Through the door marked, ‘Employees Only.’

Trans Air Flight 200 started rolling away from the gate unaware of the circumstances unfolding on the tarmac.  Rebecca was running after the plane as if she were going to catch it.  My heart stopped as I saw David aim the gun.

Part of me wanted him to shoot, for Sam’s sake, but a part of me knew that if he did, he would most likely be convicted of murder.  I held my breath and prayed.

Frank lunged forward and caught David off-guard knocking him to the ground.  The gun fired and Rebecca Schuster disappeared between the wheels of Trans Air Flight 200.


Flight 404 Chapter 78

Chapter 78

That fucking Saul Abramovitz was so scared, he looked as though he was about to piss in his pants.  Man, he wanted to laugh.  It was all he could do to contain himself.  

“Saul, Saul, he thought, if you only you knew what awaited you, you’d have real reason to be scared.”  I’m gonna get you this time. 

I almost started to do you right here in front of everybody.  I was so close to you, I could have reached out and touched you.  I even heard what that ‘know it all’ wife of yours said, “Saul, will you just relax.  The FBI told us there’s nothing to worry about.  They said Rebecca is gone.  She’s disappeared from this area.  She’s probably gotten as far away from New York as she possibly can.  Come on honey relax, please.” 

I’m going kill her ass too — right along with yours.  Then I’m going home, kick off my shoes, get myself a cold beer, and watch as they hunt for your dead asses in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

But Saul, I have to give you this.  I love the way you beg!  I heard that too!  “Rose, I just don’t feel right about this, please let’s go home!”    Beg her again for me p l e a s e – Saul – p l e a s e !  Beg! Yes, beg for your pathetic little nothing of a life.  There won’t be any pretty little tug boats to pull your ass out of the water this time, old pal.

You’re going to know what Rebecca felt like when her father was raping her and she told you and you threatened to tell everyone if she didn’t do ‘sex things’ with you and your little friends.  Everyone thought you bastards were being kind to the little German girl whose parents were stupid enough to settle in the midst of a bunch of Jews.  But you bastards were anything but kind.  You never listened as she begged you to leave her alone.  I’d bet anything that before the day is over, you’ll beg you’re your life again.”

The gate attendant interrupted his thoughts.  She was standing in front of him, black high heel company shoes shined and her uniform freshly cleaned for the reporters, telling him that ‘she’ was lingering too long in the area.  He counted how many times her red rouged lips formed a perfect circle as she talked.  She told him, that ‘she’ needed to finish her work in the area and move on. 

“Damn shame about Maria, he thought, because this puta would have perfect!”


Flight 404 Chapter 77

Chapter 77

No way that creep was getting away with killing Kate.  David parked his navy blue Ford Taurus in the parking lot of JFK airport.  He was dressed in a gray sweatshirt, faded jeans, and a lightweight navy windbreaker.  None of which was his usual style.  He’d made a deliberate effort not to be noticed and this was as low profile as he got.  A New York Mets cap completed his disguise.  His thirty-eight was tucked neatly into a shoulder holster concealed beneath the windbreaker.    

Carefully and stealthfully, he made his way to the International terminal.  For a Sunday evening it was unusually crowded.  About mid-way his journey, he had the uncanny feeling that he was being followed, but did his best to ignore the feeling.    But with each step, the feeling nagged at him a little more.  He told himself, that he was being paranoid and that Lester Schuster was after Saul and Frank not him.

But just in case, he thought it wise to do a little surveillance.  The gift shop was up ahead.  He’d use it as a way of determining whether or not someone was following him.  He quickly ducked into the shop and went directly to a magazine rack.   

He picked up a copy of the New Yorker and pretended he was reading, all the time keeping his eye on the front door.   It was an old spy trick he’d picked up from watching movie noir films on TV. 

As each person walked passed, he surveyed their faces for familiarity.  After a few minutes, he reassured, himself that no one was following him.  He bought the magazine and left.

He knew he’d reached the correct terminal when he saw all the television cameras.  Saul and, his wife Rose, were in the middle of an interview.  There must have been at least a half dozen or so reporters all jostling for a sound bite. 

He forgot about the reporters and even Saul and surveyed the crowd for Rebecca Schuster or any of her alters. 

He took a seat out of Saul and Sylvia’s view and continued surveying the room for either Rebecca, Mary Ellen, or Lester.

It occurred to him that she might have already done whatever damage she was going to do and that he might not get an opportunity to stop her. 

As he was waiting, one of the gate attendants went over and said something to a cleaning lady who was emptying trash not too far from the Abramovitzs, while the other one started ushering Saul, Rose, their daughter, and Sylvia down the boarding ramp.

He watched some of the interaction between the gate attendant and the cleaning lady but reserved most of his attention for Saul. 

Recognition.  It started slowly like a Kodak Insta picture coming into focus.  The hair was long, wavy and dark brown and she’d lost some weight, but it was definitely her.