Writer Author Carmen Rockett
- Fiction No
Gasping for breath, Jake collapsed into his old ripped naugahyde chair. Oh, Lord! The image in the mirror this morning had not been his! His pulse pounded through miles of venous highways, sapping his strength. Wiping perspiration from his forehead, he slumped further in his chair.
Jake Barton's peers, as well as his elders, respected and viewed him as a rational man. Mid-twentyish and unmarried, Jake stood tall and muscular from years of physical labor and possessed a pleasant face and winning demeanor. Being a practical man, he despised waste, thus lived below his means, considering the future and working toward a set of goals, yet content with what today offered.
"I must think!" he breathed. Jake had witnessed a scene his emotions could not contemplate! He mentally relived the morning's bizarre experience, emotions rocking him like the pendulum in a grandfather clock, between pure joy at the unaccountable beauty of the image in the mirror and intense fear at the message.
There must be some mistake. I'm a construction worker with no credentials and no connections! He licked his lips with a tongue dehydrated by fear.
But that beautiful, comforting, wonderful image; the thought of it evaporated the fears. How can I doubt?
The extreme disparity of emotions wreaked havoc in his flesh. His head began to throb. Pain coursed through his tensed shoulders. With intense effort Jake focused on the vivid face reflected in his memory. He must recall the urgent words. "Book a flight…D.C…. the first taxi…no, the first flight…" Jake struggled with the words.
Rousing from his stupor Jake noticed the drops of cold rain beginning to splatter on what remained of the sidewalk outside the sliding glass door. Hours must have passed. He was hungry, yet had no desire to eat. "A glass of cold milk will help me relax and get rid of this splitting headache." Covering the short distance to the micro-kitchen in four lengthy strides, he grabbed the half-empty carton from the fridge and poured a tall sparkling glass to the brim. He downed the milk in several greedy gulps, and meticulously washed the glass. His friends thought this love of order and fetish for cleanliness was quirky, but he always had clean dishes and knew where to find a pencil.
"OK", he thought, half resting his weight on the counter. "What was the message? Book a flight…book the first flight to D.C…. yes…on Friday morning." Jake watched in sober thought as the sprinkles turned to a deluge. "Take a taxi to the Washington Club Hotel, and deliver a message that I will give you…to Senator Marlin Rey. Do not return on American!" The last statement commanded his attention. "Do not return on American," he repeated aloud.
"Well, that's it! I'm going to D.C." Jake declared to the empty room. Booting up his second-hand laptop, he logged onto Priceline.com and bought round-trip tickets. He would be departing and returning the same day on Delta. Having worked in the construction business for nearly six years, he'd lived modestly and socked away what he could for the future. Consequently, his savings account boasted a healthy balance, and he wasn't concerned for the cost of the trip.
Jake awoke early Friday morning feeling apprehensive. This is the day, he realized, the cold fear flooding his senses. Who am I to deliver a message to Senator Rey? This is ludicrous! Yet, he remembered the reassuring confidence written all over the visage in the mirror. I will do it!
He arrived at the airport an hour ahead and cleared Security. He fidgeted while he waited, commanding his brain to dwell on the face reflected in his mirror several days earlier. His gut said this was right, and he wouldn't back down.
The flight was uneventful, and Jake took advantage of the four hours of travel to study for classes. For nearly two years he had added college to his schedule with a goal of obtaining a degree in Information Security, an emerging field. After a little over three hours in the air, his mind began to wander. "When would he receive the message he was to deliver?" This enigma occupied him until the giant jet landed at Dulles. He had no bag to claim, so hurried to the curb in search of a taxi. The sooner this strange business was behind him, the better!
The taxi dropped him at the Washington Club Hotel, an upscale lodging somewhere near the capitol building. Jake was dismayed by the lavish décor. He had no taste for frivolities, and with a determined gait, made straight for the guest check-in area, where he addressed the attentive Asian clerk. "Please inform Senator Rey that Jake Barton is here to see him."
Cocking an eyebrow in curiosity, the clerk bowed slightly and dialed the appropriate room. After a short exchange, the clerk replaced the receiver and spoke to Jake. "Senator Rey will be down in fifteen minutes. Please wait in the restaurant."
Jake took a pit stop at the men's room before going to the restaurant. Approaching the sink in the deserted room, he drew back, startled. There in the mirror was the beautiful face! "Jake", came the deep reassuring voice. "Tell Senator Rey that Rex Smith is God's man. He must be confirmed as Supreme Court Justice!" The image vanished and Jake's pale countenance stared back at him.
Splashing cold water on his face, Jake attempted to regain composure. Having reasonable success, he found a table in an unpopulated corner of the restaurant and repeated the message just received. He declined to order when the youthful waitress made her way to his table, but gladly accepted the ice water she offered. His eyes followed the droplets of water as they formed miniscule rivulets on the side of his glass.
Eventually, a distinguished looking white-haired gentleman with bifocal glasses approached his table and extended a hand in a gesture intended to make Jake feel at ease. This leading Democratic senator was known for friendly charisma, and Jake understood why. Rising out of deference, he motioned for the elder man to take a seat. After a brief introduction and several minutes of relaxed small talk, Jake revealed his purpose to the Senator. Describing the vision in a matter of fact way, he relayed the appointed message.
Senator Rey revealed his alarm for only a brief moment before responding with a courteous, but pointed "Thank you, Mr. Barton, I've heard enough." Rising with a controlled stiffness, the gentleman departed without ceremony.
"So, that was it?" Mused Jake. Wondering over the encounter, then admonishing himself. "What did you expect, Jake? Warmth? Fanfare?"
He exited the hotel to discover a heavy snowfall underway. Occupying the time before his flight by touring several of the historical buildings in the city, he arrived at the airport in plenty of time. The winds howled and the weather looked foreboding. At the Delta check-in counter, a freckled red-haired attendant recited in a matter of fact tone, "All Delta flights have been canceled for the remainder of the day. Your ticket has been transferred to American Airlines. I'm very sorry."
Do not return on American. The words flashed into his memory like a beacon, yet what could he do? The ticket had been transferred, American was flying and he had no luggage. How can I spend the night? It was a dilemma. The warning was clear, but I didn't book with American, I've done my best. "I'll take the ticket." He replied, feeling pressured for a decision.
Jake boarded the jet along with a handful of other passengers. Flight 617 left the ground on schedule. Jake closed his eyes, thankful to be returning home.
A wild jolt awakened him from his short repose, followed by a deafening explosion.
The following report appeared in the Washington Post one week later:
NTSB Disparity on Whether Flight 617 Video Shows Midair Explosion
The National Transportation Safety Board doesn't expect to release a controversial videotape showing the Nov. 11 crash of American Airlines Flight 617 until at least this summer, an agency spokesman said Thursday, while declining to rule out the possibility that the recording corroborates eyewitness accounts that a midair explosion caused the crash.
In an exclusive interview with NewsMind.com, NTSB spokesman Anthony Tucker revealed that he'd personally viewed the critical video evidence, saying, "I have seen it, yes."
Dozens of eyewitnesses say they saw - a midair fireball explosion near the intersection of the plane's wing and fuselage.
On an FAA recording a pilot identified in FAA transcripts only as "Unknown" reports that he sees "an aircraft crashing," an observation apparently made while Flight 617 was still in descent. Six seconds later the same pilot says the plane "just crashed."
"Affirm a fireball," the unidentified pilot adds five seconds later.
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