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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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"Oh no, not another one," I thought to myself. "What does this guy want?"
"Are you still there?" Jayden Browning said, noticing the long pause and I hadn't said anything.
"Yes, sorry, you caught me by surprise. How do you think we are related?"
"It's a long story. To begin with, I have been able to trace my ancestors back to Karl Jasper. He was a cousin of Margaret Jasper who was the wife of Admiral Sir William Penn, the father of William Penn who founded a colony that later became Pennsylvania. Karl Jasper sailed to America with William Penn on the ship Welcome in 1682. I have been unable to trace any other of Karl's ancestors prior to his coming to America. Well, after I had traced my direct lineage, I decided to fill out the Jasper family tree in America. I was surprised to find that many of the branches ended abruptly, either through early deaths from war or disease. Some never had children to continue the line."
I listened patiently as Jayden went on for several more minutes, not paying all that much attention. I was not particularly interested in genealogy and didn't know where this was leading.
"One of our common ancestors, Moses Allen was what you might call, for want of a better word, a very successful smuggler. Some described him as a pirate. He amassed a great deal of wealth which, upon his death in 1766, was placed in trust for the benefit of his heirs. The proceeds of the trust were to be distributed in equal parts to the heirs when they reached the age of 30. He had three sons and two daughters. Only one of the sons, James Allen, survived to adulthood. One daughter died in childbirth and the other never married. From what I have been able to determine, the trust has never paid out any monies to any of the descendents. I suspect it was the result of a series of crooked lawyers acting as trustees. You and I and a woman, Carla Wilcox, are all that are left of Moses' kin," Jayden said, stopping for breath.
"So what about this trust?" I asked. I was suspicious that there was a scam waiting to be sprung.
"It seems that after a number of unscrupulous trustees, the trust was turned over to a large Philadelphia bank's trust department - less the amount that the previous trustees had drained off. That was about 150 years ago. They have never made any attempt to find the beneficiaries of the trust, so it has just sat there accumulating interest and dividends - less their management fee, of course."
"How much is the trust?"
"The bank would not give me that information when I approached them. I did learn from another bank employee that the trust was being handled by someone who only deals with the larger trusts. In order for us to collect the money, all we have to do is to provide proof to the bank that we are the only living adult relatives of Moses Allen."
"How do you propose that we do that?" I asked.
"As I said, I started the genealogical research only to find out who my ancestors were. It's turned into something more than a hobby and a search for information. I believe that I have accumulated all the necessary documentation that the bank will require. I don't know what your financial situation is, but we can use any financial help we can get from the trust. I was permanently disabled in a construction accident two years ago and have been unable to work since. We live off of a small annuity settlement from the accident and Disabled Social Security."
"I'm sorry to hear that. What does Carla Wilcox have to say about this trust?"
"She is quite willing to support any efforts that can be made to get the money. I spoke with her last week. She's in the process of getting a divorce from, according to her, an abusive husband. Her one request was that we not do anything until her divorce is final. She doesn't want to have to share anything with her ex. That should be by the end of the month. A notarized copy of your birth certificate is all that you need to prove who you are when we approach the bank."
"When do you propose to do this?"
"The first week in October, if that works for you?"
"As long as it isn't Tuesday the sixth. I have to be in court with my foster son."
"My research didn't show you with a wife or children."
I briefly explained about my adoptions and Peter's situation. "By the way, where do you live? I didn't recognize the area code of your phone number."
"We live in Aurora, Colorado just east of Denver."
"Where does Carla live?"
"She lives in Petersburg, Virginia."
We wrapped up our conversation and hung up the phone. I made a mental note to call my stock broker in the morning to see if he could find out anything on the Moses Allen Trust. I also planned to call Jack Hogan. Although Jayden appeared sincere, I wanted to verify his story.
After I had taken the boys to school Monday morning I made the phone calls. I explained the situation to Jack. He said he had a contact in Denver and would have him check out Jayden. It would take a few days, but if Jayden is who he purports to be, it shouldn't take too much time. That is unless I wanted him to check out the genealogy story. I told him that was unnecessary.
Roger Burton, my broker, said he should be able to find out some information on the trust if they did any stock purchases. He probably couldn't find out about its total assets. My main concern was to find out if the trust existed or if the story that Jayden had told about it was part of a larger scam.
After lunch I was doing some more research on the real estate market in the Las Vegas area when the phone rang. It was Hal Brisbane, the attorney that I had hired to represent Peter in court. He said he needed to speak with Peter and me before the hearing next month. He said he would be in San Antonio on Thursday and would like to stop by on his way back to Austin. I agreed and the meeting was arranged for after I picked up Peter from school.
The rest of the week went by quickly until Friday morning. I had only returned from taking the boys to school when I received a phone call from Jack. It seemed everything that Jayden had told me about his personal situation was accurate. He and his wife lived in a modest home not too far from the Air Force base. They had no children. I thanked Jack and told him to send the bill to the usual place.
Friday turned out to be a day filled with answers. Roger Burton called shortly after lunch to give me the information he had learned about the Moses Allen Trust. It did in fact exist. He had learned from some of his fellow brokers that the trust did trade in the stock market from time to time, but were not active traders and the trades that they did make were very conservative. He was not able to find out the size of the trust.
As Joel climbed into the van after school, he asked, "You haven't forgotten about going to Austin tomorrow, have you?"
"No, I haven't. You know we'll have to leave no later than 7:30 to get there in time for you to take the test. It's not going to be easy to get you and your brothers up in time to have breakfast before we leave." I had arranged for their music lessons to be cancelled on Saturday. All of us were going to Austin with Joel. The other boys and I would go sightseeing while Joel was taking the exam. I thought I could find enough interesting things to show them to keep them occupied for the morning.
Saturday morning Joel was up and dressed when I went to his room to wake him. I could tell he was a little nervous. This experience of taking the test in Austin was different from the last time where he was able to take the exam at his school. I tried to calm him down and assured him that he would do well on the test.
"I know I'm ready," he said. "It's just pre-test jitters, I guess."
"Go wake TJ and Peter, I'll wake the Three Musketeers," I said.
Naturally, Hildy had breakfast ready when all the boys assembled at the table. Joel only took small portions of the sausage, eggs and toast. His brothers made up for his meager plate and filled their plates to nearly overflowing. After breakfast, I sent the boys to their rooms to dress and brush their teeth.
As we started out the door to the garage, Hildy gave Joel a hug and said, "I know you'll pass that test with flying colors. You just show them how smart you are."
"Thanks, Hildy," Joel said, returning her hug.
We arrived at the designated building on the University of Texas campus in plenty of time. We walked in the front door and followed the signs to the room where the exam was to be given. Outside the door was a table where Joel had to sign in and show his identification to verify that he was who he said he was. Thankfully, we had remembered to bring along his passport as he hadn't gotten a driver's license yet. I was grateful for the latter.
We left Joel to take his exam after offering our support to him. I decided to take the boys on a walking tour of the campus. One of the first places we visited was the famous Texas Tower1. On August 1, 1966 Charlie Whitman2 occupied the top of the tower and over the next 90 minutes killed 14 people and injured dozens of others. He had also killed his wife and his mother before climbing to the top of the tower for his killing spree. He was shot and killed by two heroic Austin policemen who risked their own lives to face the deranged killer. The tower's observation deck had been closed since the incident. Plans have been made to reopen it next month to guided tours by appointment. I didn't relate all the gory details to the boys; instead I concentrated on the height of the tower (307 feet) and the history surrounding it.
From there we walked to the State Capitol Building and walked through it. By then it was time for us to sit down and have a snack. We found a small café not too far from the Capitol where we enjoyed coffee for me and donuts and hot chocolate for the boys. We had just enough time to walk around the area for a while before we headed back to get Joel.
The exam was still in session when we arrived at the building, but we only had to wait for about ten minutes before the door to the room opened and the test takers walked out looking drained.
"How was it?" I asked Joel.
"Oh man, that was tough. I think I did all right. I hope I did," he said, as we walked toward the door of the building. "I need something to drink. Can I get a Pepsi from that machine?"
"Sure, here's some money."
Joel headed for the vending machine where he had to wait on a girl who had also taken the test. I could hear them comparing notes on how they answered the questions. That was typical of all students who have taken a test. He returned shortly with his can of Pepsi and we took off for the parking lot to get the van.
"When will you get the results of the exam?" I asked.
"The proctor said it would be about two or three weeks. I hope it's closer to two weeks. I don't want to wait very long," Joel answered.
"Why did you have to come to the university to take the test? The one before you took at the school."
"Mr. Pilgrim said that at some schools the teachers were giving the students help during the test. Now everyone has to take the tests at one of the state universities so that nobody has an advantage."
"That's terrible that a teacher would help a student to cheat. What kind of lesson are they teaching the kid? Disgusting!"
The first thing Hildy said as we walked in the back door was, "Did you all have lunch?"
"No, we're hungry," Chris volunteered. His comment was echoed by all the other boys.
Hildy shifted into high gear and she had lunch prepared by the time the boys had returned from washing their hands. There was a skyscraper of sandwiches on the table when we sat down to it. She amazed me at how she came up with a meal in such a short time. The boys didn't really care; all they wanted was the food.
Over the next few days I had several phone conversations with Jayden Browning and Carla Wilcox. After some negotiations, we agreed to meet in Philadelphia on Thursday, October 8th. I was still a little bit suspicious of this whole affair, but if there was a way that proceeds from the trust could help them out, I was willing to cooperate. Having committed myself to this venture, I called my travel agent and booked a flight to Philly. I had the choice of changing planes in Chicago or Atlanta. I chose Atlanta. It was the lesser of two evils. I also had her book a room for me at the Four Seasons Hotel on Logan Square for the night before the meeting. The hotel was about half a mile from where we were to meet at the bank. Depending on the weather I would either walk or take a taxi.
After I had all the arrangements made for the trip, I called both Jayden and Carla and invited them to meet me at the Four Seasons Hotel for dinner on the 7th at 7:30. I thought it would give us a chance to review the documentation that Jayden had accumulated. They agreed to meet me for a conference that evening.
October 6th arrived for Peter's scheduled court appearance. TJ would hear of nothing else except that he was going to go with Peter. I finally gave in after Hildy came down on TJ's side. I knew when I was outgunned. With Hildy in the van with us, I drove the boys to school, stopping long enough to tell TJ's teacher that he would be absent this morning and possibly all day. We then headed for the court house. The hearing was scheduled for nine o'clock.
Hal Brisbane met us outside the courtroom. We were in luck. Our case was first on the docket. Peter was holding tightly onto TJ's hand. His pale skin looked even paler. Hildy was hovering over him, trying to make him feel more comfortable. We took our seats in the courtroom and waited for the judge to make her appearance. All of a sudden, Peter ducked his head under my arm and started to whimper. I looked quickly around and saw a man and woman entering the courtroom and taking seats across the aisle from where we were sitting. I had never met them, but, from his reaction, I assumed they were Peter's parents.
Just then the bailiff announced, "All rise, the 207th District Court is now in session. The Honorable Martha Bono presiding."
We were called to our places in front of the judge's bench. After we had all identified ourselves to the court and our relation to the case, Judge Bono swore all of us in. The CPS lawyer began to present the department's case for the termination of the Johansens' parental rights. This went on for nearly fifteen minutes. It was then the lawyer for the Johansens turn to plead their case. That took only about five minutes. The Johansens were questioned by both the judge and the attorney for CPS.
"Mrs. Callahan, have you been able to locate any blood relative willing to accept Peter?"
"We have found one relative that would be acceptable. However, due to a health situation in his family, he is unable to take on the responsibility for rearing a child," Peggy Callahan said.
"Is this condition permanent?" the judge asked.
"For the foreseeable future, Your Honor."
"Mr. Brisbane, you speak for your client. What are your recommendations?"
"My client is happy in his current placement. He has become very attached to the family and as you can see from the young man holding his hand that the family has become very attached to him. It would be a great injustice to remove him from his current placement," Hal said.
"Peter, do you like living with Mr. Johnson and the friend who's holding your hand?" Judge Bono asked.
Peter stared at the judge before TJ nudged him and whispered in his ear. "Yes," he mumbled.
That brought a smile to the judge. "Mr. Johnson, are you willing to continue fostering Peter Johansen?"
"Yes, Your Honor, I am."
The judge paused for a long moment, reading from a paper in front of her. "It is the order of this court that the parental rights of Robert Eugene Johansen and Alice Rose Johansen be terminated and Children Protective Services are granted Permanent Managing Conservatorship of the minor Peter Randall Johansen. Is there anything further to be adjudicated in relation to this matter?" Seeing that no one had anything further, she continued, "The next placement hearing is set for April 6th, next year. My clerk will provide you with the details. Thank you all for coming."
Hildy had stayed in her seat while we were in front of the judge and she joined us as we started to leave the courtroom. "What happened? It was hard to hear what was going on."
"Peter is staying with us for at least another six months," I said. "How about we walk over to Naegelin's Bakery and get a snack?"
That was greeted with enthusiasm from both Peter and TJ. It sounded pretty good to me as well. Although the bakery was only about a block away from the courthouse, it was difficult navigating the traffic to get there. It was worth it when we got there.
Hildy and I dropped off Peter and TJ at the school shortly before noon. When we got home I noticed that there was a message on my answering machine. I shed my coat and tie before I went into the library to listen to the message. It was from Bea Meyer. The appraiser that she had hired had given her his opinion as to the market value of the house and she asked me to call her for the details. I immediately returned her call. We talked for several minutes after she had given me her asking price for the house. I thanked her for the information and said that I would relay it to the interested parties.
I immediately went to talk with Hildy and to give her the asking price for the Meyer house. She didn't seem surprised when I gave her the number. All she said was that she would have to talk to Manfred. I went back to my bedroom and began packing a few things to take to Philadelphia tomorrow. Everything seemed to check out as far as I could see concerning the trust. We were scheduled to meet with the bank trustee of the trust on Thursday morning. While our family did not need the money, both Jayden's family and Carla would benefit from any amount of money they could get. I figured that I could donate all or part of anything I got to the foundation.
I told the boys about my plans to be gone Wednesday night and would return late Thursday. They weren't too pleased that I was going to be gone. I explained to them that I had arranged for one of our security detail to pick them up from school Wednesday and to transport them both ways on Thursday.
"Is it gonna be Alan?" Lenny asked. "I like him. He's funny."
"Yeah," Larry agreed. "He's not like Harold. Harold's grumpy."
"I'll see if Alan is available," I said. "Remember, Joel, you have your driving lesson tomorrow after school."
"I wouldn't forget that," Joel laughed.
"No, I suppose you wouldn't."
Wednesday morning I made sure that Alan would be available to transport the boys to and from school while I was gone. I also notified the school that he would be the one to pick them up, so that there would be no problems.
I gave the boys an extra hug as I let them out at the school and reminded them to behave themselves for Hildy and Manfred while I was gone. They gave me that look that said 'Give us a break, dad,' and rolled their eyes at me. I laughed and climbed back into the van and took off for home to pick up my suitcase and tie up a few loose ends before leaving for the airport.
I parked the BMW in the long term parking lot since I expected to be gone over 24 hours and headed for the ticket counter to check in. After I received my boarding pass, I went to the VIP lounge to wait for the flight to be called. I only had time to read a single article in one of the business magazines before they announced my flight. First class passengers boarded first. I was seated in 3A which was a window seat. Miraculously, the flight took off on time and we had a strong tail wind, so our flight that was supposed to take three hours and fifteen minutes took just under three hours. That left me with plenty of time to change planes and concourses in Atlanta.
The second leg of the trip was just as smooth. The plane landed at 5:45 PM right on time. Since I only had carryon luggage, I was able to exit the plane quickly and grab a taxi to the hotel. Checking into the hotel was no problem. I had booked one of their Executive Suites. I informed the woman at the desk that I was expecting guests around 7:30 and asked that they be shown up to my suite. I also told her we would want room service shortly after they arrived. She said everything would be taken care of.
After the bellhop had been tipped, I unpacked my luggage. I noticed that the suit I planned to wear tomorrow was wrinkled, so I call the laundry services to see if I could get it pressed by tomorrow morning. They said they would send someone right up for it and promised they would have it ready within an hour.
I had finished unpacking and freshening up before my guests were scheduled to arrive. I poured myself a glass of wine that I had sent up to the room. I hoped Jayden and Carla liked red wine because that is what I had ordered. I had just settled down in one of the comfortable chairs, when the phone rang. It was the front desk informing me that my guests had arrived and were on their way up.
I walked to the door and opened it. Looking out, I saw the elevator door open and three people exit. One, who had to be Jayden, was in a wheelchair being pushed by his wife. The third person was a heavy set woman who had to be Carla. We introduced ourselves to each other and I invited them into the room. I found out his wife's name was Wanda.
"Wow, this is some room you have," Jayden said. "I've never been in one this fancy." His wife agreed.
"I thought we might be in the wrong place when we drove up. This is a lot different than where the three of us are staying," Carla added. "They even parked my car when we drove up."
"You drove up from Petersburg?" I asked.
"Yes," Carla said, "I have friends in Phoenixville which is not too far from here so I'm 'killing two birds with one stone' and going to visit them for a few days while I'm here."
"How nice," I said. "Would you like a glass of wine before we have dinner? It's red."
Wanda and Carla both wanted a glass. Jayden declined. He said it sounded good, but alcohol didn't mix well with his pain medication. I poured the two glasses of wine for the women and when we were settled, I asked, "Jayden, why don't you show us what you intend to show the bank officers tomorrow, so that we will be up to speed."
Jayden had a briefcase on his lap all this time. I assumed that it contained all of his research. He rolled his chair over to the table and opened the case. He spent several minutes arranging material and then called Carla and me to take a look at it. He started with documents relating to Moses Allen and tracing all the descendants as the family tree widened and then narrowed down to the three of us. I was very impressed with what he had done. How he had managed to get notarized copies of church records, birth certificates, marriage documents, and death certificates I didn't know. His documentation seemed, at least to me, to be iron clad.
"You've done an amazing job," I said. "How long has it taken you to get all of this together?"
"I've been interested in my family history from the time I was a young boy. I remember my great-grandmother reminiscing about her family. She must have been in her nineties. There she is on the chart," Jayden said, pointing to the family tree he had prepared. "I actually started my research shortly after I graduated from high school. It started as a hobby and then it became an obsession. Anyway, that's what Wanda says. After I got hurt, it gave me something to do while I was in rehab."
"All of these certified copies must have cost a lot to have prepared," I said.
"They were all collected over time. Most cost a few dollars, others didn't cost anything. I was able to trade parts of the research that I had done for the copies. You'd be surprised at the number of people researching their family tree."
"I guess. I've never been all that interested in researching my family," I said. "Well, I think it's time to order our meal." I picked up the phone and asked that a waiter be sent to my room to take our orders. Less than five minutes later the waiter arrived. After looking over the menu, I placed my order. "Please, order anything you like. It's on me."
While we were waiting for our meals to be delivered, Wanda, Carla and I enjoyed another glass of wine. Jayden had a cup of coffee. The meal, when it arrived, was excellent. I had passed on the dessert, while the others had ordered strawberry cheesecake. It looked so good I almost regretted not ordering it myself.
We talked until nearly 9:30. As they readied themselves to leave, I called the front desk to have Carla's car brought to the front entrance. I walked them to the elevators. Before the elevator car arrived, I slipped Carla a five dollar bill and told her to give it to the valet bringing her car around. She whispered her thanks and the three of them got into the elevator. "I'll meet you at the bank at ten," I said, just before the elevator doors closed.
When I got back to the room, I called home to see how things were. I talked to Hildy and then to each of the boys in turn, telling them how much I missed them. I hadn't really realized just how much I did miss them until I talked to them. By the time I said goodbye to the last one, I was all choked up.
Although my internal clock said it was only nine o'clock due to the time zone difference, I decided to go to bed. Surprisingly, I didn't have any trouble going to sleep. I woke a little before six and decided to take a swim in the hotel pool before breakfast. I hadn't brought my swimsuit with me but I knew that the concierge would be able to obtain one. I dialed the number for the concierge and was told he would have one sent up in my size in ten minutes. A good concierge is worth his weight in gold to a hotel.
I swam for around forty-five minutes and then sat in the hot-tub for another fifteen minutes. Back in the room, I ordered breakfast and went to take a quick shower. I had only gotten out of the shower and was drying off when my breakfast arrived. I slipped on the hotel provided robe and let the young bellboy in to set up the table. I signed the chit and tipped him.
"Is there anything else I can do for you?" he said. "Anything at all?"
"Thank you, but no," I said, fully realizing what he meant by his comment. I guess I was flattered.
As I was getting dressed, I looked out the windows and saw that there was a light rain falling. Instead of walking to the bank as I had anticipated, I needed to arrange transportation.
I stepped out of the taxi, paid the driver and walked into the bank. I was a few minutes early. Looking around the large lobby trying to get my bearings, I saw Jayden, Wanda and Carla seated to the left side of the lobby. I walked over to them and exchanged greetings. Jayden told me that Mr. Bollinger would be with us shortly. I made the assumption the Mr. Bollinger was the trust manager.
Only a couple of minutes later, a young lady approached and asked us to follow her. She led us down a corridor to an office. She knocked once and opened the door for us and stepped aside. Mr. Bollinger sat at a large desk devoid of any papers. Only his name plate and a phone occupied the top of his desk. He was a distinguished looking man, immaculately dressed in a pin-striped suit. His graying hair was parted on the left side with the sides and top combed straight back. It looked as if it had been done by a professional. He arose from his high-backed chair and greeted us warmly. He asked us if we would like coffee or some other beverage. We all declined.
Mr. Bollinger directed us to a conference table to one side of his large office. When we were seated he asked us to proceed with our presentation. Jayden took a few moments to lay out the documentation that he had gone over with us the night before and then began to explain what he had found out. Mr. Bollinger listened closely to what Jayden presented and asked questions from time to time.
"You have done some very impressive work, Mr. Browning. It all looks very convincing," Bollinger said. "We will have to do our due diligence and verify much of what you have laid out. That may take a few weeks, you understand."
"Of course," Jayden said. "Is it possible for you to give us some idea as to the size of the trust?"
"I don't see that is any harm in that after all the work you have done," Bollinger said, going to his desk and opening a drawer. He retrieved a folder and brought it to the table where we were sitting. "As of the close of stock markets yesterday, the total value of the trust is $1,666,491.42. That includes $34,521.42 in cash. The rest is invested in blue-chip stocks."
"Oh, my God," Carla said. "That would mean each of us would get over half a million dollars."
"Yes," Bollinger said. "It would be $555,497.14 to be exact. You must remember, that total will change by the time the bank has done its verifications. It may be more or less. Mr. Browning, if you would be so kind as to allow my secretary to make copies of the material you presented here today and anything else you believe would speed up our process of verification, it would be most appreciated."
"I'd be happy to," Jayden replied.
"If the current contact information for each of you is not in what you provide to my secretary, please make sure that she has that information, also. Now if there is nothing else, I have another appointment in a few minutes."
We were clearly dismissed. The session with Bollinger had taken just over an hour. By the time everything had been provided to his secretary, it was nearly half past eleven.
"Could I buy you folks lunch?" I asked, as we were walking out of the bank.
"Thanks, but I'm meeting my friends in half an hour," Carla said.
"We'd love to join you," Wanda said, after getting a nod from Jayden.
We said our goodbyes to Carla and then proceeded down the block to a restaurant the hotel had recommended in the area. Over lunch I discovered that they were flying home about the same time I was due to start my trip home. I offered to share a ride to the airport with them. At first they made the usual excuses that people do when they really want to do something but don't want to appear too anxious. They finally agreed. I excused myself to go to the restroom. While there I made a call to the hotel concierge and arranged for a limo to pick us up here at the restaurant. I specifically asked for one that could accommodate the three of us and Jayden's wheelchair. The concierge told me the limo would be there within fifteen minutes.
Returning to the table, I ordered more coffee while we waited for the limo to arrive. When I thought it should be arriving, I settled the bill and left the restaurant. The limo had not yet arrived.
"The car should be here momentarily," I said.
"Did you order a taxi?" Wanda said. "We were going to try to get a bus to take us back to the hotel."
"There's no need for that," I said, just as the limo arrived. "Here's our transportation, now."
"I see we're riding in style," Jayden said.
The limo driver opened the door for us. When Jayden rolled up to the door the driver asked if he could help and was told he could steady the chair while Jayden climbed into the limo. I asked Jayden to give the driver their hotel address and we would go there first to pick up their things and for them to check out.
By the time we got back to the Four Seasons, it had begun to rain again. It only took me a few minutes to gather up everything I had brought with me and to sign the bill. Wanda and Jayden waited for me in the coffee shop. Arriving at the airport, I paid the driver after we had dropped the Brownings off at United Airlines and he dropped me off at Delta. My flight was due to leave for Atlanta at 3:15. I had over an hour to spare. I used the time to call Hildy to see how everything was going at home. I told her that my plane didn't arrive in San Antonio until after nine that night and I wouldn't be home until nearly eleven if every thing was on time.
Despite the rain, my plane out of Philly to Atlanta was on time. Thankfully, when I got to Atlanta, I didn't have to change concourses to catch my plane to San Antonio because I only had a 45 minute layover. The weather in Atlanta was beautiful for an early October day. We were delayed for about twenty minutes leaving the gate due to the heavy early evening air traffic. I was glad when we were airborne.
As we reached cruising altitude, the captain turned off the seatbelt sign and the cabin staff was starting to take our drink orders and began preparations to serve the meal. Suddenly two well dressed Hispanic looking men rushed up the aisle toward the cockpit, pushing aside the stewardess taking the drink orders. They yanked open the cockpit door and I could see from my seat a gun in one of the men's hand pointed at the captain's head. There was a lot of commotion and loud Spanish coming from the cockpit. Shortly the captain came over the speaker system and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have been ordered to change our course and head for Cuba. Please remain in your seats."
"Oh, shit!" the man sitting next to me exclaimed.
1Information on the Texas Tower can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Building_(University_of_Texas_at_Austin)
2 For more information than you ever wanted know about Charlie Whitman, check out Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman.
To be continued.
Your comments and criticisms are welcomed and encouraged. I try to answer all emails including flames. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, please put Joel in the subject.