Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Two flights

These are the worst flights of my life. I want to get them over with as quickly as possible, my stomach permanently tense. I want to bang my fist against the airplane window. I want to be in Indiana instantly, can't stand to wait for one take off and landing, another wait in another airport, another take-off and landing. It's just dragging out the inevitable, that's how I feel.

Robert, too, is certain that, any minute now, the Troopers would be back, having spoken to his platoon, with orders to detain him. We wait by the gate before we board in Connecticut. Our names are called again at the gate, but this time only to re-issue us with boarding passes. I want to run on to the plane as fast as possible, yell at the pilot "Don't you know what's happening? We need to get out of here as soon as possible!"

Once on the plane, I'm waiting anxiously for them to close the cabin doors as quickly as possible. I hope for the wheels to run quickly over the tarmac until we lift off and can at last see the airport shrink below us, and feel safe for the two hours it takes us to reach Chicago.

There, we expect the police to be waiting for Robert on the tarmac. Surely, by this point, they would have contacted the platoon and get orders to arrest him.

"This is where the black SUVs pull up" Robert laughs as we hit the runway at O'Hare. Throughout the flight, he keeps repeating as much to himself as anyone else:
"I can't believe this, it could have been so easy. I can't believe my sister would do this. My own flesh and blood. Merry Christmas, you know!" And he laughs nervously.

He had called his sister from the airport in Connecticut, as soon as the Troopers were done questioning him, but she denied she had called the FBI.
"They called me" she told him, but of course he didn't believe her.

At O'Hare, we sit in Chilis to get something to eat. We're both damn hungry, more from tension thank anything else. All I had today was a small muffin from Dunkin' Donuts. There are servicemen all over the airport. Whenever we pass one, I expect him to turn to Robert and ask his name, hold up a photograph, ask for his ID, and radio it in. I eat because I'm hungry, but my stomach was still turning.

At every gate, with each member of staff, I expect to be found out. Everywhere I look, everyone I looked at, I expect they know what Robert's doing, and every announcement over the loudspeaker makes me cringe with the thought of hearing our names read out again. I had expected there would be descriptions of Robert sent to O'Hare airport, since the FBI knew all our flight details by this point.

But none of this happens. Campbell would later describe it as a Christmas Miracle...

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