aerial photography of buildings during daytime
This arti­cle is part 1 of 9 in the series The Honolulu Retribution

My name was Michael Tate.

Now my name is nobody.  Or everybody.

8:15 EST

CNN Breaking News.

United Airlines Flight 2620 has appar­ent­ly crashed at sea approx­i­mate­ly 800 miles east/northeast of the Hawaiian Islands.  The flight depart­ed Maui, Hawaii at 9:30 p.m. local time and was head­ed to Los Angeles.

The freighter SS Anatolia report­ed see­ing a fire­ball about the time that com­mu­ni­ca­tion and radar con­tact was lost with 2620.

If the plane explod­ed in the air, the like­li­hood of any sur­vivors is remote, and U.S. Navy ships oper­at­ing from Hawaii are speed­ing toward the area where the flight is like­ly to have gone down.

CNN will break into its reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled pro­gram­ming as details become available.

As I pre­pared to board flight 2620 some­thing was nag­ging at the back of my mind.  I could­n’t quite put my fin­ger on it, but it was there — like a sin­gle gnat that buzzes con­stant­ly around one’s head but is nev­er quite visible.

When I had told L.T. (Lionel Trane) about my inten­tions to give up the assas­si­na­tion busi­ness, he had seemed not dis­turbed but some­how detached, some­how unwill­ing to accept the deci­sion even though his com­ments were non-condemnatory.

And as I was walk­ing through the board­ing tun­nel to the plane it was like one of those light bulbs that shows up above a car­toon char­ac­ter’s head and indi­cates a sud­den epiphany.

It sud­den­ly dawned on me that I was not like­ly to be allowed to sim­ply walk away from my past asso­ci­a­tions as eas­i­ly as I was walk­ing through this board­ing tunnel.

Something unpleas­ant was await­ing me.

So, as I neared the entrance to the plane and the flight atten­dan­t’s back was turned, I quick­ly exit­ed the tun­nel by the “autho­rized per­son­nel only” door­way which led, by a stair­way, down to the tar­mac and quick­ly back into the terminal.

Flight 2620 was full and one vacant seat was unlike­ly to draw undue attention.

Of course, had I known that the flight was going to blow up with over two hun­dred peo­ple aboard, I would not have sim­ply walked away but would have tried to do some­thing to halt the flight.  It just nev­er occurred to me at that moment that who­ev­er was behind L.T. would be cal­lous enough to mur­der over two hun­dred civilians.

So now I have become anony­mous.  I shall have to remain “dead,” at least for the time being and very pos­si­bly, for the remain­der of my life.

But Mr. Lionel Trane has some account­ing to do.

I was for­tu­nate to have two bogus dri­ver’s licens­es in my wal­let.  They are a cou­ple of items that I car­ry with me pret­ty reg­u­lar­ly and I nev­er wor­ry about being caught with them because no one’s wal­let is ever inspect­ed unless one is actu­al­ly arrest­ed.  And that has nev­er hap­pened to me.

If one wish­es to become some­one else, it is imper­a­tive to have access to some sort of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion that estab­lish­es the alter­nate identity.

So, for the time being, I am to become John J. Singleton of 314 Appleton Way, Dubuque, Iowa.  I’ve always felt that the chance of meet­ing some­one from Dubuque or some­one who even knows or has ever vis­it­ed Dubuque is extreme­ly remote.

Of course, the only items I now had with me was my car­ry-on and it had very lit­tle in it that would be of much use to me.  My lug­gage had been on the plane when it went down so now I must set about acquir­ing a new wardrobe– and I felt that I would have to do so at sev­er­al dif­fer­ent estab­lish­ments.  It would­n’t do to try to cre­ate a whole new per­sona from one store.  It might make a sales clerk real­ly hap­py to ring up a large sale, but some­one buy­ing every­thing from shorts to shoes in one place might arouse some unwant­ed interest.

However mea­ger the con­tents of my car­ry-on, it did con­tain the nec­es­sary charge cards to match the iden­ti­ties of the bogus dri­ver’s licens­es.  The charge cards were sewn into the sides of the bag and I would have to extract the cor­rect one before rent­ing a car, which is an absolute neces­si­ty on Maui.

This time the car would come from Avis rather than Hertz.  No sense in try­ing to pass myself off as Singleton to some­one who may just have seen me as Michael Tate.

However, it was still the mid­dle of the night and I could do noth­ing until things start­ed hum­ming again in the morn­ing, so I searched for the most remote spot I could find in the air­port — the wait­ing area at the far­thest gate, where I set­tled myself into an uncom­fort­able chair and slept fit­ful­ly for the next six hours until activ­i­ty began to pick up in the building.

By this time news of the 2620 crash was out and I was rea­son­ably sure that L.T. was not hang­ing around here. I moved con­fi­dent­ly to find an air­port restau­rant where I could get a quick break­fast and a large dose of cof­fee.  Today was going to be busy.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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