Jessica smiled at James, “James, did you ever wonder why nobody ever asked why your father’s flight crashed into the Ohio?”
“What do you mean, there was the whole government investigation, the wind sheer research, of course somebody asked why!” James yelled through a blur of anger.
Jessica continued, “Yeah that-- James, do you really believe that a 100 million dollar airplane piloted by three experienced pilots crashed because a sparrow flapped its wings in Burma?”
“It was wind sheer- people spotted some odd vertical cloud formations at the time of the crash… the report… what does it matter?”
Peter looked at Jessica and shook his head, “I think we could have just let this one go, he’s so dense.”
“James, you’re a pilot aren't you? Does the official story even begin to make sense to you?”
“Well, so what caused the crash and what the hell does it have to do with me?” He wiggled back and forth to emphasize the fact that he was still tied to the chair.
Jessica stood and walked to the back of the chair so she was standing behind James. “You have to understand, James, sometimes things just break.”
“Sometimes things break? That‘s what this whole thing is about? Hey, my lips are sealed, can you untie me now!”
Jessica whispered into his ear, “What did I tell you about being civil?” With that, she reached around the chair, grabbed his pinky finger and sharply pulled it away from his hand until it was bent in the opposite direction, pointing toward his elbow.
The pain exploded through his hand and across his wrist. He vomited into his mouth and nose. As the pain subsided, he looked at Jessica who had sat down in front of him again. “Please!!! Why are you doing this?” He spit a mouthful of bile onto his lap.
Peter looked at her admiringly, “Nice segue, Jess!” The two exchanged a mock high five.
“The boring truth is the elevator control system malfunctioned and pitched the airplane full nose up until it stalled in an almost vertical attitude. The engine compressors stalled, and the airplane did a tail slide before nosing over into the river.” Peter explained in a bored detached monotone voice, as if he’d had the same conversation a dozen times.
James was struggling to understand what any of that had to do with him. Jessica sensed his continued confusion and explained further.
“James, within hours after the crash, it was known what really happened. Of course, the public wouldn't accept the truth. People would be afraid to fly, the aircraft manufacturer would face costly redesigns and re-engineering-- we're talking about billions of dollars here James. Global consequences. So a better, more civil explanation was agreed upon by everybody.”
“And the government just went along with it?
Peter and Jessica exchanged a glance and Peter spoke in a voice adults usually reserve for young children, “James, ‘the government’ for lack of an easier to understand term, suggested it.”
James searched his memory for all the faces he’d seen in the days and weeks following the crash. “All part of the cover-up.” He moaned.
“Actually James, you’re part of the cover-up also-- though I use that term under protest.” Peter said lazily.
“I didn't know anything about this!” James shouted. Jessica moved to stand up, but Peter put a hand on her shoulder.
James’s mind was swimming in a bromide of memory, lies, and revelation.