Karen liked flying very much, the thrill of take-off, the little trays, the view of cities and fields and cars from on high. She liked it even better sitting beside her brand new husband, holding his hand, anticipating a honeymoon in San Francisco, a place she’d always wanted to visit since she saw that old movie “What’s Up, Doc?” The wedding and reception were exciting, of course, but also kind of lost to her in a Big Day trance. People had told her it would be like that: your own wedding is always a dreamy blur. But, thought Karen, the honeymoon is vivid and real, just the two of you and the hoopla over!
Karen was sitting by the window with Kurt on her left, leaning over to see out the window with her, their faces right together, heads touching. Next to Kurt was a nice looking fellow (40’s? wondered Karen) who was reading. He and Kurt had chatted a bit, and the man (who was a proud San Franciscan named Simon) traveled a lot for business. He advised them not to miss the view from Coit Tower and a place called the Snow Palace for dinner in Chinatown.
Mid-flight Kurt presented Karen with her wedding gift. The night before the wedding she had given him what she thought was an appropriately masculine silver frame into which she would put their wedding portrait when it was ready. Now it was her turn: a lovely silver watch, not a fancy occasion watch, a daily wear watch but very pretty, engraved on the back “For All Time – K&K.” She cried, of course, as she slipped it on. Can you die of happiness, wondered Karen? And all I gave him was that lousy empty frame!
San Francisco was beautiful and cold (even though it was summer) and exciting. Karen hung off the sides of cable cars (despite the warnings not to!) with Kurt holding her; they strolled Chinatown and meandered through Golden Gate Park. Kurt took Karen around the little lake in a beat up rented rowboat. They caught the view from Coit Tower and took a Bay cruise, but skipped tacky Fishermans’ Wharf. In their lovely room at the St. Francis on Union Square the view of city lights at night and busy streets below mesmerized Karen. She’d been to Chicago a couple of times in high school, but it didn’t seem as magical as San Francisco. Of course, she thought, I was a little girl and now I’m here all grown up on my honeymoon!
Five days can fly by awfully fast sometimes, Karen thought, as they stood in the lobby waiting for the van to the airport. Kurt was a little nervous about making it to the flight. Karen checked the time so she could comfort him but, holy moly! She had no watch! She must have left it on the bed with her purse when she showered and dressed. She told Kurt she’d be right back and scurried up to the room. The maid was already there having stripped the bed. The two of them checked the bathroom, the floors, and then dove into the laundry bin on the maid’s cart in the hall. Nothing. They checked the giant quilted bedspread balled up on the overstuffed chair by the window. They shook it. Nothing. Then Karen got down on the floor and looked under the bed. Her phone, meanwhile, was ringing and ringing. Kurt said the ride was here, where was she and why? She said she’d be right there as she reached way under the bed and retrieved her watch. Slipping it on, she thanked the maid and stopped to give her a tip for her help, and then dashed to the elevator, which, of course, stopped on several floors on the way down and was held up on one floor by a large family group leaving all at once.
Eventually Karen was with Kurt in a taxi. The airport van could not wait for her. Kurt, however, was still pleasant, but not too calm. “I’m so sorry, Darling! Thank you for understanding! I just couldn’t leave my watch.” Kurt kissed her and said, “No, no, of course not.” Then he looked at his watch and out the window at the traffic ahead.
And that’s how they missed their flight. They had a three hour wait for the next flight, but at least they would get home that day. While they were having a long lunch in an airport restaurant and really enjoying themselves, very pleased actually with this extra time on vacation (really, what could you do? Karen thought. No use fuming!), there was a news bulletin on the large TV across the room. Kurt and Karen weren’t really interested in any news at this last unhurried, romantic meal of their trip, but as they clinked glasses of white wine they saw on the screen some fuzzy, shaky phone video of a man inside a passenger jet who looked very much like Simon with a gun firing on people! A flight attendant went down! The scene cut back to the studio and an overly-made-up blonde newscaster reporting on the flight from San Francisco to St. Louis. The restaurant was suddenly abuzz with conversation and gasps. The volume on the TV was turned up and the news repeated. The video was shown over and over, and it was plain as day that the gunman was Simon! He had killed six people before two brave passengers subdued him from behind and grabbed the gun. It was a struggle but over in just a few moments. Karen and Kurt looked at each other with wide eyes and then back at the screen as they watched in horror at the scene in the plane they had missed.
“Those poor people! Can we take a train home?” Karen asked Kurt. “No, Sweetheart, we have to get back and we’re all set. We’ll be fine. Really. It was a lucky break for us you losing your watch.” “And finding it again too!” added Karen. Kurt squeezed her hand.