The ride to the airport seemed to take forever. Thankfully, the driver wasn’t particularly talkative which was fine by Aedan because his mind was busy considering why Noel might have left without saying a word when she seemed full of excitement about going out sailing with him and the Carlson’s the evening before. Never letting his guard down, he had been holding some internal reservations about their chance meetings among all the extraordinary events since leaving Seattle for this trip. However, those concerns were washed away in the many hours they had spent together yesterday. Now he found himself wondering if she had possibly become a target because of the secondary reason he was in Havana – to collect information about the case he was trying.
It seemed the taxi every red light during the 15 minute trip to the airport but each time the driver looked into the rear view mirror to check on his passenger, Aedan was looking out the window, deep in thought. When the taxi pulled up to the curb, before the driver could say a word, Aedan had already stuck his hand over the seat back to hand him the money for the fare while simultaneously opening the door.
Aedan jumped out of the car and headed immediately through the glass doors. Once inside he stopped and scanned left to right looking for a flight information board. He quickly spotted one down the hallway in front of him. He was looking for flights that had departed early in the morning since Noel had checked out so early. He saw nothing. Nothing on the boards went back that far.
On his way to read the board, he had passed a counter for the airline that he had arrived by earlier that week. Knowing that the attendants there spoke english very well, he approached the counter and asked the young attendant if she could tell him any flights that left between 5 and 8am. The attendant looked curious but without going into details he told her enough that she typed onto her keyboard and within seconds had a list of five flights that had departed during that window. Four were to various locations in Central and South America. One was to Miami.
Aedan stopped the attendant when she mentioned Miami. “Which airline was the flight to Miami on?”
“Oh, that was our flight, Senor” she quickly responded. “It left at 5:25 this morning and was right on time.”
“Can you tell me if there was a Noel Jensen on that flight?” Aedan took a long shot. He figured he knew the answer but had to ask, anyway.
“No Senor, I’m not allowed to give that information to you.”
Aedan was putting together his angle of attack, family…emergency…call for a manager. There must be a way to find out if she was on that flight. As he sifted through the possibilities his phone rang.
He pulled the phone from his pocket and saw Noel’s number. Thanking the attendant, he stepped away from the counter even as he was pushing the button to accept the call.
“Noel, where are you?” The concern was evident in his voice.
“Aedan, I’m sorry. I tried to call but…”
“Are you OK? Where are you?” He didn’t realize he didn’t let her finish her sentence.
“I’m at the airport in Phoenix, waiting for my mother to pick me up.”
Knowing she was safe, Aedan felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He made his way to the door to find a quieter spot to continue the conversation.
Noel had tried to call several times after she got a call from her mother telling her that her sister wasn’t expected to make it through the day, but the calls went straight to voicemail which told her his inbox was full. She hadn’t considered texting. Even while she waited to transfer planes in Miami there was no answer.
Aedan nodded as he listened to her. He was probably just waking by the time she reached Miami. He would look into his inbox being full after they talked. He hadn’t received any calls at all today.
Noel didn’t know the full extent of her sister’s condition yet. She had been ill for several months now but everyone thought she was doing well with the treatment. Noel promised that once she knew more she would call again.
The next two days were full of relaxation and exploration. Aedan enjoyed another relaxing evening with Ms. Romero, her family and others that came to relax and play games. The following day, he made it out sailing with the Carlson’s. The relative silence and power of using the wind to propel a sailing vessel through the water is mesmerizing and once again whetted his appetite for finding his own boat
On his last day in Cuba, Aedan found himself on the beach taking inventory of all that had happened since he left on vacation which felt like months ago. He had all but forgotten the huge change in his physical appearance. Or perhaps he hadn’t. Somewhere along the way he had decided to let his beard grow out as a possible way to distract attention from looking 20 years longer than when he left. He knew it wouldn’t be that easy but it was all he could do for now. Then there was the matter of the key and cryptic message from the theater and what that could possibly mean for the case he was trying.
He had come to Cuba to get an answer. Whether he found that answer or not he couldn’t know yet but he knew that he was possibly returning with more questions than answers.