The Pilot, the Witch, and the Hitman – Part 02


The Holloways


Sam stood for a few minutes at the end of the sidewalk surveying Crestwood’s orderly layout of homes and condos on half acre lots. Once a dairy farm, the medium to large homes sat on land that dipped and climbed toward the winter sky.

Many residents had appreciated Sam’s attention to detail and his sermons on better living through recycling. Though in retrospect the men usually wanted to hear war stories and a few of the elderly ladies wanted to seduce Sam. He wasn’t always comfortable with the female attention, wishing for a gal a bit spryer. Ruth Peyton fit the bill, but she lived in Florida and Sam traveled there only twice a year.

Weak sunlight poked through a passing snow shower. The cold didn’t touch him, an angry heart pounded beneath his coat and flannel shirt. He tried to remember the song about being young at heart, a much more preferable mood, but it was anger that warmed him and muddled his thoughts.

He started down the sidewalk and all of Crestwood looked like a Christmas card to him, yet it didn’t make him smile. Before he slumped further, he decided on a pot of coffee when he got back to his place. Gloveless, hands at his sides, he passed homes outfitted with wreaths and lights and big red bows on the mailboxes. Crossing the intersection he noticed a large blue bin at the curb of Marge and Ray Holloway’s yard. He shook his head and aimed for their house.

He used the bell and Marge answered the door looking old and frail.


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The Pilot, the Witch, and the Hitman – Part 01



In the summer months before 9/11, my co-pilot told me of a World War Two veteran who had disappeared the past winter in a small Cessna over the Atlantic. The man, Sam Messina, had taken off from a Florida airport and, most likely, had stolen the plane. My copilot knew Sam and was receiving firsthand accounts from the veteran’s son, who still maintained his dad’s business in aircraft sales along with his brother.

The co-pilot and I were paired for several long tours that summer and spent much of our time reviewing the stories, contacting other pilots—aviation being a small community—and learning about the lives of several very passionate people.

Sam Messina dreamt of living forever, believing that scientists were close in achieving that medical victory. But when Sam was fired from his neighborhood post as recycling czar, he took the next best route to immortality—a road trip to Florida with a beautiful young woman. However, in West Palm Beach, his lover of many years, Ruth Peyton, was praying for another kind of “eternity,” while an aging hitman, caring only for the ‘here and now,’ was plotting to finally snare Ruth, the woman of his dreams.

By autumn my notes had turned into a narrative, and my co-pilot had hunted down a recording of Sam giving a talk on his aviation years at a Christmas party. After listening to Sam’s voice, and reflecting on the collision of lives, I shaped the dramatic sequence of events with dialogue. We both agreed to call it The Pilot, the Witch and the Hitman.



The Pilot


On Friday morning Sam Messina faced off with Crestwood Estates four-member board. He knew Gabe, the others were acquaintances Sam ignored or traded a hard look for their smug ones. At six feet tall, Sam was bald except for a ring of thin white hair around the temples. His granddaughter had begged him to shave the remaining hairs and get an earring, but he preferred the adult look that had accompanied him for decades of successful aircraft sales.


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