The loud beep on her desk phone startles her.
"There is someone with Hemispheres calling for Andy." Myra tells Angie via speakerphone.
Angie wonders why Hemispheres airline would be calling him. Andy was presumably persona non grata to the airline.
"Put them through to me," Angie answers.
"This is Hemispheres airline calling for Mr. Andy Michaels, is he in?"
"This is Angie Tipton, his paralegal. Andy's in court, but perhaps I can help you. What is the nature of your call?"
"This is an urgent call for Mr. Michaels. Do you know how we can get in touch with him right away?"
Angie hears the serious tone in his voice. "I can try to reach him as soon as he is out of his court hearing. Or, do you want to try his cell phone?"
"Yes, I would like his cell phone number," the representative replies.
"Can you tell me what the nature of this call is?" Angie again asks after giving the caller Andy’s number.
"I will have to speak about any further details with Mr. Michaels himself."
After hanging up, Angie has a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.
After his hearing, Andy exits the courthouse through the heavy doors. His cell phone rings and he notices an odd area code. As is usual for a lawyer, he decides to take the call since it might be an expert or even a client.
“Hello, Andy Michaels here.”
"Sir, this is Hemispheres Airline calling. I would like to confirm that you are Andy Michaels, an emergency contact for Ron Michaels. It lists you as his brother on his ticketing information.”
"Yeah, that's me," Andy replies.
"Ron Michaels is listed as a passenger on Hemispheres Flight 310 that has just crashed in Quarryville, Pennsylvania. We are contacting every emergency contact listed for each passenger. We are doing everything we can to determine the status of every passenger from the rescue personnel at the scene. This flight originated at Reagan Washington National Airport, and was destined for New York. Sir, are you are related to Rochelle Michaels also?"
"Uhh, that's my sister-in-law, why?" Andy responds.
"And Amanda Michaels, age 17, she is also listed as a passenger. What is her relationship with you?"
For some reason Andy suddenly feels dizzy and notices the wind blowing along the front of the building. The cabs on the street and the people are all moving in slow motion. He stops and leans against the side of the courthouse.
"Mr. Michaels, are you still there?"
Andy hangs up, then re-dials the same phone number.
"This is Hemispheres Emergency Response center. Is this an emergency call?" Andy hangs up again.
Still leaning against the granite blocks of the courthouse, he stares trancelike at the street ahead. Memories of his brother Ron flash through his mind. Wearing the same clothes in elementary school. Playing in the park, on the playground. Playing soccer together. Ski trips, triathlons, celebrating every birthday together. He and his brother – under two years apart in age – were virtually inseparable.
Andy tries to decide whether to call Barbara, his older sister who lives nearby in Reston, Virginia. Instead, Andy waves down the first taxicab he can.
"31st Street south of M Street please," Andy barks at the cabbie as he gets in the back. He scrolls through the missed calls on his cell phone and sees that he's missed a call from his sister Barbara Simon and two calls from Angie.
“Hey, I seen you before! You’re that lawyer that sued the airlines over the 9/11 Pentagon crash. That is you isn’t it? I saw you on TV a bunch a times.” The cabbie is staring at Andy in the rearview mirror, but Andy still won’t look up from his cell phone. “Hey, you gonna be in business again. All they’re talkin’ ‘bout is the Hemispheres jet crash on the radio. You goin’ to go after them again?”
“That depends on if I get hired.” Andy finally says.
“I knew it was you!” the cabbie says excitedly Andy’s mind refuses to focus. After paying the cabbie he trots down the sidewalk and up the stairway to the second floor of his office building. Myra spots him.
"Andy, Angie is looking for you."
"I know." Before Andy can set his briefcase down beside his desk, Angie is there.
"You didn't return my calls. Have you talked to Hemispheres?"
"Yeah. They told me my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece Amanda were on the Hemispheres flight that just crashed. They claim they don't know anything more yet. Do you?"
"Oh my God! They were all on that flight?" Angie really isn't asking a question. This doesn’t happen to them. It happens to the unlucky strangers, the strangers that then somehow connect the degrees of separation and become their clients. Her eyes travel over to the framed pictures on Andy’s credenza, the one of Andy and Ron at Andy’s Georgetown law school graduation, one of Ron and his family. They aren’t actually twins but Ron could easily be confused with Andy if you didn’t know them both well. They both attended Georgetown, but Ron went the biology route rather than the law route.
"I really don't know what to think. Ron travels a little, but not a lot. I have no idea why Rochelle or Amanda would have been on a flight with him. I didn't even know they were going anywhere. I last spoke to Ron a couple days ago after work. He didn’t say anything about going to New York."
Andy stares out the window and then finally says, "I'm going to make a couple of quick calls. You turn on the conference room TV and see what's on CNT. We'll talk as soon as we know more."
Angie turns on the TV and watches footage from a chopper hovering over the accident scene in some rural area.
"This is Natalee Spalding for CNT with breaking news. A Hemispheres commuter jet, Flight 310, departing Reagan National Airport outside Washington D.C., destined for New York City’s Kennedy Airport, has crashed carrying 23 passengers as well as the crew. The crash occurred in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, which is southeast of Lancaster. We know it’s an Embracer twin engine jet but have no information yet on the cause of this crash. We have helicopter video footage showing fire and rescue squads at the accident scene. As you can see, there is smoke and fire coming from certain parts of what is left of the jet fuselage, and some pieces that broke away from the plane in this heavily wooded rural area. We do not have any reports yet on survivors. We will keep you updated with the latest news here on CNT."
Angie rushes back to Andy's office and finds him partly turned away from the door, looking at his credenza. He holds one of the pictures of Ron, Rochelle, and Amanda. Unlike his brother, Andy has no kids.
"Andy, they just showed footage of the scene and they aren't saying anything about the passengers’ status. Instead they're just showing the jet broken apart, some fires, the whole scene is---"
“Horrible,” he interjects for her as he presses numbers on his cell phone. "I'm calling my key contact at the NTSB. Maybe he will know something."
After a brief conversation, Andy ends the call. "He doesn't know anything more than we just learned from CNT."
Andy is not relishing calling his sister, but he knows he has to do it. To say that she will freak out is an understatement.
"Barbara, it’s Andy. I just got called by Hemispheres about a plane crash. Have you heard anything yet?"
"No, I'm actually walking out of the grocery store right now. What about it?" Barbara responds.
"There’s no easy way to do this, so here goes. One of their jets crashed in Pennsylvania and their records show that Ron, Rochelle and Amanda were all on it."
"No. Oh God. Oh God! Rochelle texted me and said she was taking Amanda to New York to shop and see a show to celebrate her 18th birthday. How do you know for sure they were on that flight?"
"I was Ron’s emergency contact, so the airline called me. It's all over the news, but they haven't made any announcements yet about any survivors and they haven’t released passenger or crew names to the media yet."
"Oh my God. Oh my God." Barbara stammers.
"I will call you the minute I know any more.”
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