was one of the first passengers off the plane, and he was all
at once inordinately glad that he hadn't taken his briefcase
and two-suiter on board with him. Quickly, he made his way past
the LAX terminal doors and across the street to the parking
structure where his black BMW was waiting.
He wondered again whether he should have gone to the conference
in Las Vegas. He certainly hadn't gained much form the medical
lectures he'd attended. But then, he hadn't really been listening.
He had been preoccupied, anxious about what was happening in
his absence. He had called home twice in the early evening,
had exchanged long-distance kisses with Kate, with his family,
had at first accepted, then turned down, a barhopping offer
from some colleagues ("Come on, Mark; cut the matrimonial cord!").
After packing his few belongings, he had watched a pathetically
tedious X-rated cable TV offering in his room.
AT 11:10, she had called.
wrong?" he had asked, instantly alert.
wrong. I just wanted to hear your voice again. You sounded so
tense before. I know you're worried, Mark, but you don't have
to be. I'm fine."
asleep. Stop worrying."
After the phone call, he had checked the room quickly to make
sure he hadn't forgotten anything. Five minutes later he was
downstairs in the lobby of the Las Vegas Hilton, paying his
bill. He made it to the airport for the 11:50 P.M. flight to
Los Angeles with four minutes to spare.
At one o'clock in the morning, there was no traffic. The BMW
made swift progress along the main boulevards, and twenty-five
minutes after he had fastened his seat belt, he turned the corner
with a mixture of eagerness and a nameless dread that suddenly
overwhelmed him, even before he saw the ambulance occupying
his spot in the newly cemented driveway, its sepulchral whiteness
illuminated by the arching street lamps, before he saw the flashing
red lights on the two black-and-white police vehicles that welcomed
He braked sharply in front of the house and jerked the ignition
off. The car came to a shuddering stop. In seconds he was running
up the carefully tended lawn and almost collided with the white-clothed
paramedic who was sliding the stretcher and its silent occupant
past the gaping doors of the ambulance.
A uniformed policeman approached. "Dr. Bauers?"
my God!" Mark cried. "Kate! Kate!"