The Brooklyn Drop

By: Susan Russo Anderson

A Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn Mystery



Prologue





Ten years earlier





“Rough takeoff. Sorry, darling.”

Her husband, for all his exuberance and skill, frowned into the instrument panel but said nothing more. She, Henriette, believed in him and supported his love of flying, but personally she hated it, especially after Kat’s birth. Why couldn’t they have driven? After all, the baby would have been fine with his mother for a day or two, and the car was new. The trip to Dutchess County would have been a pleasant afternoon’s jaunt. They could have stayed overnight with their friends, but, no, Norris liked to arrive in style and have a limo waiting for them at the airport, where he’d smile, tip the ground crew, and they’d be whisked away.

Henriette gripped the arms of her chair. She knew this was a busy time for him, talking to the tower, adjusting, all those things pilots do, so she looked down at her hands, suffering through the vagaries of flight in silence. She hated the bumps, the feeling in her stomach, the sweats she’d get when he’d do those fancy turns of his, but she remained silent.

Soon they circled over the airport, the clouds soaring, magnificent blue and rosy peach, the late afternoon light spilling over the retreating land.

“Please don’t do stunts today.”

He smiled. She looked out at the sweep of the earth, hills in the distance, an early evening star, the world magnificent in deep greens and golds, the shadows purple on a forlorn hill. She rubbed her neck.

Norris patted her knee. “We’ll be in Dutchess County soon, and I promise, I’ll fly like a straight-laced chaplain.”

They said nothing for a while. From her sack she pulled out the magazine section of The New York Times and began to read, trying to forget the grinding sound coming from the back. Was that normal? she wanted to ask, but thought better of it. He’d just overload her with jargon.

He continued talking into his radio.

She felt a lurch, as if the plane had stopped in midair.

“Something’s wrong. This old girl’s not flying right. I should have traded her in for a newer model. Saw a great one at the air show last month. What do you say?”

Her temples hurt. “Let’s turn back. Please, Norris. We can take the Bentley.”

“We’ll be there before you know it.”

“There’s always the ride back,” she said, trying to catch her breath.

Suddenly the plane shuddered. The magazine fell off her lap. Her heart pounded.

“Why are we diving? You know I hate this stunt flying, and you promised. Do something, Norris!”

“Pulling back! Not working!” Frantic, he pulled at the stick, yelling something into the radio. It sounded like Mayday.

The airplane began convulsing. Wind flattened her into the seat.

She saw the tops of trees rushing toward them. A high-pitched screeching punctured her ears. Blinding white. Then nothing.





A Call for Help





It all started with icicles. The holidays were over. Our life was back to normal. Normal, as in a boring string of days between jobs except for a small surveillance gig watching a Bensonhurst massage parlor suspected of being involved in human trafficking. After an evening at the McDuffys’ during which I watched Denny and his father make fools of themselves over some obscure football game, I thanked Lorraine for the scrumptious meal, and we headed for home, braving a howling wind off the shores of South Brooklyn.

The cold must have zapped both of us since we decided to make it an early night. Denny hit the pillow and was out. As I peered outside before closing the bedroom blinds, I was stopped dead by a glinting across the street. I’d never seen such a large chunk of suspended ice, at least not in this part of Brooklyn. Thick at the top and coming to a point at the bottom, it hung from the neighbor’s overhang like a blade, almost touching the ground. I’d phone them the next day and suggest they might want to remove it before their roof caved. But I never got the chance.

About three in the morning I woke with a start when my iPad suddenly came to life, covering my corner of the room with a grizzly light. Some unwanted tweet, I figured. I rolled over. Denny slept on. Again the screen lit up. My heart raced, not with fear but with excitement—I’m such a glutton for work. Focusing, I read the message. It was from Lorraine. “Call me ASAP.” Then it disappeared.

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