June gloom was upon us. Only in California, could one expect such gloomy weather in late spring. The dark overcast skies, and faint drizzle presented a somberness that reflected our moods as we made our way to say goodbye to Nathan. It seems even the weather gods were unhappy.
There was a beautiful service for Nathan at the Dessert Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery. Almost everyone connected with Dessert Air and Dessert Maintenance was there. Even Dessert Air students had come to bid their farewell. Despite his quirky behavior, everyone loved Nathan. We all watched as the body was lowered and Father Francis gave Nathan a beautiful memorial service. In conclusion, Father Francis quoted the scriptures as he finished his prayers:
“Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
Strange choice of quote from Romans 6:16 I thought. Did I see HIM flinch? Are my eyes playing tricks, I wondered. With Amelia beside me, and my wounds healing, I was grateful to be safe. The question remained, Why me? Why did someone tie me up for the dead? What did they want with me? Why Amelia? Moreover, why Nathan? What had he seen or heard? What had we seen or heard? Why kill him? Why did they want us out of the way? I was not even sure it was they. I had all these questions, but no answers. For now, we were safe maybe, but for how long?
Soon after I had found Nathan dead in the hanger, the force had descended. While I waited for them to arrive, I had called Chung. “Are you still there”, I asked concerned. He had gone awfully silent. “Are you sure,” he asked. “It can’t be right, I made sure…” his voice tapered off. “What do you mean, you made sure?” I prompted. “Stay right there, I will be over as soon I can.” Chung hung up even before I could respond.
“You should have called me first, before calling the force,” he eyed me accusingly, as he walked over and shook Nathan. “Come on Nathan, this is not a joke. I have work to do. Wake up.” He shook him again without success, as we heard the airport Fire & Rescue and the county rescue arrive. “He’s dead!” I said. “There is nothing I could do.” “Did he say anything?” Chung asked , looking at me, piercingly. “No,” I nodded. “He was long gone when I arrived.” I said. Something prevented me from saying what I heard Nathan say, as he shuddered to his death. Chung continued to stare forcefully at me, as though he could read my very thoughts. I was saved from any further conversation, as the rescue personnel descended upon us and started to check on Nathan and ask questions.
I waited beside Chung, as Nathan’s body was carried away by the coroner. The hanger was sprawling with police as they poked around gathering and bagging evidence. For a change, Chung remained mum. This was the first time I was seeing him without his usual grin or quick retorts. He appeared devastated.
“Louis saved my life you know,” spoke Chung with a faraway gaze. “Our platoon was on the way to a small town where we heard several civilians were under attack. It was raining hard; we took cover under a mangrove forest, waiting for the monsoon showers to pass. Out of nowhere, a platoon of Vietnamese soldiers appeared and started shooting. It was Louis, who took a bullet and saved our lives that day.” No amount of pressing would get him to disclose any more details.
What was his and Nathan’s connection to HIM, I wondered, as we wearily made our way to our cars after the funeral.