A little more of the back story on our hero Sam Deland. Trouble sometimes comes in buckets. But then wonderful things can grow from the shambles left behind. This scene was written in one of the early versions of SINK RATE a long time before the full story was told. More on the significance of that will come later.
From my crime/detective novel SINK RATE, due to be released this fall:
Linda never cared for following her young naval aviator from air station to air station while he learned to fly navy jets. Since they met at a watering hole near the Villanova campus, it had been a stormy up and down ride. They married during one of the up times and for a while Sam thought his spirited wife was happy. He thought he was happy, too.
The navy has its own version of how ensigns in flight school should live and this did not suit the new Mrs. Linda Landis Deland. Not long after each move, Linda would declare the place a “shithole” and head back to Pennsylvania. Sam would talk on the phone to Grandma and try to get Linda to come back. Grandma would tell Sam he was right and even she didn’t understand her daughter and that Sam should be patient and Linda would come around. Ken’s birth only made it worse. Sam cried himself to sleep many nights, big tough jet jockey sobbing because he missed his wife and son. It didn’t bother Linda. Grandma kept the baby while Linda went out with her friends. Sam would spend too much of his meager pay calling long distance trying to soak up as much of Kenny’s childhood as he could.
Sam went in to the baby’s room and even though he was sound asleep, picked him up and gently laid him across his shoulder. Ken smelled wonderful. Grandma kept him clean and powdered, like he was her own. They rocked while Grandma quietly told Sam what happened. Linda had all but moved out since Sam went aboard the Kennedy. She ran the roads to all hours and most nights didn’t bother to call or show up. Grandma filled the void and without complaint, lovingly cared for Kenny. Linda called that day and said she was coming up from King of Prussia. On the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike, traffic was backed up solid in both lanes for a boat and trailer that had blown a tire and caught the inside lane guardrail.
The state police told them that Wayne Pollack was driving a Yellowbird Express tractor trailer about a half mile behind Linda. Wayne was a little tired. He’d been driving without sleep for the last day and a half. The vodka, speed and marijuana in his system backed up on him and when he crested a slight rise in the northbound lane, he never took the time to slow down. The tractor hit the back of Linda’s Mustang and pushed the crumpled mass into several stopped cars in front of her. Wayne survived, Linda and two others did not. Grandma said the troopers wanted to talk to Sam when he was ready. In spite of how Linda was, Sam still cried and his chest bounced the baby up and down for quite a while. Little Ken never stirred and slept peacefully on his dad’s shoulder for the rest of the night.