”That’s where the accident happened.”
Hay flew the Westtabria light plane around a turn, hovering and descending to a height of several hundred feet above the tuff lake. Today, the lake here is blue-green, setting off the small islands and rugged tuff towers particularly eye-catching. A gust of wind blew from the east, and the lake water rippled. Except for a blackened area to the south of Plover Island, I couldn’t see any traces of light aircraft crashing and burning there.
I turned my head from the window and looked at the front of the cockpit; my best friend and long-time lover, Hey Lipinski, was still staring at the accident site below, with a stern look on the angular face. After a few seconds, he shook his head, turned his attention back to the control device, spurred on his full horsepower, and pulled the joystick back. The light plane rose upward and headed for the airport on the northwest coast.
Through the headset, I heard Haye say: “Damn, McCon, I’m a good coach, and Scott Oakley is a good student. There is no reason for him to deviate from the course the first time he flew solo and crashed into his body.”
We entered. On the same route, start flying downwind and prepare to land. After Hay reported our location through the system platform, I said: “It’s really strange, except for the reason you guessed: deliberately deviating from the course, diving down, and ending my life.”
”In my opinion, that’s it. The investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board thought so too. ”
When we reached the final flight, I stopped making a sound and asked him to concentrate on landing in a strong crosswind. He didn’t speak again until the plane slipped off the runway.
”Ninety percent of flight safety depends on psychology and emotions,” he said. “Ninety percent of the job of instructors is to understand the inner state of students and teach students in accordance with their aptitude. I think I have good intuition in this area, but I didn’t notice it at all. Scott Oakley is showing signs of suicide.”
”Tell me about his situation.”
”He is a nice young man, in his early 20s, a native, and later studied at the University of Nevada in Reno . His studies were not going well. , So he dropped out of school and went to a casino to be a dealer. I met a woman, fell in love with her, and got engaged.”
He turned off the engine, jumped out of the cockpit, and helped me climb out of the cramped back seat. After securing the plane, we walked side by side to the small terminal, where his Land Rover and my MG were parked there.
”Oakley lives in Reno, why do you come here for flying lessons?” I asked. Tuff Lake is located in rolling mountains 70 miles south of the California border.
”Six or seven months ago, because his father was diagnosed with cancer, Scott went home to help his mother take care of him. During this period, Scott thought that he could use the rent saved to learn to fly. The casino job had no future, he I want to enter the aviation industry and accumulate enough flight time so that I can be hired by airlines.”
”Besides this, he…?”
”He is a quiet, serious, dedicated, and purposeful person, and he has developed a fast learning plan for himself. However, due to family responsibilities, he could not fly that much time. His father passed away a month ago. He offered to stay with his mother for a period of time, but his mother didn’t want his son and his girlfriend to be separated for too long and urged him to return as soon as possible. By his girlfriend’s side. However, he would come back for flying lessons every week. On the last day before the incident, he had completed three excellent take-offs and landings. I’m sure I can let him go solo.”
”You didn’t notice him in advance. Is there any change in mood?”
”Not at all. Still, as usual, quiet and serious.” When
I got to the parking place, I leaned on the bottom of the MG car. Hay leaned against the side of the tall Land Rover, with his arms folded across his chest, facing me. His eyes were full of anxiety, and the wrinkles on both sides of his mouth showed a trace of frustration.
I understand his feelings: He rarely recruits students because he is not short of money. He is a partner of an international security company. He often leaves the ranch for work for several weeks. When he really accepts someone, it’s because he recognizes the person’s potential—whether as a pilot or someone who loves flying like himself. Scott Oakley’s crash—Hay was standing on the tarmac waiting for him to return, seeing the tragedy happen with his own eyes—was a devastating blow for him and plunged him into self-doubt.
”I guess you want me to investigate the cause of Oakley’s suicide.” I said.
”If you think it’s acceptable.”
”I’ll thank you.”
”Listen, McCon, you won’t let your dentist friend fill your teeth for free, nor will I I’ll let you investigate for free.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Lipinsky, there is no free lunch in the world. I will let you compensate me in a suitable way.” The
first person I’m going to find is Scott Oakley. Mother. I called to ask if I could visit her, and then I set off to her home in Vernon, which is located on the northern shore of the Tuff Lake.
It was autumn, and it was the season that I met Hay for the first time here. Aspen trees gleamed with golden light in the surrounding valleys, and filamentous cirrus clouds drifted past the azure blue sky from time to time. In the years since I came to Tuff Lake, its water level has been slowly rising, and the surrounding area has gradually turned into a soil-gray alkaline plain again-this is the result of the environmental protection organization’s successful prevention of the diversion of its tributary to Southern California. Sandpipers, seagulls and other waterbirds return to the small islands in the lake to build nests and feed on the abundant Artemia here.
Strangely, Scott Oakley chose such a vibrant place to end his life.
Jane Oakley is in her early 40s. Her husband has just passed away and now she has lost her beloved son. From the outside, she was supposed to be a very energetic woman, but the pain of losing a loved one makes her sluggish now. It’s no wonder: it’s only two weeks since Scott crashed. We were sitting in her tidy living room, and she handed me a photo of Scott when he graduated from high school: a blond, freckled, and cute boy.
”What do you want to ask Scott, Ms. McCon?”
”I want to know what kind of person he was and his mental state before the accident.”
”You said on the phone that you were a private investigation. He is a friend of Hay Lipinsky. Does he want to prove that Scott committed suicide? You know, my son did not commit suicide. I don’t care what Hay or the National Transportation Safety Board think.”
”Hay doesn’t want to prove anything, but he needs answers, and I believe you need them too.”
”So he won’t be responsible for Scott’s death?”
I didn’t say a word. She is sad and has the right to be angry.
After a while, Jane Oakley sighed, “Well, I shouldn’t. Scott admires Hay, he won’t let me blame the coach. Ask questions, Ms. McCon.”
My question The answer is similar to that of Hay, and the address of Scott in Reno and the name of his fiancée are also obtained. “I have never seen her,” Mrs. Oakley said regretfully. “So I couldn’t contact her immediately and tell her that Scott had an accident. Of course, she knew it now, but she didn’t even make a phone call. .”
I wanted to end this meeting, but decided to learn more about Scott’s mental state before the last flight class. After I asked this question, Mrs. Oakley kept avoiding my gaze and looked restless.
”I’m sorry to remind you of these things,” I said, “but Scott’s feelings at the time are important.”
”Yes, I know.” For a moment, she seemed to be crying, but then she sighed heavily. “He…he was very unhappy when he came back the night before.”
”He didn’t want to say.”
Sometimes you instinctively know that someone is not telling the truth; this is one of them. “What about the next morning? Did he say it?” I asked.
She looked at me in surprise, “How are you…? Well, he told me. Now I realize that I should stop him, but he is eager to fly solo. I think just once, what’s the big deal? He just wanted to Before giving up all of this, fly a little Cessna alone.”
”Quit flying? Why?”
”Scott had a medical examination in Reno the day before and was diagnosed with narcolepsy.”
”Lost narcolepsy,” Hai Yi said, “Is it the kind of disease that will fall asleep anytime, anywhere?”
”Yes. One of my friends suffers from this disease. She would doze off while chatting. Once, we flew to the south together. California; the plane was landing, she suddenly stopped talking, closed her eyes, and slept until we landed.”
”Oh my God, can’t it be cured?”
”It can be cured with ephedrine or amphetamine, but the success rate is not very high. ”
He can’t pass the FAA’s physical examination in this case.”
”Yes. In addition, this disease has a more dangerous side: many people with narcolepsy are also accompanied by cataplexy, and they are nervous. Or when they are emotional, their body muscles will be temporarily paralyzed.”
”It’s like the experience of flying solo for the first time.” Hay made a face and motioned for another glass of wine. At this point, we were sitting in front of the bar in the Zelda Tavern, a lakeside tavern located at the top of the peninsula where the town of Vernon is located. The owner, Bob Zelda, gave him a thumbs-up, then quickly handed him a glass of beer and another glass of white wine.
”You know, McCon, it doesn’t make sense. How did Scott pass the student pilot medical examination?”
”This disease was diagnosed the day before he flew solo. Don’t forget, the Aviation Administration’s medical examination is not a comprehensive examination. They are Check your medical history and some routine items-blood pressure, vision, hearing, and you won’t find such rare diseases.”
”It still doesn’t make sense. Scott is a kind, responsible young man who knows how to behave. I really don’t. Believe it, he knows that he will fall asleep at any time and will risk flying alone.”
”Yeah, but he may be too eager to fly solo.”
”Oh my God, why didn’t he tell me the truth? I can’t let him get off the plane. Flying solo, he doesn’t need my guidance at all to fly that part of the route, but I can stay on the plane just in case. Of course, don’t expect to get a driver’s license, but his mother tells you that he has decided to give up.”
We silently Drank for a while. I looked at Hay’s face in the bar mirror. He is right: it doesn’t make sense. He needs to know the answer, and now I need it too.
”I will drive to Reno tomorrow.” I said.
Scott’s apartment is located in a newer residential area in the hills northeast of Reno, overlooking the glittering casino and the magnificent long street. I parked the car in the breezy gravel ground behind and knocked on the door of the neighbor next door. There was only one person at home, she was helping the tenants at the door, and she had never heard of Scott Oakley.
When I was about to get back into the car, a black-haired man in his 20s got out of a dilapidated Mazda. He walked towards the other row of apartments, and I immediately changed my mind and followed.
”What’s the matter?” He asked, putting the shopping bag in front of the unit building, groping for the key in his pocket.
”The son of a friend of mine lives here—Scott Oakley. Do you know him?”
”Oh, my goodness! Haven’t you heard?”
”What did you hear?” I asked, and then listened to what I already knew. “It’s terrible,” I said after he finished. “Is Christy okay?”
”Oh, it must be the red-haired woman.”
”She and Scott is engaged. I thought they were living together.”
”No, this is a studio apartment, which is only suitable for one person. In fact, Scott and I are not familiar with each other, but just nodding acquaintance. However, he is downstairs. The neighbor said that Scott told him that he would not live here long because he was going to marry a woman who worked in the Long Street
”Fortune” casino .” “Fortune” casino is based on the gold rush, but actually Other small casinos in Nevada are not much different: video game machines and slot machines are beeping; listless dealers give cards to ecstatic tourists on green felt; waitresses wear no self-respecting girls Walking around in revealing clothing, offering free drinks. The names of the bars are all sorts of weird, such as “shaft”, “pick and shovel”, “assay laboratory” and so on. Keno game numbers flashed on the screen constantly.
I went to the personnel department and learned that Christie Hertz is no longer working in the casino; she is a cocktail waitress. She did not come to the night shift on the day of Scott Oakley’s accident, and she has not even made a phone call since. The manager was not upset. He said that in Long Street, it is common for women to change jobs without saying hello. But when I explained Scott’s death and my concerns about Christie, his attitude softened a bit. He remembered Scott Oakley as a blackjack dealer and thought he was a promising young man. I aroused the sympathy of the manager. Not only did I get Christie’s address, I also knew that a friend of hers was on duty at the “Shaft” that night, and a friend of Scott was the night service of the “Assay Laboratory”. pregnancy.
When I left, the manager shouted behind me: “If you see Christie, tell her that her position is still there.”
Christie Hertz lives in a prefab park near Sparks. I always thought that it was a depressing place, where people lived far away from society, but it was a different scene. There are tall trees and flower pots with marigolds everywhere; near the manager’s office, a small bridge crosses the man-made creek to the pond, and a few ducks float on the water. I followed the maze-like path to Christie’s board room, but no one answered the door. The neighbors are not there, and the manager’s office is closed.
I was in a dead end, and those two friends would not go to the casino for work until a few hours later. So what else can I do here? There is one thing to do.
Find a doctor.
Years ago, I discovered that the key to getting information from others is to treat yourself as someone in a position of authority, and you can do it without lying. I hate that. Most people, unless they are paranoid or deliberately trying to hide something, they will cooperate fully with officials, either out of respect or out of fear, but the result is the same. According to the situation, I first drove to the public library and copied the list of doctors on the yellow pages. Then I hid in a quiet corner and started to work with my mobile phone.
”My name is Sharon McCon. I am an investigator. Two weeks ago, there was an aviation accident near the Tuff Tower Airport in Mono County, California. I am investigating the cause of it. The victim was a student pilot. It is said to have been diagnosed with narcolepsy; the FAA’s 8420-2 form does not indicate this diagnosis, so we believe that it was made by an individual rather than a special medical examiner. You can check the medical history and see Scott Isn’t Te Oakley your patient?”
Only five people asked me if I worked for the FAA or the National Transportation Safety Board. When I admitted that I was a private investigator working for the mother of the deceased, two people hung up on the grounds of confidentiality of medical records, but the rest of them all searched and all the results were negative.
Maybe Clark Morris, Scott’s friend at the “Assay Laboratory” bar, can help me find that doctor.
Night on the Long Street: The sun is slowly setting down from the Silas Mountains, the golden light and the dazzling neon lights complement each other. The sidewalk was crowded with people who went out on Saturday night for fun or trouble. A drunk man in a denim jacket bumped into a middle-aged couple and sweared. They glared at him, and he murmured and walked away griefly. I found three drug transactions, two of which involved minors. The three Indian boys, probably just coming out of the nearby Indian reservation, paid a surly old man and bought half a dozen beer. The prostitutes were soliciting customers from the street, and some bored men stared at them, like a radar transmitter aimed at an airplane. On the side of the road, a tattered girl, about 13 years old, hunched over her knees and retched.
I thought of Hay’s ranch hut, stone fireplace, Western novels and American classics on the bookshelves on both sides; thought that we should be sitting in easy chairs at this moment with wine glasses in hand; thought of whispers, sumptuous dinners, and beds… …
”Scott’s doctor?” Clark Morris said, “I don’t think he has.”
”He must have had a student pilot medical examination.”
”Be out of company.” The mustache waiter walked up to a couple who had just pulled out their stools, served them Budweiser, and then returned to me, “Regarding the medical examination, I think he was in Spark He would only do it there. Scott hated the doctor; I remember one time he had a big fight with Christie because he didn’t want to have a medical check-up every year.” The
cocktail waitress signaled that she needed to refill her drink. . Morris walked over and poured me another glass of wine when he returned.
”Thank you. I asked about this doctor because Scott met a doctor the day before
he died— ” “Impossible. He took Christy to a picnic at Pyramid Lake that day, and that was their favorite. A place, left early in the morning.”
”Maybe his mother made a mistake. It could be a day earlier.”
”I don’t think so. Scott worked as a construction worker in Sparks that week.”
”Oh. He’s not a dealer anymore?”
”Also-at the’Hala’ Casino. He needs money because he wants to get married. He plans to negotiate a date with Christie at the picnic. He really loves that. Woman, said he must marry her quickly, otherwise it will be late.”
”Why is it late?”
Morris frowned, spreading his hands, “I just want to know.”
Christie Hertz’s friend Lynn Da Collins works the night shift at the “Shaft” bar. She looks exhausted in the costume of a follower in the camp. When it was time to rest, she sat down on the chair opposite me, kicked off her high heels, and moved her toes on the thick carpet.
”So, who hired you?” she asked, “It can’t be Christie’s bastard stepfather, he doesn’t care where she lives now. I know it must be that poor, cowardly Scott.
” Haven’t you heard about Scott?”
”What did you hear ?”
”He’s dead.” While explaining the situation, I looked at the shocked expression in Collins’ eyes.
”It’s terrible!” she said, “Why didn’t Christie tell me? Doesn’t she know?”
”I don’t think you like Scott.”
”Oh, he’s okay, just can’t let go. It made Kristy very depressed. Flying was the only interesting thing he had ever done-it turned out to be like this.”
”I heard that he and Kristy went to Pyramid Lake for a picnic the day before his death.”
”Really? Oh, by the way, I remember. Strangely, there has been no news from her since then. I wonder if Scott can stand it?”
”What can I take?”
”Chrissy Tey planned to break up with him there. When Scott returned to her hometown to take care of her father, she met someone-a rich and powerful guy from Sacramento. After Scott came back, she didn’t have the courage to tell him, but she had to tell him as soon as possible. Tell him, because she and that guy are getting married next month. My God, I hope she can give Scott some dignity.”
Christie Hertz’s mobile house is still unanswered, but next door The lights are on. I walked over, knocked on the door, and asked the lady if I had seen Hertz recently.
”Oh, no, dear, at least two weeks. She may be on vacation, preparing for the wedding. That’s what she said.”
”When was the last time you saw her?”
”That was…well, two weeks The previous Thursday. She left with the handsome blond guy. I guess he was the lucky guy.”
”Did she bring luggage?”
”Definitely, but I only saw a picnic basket.” The
campus office closed. I stood on the steps, thinking that this might be a reckless move, and then turned back to Hertz’s board room. The light next door was still on, but the board room on the other side was pitch black. I walked over, looked at Hertz’s window, and found that one of the windows was open, so I removed the screen window, pushed the glass window aside, and entered the room.
I stood inside and listened. The house feels like it has been uninhabited for some time. I took out the flashlight from my bag and took pictures around. The neat piles of magazines and paperbacks, the dishes in the storage rack by the sink, the clean stove and counter, all of which left me with the impression that Hertz is very good at housekeeping. However, a plate of rotten fruits on the dining table, and spoiled milk and vegetables in the refrigerator seemed to be in sharp contrast to all this.
A narrow corridor leads to the single bedroom and bathroom. The bed was made and the clothes hung neatly in the closet. In the bathroom, I found cosmetics, a toothbrush, and a small circular box containing contraceptive pills. The last blank date is the day before the picnic at Pyramid Lake.
When I left the house, I noticed the flashing message light on the answering machine.
”Kristi, I’m Dell, just want to ask about the situation. I love you.”
”Kristi, are you there? If so, please answer the phone. Okay, call me when you get the message.”
”Christie, where are you? For God’s sake, call me!”
”Well, let me guess: you and Scott are reconciled. You should at least tell me. If you can’t speak to him, can you tell me?”
”I’ll give you another opportunity to explain. If If you don’t call back within 24 hours, we will be finished!”
Christie Hertz chose neither of these men wisely.
I have never been to Pyramid Lake before, but when I stand on the boat and head towards the west bank, I feel like I am home. Like a tuff lake, it is ancient and illusory. The name of the lake comes from the huge boulder that is faintly visible in the dark; there are many tuff tower-like domes and spires on the lake bank. A high milky white cloud dyed the calm lake silver; several small boats drifted quietly in the distance; migratory birds hovered in the air, sometimes swooping down looking for food.
This lake is located about 30 miles north of Reno and is surrounded by the Paiute Indian Reservation. Once there, I drove along the lakeshore to Sutcliffe Village, where the prefabricated park and small commercial facilities seemed to be randomly scattered by a giant hand. I took pictures of Scott Oakley’s mother to me in grocery stores, boat rental companies, fishing gear stores, and wherever couples on a picnic might stay. I asked them one by one, but found nothing. At the Pyramid Lake Tribe Corporate Office-whose function seems to be selling fishing licenses-someone suggested that I go to the Sotby Fishing Tackle Shop and go north for about 10 minutes. However, the Sotby Fishing Tackle Shop was closed.
Just when I was at a loss, a rumbling sound suddenly came from a distance, and I saw a rusty white pickup coming towards this side. When the car stopped in front of the fishing gear shop, an old man jumped out of the car, opened the door, walked into the shop, and put up a sign saying “Opening”. I hurried forward.
The old man has long gray hair, and his skin has turned chestnut color due to years of wind and sun. He welcomed me like a family member. My great-grandmother is a pure Shoshone, and my appearance has inherited her family genes; sometimes this is an obstacle, but now it helps.
I showed him Scott’s picture, “Thursday two weeks ago, have you seen this man? He should be with a red-haired woman—”
”Yes, they have been here many times, and they always rent my motorboat to the east coast for a picnic.”
”Are you sure about the date?”
”When did they arrive?”
He reached under the counter and took out a rental log, his rough fingers slid down the list, “10 am. The boat was driven back at 4 pm—for them Long enough.”
”Who returned the keys and paid the money when they drove the motorboat back?”
”Did you see that woman?”
He thought for a moment, “No, no, I I didn’t see it.” The
only thing I have to ask is how to find the tribal police station.
At around 3 o’clock that afternoon, people from the tribal police station found Christy Hertz’s body. It was hidden in a small cave eroded by wind on the east bank, next to a blood-stained stone. Her skull was smashed.
I can imagine this scenario: Scott urges her to set a wedding date; Kristi tells him that she has already set it, but with someone else. Scott, a young man who takes life seriously and works hard, doesn’t understand what he has done wrong. He completely lost his mind and finally made a crazy move.
After hiding the body, he pretended that nothing happened, returned the motorboat, and drove to Vernon as planned. But he couldn’t hide his pain from his mother, so he lied that something was wrong with his body in order to make his suicide look like an accident. Then, he drove the Cessna trainer and flew around the tuff tower-it flew three times. It was perfect. Hay could let him fly solo without following the plane, and he could end his life.
In the afternoon of the next day, I was flying a West Tabria light plane with Hay in the back seat. I made a sharp turn and pointed the tip of my left wing towards Plover Island, where Scott crashed.
Through the headset, Hay said: “What a good young man, he killed a loved one on impulse, and then tried his best to commit suicide. He really wanted to die without revealing any flaws, I didn’t see it at all.”
”Now his mother has to endure all the pain.”
”At least she knows that her son doesn’t want her to worry. It will make her feel better.”
”It’s just a small comfort.”
”Damn it, McCon, why don’t suicides Consider the relatives behind them?” For
a while, I didn’t speak, and concentrated on flying into the wind, trying to align the wingtips at the island. This is a directional control exercise learned in flight training, and usually I like it very much. However, not today, not in such a wind.
I gave up and flew south to see the obsidian dome in the volcanic area. “Ripinsky,” I said, “we all know that people who commit suicide are very selfish. Many of them, like Scott, are not responsible for their own lives.”
”They also ruin other people’s lives. ”
I drove my horse back and pulled the joystick back; instead of flying to the dome, I went straight into the sky and practiced aerobatics. When I made a difficult spiral flight, nothing made Hay more happy than this. He desperately needs to cheer up now.
”You know what,” I said, “it suddenly occurred to me that a good life is like flying solo. You have to take responsibility, do your best, and go forward courageously.”
I looked back at him; he nodded.
”Let’s stop talking about it.” I said.
I kept the fuselage stable, pulled the joystick back, increased the throttle all the way, and the plane rose vertically. Seeing my series of skillful operations, Hay smiled with satisfaction.