Lisa was leaving the next morning. Aruba to Miami and then Miami to Los Angeles.
“I can stay if you’d like?” She told Henry.
“No Lisa – you go live your life – I am almost done with mine. I have some other stuff I need to add to my bucket list.”
“Hmmm,” She smiled and placed her hand on his chest. “Can I be a part of that?”
“Ha – nothing sexy or fun – just some loose ends I need to tie up. Some people I let down who I need to speak to and clear things up with.”
“But in the meantime…I still have several hours to go…” She crawled on top of him and he smiled.
Michael tried calling the hotel several times but apparently no one with the name Henry Mann registered there.
“So how do you explain the credit card charge?” Michael responded.
“I can’t explain it – you can dispute it with the bank and they will investigate. Even if I see the name on our registry I cannot provide for you any information.”
“Can I please speak with your supervisor?” He was put on hold.
“Good afternoon this is Junaida how can I assist you?” Michael repeated his request and Junaida, the daytime manager responded the same as the first person who answered the phone. Michael hung up, put his head in his hands and began to cry.
Henry stepped onto the balcony and surveyed the view. With both hands on the railing he was praying for answers and what he should do next. He had stopped praying or even believing in any God or higher power.
“Ain’t no atheists in foxholes.” He thought to himself. He smiled and then sat on a chair and thought about his father. He was a tough man – had to be.
He was born 10 years before the start of World War II and grew up in the refugee camps before he found a way to New York City. He was a French Jew who’s family was spared extinction because his father’s non-Jewish mistress took them in and they spent two years in her home before the authorities came in and took them all to a refugee camp. The next week France was liberated and they were left to go home. Unfortunately there was no home to go to and they were able to find a way to America. His father stayed in France with the mistress and they never heard from him again. His father became the man of the house and built himself a business selling radios and then television sets. By 1955 he had 3 stores and was a millionaire at the age of 30.
He met Laura when he was invited to a dinner party by a friend. They married 3 months later and had three kids. Henry, being the youngest.
His father, Joseph, passed away one night before his 80th birthday in 2005.
The fall out with his mother began when Henry told her of his marriage situation.
“Leave the bitch.” She told him.
“I don’t want to mom.”
“Until you leave her – don’t speak to me.”
It was 6 years ago and they had spoken several words since then.
He thought about his brother and his sister. Robert and Sylvia and wondered how their life had been. Since his father passed away and they sat Shiva in his house, they had promised to keep in touch. But since that Christmas they had listened to their mother, mostly in fear of losing out of her will. Their father had left everything to her and there was a lot. His estate was valued at 30 million dollars but had been undervalued since the several properties he owned in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; had increased at least, in value ten-fold.
He decided to fly back to New York and to repair some damage his fears and timidity had caused.
Pamela told Michael they should go to Aruba to look for their father.
“Lets wait a couple of days,” He said, “Let’s see if we hear anything back.” He had sent messages to his father’s attention to each of the major hotels in Aruba; if he was there hopefully he would see it and call.
“What if he died already.” Pamela broke down for the first time. “I can’t do this – I feel so bad that I ignored him that I didn’t stand by him…” Michael held her and told her it wasn’t her fault.
“Besides I called the hospitals there and no one with Daddy’s name had been admitted. I also called the American consulate in Curacao and they will be checking if his passport was used as entry. I don’t know if they will even get back to me. But let’s wait, today is Friday, lets give it until Tuesday at least.”
“OK…but I can’t see mommy anymore – I really can’t stand her.”
“I know…I did call Grandma, Aunty Sylvia said he hasn’t called. Uncle Bobby also hasn’t heard from him.”
“I keep having this crazy vision of him being dead in an alley somewhere…” She said. “I can’t tell you for sure Pam, but I truly feel he is alive. Have faith, go pray, light the candles tonight and say a prayer. Mom would love that.”
They both laughed. Their mother had basically outlawed religion in her home.
“We can have a Christmas tree but that’s it.” She said.
“We aren’t Christians – we are Jewish.”
“We are nothing – just because you are born into a religion doesn’t make you that.”
“Well, actually it does.”
“Not in my house.” She would say and, always, walk out after that decree.
Henry checked out – went to the airport and caught the 1:35 flight to Kennedy Airport. He arrived a little before 6p, purchased a prepaid cell phone and made some calls.
Back at the Mann home, Pamela lit candles and said a prayer.