Afterword: And I Seal Up These Records

And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
—Moroni 10:2
How, I ask, am I to wrap all this up?

Good question.

I suppose a roll call of the players in this little drama would not be out of order.

I haven't seen John Snow in person since the day we met at the border between Kingsgate, British Columbia, and Eastport, Idaho, in 1987. I attended one Canada Calgary Mission reunion a year or two after my return to Utah, mostly in the hope of connecting with him, but he wasn't there. I did chat with him on the phone a time or two in the years after our missions, and a few years ago I received a wedding invitation from him—but I had no way of getting to Fresno, California, to attend.

At the aforementioned mission reunion, however, I did connect with Vernon Vickers—the elder who failed to make it to the hump-day party at the border. He and I were practically the only two attendees who showed up without trophies—er, I mean wives or girlfriends. But that was fine. It gave us a chance to catch up on things.

In the time since the first run of Terror on Flight 789 debuted, however, I've received email from both Snow and Vickers—and, unsurprisingly and unfortunately, they're both teaching seminary in the Pacific Northwest. We've exchanged a few letters, but there's not all that much common ground these days.

Emma Steed used to send me cards at Christmas and Valentine's Day, but that ended after a couple of years. It's no excuse, but I don't do snail correspondence very well, and writing to me can easily be discouraging.

I received a wedding invitation from Kim Herzog before I'd even gotten home from my mission. I haven't seen her since Calgary, though we talked on the phone once while I was still stationed in Bonners Ferry.

I attended Monica Roper's wedding reception a several years back in Salt Lake City. The Tuttles were there. They seemed a bit bewildered by my long hair and beard, but they were quite friendly. I seem to recall that they were making plans to serve another mission, this time as a regular proselytizing couple.

President Aames was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after I was released from my mission, and he had to be released as mission president. He died a few months later.

Last I heard from Steve Summers, he was president of Master Muffler, a chain of muffler and brake shops in northern Utah. He inherited the position from his father. While I was still in Utah, I used to hear from him every once in a while—usually when he had a computer problem he needed help with. It's too bad our band never took off, but Steve tells me that he's trying to get a band of his own going again, which is a Good Thing.

Elder Finn ran across Terror on Flight 789 during its first run and sent me a few email messages, but our correspondence really didn't go anywhere. It turns out that he returned to the mission field some time after his mother's operation, completed his service, and returned home honorably. He now runs an electronics store and is still active in the Church, but I won't say more than that because he values his privacy on this issue. He did write to me rather breathlessly late in 1996 when the screenplay based on this story (written by Christopher J. Rivera, James Callan and me) was close to being optioned. But he hasn't written again since.

Katrina McCormick got married shortly after I returned from my mission, divorced late in 1996, and now lives in Alaska with a new husband. We've been in fairly regular contact since our ten-year high school reunion in 1994. It was later that year that Katrina and I got together for a chat at which she asked me some pretty tough questions about why I was choosing to stick with the Mormon Church despite the fact that it was making me so miserable. I consider that visit one of the turning points in my apostasy—a fact which will not surprise my father, who always thought "that girl" was a bad influence. Personally, I think she was one of the best influences, and one of the best friends.

My younger sister Seletha has followed my example and served a mission. She was sent to the Dominican Republic for eighteen months. She was shot at and kidnapped there on separate occasions, but those are her stories to tell.

At this writing, my brother Tim has served a mission in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, return home intact, and gotten himself into a Temple marriage, all in relatively short order. My brother Lee is currently serving a mission in Japan—curiously enough, speaking as much Portuguese as Japanese. I hope his mission doesn't turn out to be as exciting as Seletha's and mine were. I'm sure he hopes the opposite.

And what about me? What's happened to me?

I've changed. Brother, have I changed.

There are other pages here at my Web site that deal with that metamorphosis. Perhaps the most important change I've undergone, in light of the current narrative, is my new laissez-faire attitude toward other people's lives.

You can go your way. I'll go mine.

I won't interfere with your life, so long as it's not hurting anyone else, and I hope you'll extend me the same courtesy.

And should the day ever come when you're tempted to drop a bomb in the middle of someone else's life, I'd suggest that you stop and take stock and very seriously ask yourself if you're doing the right thing. And if you feel absolutely certain that you are, then I'd suggest with double seriousness that you think it all through again, because the person with perfect self-confidence is the person least likely to be troubled by questions of morality.

Certainly there are occasions when quick, decisive action is demanded—knocking someone out of the path of a speeding car, for instance. A friend of mine once told me, at the end of a messy and long-overdue divorce, that she wished I'd been there to call in a bomb threat at her wedding. But most situations aren't so cut-and-dried. Know what you're doing when you do it. I certainly didn't, that day eleven years ago in Calgary. I still don't, not entirely.

And if you do act, and you make the wrong choice—or even the right one—you'd better be ready to weather the fallout. (I'd suggest keeping a lockpick hidden in your orifice of choice.)

Because not everybody wants, or needs, to be saved.

“Terror on Flight 789” is a very early, much shorter preliminary draft of what would eventually become my full-length memoir The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary. If you enjoy this story, you'll like that thoroughly revised and expanded version even more. Available now!

About This Story

“Terror on Flight 789” is a very early, much shorter preliminary draft of what would eventually become my full-length memoir The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary. If you enjoy this story, you'll like that thoroughly revised and expanded version even more. Available now!

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