Chapter 11: Always On The Tarmac

Chapter 11



A brisk gush of air and Marilyn suddenly awakes. When she looks around and sees no one, she fears she’s alone. She stands and notices Peter passed out in a nearby seat, but Pat is nowhere in sight. Puzzled and woozy she searches her memory and tries to reconstruct the days events. The door to the plane is open and once again she feels the breeze of cool night air coaxing her to clarity. She rushes to the door and pauses. She sees Pat on the tarmac talking to two men. She knows instantly that these are not Sinatra’s guys. She has been followed by the FBI enough times to know two G men when she sees them. Pat must have reached Bobby. Marilyn flashes back to a conversation she had with Pat before they left Cal-Neva. Pat had assured her everything would be alright. (Both women were almost certain that it was something Marilyn ate or drank that made her sick, but Pat continued to deny that it could have been intentional. Pat tried to hide her fear that it was she herself, and not Marilyn, that had been the target. Nor could she admit to Marilyn the possibility that once Bobby had been warned of an assassination attempt in LA, the plan had changed, and now any Kennedy was game.) All Pat would say is that she had to talk with Bobby. Her brother would know what to do. They had to trust him and do exactly as he said. Marilyn remembered Pat mentioning Hyannis Port so she reasoned that Pat must be heading there to meet Bobby in person. But surely she would say goodbye before she left.

When Marilyn sees Pat and the men stop talking and start to walk away she quickly emerges from the plane and yells, “Pat?” A chill goes up Marilyn’s spine as she steps into the cool night. The cold steel steps give her bare feet the sensation of walking on hot coals and she rushes down the stairs and then runs towards Pat. When Pat hears Marilyn call out, she stops and tells her companions to, “Go on ahead, I’ll catch up.” Pat starts walking to meet Marilyn. The agents walk a few paces forward then stop to wait near their car. Marilyn sees the impatience in their faces but then turns her attention to the approaching Pat.

A sliver of moon hangs in the sky. Serpentine clouds to the south and the bright lights of the airport obscure the twinkling stars of the night. It’s cool and breezy. Marilyn wraps her arms around herself and vigorously rubs her upper arms. She flashes a questioning smile as Pat arrives. The night feels more like early fall in Connecticut than summer in California. Pat takes her own jacket off and when she gets to Marilyn she wraps it around her shoulders. With a sheepish look as if to say “I’m sorry,” Pat explains that she didn’t have the heart to wake Marilyn up. Before Marilyn can object Pat steers her back toward Sinatra’s plane and says, “Honey, we have to get you back inside, you’ll catch your death out here.” Pat was concerned. She knew all to well of Marilyn’s nightmarish ordeal with a reoccurring sinus infection that had plagued her all spring. And now, after the days events, she was so weak and sick she needed rest. Marilyn could read the concern on Pat’s face. Pat had told Marilyn earlier that she really thought she was going to die in her arms on that bathroom floor at Cal-Neva.

MM: I’m feeling better. Really. I’m going to be okay. Where are you going? What’s going on?
PKL: Peter knows what going on. Didn’t he tell you anything?
MM: Peter’s asleep.

Pat’s eyes momentarily dart toward the plane and Marilyn sees a look of disgust and disappointment flash on Pat’s face. Pat’s relationship with Peter was strained and Marilyn had seen that look all too often. Pat explains she had just spoke with Peter, he must have passed right back out.

PKL: It’s bad Marilyn. Very bad. I’m flying home. I have to talk to Jack and Bobby in person… NONE of us can talk by phone. You can’t say anything to anyone about what happened. You know that… Don’t you?

Marilyn nods, disappointed that Pat called Hyannis Port home. She constantly called her Santa Monica home the “beach house,” like she was on an extended vacation. Marilyn tries to hold her words back, but her furrowed brow and worried, inquisitive look betray her desperate desire to ask Pat to take her with. Both women know that is impossible.

One of the agents walks around the car and gets into the drivers seat. The pilot has emerged from behind the plane and is now standing at the steps. The other agent starts to walk toward the women but stops short, not wanting to intrude. Because another plane is taking off nearby he has to yell, “Mrs. Lawford, we really must be going.” Pat turns briefly toward the agent and raises a finger signaling it will be just one more minute, then looks back at Marilyn and flashes a reassuring smile.

PKL: Go back with Peter. He will get you home. He’ll make sure you’re alright. You can even stay at the beach house if you want. You can trust Peter.
MM: Apart from you, I don’t know who to trust or what to do.
PKL: We both have to trust Bobby. He will know what to do. We HAVE to do what he says. I will have Peter come by to fill you in. Until then just do what you would normally do.

The agent yells out, “Mrs Lawford I really must insist…”
This time Pat ignores him and is about to say goodbye when Marilyn interrupts.

MM: Don’t say goodbye. Goodbye can be forever.

Marilyn discreetly moves her hand forward to touch Pat’s fingers. For a split second Pat recoils as to not divulge their secret. But then Pat grabs both of Marilyn’s hands with her own.

PKL: Okay, how about, I’ll see you soon.
MM: Promise…
PKL: Promise.

Marilyn mouths the words, “Love me.” Pat can’t tell if she has said it as a question or a request. It doesn’t matter, her reply will be the same. She mouths the word that means so much to them both. “Always.”

Every since the night in Palm Desert when Pat told Marilyn that she had always loved her and always would, the word had taken on a special and sometimes even playful meaning for the two women. It perfectly described the deep, multifaceted and eternal feelings they had for each other, all ways and always. They loved each other in every way and forever more.

Marilyn watches Pat turn and walk towards the government car. Sinatra’s pilot stands at the stairs to the plane with one hand on the steel railing. Dressed in dark clothes, the bright lights of a luggage carrier behind him give form to a black silhouette, an empty void that makes him appear as if he is part of the night. As Marilyn gets closer his grim face suddenly smiles, and with his other hand out like a maitre d’, he say’s, “Shall we.” Marilyn slowly climbs the steps and once at the top pauses to look back at Pat. One of the agents is holding the door open as Pat gets into the car.

The pilot stands right behind Marilyn and gently puts his hand on her back, smiles and says, “After you, Miss Monroe.” Marilyn looks at the pilot, she forces a half smile and nods her head. The bright interior lights of the plane illuminate Marilyn’s face. Her eyelids instinctively lower as she steps into the doorway.

Pat is seated in the backseat of the government vehicle. She looks toward the plane hoping to see Marilyn one more time but the agent is obstructing her sight. When he finally moves Pat catches one last glimpse of Marilyn as her shock of blond hair disappears from view.