John was now pleading his case before Armani-clad investment bankers and high-rolling entrepreneurs—anyone with pockets deep enough to keep George alive. “I know the sons-of-bitches he had to deal with,” journalist Michael Wolff later wrote. “He was paying serious dues.”
The previous Monday, John, unable to man the controls because of his injured ankle, had flown from Martha’s Vineyard to Toronto this time with his flight instructor—to meet with potential investors Keith Stein and Belinda Stronach. As Stein drove him north to his offices in Aurora, Ontario, his passenger was decidedly upbeat and inquisitive, sticking his head out Stein’s car window “like a dog sort of looking around, taking it all in. He was obviously someone who was keenly interested in his surroundings. He had questions about everything. “
Stein had a few questions of his own. Why, for instance, was he traveling to Canada when the deepest pockets were in his hometown of New York? “I like to operate,” John said slyly, “below the radar screen.”
“If John was stressed out about the magazine,” Stein said, “he certainly didn’t show it. He struck me as a guy who just didn’t let things get to him.” But John, who told Stein he had flown up with his instructor because he could not operate the plane’s foot pedals, was becoming increasingly impatient to have the cast removed from his ankle. “He was hopping around and couldn’t put any pressure on his foot,” Stein later recalled. “He was clearly passionate about flying.”
Indeed, John’s only real complaint was that his broken ankle had kept him from doing the things he loved—Rollerblading, biking, and most of all, flying. “I’ve loved airplanes ever since I was a little kid,” he told his Canadian hosts. “Because of this ankle, I won’t be able to do the flying when we go back to New York tonight, and that’s too bad—I really love the challenge of navigating at night. Besides, it’s so much prettier when you approach New York and look down at all the lights.”
The conversation then turned oddly philosophical. “How old are you?” Kennedy asked Stein.
“Thirty-eight,” Kennedy replied, shaking his head. “God, how time flies.” Then they discussed fate, and “how none of us knows how much time there is left.”
Kennedy shrugged. “Don’t worry,” he said, “about what you can’t control...”
Excerpted from The Day John Died. Copyright © 2000 by Christopher Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Morrow, William & Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.