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Hero’s Goodbye

A thousand people were at the gravesite. I sat in one of the folding chairs surrounding the coffin, my little boys by my side. As we listened to the NYPD bagpipe band play a slow rendition of Danny Boy, I thought of Brian and Eddie on lawn chairs in the yard, their cheeks puffed while they practiced the pipes for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the kids dancing around, laughing when Brian clowned, making his eyes bulge, his face purple.

Finally, the Air Force fired a parting shot, a three-volley salute into the hushed crowd, and a formation of fighter jets left a plume of white cloud while one lone bugle player played taps. I watched two police officers pick up the flag over Brian’s coffin and begin to fold, each crease precise. When they put it in my hands, I stared down at the stars until they blurred.

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20k on Facebook

I thought my article with Salon might generate a few hundred hits, even hoped for 1000, but incredibly people from near and far have responded, people who are friends of friends of people I’ve never heard of. This incredible reach has given me as a writer the momentum and inspiration to get The Widow and the Hijacker into your hands. Thank you, each and every one.

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A run in my mother’s nylons exposed varicose veins that mapped her once beautiful legs. I watched her cross the room and thought of her at sixteen, walking home from Cardinal Spellmen, boys stealing looks. She’ll close the door to her bedroom and tune us out, imagine herself elsewhere, anywhere except this tiny apartment with six kids, the eternal television, footsteps coming and going at all hours, everyone wanting something from her.

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Brian stood to the left of the bomb, and took the full blow. Ragged chunks of iron tore into him and severed his windpipe and tore holes in his body. I thought a hundred times about how it must have felt, the rumble and shock and deafening percussion as the ground rocked and the air transformed into a solid mass of black rain. They told me a dynamite blast is so violent that you are knocked senseless and when you wake up, if you do wake up, you have no idea what happened.

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Dreams of Life

A blue light shined under the door, but as I moved into the next room, the light vanished and slipped under the door into the room beyond, and then again until there were no more rooms. I opened the last door to find Brian sitting in a faded, red wingchair, his hands on the dirty armrests. The right side of his face was in profile, and parts hung off the other side like the stuffing of a chair. “They want me to disappear for a while,” I heard him say. And when I reached out to him he disappeared.

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My Story

On September 11, 1976, I was the twenty-eight year old mother of two young boys waiting for my husband to arrive home from his shift with the NYPD bomb squad when I heard the news. TWA flight 355 had been hijacked by five Croatian terrorists. That night the bomb those terrorists left in Grand Central Station to threaten the world exploded, killing my husband and setting the nation on fire with the news.
The Widow and the Hijacker is the true story of how I became seduced by Julie Busic, the American female terrorist, the wife of anti-hero Zvonko Busic, a beautiful blonde woman from a privileged background by whom I became both repelled and fascinated.
The book includes the letters we wrote to each other while she was in prison, her eventual release, and the final face-to-face meeting where iniquity and sedition climaxed in the truth of who she really was.

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The End?

Facebook – September 2, 2012: After spending 32 years in prison and five as a free man, the man who was responsible for building the bomb that killed Brian Murray committed suicide this week. His wife found his body along with a note in their home in Croatia. I wonder if he thought about the lives he altered forever, the boys who never knew their father, the missed possibilities. After waiting so long for it, I wonder what freedom cost him. I’m not sad, nor am I happy that he’s dead, but I feel something, an event that I can’t name. Strange turn of events, this life.

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Makings of a Bomb

Brian handled hundreds of bombs in his six years on the NYPD. He was trained in the Air Force and dismantled bombs in VietNam. He was an expert, a skilled technician, and safety was a primary concern. But this bomb was different. It blew up before he had a chance to look at it. Why did it explode? That’s what I wanted to know and what the NYPD bomb squad wouldn’t tell me.

Brian (l) with Ray Walsh examining pieces of a bomb that exploded at Fraunces Tavern in 1975.

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