Monday, March 30, 2009

Excerpt: Monday's 1-liner

Chief led her to a quiet corner, where Radioman Chris Toumala had set up a handset. He was seated, one hand on some dials, one hand signaling for Julian to enter the space and sit. Toumala spoke into the microphone, “And we’re ready. I’ll stay on the line, Operator.”

Julian picked up the handset. Toumala began, “Okay, Operator. Please patch us through.” He covered his mic with his fingers, then spoke to Julian. “You’re going to have to say ‘Over’ each time you finish talking. The Operator will give the same instruction to your parents. That way, the Operator can switch the signal.”

In a minute, she heard the Operator’s voice. “Okay, USS Cape St. George, your line is open. Please begin.” Toumala pointed to Julian.

“Hello?” No one responded. “Hello?”

Toumala leaned over, again covering his mic. “Say ‘Over’.”
“Hello? Over.”

“Julian? Over.” It was her Dad.
“Dad.” Julian immediately choked up. She didn’t know that tears could come that quickly. Toumala made eye contact, and she remembered to add, “Over.”

“Honey, let me tell you what happened. Your brother Christian was arrested on Sunday morning. He’s all right. He’s gonna be all right.” Her Dad paused. She pictured Dad at the kitchen table in Michigan. He continued. “He’s gonna do the right thing. He’s gonna take responsibility for…” her Dad cleared his throat “…for his actions. We just wanted you to know, and let you know that everything’s gonna be all right." Dad explained the details. "Over.”

“Daddy! Oh, my God! That’s… that’s terrible!” She had her head bowed so low that it was nearly in her lap. Her questions were puzzle pieces, scattered, some face-up, some face-down. “Dad, who? Who was she?”

Julian forgot to finish with “Over,” but the Operator was following closely enough that he knew to flip the switch.