Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RED (02/01/18)
- TITLE: Duck Duck Goose
By Phillip Cimei
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My wife groaned out a, “Yeah, sure it’s nine-thirty. That’d be a first.”
Little did I know that this first for me made me miss the red alert that was issued on my phone. Would this first be my last?
It's been seven years retired and up at dawn. Old dogs, new tricks—you get it. Neither of us were aware that this unchartered territory caused us to miss a life-threatening warning. Warnings? Been there, done that.
Moving from Tornado alley left behind countless hours of, “This is a tornado warning,” or “Take immediate shelter in your basement”—we eventually built a safe room. Today’s warning was different.
I lumbered to the kitchen and noticed, through tenuous eyes, my glowing phone. My heart took a skip at the warning on the screen. I screamed out to my wife, “Come quickly!” I read the alert, Emergency alert- Ballistic missile threat inbound. Take immediate shelter. This is not a drill.
“What?” She called out in a tone of disbelief. “Turn on the tv…hurry.”
All stations announced the same blunder, “False alarm, there is no missile attack.”
I certainly don’t want to make light of terrorist attacks or war threats. Heaven knows what heart breaks and devastation they bring. But today’s Keystone Cops moment left public officials egg faced. It caught people with their pants down. And not just the government officials.
The news cast continued to tell of the chaos that followed—people shoving kids down sewer manholes; others frantically running down the street screaming and utterly confused as to where to hide, and parents in a panic because one child was on one side of the island and one on the other. Public officials ran around doing what would be considered a Chinese fire drill before making the false alarm announcement.
Their kerfuffle initiated this game of hide and seek by the public. I thought to myself, “What good would it be to hide in a manhole? It would be as silly as an ant hiding under a leaf to avoid the foot of a three-hundred-pound giant.”
My wife turned toward me, head wagging. She let out a sigh—not one of relief, but one of disbelief, “Did they say it took thirty-eight minutes to issue a false alarm?” Then she laughed out loud and said, “It reminds me of Junior’s handling of a red alert.”
Junior, my namesake, didn’t handle chaos very well even though he previously had been in the Air force for eight years as Ground Force Security. He was a military cop—in simple terms. But he was not your ordinary cop—big, macho, intimidating, a rock under stress. He was a Barney Fife—108 lbs., high pitched voice, and skittish. Now I don’t say this in a demeaning or belittling way. He has a heart of gold with a child like spirit. You can’t help but love the boy. But, bless his heart, he is a weenie when it comes to red alerts.
He handled checking cars for bombs in the Gulf War just fine, He didn’t even flinch when he was on a flight at the same time the twin towers were being flown into on 911. But he couldn’t handle geese or ducks.
It was understandable. One time, as a boy, a goose bit him in the middle of his chest. He still has the mark. Jokingly, he tells everyone he has a third nipple. So, it was understandable that he issued a red alert to his other base guards on that particular day.
Erect as a Buckingham Palace guard he would wave on the cars. When a Captain or General came through, Junior would give a polished salute followed by an impish smile and a hearty wave. They just snickered and went on. The day went as usual until a flock of ducks came inbound as quick as ballistic missiles. Game on! Not!
Squealing like a little school girl, he ran around in circles chasing them as if he was playing Duck, duck, goose, no pun intended. In frustration he sought back-up, yelling in his walkie-talkie, “We got ducks!”
Their response? Thunderous laughs and, “Red Alert. Red Alert, quack, quack.”
Added comment from author: There was no intention to make light of the emotional trauma this false alarm caused many, or to downgrade the devastation and terror of war or terrorist actions. This was just to show the lighter moments during a red alert situation. I apologize if any take offence.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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