It seems like a hundred years have passed since that night.

The kid’s room, 9pm, I’m done reading to him. He’s tucked in, barely awake, breathing settling down. I switch off the bed lamp and start to rise, when I feel his little paw on my arm.

“ChooChoo.” (don’t know how he started calling me that).


“I want you to take me to your work. I wanna see what you do.”

“Geezers, that’s exactly what I had in mind. I need yore help.”


“We have an ‘AOG’ situation and I sure could use your expertise.” My voice has dropped to an urgent whisper.

“What’s an ‘AOG sichwashun?” wide awake, on his elbows now, big eyelashes fluttering and making it a bit windy in there.

“Aircraft On Ground.”

“No kidding!” mouth agape now. I gently shut his lips lest a fly should do a low level sortie.

“We have a rotor, taken off a crashed F-117 turbine. We did a PPDP on it at 250 cycles. Found a .30 positive indication with some sticky pink FOD at the bottom.”

“What’s an effohdee?”

Foreign Object Damage. Jet engines sometimes stop workin’ because stuff get’s inside the rotor blades, y’know. Highly dangerous, life-and-death sichwashun….”

“How’d the effohdee get there?”

“Oh, it was a Tomcat, coming in to land on the Abraham Lincoln. The pilot was a rookie – he had the FOD in his mouth, against regoolashuns. He opened his canopy to spit it out and it went in through the intake.”

“What do you want me ta do?”

“Thought we could bring you in, deputize you and you could run a sample thru’ your extensive bubble gum database.”

“ChooChoo!” exasperation, realizes I’m kidding. Giggles anyway. I tuck him in again.

A shadow suddenly looms across the doorway. It feels like one of those huge alien ships gradually blanketing the earth in ‘Independence Day’. The room is suddenly cold and I distinctly hear a wolf’s baleful howl… oooouuuuuh! I shiver. Seems like Halloween is a bit early.

The shadow belongs to the Persian woman who lives in my house. She looks cross at my keeping the kid past his bedtime.

I beat it quick. Phew!