The code lock clicked, and the single steel door swung open. Sergeant First Class Anderson spun around pointing her US Army issue Colt .45 at the figure in the doorway. “You startled me, Skip!”
“I can see that; ever vigilant huh?”
MI Chief Warrant Officer Skip Daggard closed the heavy door behind him. “Sorry, honey,” Skip said to his operations sergeant as he entered the White House Communications Center.
“You should be home sleeping, darling, especially if you plan to leave for New Jersey at 0600,” SFC Anderson said placing the weapon back into her shoulder holster.
“Yeah, I know, but there’s a hellacious thunderstorm topside. Since I couldn’t go back to sleep, after pulling myself out from under our bed, I thought I’d spend some time with you.”
Chief Daggard hung up his army issue black overcoat on the coat rack. He placed his black umbrella in one of the appropriate holes at the base of the coat rack. Then he stepped over to SFC Anderson planting a juicy kiss on her lightly coated red lips. Daggard slipped off his denim sports jacket, and hung it over the back of a standard military issue chair, then plopped down onto the gray cushioned seat. Skip leaned back in his chair clasping his hands together resting them against the back of his head.
Chief Daggard glanced at the dedicated communications circuits for Camp David. The green systems function LED lights were glowing indicating all systems normal and active but the circuits were devoid of traffic at this time. “All quiet on the mountain?”
SFC Kristine Anderson looked up from several messages she was cataloging, “Yes, Skip everything is quiet. Sergeant Mott and I changed the KW 100 sandwiches at 2300. He is on duty until 0700 when Staff Sergeant Hoboken and his day staff come on line.
“By the way, sweetheart, I have been meaning to ask you something--”
Daggard glanced at Kristine, “Yeah! What?”
“When are you going to take me home to meet your mother? After all, we have been engaged for sixteen months now.”
Skip glared at Kristine through blank blue eyes as he shifted in his chair lowering his hands to armrests-his knuckles turning white. He loved her Germanic facial features, her fleshy one hundred and twenty pounds and her slender long legs, yet, once again questions. Why, Skip wondered, was she always probing? ‘I want to meet your mother. I want to meet your family.’ Hell! His family believed he was dead except his mother. She knew the truth.
What should he tell his lovely? This twenty-seven year-old pretty? After two years with Kristine, he has yet to share his secrets. Should he start now? Hell no!
“You may never get to meet my mother, Kristine. She isn’t doing well...cancer. Monday was the first time I had spoken to her in thirty-four years. Now that my career is coming to an end, my mother isn’t in danger any more.
“Besides, this may be the last time I get to see her.”
Kristine gulped down the last mouthful of her coffee. She dropped her left arm banging her Mickey Mouse coffee cup against the console table edge.
Skip and Kristine stared at each other across the six feet of aisle space between the two communications consoles.
It was moments like this, which Kristine feared the most because Skip’s eyes seemed to penetrate her sanctuary; invade her inner self. And it was this self she kept private and secret. She had to for her self-preservation.
Skip broke the trance. “Since you’re in a lovable mood, I think I’ll scan the phone lines before I head back to our apartment.”
He swiveled his chair to the left placing a headset over his thinning reddish gray hair, and plugged the jack into the port labeled White House.
“Ok,” Kristine mumbled turning back to her task both mad and frightened for provoking him.
Skip Daggard fitted the small sponge type earpieces into his ears. Instantly, he became lost in the world of eavesdropping where nothing else existed: The world he had come to love and hate.
Military Intelligence Chief Warrant Officer Skip Daggard thought about his life. He had lived, killed, and loved across the US and the world for thirty-seven years while engaged in the protection of the American people, the cause of freedom, and the doctrine, which is dearer to the American way of life than life itself. Now his career was winding down. The White House Commo Chiefs’ position was his last stop. From here, there would be retirement, marriage, and the mountains of West Virginiawww.qcol.net/tppublications
Tom enlisted in the United States Army in August 1967 in electronics communications, and served nineteen months in Vietnam. His next assignment was Ent Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado. After completing eight months at Ent, he separated from active duty in August 1970.
Once he returned home to Morristown, New Jersey, he worked as a lineman for AT&T for two years
In February 1973 Tom reenlisted in the army, and served with the 3rd Armored Division in Frankfurt, Germany, the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, Military Intelligence and Military Police in Augsburg, Germany, and NSA and the 519th MP Battalion at Fort Meade, Maryland. He served a short tour in Korea as a Site Commander with the 293rd Signal Battalion, and retired from active service in March 1990.
Some of his awards and decorations include: The Good Conduct Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Army Achievement Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and four Service School Ribbons.
“Writing has been a passion of mine since I began telling stories at the age of seven.”
He didn’t begin writing in earnest until 1987, when Tom joined Writer’s Digest School for Writers. “I had trouble with criticism back then so I dropped out about three months into the course. However, I stayed with Writer’s Digest Book Club and magazine.”
Tom Pessini now resides in Friendsville with his wife, Erroll Jean and their seven dogs, where he writes and substitute teaches.