Excerpt Friday

River of January: Figure Eight, 192-193

Coming off an early shift at the field, Chum jogged to the parking lot in an attempt to catch Helen before she left for the theater. Since it was a Sunday afternoon, he knew she would wait for him at the Whitby as long as she could. Checking his watch, he saw that the time was one thirty and he rushed, certain he would be home within the hour.

Twisting the knob on the sedan’s radio, Chum heard a smooth harmony serenading from the dashboard speakers, compliments of the Andrew Sisters. “I’ll be with you in apple blossom time . . . I’ll be with you to change your name to mine . . .” The melody somewhat soothed the hurried pilot, and he let up a little on the accelerator. Then a deep, authoritative voice broke in:

We interrupt this program to bring you this special news bulletin. The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by air, the White House has just announced. The attack included all naval and military installations on the island of Oahu. We take you now to Washington . . .

Chum could feel his ears grow hot and his stomach rise up to his throat. Sure he would be sick, the pilot swerved into an empty parking lot somewhere near City Hall. Bolting from the driver’s seat, he circled laps around the Chrysler, exhaling panicked clouds of vapor into the cold air. Fighting back a nauseating combination of fear and outrage, Chum quickly jumped back into his sedan, executed a sharp U-turn, and raced back to Floyd Bennett Field.

Congestion at the entry gate gridlocked into utter chaos. Guards couldn’t check personnel fast enough to clear the traffic. As Chum held his place in the creeping congestion, his radio issued updates, apprising him and every other listener of developing events.

“All military personnel are ordered to report for duty. This is not a drill,” affirmed an NBC announcer.

“I’m trying, I’m trying,” he snarled at his dashboard.


Join Gail on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, at the Boise Public Library for a 7pm talk on her newest book, River of January: Figure Eight.

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