The sirens had been blaring all morning. Not just on the news programs, but out of every fire station, school, police department, church. Every edifice with the means to do so had made it its duty to alert the country that war wasn't just coming. It was here.
Jerry had decided not to join the cacophony. When the prospect of war had first reared its head two years ago and politicians, in their haste to make the bruhaha work for them, started handing out funds to "make preparations." Jerry balked. What precautions did a museum have to make for war? As head of the World War I museum in Kansas City, Jerry knew the history of warfare as good as any. It was literally his job. But the roots of this war could not be found in a museum. Nor in any history book, newsreel, or documentary. And so, when it was his turn to apply for funds, he threw the application away.
He laughed, now, thinking about that. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. A snappy slogan. A convenient enough lesson to teach, but if a man who lived nearly his entire life surrounded by history couldn't learn from it, who could?
"We got the horns set up. Ready to give them a go?"
Rick Stubbit. The foreman irked Jerry in all the cliche ways. Querulous, aggressive. The man seemed to have no concept of, or control over, voice control. Everything came out in a bullhorn blast. Years of working on construction sites, no doubt. But to Jerry, who had spent years in libraries, archives, classrooms, practicing the art of intense focus and deep concentration, it was like living alongside a human bomb.
Putting down his butter knife and leaving his cornbread, sadly, un-jellied, Jerry got up and addressed the human trombone.
"That won't be necessary, Mr. Stubbit. I believe we have enough noise around here for now."
Rick sighed. Though, coming from him it sounded more like a hoarse shout. "Mr. Tiptree," he said, placing what Jerry considered a bombastic and wholly unnecessary emphasis on the mister. "We're at war, eh. You of all people should appreciate that. Now if one of those portals open and this thing doesn't do it's job, you're going wish there had been just a little bit more noise today. Understand?"
"If you did your job, Mr. Stubbit," Jerry said, before quickly adding, "which I've no doubt you have. Then a test run won't be necessary."
The builder huffed. Jerry noted how much like a 1940s strongman he looked. Add in a handlebar mustache and skin tight, black leotard and he'd be indistinguishable from an early Wringly Brothers attractions.
"I don't want to ask for too much. Lord knows you've been so accommodating." Jerry felt his gray, push broom moustache twitch at that. No one that he knew of would ever describe Jerry as unaccommodating, or ungracious, he believed firmly in treating people decently, but he couldn't deny that he'd failed in both respect over the past few months.