Although, it was in a military setting, I thought the messy theme provided the important aspect.
Young again, I was with a bunch of other military in a battlestaff room. Large and horse-shoe shaped, it had multiple phones, display panels, maps, flags, all that sort of thing. Unlike standard battlestaff areas, this one had large windows, too, showing that we were in the middle of the night.
I knew all the military there. We weren’t working, but just hanging around together. It seemed like a large party with elements of a sleepover. I had an impression that was never clarified that we were waiting for something. Plates, food, sleeping bags, and pillows cluttered the place, offending my sense of order.
Knots of conversation were going on. Laughter abounded, and pizza and vegetable trays were set up. Almost all the others were officers. They teased me about being serious. I walked around, eating food, looking for things to do, feeling isolated. Some were gathered around an older style television, large and square, full of tubes. They were watching red and black action and trying to figure out what it was. I joined them and realized they were watching the ‘TNT’ cable network, and then said, “This is a NASCAR race.” Bizarrely, the screen was almost all black; the cars were outlined in bright red.
I went on from that, shaking my head, and then decided to leave to get clothes. I hastened to my place. Getting there just required going down corridors and around corners. Reaching there, I found my wife all dressed up to go out. She said she wanted to go back with me. I said, “Why not?”
When we returned, I did a general introduction of my wife. I sat and she sat on my lap, flirting with me and kissing me. I enjoyed this but then she said she was going back to our place. That was fine. Whatever was going on seemed to be drawing down as about half of the gathered personnel trickled out. Walking around, I discovered phone lines blinking. I asked, “Why isn’t anyone answering any of these phones?”
One of the others replied, “We didn’t want to.”
Annoyed, I began answering phones. Nobody was on usually. Walking around, I discovered that they’d taken the hotlines off their cradles. Back in the decades I was in the military, these phones were red, black, and yellow. All were set off by themselves and were dedicated to specific purposes — one was the red phone which hooked up to headquarters and national command authorities. The black one was for the secondary crash net, for when a major accident was happening, used to pass information to many agencies at once. Beside it was a dark green one, used to connect with the Central Security Center. Another, which was green, was the AUTOVON system, a sort of military long-distance calling network.
All these phones were off their cradles, horrifying me. As I chastised the others, they laughed off my concerns. I also discovered that the UHF & VHF radios were turned off.
Oh, my God, I couldn’t believe it. They’d basically ignored all calls or disabled all communication systems. As I did, I found muddy foot prints all over the floors.
I went about fixing it all. Hard rain began pelting the windows. I looked around and discovered the others were gone, leaving only a mess.