i) http://www.npr.org/2012/11/24/165806777/recalling-the-takeover-a-marine-captive-in-tehran ; aired 24 November 2012
HERMENING: They came into my room one day and said we have a surprise for you. I was actually fearful of what the surprise might be. They put me in a room with dozens of TV cameras, and suddenly in the door walked my mom. And I was as shocked as you could imagine I might be. I asked her what she was doing there and she said she had to see me. And I had just come out of 43 days of solitary confinement and there she was in this room with me. And we spent about 18 to 20 minutes together talking basically about things from home - nothing about politics, nothing about negotiations that might be taking place. I immediately began to fear for her life, and I just couldn't imagine what she was doing there and how she got in. And, you know, it's something that, unless you're a parent - and I wasn't at the time; I am now - it's very difficult to understand what would compel somebody to do that, and yet she had to do what her heart told her to do. And I'm proud of her for the sacrifice that she paid in public opinion and in emotional toil and then having to get on the plane and come back to the States knowing that I was there.
SIMON: Kevin Hermening, who now runs a financial planning services company in Central Wisconsin. A generation ago, he was one of the 66 U.S. hostages held in Tehran. And if you'd like to record a conversation with a loved one, you can go to NationalDayofListening.org - all one word - and download your story for others too. Thanks so much, Kevin.
HERMENING: Thank you, Scott.
ii) from Chapter 28, pp 433 – 436 / http://bluemaas.public.iastate.edu/chapter_twenty-eight : Up Interstate 79 and just outside Fairvale sat a small and surprisingly scoured and bright – appearing combination gas station and greasy spoon with a game room space, television, washing machines and four showers on its second, loft – like level. From my friends’ prior planning and with the further aid of the most current Rand McNally Road Atlas, why, I found it lickety – split, no trouble at all. Sashayed on in with a tapestried bag containing bath soap, shampoo, wide – toothed hair pick and blow dryer, whipped out the old, (well, … the really, really new!) gold MasterCard and, at a rather tiny, glassed – in countertop harboring on its inside casing just a couple of big, heavy, dusty silver belt buckles with raised emblems of encrusted Peterbilts and as many round snuff cans of Red Man and Top Mill alongside a few rectangular tins of Altoids peppermints, I asked to purchase a hot shower. Not even a batted eyelash nor five minutes’ time later Dr. Legion True was climbing the staircase to this establishment’s loft, Jury, with the truckstop’s provided and freshly laundered and loaned Barry – cloth towel and washcloth included in its rental price … to Shower Closet Three or Four or whichever numbered one, each enclosure very well – lit and not only with electrical outlets but also secure locks from the inside, … to whichever one of these four happened to be vacant! All for only four bucks and two bits a splish – splash! As I glanced down through the clear glass while retrieving back my credit card receipts, I was glaringly reminded every single one of the three times when I showered there of Mehitable True’s newspaper clipping which she had mailed me earlier –– specifically warning of the dangers of West Virginia’s male children chewing tobacco, that under the age of ten years, the article blurb had announced, six out of every ten of this state’s boys … for a total of at least 60 percent of these kiddos (not to mention, its ‘adult’ … good ol’ ‘boys’) … chewed or sniffed or sucked or plugged smokeless tobacco.
Of all of the activities I did there, alone, in and around Grubtrop, Montclank and Fairvale, … and excepting the taking of my noontime leave of West Virginia altogether upon the very midday of my furtive visit’s second Saturday there, the 17th day of April, … the most heartrending were Sam’s two sittings through Steven Spielberg’s latest blockbuster of the time –– up at their largest mall’s theater complex … Schindler's List! The scene with all of the little children scurrying up into the backend of the Nazis’ stock truck I have already written of: the one where the mothers hear their laughing, singing kids and see their antics but then, way, way too late, suddenly come to realize their babies’ fates! The tot in the little red waistcoat: the littlest, yellow – haired girl in all of that black and white. The small child who ran and hid, also like Jesse, by jumping –– only the hideout spew into which the little Hebrew boy quietly sunk himself was human excrement and waste –– and not at all clear Tygart – Lake liquid. I cried and cried and cried. Tissue after tissue after tissue. Felt sickened. Literally. “How do we do this? How do we mothers do this? How dare we, Jury, … ever, ever … be made to have to do this?”
And –– then –– it was, indeed, Legion True’s time to leave this place. This temporary place of my three Children’s footings. Barring another Ol’ Black breakdown and in order for me to be back at my Forestry post early on the Monday morning of the 19th, I felt I needed to leave the central West Virginia areas not too much later than high noon of the first day of that weekend. And I did.
But all throughout southern Ohio I was still weeping … after exiting the western border of the state off to which my Boys’ sperm donor had literally, even though allegedly “legally” by the various judges’ pen strokes, … kidnapped them. The backend of Ol’ Black was rather completely disheveled by now after so many days and nights of hostelling use –– with blankets, sheets, pillows, papers, books, bags and other items of the Truemaier Boys’ play scattered all about behind the front seat bench. In addition to this back – of – the – wagon scene of the heartbreaking memories which I’d just made, into my rearview mirror flickered flashing cop – car, trooper lights. “O – O – O shit!!! This is just what I fucking need right now! What the hell could be wrong?! What was I doing?!” my thinking jostled –– as I, of course, found the first, safe shoulder off onto which to pull, gather my license and roll down the driver’s side window.
I couldn’t even see above his khaki – uniformed chest wall … he was so tall. “Ma’am, I need to see your license, please,” he boomed. I mean that I literally, out my car window at the levels which both of our visual fields scanned and without either of us straining this way and thataway, … I could not see his face! What I had remembered seeing with that last look of mine into the center mirror before noticing those flashers of his aimed at me … was my face: brown – black mascara had made inroads, forays and encroachments all over and down my cheeks and chin. I looked like shit! The sclerae of both of my eyeballs were as red – streaked as my facial skin sooty – streaked and inked. And I felt like hell, too. “Okay, okay, here ya’ go, Sir. I have it right here, Officer,” I sobbed. And tried, simultaneously, to smear the streaming nasal mucus away with a very, very used and spent Kleenex as delicately and daintily as I could manage.
Tallest – Ever Ohio Trooper Man took it from my left hand and, with the obvious sounds floating up to his eardrums from Ol’ Black’s driver’s seat as the license was passed to him, his waist did bend to his right side and he did then sort of come down out of the clouds to see who, indeed, had been cry – driving. Or, more accurately according to him, weep – speeding. “Ummm, from Iowa you are?” Tallest Trooper Man half – ass asked, full – well knowing this fact … from his having just read both the vehicle plates’ and my license’s information.
“O yes … yes, Sir. Yes, I am,” Boo – hoo, sniffle, sniff, sniffle, boo – hoo – hoo.
“Ma’am … Ma’am, did you know you were speeding? Have you clocked, Ma’am, I do, at, ah, ah … … at 75 miles per hour, Ma’am.”
Wail, whimper, sob, sob, “O no! No, I wasn’t! That can’t be!” jettisoned those very words right out of my mouth and now shot straight on over onto a bent – over cop peering at me sort of sideways through the rolled – down window space, a face with no expression whatsoever on it but one with a voice emitting out from under that boulder – size of a trooper hat that definitely matched any timbre and tone of that which belonged to the lovely, although now – late, Barry White!
O, Tallest had a voice on him! “Ex – cuuuu - ze me, Ma’am?! Are you saying that I, um, I, I …?”
“O my, my … my, my, myyyy NO! No, Sir. Not at all. I am not saying that you’re not telling me the Truth, Officer. O my, No! That idn’t what I’m saying at all? I mean …, ah, what I mean, Officer, is that, um, Ol’ Black here, he can’t go that fast! He can’t even get up anywhere near like that fast, Sir! That’s what I’m saying! He’s just too much an ol’ beater, and he can’t get it up that far a’tall. I jus’ don’’ think he can go that fast, Sir!”
“Aaaah – aaah, I see.” And Tallest, whose back must’ve been mightily stressing him by then, straightened himself all the way up once more so that I, again, could not view anything more than his torso’s khaki shirt buttons, the solid, chocolate brown tie and the two most massive of human hands of the very same hue. “What is all that in the back of your station wagon there? And what’s the matter anyhow? Why’re you crying so much? You were crying before I stopped you, weren’t you? What’s the matter? What’s the real matter, Ma’am?” Words that wafted down from his humanistic heights that I couldn’t anymore see all the way up to … yet were now said with a resonance and pitch that seemed ever more gentle and tender than some of the phrases he had stated before. In full view to the outside of the car and, therefore to Tallest too of course, had been one of the items from the wagon’s messy backend, a neon orange – colored, three – ring binder with the black letters on its cover identifying it as a manual for Safe Iowa Hunter Education with the silhouetted logo of a young man cradling a long gun with a similarly shadowed, four – legged retriever walking along beside him. And, again, Tallest – Ever asked, “What’s with all that stuff in the back there?”
“O, aaahh, O, I, uh, I just left … um, I just left my Boys.”
“I just left my Boys. Back there in West Virginia.”
“What? What do you mean … ‘ya’ left ‘em’?” Tallest – Ever Ohio Trooper Man was bending over again and gazing at the left side of my down – facing profile. I was staring into my lap … remembering, of course.
“O,” I turned toward him once more, “I was … I was visiting my three Sons in West Virginia.” I didn’t see any true threat now nor need to lie anymore about the purpose of my trip or on my being found here on Tallest – Ever’s particular piece of pristine and sunny roadway and, thank goddess, I wasn’t wearing the Sam stuff because Tallest – Ever Ohio Trooper Man would have, I am sure, seen right through that disguise … first thing! What … with my tears and bleary, bloodshot eyes and all. Plus all of it, the Sam costume, was stashed away in bags which the cop could not see from his stance at Ol’ Black’s door anyhow. “And, an’, aaahh, now I have to go back home to Iowa without them. And, ah, an’ I, uh, I don’t know when I’ll ever see them again. Or how long it’ll be. Ya’ know? That’s … uh well, that’s what it’s about, Sir.”
“Um. Well, Ma’am. Ah. Um. Why, you … you got a heckuva haul ahead of ya’. You thinkin’ of getting there yet today, are ya’? Ya’ know, all the way back to … to where is it now?” And he glanced back to the driver’s license, “to, ah, … ah, Ames, Iowa, there? Yet today still?”
“O, O yeah. I gotta. I don’t have the money for … ah, well, yeah. Yeah, I am. I’m gonna get back to Ames yet today. That’s the plan, all right! Ya’ know?”
“Okay then. Well. Well, you better get a – goin’ there then. Not a rush, I mean. Don’t be speedin’ now. Not that ya’ could, I mean, with your old beater wagon here ‘n all. But you jus’ best be gettin’ on your way there then.”
“Soooo ... So?” I looked around to him again just as he was straightening himself all the up again –– for the last time. In an asking mode, questioning without so many such, exact words about what was to be done with me –– now that an Ohio state trooper of the tallest, mountain – like manner had just stopped and pulled me over for an alleged speeding violation on the interstate.
“So, so … ah, so that’s it then, Ma’am. So, so … you just be safe out there then.” And he turned back around and strode to his unit. I watched him from the rearview mirror crawl, nearly literally back into it, take its gear out of park and into drive, pull out around me and Ol’ Black and without facing me again then, his eyes glued on the straightaway in front of him, his right arm and hand waved to me as the trooper’s vehicle tripped off westerly out in front of me –– me … still pitched there on the side of the highway.
No ticket. Not even a warning. I could not believe it. Tallest – Ever Ohio Trooper Man, that is, this dude’s involvement in my life and in my life’s story, … as far as I know … , had forever vanished from it now. Yet, within just a very few more miles on up this stretch once Ol’ Black and I maneuvered our way back onto the westbound thoroughfare, there appeared off to the right side a rather large and, therefore easily readable, white, rectangular road sign. It was placed there by the State of Ohio’s Transportation Department and in big black letters delineated on it with succinct wording and numbering the gradations of amounts that a speeding motorist could be fined. Totals that that state levied in tickets which could be issued for specific, set increments of miles per hour over the posted limit. In just the time that it took for me to notice the sign and drive 65 miles per hour on passed it, I could see that Tallest – Ever Ohio Trooper Man had just saved me, those few miles back there on the interstate, at least $85.00. The sign stated that Ohio’s very first ticket amount, for just ten or fewer miles per hour over the speed limit, started at a fine of $85.00 –– and increased upwards from there into the hundreds of dollars for possible violations incurred, depending upon at what rate a speeder was clocked. And that, likely, did not even account for the extra court costs and all of those other specious fees tacked onto a person’s assessment at time of payment besides! I knew Iowa’s fines weren’t that high, and I had not really recognized if penalties in any other of the states through which I had traversed during those past ten days were so huge either!
* * * *
Hauling Ol’ Black back into Ames finally and returning without any further breakdown or other untoward incident whatsoever, I was, indeed, back to work Monday, the 19th of April bearing not only my gifts but, of course, also such great, great news to all of my co – workers. Yet not before remembering and marking well Zane’s last West Virginia words to me, “Ma, uh, Ma, if you try this again, can you please let me know you’re gonna?”
“Ya’ mean, somehow get in touch with you that I’m coming to see all of you again? Disguised or otherwise?” I asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I mean,” Zane had appealed to me. I knew that in one way, notably the secrecy and the clandestine nature of the past surreptitious week, my coming had been difficult for all of the Boys –– but especially for him. Zane the Eldest. He had always shouldered –– all on his own and never because of any request of mine –– that silent yet so heavily burdensome task of the role of My Siblings’ Protector. By him, … the Eldest. That most solemn of jobs of where the older brother is supposed to look out for his little ones. Zane has always taken that all on not only willingly but very, very seriously. And he was letting me know that for that specific, self – assigned labor of his, he just needed some heads – up’ time in order to prep himself and his two younger brothers –– in the case that, well, that “Sam” may one day again appear to him alongside a darkened Grubtrop street in the very midst, actually, of some future nighttime.
I assured Zane that I so would get that done –– because their mother soooo would be coming back out to see him and Jesse and Mirzah! 1993 was, of course, before email and even really before faxing had become widely available to individuals. While the Truemaier Boys didn’t have, even between the three of them yet, one personal computer I so hoped that because of their own proclivities and because of Dr. Edinsmaier’s money, my particular three Children out of all of the World’s kiddos soon would. At the moment I vowed to Zane that I would get him warned of my intentions to come see them all again, I did not know how I would accomplish that –– but I? I had friends so, well, … so that would just get done. I knew that it would –– and, therefore, I meant every word of it when I made Zane my promise.
And then? Then … the Truemaier Boys’ mother was gone.