30 Stories in 30 Days #8 – “Stuff Happens”
“That is why in my first term I have worked so hard to-”
The President stopped speaking as an aide walked quickly from the side of the stage. His opponent looked from the President to the debate moderator and back again.
The aide whispered something in the President’s ear and the President announced to the audience, “I’m sorry, you’ll have to excuse me.” He then followed the aide away from his podium.
The audience exploded with muttered questions and once the President was off the stage, the moderator stated, “I’m not sure, but I think that might have been a first.” After a few silent seconds she added, “I’m working on the assumption that something came up that the President needs to deal with. I don’t know if he’ll be coming back, so for now – if the Senator has no objections – I’d say we open the floor to some questions for the Senator.”
The Senator smiled and said, “I have no objections. And I hope he comes back, I wanted to hear how he finished that sentence.”
There were a few applause from the audience for that.
Twenty-three minutes later
Just as the Senator finished answering a question, the President walked back out onto the stage. The few applause died to complete silence. When the President reached his podium, he asked, “Madam Moderator, if it’s not too much to ask, I’d like a few minutes to explain what happened, and then we could return to the debate.”
The moderator nodded, “If the Senator has no objections, I see no reason not to return to the debate.”
“I have no objections,” the Senator stated.
The President nodded to the Senator and said, “Thank you.”
Facing the audience he began, “The Pentagon will be releasing a press release, probably within the hour, but this is what I can tell you at this time. About half-an-hour ago, there was an explosion onboard one of our aircraft carriers. For now, we are not reporting which carrier or where it is stationed. As you can imagine, the first reports of such an event are rather … sketchy. With the possibility that this was an attack upon the United States, I was notified as you saw. In the back,” the President pointed behind him with his thumb, “there is a secure communications system that allowed me to talk to the commanding officer of the carrier. He was able to inform me that it was not an attack, but an accident. I repeat, the United States is not under attack. The commanding officer also informed me that at least three sailors were killed in the explosion, several were wounded, and a few are still missing. I ask you to keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”
After a moment, the President added, “That’s all I can say right now. As I said, the Pentagon will release more detailed information once it is deemed appropriate.
“Now,” he frowned, “on that somber note, I guess we go back to the debate.”
But before the debate could continue, they had to wait for the applause to die down.