Julia A. Maki – Book Excerpt – Crossing the Line

Julia A. Maki, Navy Veteran & Author
“Do you know what a ‘red line’ is, Ma’am?”
I stared at him as if it were a trick question. Of course I knew what a red line was. It
was a boundary line painted red. The Air Force had them surrounding all of their military planes
that were parked around the base. Was he referring to something else I should know about? I
was confused. It didn’t help that my legs were going numb from the cold and my nose beginning
to run, but I was too afraid to move my hands to wipe it. And why did he keep calling me
ma’am? He clearly knew I was enlisted – and probably younger than him. I was wearing my
dungarees AND he had my ID. “Um, yes?” I answered, sounding more like a question. Did I
know what the ‘Red Line’ was?
Just then, the callous guy with the gun came back. “What are you doing on the flight
line?” he asked sounding more like an accusation than a question.
“Well, I was delivering flight schedules for my squadron. I have to drive on the flight
line to deliver them. I am the duty driver for VP-8. My hangar is right over there,” I pointed it
out to him.
“Oh, VP squadron, huh? Hmmm. Well, it seems as though you have crossed over a point
of no entry.”
“Where?” Again, I was confused. It wasn’t the first time I had driven onto the ramp with
the duty van delivering schedules. In fact, I had just delivered them the night before. Why now
was all of this chaos happening?
He shot out his finger into the direction that I had come. “Right over there is where you
came from. The point of entry is approximately ten feet to the left of that.”
I squinted out into the blackness of the night. I strained to look at where my tracks had
come from. Maybe it was the darkness, or maybe it was the endless snowdrifts, but I saw no red
line and had no idea where this guy was talking about. Still, I nodded in agreement. I just
wanted this to end so I could go home.
“Here, stand up, but keep your hands up.” I guess his moment of empathy was trying to
show me that he wasn’t a horrible guy, just one doing his job. I didn’t buy it. Ten feet. Really?
“Is there anyone who can vouch for you and your location?” He asked.
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