The captain of the Titanic wipes his lips on the sleeve of his uniform and places the flask of whiskey back into his breast pocket. He looks out into the darkness and sighs an enigmatic sigh.
He stares out into the darkness, listens to the creaking and rumbling of his ship and tries to figure out what he might have meant by the sigh. He decides it means, this whiskey is not so bad.
The little bell rings that indicates that someone wants to talk to him through the speaking tube. He removes the speaking tube – a flexible black tube with brass fittings – from its brass holder on the polished mahogany wall of the bridge.
Ahoy, says the captain of the Titanic.
Ahoy, answers the captain of the Andrea Doria. Because this is not your average speaking tube (AKA voicepipe). This speaking tube does not simply run down into the engine room or galley or something. It connects the Titanic and the Andrea Doria across time and distance.
It is a wormhole, of sorts. A living ship’s captain can’t pass through it physically, just voices. Still, better than nothing.
How goes it, says the captain of the Titanic.
The captain of the Andrea Doria relates a dream. A good dream. The captain of the Titanic stares out into the darkness and sees only his reflection on the window. He closes his eyes and tries to imagine the dream, but sees only more darkness.
I haven’t remembered a dream in ages, he says.
They talk about books for a while.
Somewhere, a bell rings. Gotta go, says the captain of the Titanic.
Seen any icebergs lately, says the captain of the Andrea Doria.
I’ll keep my eyes peeled, says the captain of the Titanic. Careful out there in the fog yourself, he says.
Aye-aye, says the captain of the Andrea Doria.
And then Ernest M. McSorley chimes in, all “My song was written in Dorian mode, which means that in some attic somewhere there’s a picture…. well, fellas, it’s been good to know ya.”
And then Telefónica breaks in on the line because they can do that, and says something in Spanish that neither captain understands. After being forced to hang up without bidding a proper farewell, each man stares again into the darkness and thinks to himself ‘how bloody rude’.