An Excerpt from Whistleblower

There was a tape recorder in the middle of the table. Another officer, quite tall, entered the room, gave me a brief, friendly nod, took a seat near the tape recorder, and handed a tape to the detective. His uniform was stretched tightly over his shoulders. A stream of words was coming out of his mouth, and I struggled to follow. His voice was deep, and he was speaking in what sounded like police code. He was whispering to the detective, but I was close enough to hear every word. It all sounded more like white noise, so I took a deep breath, sat bolt upright, and felt some long-lost feeling stirring inside me.

The sound of plastic wrap being ripped off the tape startled me. I heard a car honking outside the room. Pushing the sounds and stirrings aside, I turned my full attention to the detective, who finally lifted his head, glanced at me with a poker face, moved the recorder closer to my side of the table, and inserted the tape. A third police detective, also in uniform, entered the room, shut the door with a loud clang, and handed a microphone to the detective. He plugged it into the recorder, positioned it next to me, and signaled that the tape was rolling. He turned to me with a slight nod and then began speaking.

“This is an interview with Amy Block Joy. Please state, then spell, your name, working title, address, and telephone number, speaking slowly and clearly.”

I moved my chair closer to the microphone. In one breath, I said my name, then spelled it. My title, address, and telephone number followed. I noted that the light in the room seemed to dim and that I had become fully aware of every nuance. The light on the recorder lit up with each spoken word. One of the detectives had a coughing spell, and I stopped talking; I reached for my purse to offer him a cough drop, then realized that my purse was somewhere else. I suddenly was brought back to the fact that I was in a small room with the police! The room seemed to be getting smaller as my heart kept pounding. What would my daughter say when I told her that I had been interviewed by the police?

“How long have you worked for the University of California?”

“Twenty-eight years,” I answered.

I wanted to add that I had been at UC Davis only fourteen of those years. I wondered if it mattered. Did my years of service as a member of the faculty mean anything? Would my past dedication to public service help me?

An excerpt from Whistleblower by Amy Block Joy