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We Therefore Commit His Body Unto the Deep

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"Morning, this is Seaman Jones."

"Ah. Sea Man Jones. My name is Kiyome. Kiyome... Milaje."

"Yes, ma'am, how can I help you?"

"Your name, it is fitting. Do you take the name as you take on the task, or were you born to this work?"

"Ma'am? I'm, uh, my name is Kevin. Uh, Kevin Jones. Seaman is a rank. It means I'm in the Navy, E-3. Uh, that's, that's, you know, it's not a Commander or a Lieutenant, but somebody who does the regular work."

"I wish to ask you questions, Seaman Jones."

"Yes, ma'am. Are you calling on behalf of an active service member, or a veteran, or --"

"A soldier."

"Okay, ma'am, we primarily do stuff for the Navy and the Marines, but if you need help from the Army, that's a different number. I can --"

"I am not asking for you to do stuff, Seaman Jones. I need information. Can you supply it?"

"I, I guess I, generally I'd refer you to Public Affairs, ma'am. They're the people who answer questions from the general public."

"The internet provided me this telephone number."

"Ma'am, are you calling from outside the US? I see an international exchange on my caller ID."

"Seaman Jones, the soldier I speak of was born in America."

"Okay, so he's a citizen. And he served in the US Army? Or some other army?"

"The US Army. I am told he was part of a special force --"

"Special Forces, ma'am?"

"This is what I have said, yes."

"Uh, sorry, ma'am, Special Forces, plural, that's a name. For Army soldiers that do, you know, special tasks."

"Disrupt governments and torture prisoners, yes, I have been told."

"Uh. Ma'am. Uh --"

"This is not important. He is now dead and can no longer hurt anyone."

"I'm... sorry about your loss, ma'am? Okay, well we do handle the funerals for service members, although --"

"He asked to be buried at sea."

"Oh. Oh yes, that's allowed, ma'am. Are you a family member?"

"His kinsman has assigned this task to me."

"Uh, okay, there's specific paperwork you'll need to have to be the authorized person on this. I have a packet of information I can mail you. Have his kin got a funeral home? There's special instructions they need to follow, to ship his remains to us, to --"

"Seaman Jones, we shall not send his body to you."

"Well, ma'am, there's rules about how this works. If he's been cremated, you'll want to provide an urn or a biodegradable container, or if there's intact remains --"

"No, no. Seaman Jones, I can see you don't understand."

"Please explain it to me, then, ma'am."

"I have a man who asked to be buried at sea. We are a land-locked country, and we return our dead to the earth, to nourish and bring forth the future. We don't have any tradition about the sea, and don't know what to do. The General has told me to find out what we should do. What we should do."

"Oh. Uh. Ma'am, I believe I haven't received a call like this before. You're, a member of another country's armed forces? And you're burying an American?"

"He was born in America. But he came here to die. Is this a problem?"

"I... guess not? That's not my call, ma'am. I just handle the details."

"The details, yes, this is what I need. Despite his behavior he is... a person who requires some public acknowledgement of his death. I have been asked to be respectful of his wishes as I plan his burial. So. You can tell me more than is available on the internet, I assume, Seaman Jones?"

"Um. Yes, yes, ma'am. Um. Okay, are you taking notes? Okay, to start with --"