Friday, October 10, 2008

Based On A True Story

"We have lost our ability to see with our ears."--Stephen King. December 11, 2001

She gazed out the shelter window at the sun. Yellow and orange streaks spread across the sky above a flaming orb of neon pink.

"Why can't life be as beautiful as a Utah sunset?" she wondered.

Then she sighed and pulled a toothbrush (in a purple holder) and a crumpled tube of toothpaste out of her backpack.

"Better get my teeth brushed while the sink is still available" she thought.

When she returned to her bed (one of twenty in the homeless womens' dorm), all remnants of the sun had disappeared.

She had learned to tune-out the inane chatter around her (concerning ex-husbands, missing cigarettes and probation officers) by putting headphones over her ears and turning on her Walkman.

She didn't have the money to buy an iPod. Besides, she preferred listening to the one AM band, two FM bands and the NOAA weather band that her Walkman radio provided.

She pulled back the blankets and climbed into the twin-sized bed.

As she lay back on the pillow, the night staff turned the main lights off.

She chose to check the weather report for the following day before switching to the local classic rock station.

Her Walkman included seven different NOAA weather band "channels." Those channels helped pull-in any available reports from the National Weather Service.

She tried the first channel and what she heard made her right back up:

From somewhere out in the Great Broadcasting Unknown, someone was sending a steady string of Morse code.

She quickly pressed a button and checked the other six channels. But all she heard on them was a computer-generated voice quoting the dew point and barometric pressure.
When she switched back to the first channel, she heard the Morse code again.

The fact that she had intercepted the transmission over a Weather band, on a Walkman radio, astounded her. The fact that she understood Morse code at all would have amazed many people. She had become familiar with it when she was still on a traditional life path and enrolled at a university.

"I'm gonna figure out what this person is saying" she decided and quietly climbed out of bed.

She reached into her backpack and pulled out her flashlight. Then she slowly unzipped another pocket and pulled a pen and a spiral notebook from the pack. She padded softly into the bathroom, pulled a towel off a shelf, slipped into the shower and pulled the curtain.

She spread the towel on the floor of the shower, sat down and clicked on the flashlight. Then she flipped open the notebook, turned up the volume on her Walkman and deciphered the coded message:

"...meet you, yes I will...when the darkness is near and the wind is still...I will release the poison...they will pay the bill...And we will watch everyone fall down at the sunset grille."

"Sunset grille*?" she whispered to herself. Then she remembered a classic rock song recorded by Eagles singer Don Henley.

[This post and story idea is by Ruth Rader. All Rights Are Reserved.]

*Note: For legal reasons I have changed the spelling of the name.

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