Radio Days Pt. 02bycoaster2©
My name is Ozzie Hanswatter and I am a forty one-year-old divorced male and the county assessor in my town of Little River, Idaho. As the last surviving Hanswatter, I had been summoned to a lawyer's office to hear the reading of my late Uncle Darby's will. Much to my surprise, he was very wealthy, but even more surprising was that he left it all to charity, gifting me only a small, blue radio. At least it seemed like a radio. However, when I turned it on, I discovered that it was something much more mystifying.
My uncle had written me a letter suggesting that the "radio" was part of a puzzle that he was confident I could solve. As I began to examine the little unit, I was surprised that the broadcasts coming from it were very unusual. They appeared to be about fictional situations and imaginary characters.
By the time I had returned home, I was determined to solve the puzzle my uncle had presented me and spent almost all night writing down what I heard from the various stations that I dialed in. It became evident that each station represented a different point in time; some as near as a few days while others were years in the future.
I was obsessed with finding out all I could about the device and dedicated myself to unraveling this mystery over the weekend. Additionally, I had to revise my opinion. The reports I was hearing were about real people. The question was, were they real situations?
In the meantime I interviewed a candidate for an opening in the county clerk's office. Her name was Leticia Darling and she was a strikingly beautiful woman as well as a highly qualified candidate. I'm the first to admit I was smitten by her and hoped that she would be the one chosen for the position. I would love to get the opportunity to know her better.
Part 2: The Puzzle and the Lady
I had a hard time concentrating on clearing my desk that Friday afternoon. Ms. Darling had caught my attention and currently was filling my thoughts. She was so appealing that I started plotting my strategy to approach her even though she hadn't yet been hired. I was that confident of her success.
When I arrived home from the office, I immediately began work on my weekend project: unraveling the mystery of the little blue "radio." I had made copious notes Wednesday night and Thursday. I intended to authenticate what I was hearing with two tests. One was to compare the Sunday baseball scores announced on the "radio" on Thursday to the actual results on the sports TV channel Sunday evening. It was the simplest test I could conceive and would be a starting point for my investigation.
My other test would be to take a number of the names I had been hearing on the various newscasts and Google them to see if I could confirm their existence. I began with the two baseball players mentioned on the very first broadcast, Tom Lumpkin and Mort Sidle. Sidle has been described as a "perennial all-star" and I suspected he might have been noticed much earlier.
My hunch was right. The Mort Sidle of 2007 was the Double A batting champion for the Fargo Flatlanders. At twenty-two, he was a can't-miss phenom drafted out of Dry Gulch State and was the property of the Kansas City Royals. So that checked out.
I typed in Tom Lumpkin and got very little right away. It took several pages of hunting in the minor leagues, but I finally found a Tom Lumpkin, toiling away with the Bay City Rollers in the Single A Midwest League. He was a young fireballer, or so the little blurb on him indicated. He had been signed right out of high school in Arkansas and was only twenty years old.
I was satisfied that the reports I had heard were about "real people" and not some fictional characters. It paralleled my information on Elijah Mellor. I was just getting their bios a bit before their fame.
I began to type in more names of individuals that I had never heard of who were featured on various news reports. I confined my search to events that I suspected were within ten to fifteen years in the future. All in all, I entered fourteen names and had nine "hits." I couldn't be sure that all the names I matched were indeed the same person, but if there was a commonality of occupation or interest, I suspected I was looking at their future.
I was now semi-confident that the information I was hearing was authentic, but was sometime in the future. While this was encouraging, it still didn't solve the puzzle. What was the purpose of this information and how could I use it to create wealth?
I had already discarded gambling on the outcome of sports or other events. It was too slow, too heavily regulated and I would soon become well enough known that I couldn't take advantage of my knowledge. One big hit on Powerball might get me started, but what then?
I thought about the stock market. It would be a much slower process, but I could invest large sums without attracting a great deal of attention. Perhaps that was the method I could use. I was well familiar with compounding profit and I knew that once I got the ball rolling, I could accumulate a great deal of money in a relatively short period of time. Relatively short being five years or so.
I sat back and thought about Uncle Darby again. He was a complete mystery to me. He was kind, thoughtful, good-natured and generous. When my father died, he made sure my mother and I spent a nice vacation every year in Paramount, his home.
Each summer, from the time I was ten until I left for college, I would join my mother and we would drive to Uncle Darby's home and spend a wonderful two weeks swimming in the nearby lake, hiking, fishing in the river, and generally just getting away from our everyday lives. I know it was just as important to Mom as it was to me.
There was never a hint that he was rich or that he possessed this magic "radio." Perhaps it all came to him later in life, but for now ... I was left to wonder.
Mom didn't struggle to put food on the table or pay the mortgage on our house. Dad had a personal insurance policy plus the one that he had from his employer. When he died on the job, both insurance policies were in force and Mom was looked after financially.
On the spur of the moment, I picked up the phone and called Felix Bindle, Uncle Darby's lawyer. I had a question for him. As luck would have it, he was in his office despite the fact that it was almost six on Friday afternoon.
"Mr. Bindle, its Ozzie Hanswatter calling."
"Yes Mr. Hanswatter. What can I do for you?" He didn't sound irritated that I had called him so late in the day.
"I was wondering what happened to Uncle Darby's home? I mean, was it sold or ... what?"
"Well, actually, your uncle didn't own that home. He rented it from a corporation. They maintain the ownership," he said carefully.
"Really! What is the name of the corporation?" I asked.
"I'm not sure your uncle wanted that to be public ... but ... since you are the sole surviving heir, it's called the DMH Foundation." He sounded reluctant to give much information out.
"DMH? Those are his initials. Is it his business?"
"Not exactly. You see, he set this foundation up to distribute ... uhhhh mmm ... funding to worthy causes."
"Who owns the foundation then?" I asked, now confused.
"No one. Or rather ... everyone. It's a public trust ... something like PBS, except it doesn't have fund drives. I suppose I should tell you that your uncle was much wealthier than you realized. Each year he gave hundreds of millions of dollars to worthy causes throughout the world. DMH was the vehicle to distribute that wealth. It is generating so much cash that it takes several staff just to manage the transactions.
"Your uncle was a very generous and socially conscious man. He had created enormous earnings and yet was determined that it all go to worthy causes. The thirty-seven million that he had in his estate was ... petty cash."
I was dumbfounded. I had never heard of such nonsense. My uncle? Rich beyond reason? I was struggling to form my next thought.
"Mr. Hanswatter," Bindle interrupted quietly.
"I think it would be wise if you didn't discuss this with anyone. As you can appreciate, when sums of this dimension are involved, it attracts unwanted attention from nefarious types. I wouldn't want you to be ... pressured ... or perhaps threatened by anyone over money that they could never obtain," he suggested.
I was quiet for a moment. It was a lot to digest.
"I understand. Thank you for being so frank with me, Mr. Bindle. I may want to talk to you again about my uncle, but for now, I think I need to absorb what you have told me," I said slowly.
"Of course. Feel free to call me at any time. Your uncle has maintained a permanent retainer with our firm. I am at your disposal."
"Thank you, sir. I will probably call you again when I've had time to grasp all this."
"Of course. I'll look forward to it. Good day, Mr. Hanswatter."
I stared at the phone as I hung up.
A mystery on top of a puzzle on top of ... who knows what? This was reaching far beyond my comprehension. Enormous wealth in my uncle's hands and yet he lived a modest lifestyle with no hint of the power he held.
There was only one common denominator that kept coming up in my thinking; the radio. Somehow, someway, my uncle had used it to produce all this wealth. That he used it for good deeds to help others was irrelevant. To do that, first he had to create the financial underpinning. How had he done it and how long had it taken?
I felt overwhelmed. I didn't know where to start. Bindle had shared some sensitive information with me and now I wanted to know if he knew how Uncle Darby had made his fortune. His foundation was apparently self-sustaining, in spite of his death. That implied it was swimming in cash. How did it get to that state?
I heard my stomach growl and looking at the clock, I saw that I was an hour past my usual supper time. I stood from the chair and stretched, suddenly fatigued and not really interested in making a meal. I grabbed my car keys and left the house, heading for the nearby roadhouse; Dorsey Doe's Dance Hall. A little bit of Texas in northern Idaho.
A couple of beers and a burger later, I was feeling much better. The live band hadn't yet started but soon there would be the usual full house for a Friday night. I was sitting at the bar and scanning the crowd for familiar faces.
I was resigned to a night of watching the other participants in this "meat market" and trying to decide which one I would have been happiest to pick up. There were several fine looking young ladies on display, but somehow, I wasn't interested. My telephone conversation with Bindle had thrown me right off my game and then ... then there was Ms. Darling.
I was staring into my beer when the young woman who was tending my end of the bar approached.
"You ever been stalked before?" she asked with a grin.
"Huh? Stalked? Uh ... no ... not that I know of," I laughed.
"Well, there's a first time for everything," she said with a smirk. She was looking over my shoulder and I instinctively turned to see who she was referring to.
"Which one?" I asked, unable to focus on any one person.
"The babe in the blue satin blouse. She's been boring holes in your back for ten minutes."
I peered through the dimly lit, smoky haze and finally saw her. It took a couple of seconds before all the lights went on, but when they did, I was knocked silly. Sitting at a small table between two other attractive women was Leticia Darling, my wet dream interviewee from this morning.
I turned back to the bartender and mouthed, "I don't believe it."
"You know her?" she grinned again.
"Yeah ... sort of. I just met her this morning. I interviewed her for a job."
"Well ... looks like she wants that job real bad," she chuckled.
I nodded, wondering what I should do. Would it be improper to talk to her? I didn't think so. I had already filed my recommendation and had no further say in whether she would be hired or not. I blinked a couple of times, slid off the stool and walked unsteadily toward their table.
"Hello again," I said weakly as I approached her table. I spoke directly to Ms. Darling, barely acknowledging the other two.
"Hi ... I thought that was you," she smiled. "These are my friends from college, Julia Timely and Tommie Hashimoto," she added. There was no guessing which was which.
I finally found my tongue and tried again. "I thought you'd be on your way to Coeur d'Alene," I began.
"Not tonight. I found the interviews very stressful and we had already planned to unwind. I'll probably head up there on Sunday."
Her two classmates nodded and I looked at them a little more closely. All three were very attractive young women in their early thirties and would be the subject of many approaches as soon as the dancing started, if not before.
"Well, since you're here, would it be alright if I joined you?" I ventured, almost cringing in fear of rejection.
"Sure!" both Tommie and Julia chimed in together. Leticia was smiling, so I assumed she didn't disagree.
"I'm Ozzie, by the way," I said, holding out my hand to Julia and Tommie. They took it gently and then I turned to Leticia. "May I call you Leticia?" I asked carefully.
"I'd rather you call me Tish. All my friends do," she smiled.
I was done for. If she had me this morning, I was a complete captive tonight. "Tish it is, then," I said, breathing a sigh of relief.
"Do you come here often, Ozzie?" Tommie asked.
"No ... not really. I was a bit tired this afternoon and decided to goof off tonight. I'm working on a bit of a project right now," I explained.
"Oh ... is it work related?" Tish asked, apparently quite interested.
"No ... not at all. I ... uh ... well ... it's a puzzle I'm trying to unravel, related to my uncle's estate," I offered, wondering if I'd said too much.
"Oh ... excuse me ... I shouldn't have pried," Tish apologized.
"No ... no ... don't apologize. You're the first person ... people ... I've even mentioned it to."
"I love puzzles," Tish said enthusiastically. "It's so much fun to solve them. It makes me feel smart."
I was about to say something about her already having demonstrated her intelligence but chose to shut up instead. I was unashamedly gazing at the three attractive women and noticing that both Julia and Tommie both wore wedding rings while Tish did not. My heart added a few more BPM with that discovery.
I also noticed that Tish had included some makeup and jewelry since our meeting this morning and her blouse was much more daringly open, revealing some cleavage. The outfit this morning was all business. Tonight's attire was much more provocative. All in all, she was a knockout babe and I wondered if there was a boyfriend around somewhere.
"Are you still with us, Ozzie?" Tommie laughed.
"Huh? Oh ... sorry ... lost my train of thought," I said weakly.
"I could tell," Julia laughed. "Why don't we get the preliminaries out of the way? Tommie and I are happily married and this is a 'girls night out' for us. Our single visitor here is in town hoping to get that job you interviewed her for this morning. Since we don't see any wedding ring on your finger, we're assuming you're single too?" she said boldly.
"Sheesh ... you don't fool around, do you?" I said, rolling my eyes upward.
"Why bother. It saves a lot of wasted time and then we can get down to the reason for being here -- having fun." Julia's sly smile was confidently pasted on her face as she stared me down.
"I won't argue that," I grinned. "The music is about to get going and having a conversation is going to get difficult."
I had no sooner finished my comment than the band began to play. I smiled at Tish and stood. "Would you care to dance?"
"Sure," she said as she stood and walked around the table, taking my outstretched hand.
The first song wasn't too fast and I was able to hold her as we moved to the music. Thank god for those dance lessons I took a couple of years ago. I took them as a way to meet women, but on this occasion it was a life-saver. Tish moved so effortlessly and smoothly with me that it was as though we had been rehearsing this for hours.
"You dance very well," she said as her eyes wandered over my face.
"I'd better. You are very good. I don't want to embarrass myself." That was the god's honest truth. The last thing I wanted to do was appear to be some socially inept klutz.
"Are you nervous, Mr. Hanswatter?" she smiled.
"Yes. I confess I am Ms. Darling."
"Whatever for? You're supposed to be 'goofing off' tonight, aren't you?"
"I ... uh ... find you very attractive and I guess I'm trying not to ... put you off," I admitted.
She laughed. "Relax. I'm the one that's supposed to be nervous."
"Why?" I was puzzled at her comment.
"Simple. I really do want that job and you have a big say in that decision."
"Well, your fate is sealed, I afraid," I laughed. "I've already written and submitted my report. Too late to change it now."
I couldn't for the life of me think of why she would be worried. I had interviewed every candidate but one and she was head-and-shoulders above any of the others. I couldn't imagine her not being chosen.
She looked worried as a frown crossed her face and I felt her stiffen.
"Now it's your turn to relax," I said with as upbeat a tone as I could. "I don't think you have a thing to worry about."
I felt the tension that had gripped her gradually loosen.
"I hope not. I really do want that job. I would love to live here in Little River. Tommie and Julia are dear friends and that would make it so much easier to settle into a new place," she explained.
We danced the entire set then walked back to the table. Both her friends were up dancing with men and chatting with them as the band took a break.
"No boyfriend, Tish?" I asked carefully. Might as well find out now.
"No ... not lately. I've sworn off for a while," she stated cryptically.
"Oh ... bad experience?" Was I getting too personal?
"Something like that." She looked at me carefully for a moment before her eyes shifted out to the floor and her friends. "Looks like Tommie and Julia are doing fine," she noted.
"Yes ... and you?" I probed.
She brought her eyes back to me and smiled. "Yes ... fine, but I'm thirsty. Would you please get me a glass of water," she asked.
"Nothing stronger ... perhaps a wine?" I offered.
"Not right now, thanks." She seemed quite comfortable as I headed for the bar.
I don't think I'd ever danced that much in my life. When we finally decided to call it a night it was after one in the morning and the time seemed to have flown by. I did manage a few dances with Tommie and Julia. I learned that Tommie's proper name was Tomika and that the men they were dancing with were neighbors whose wives were at a conference for the weekend. She assured me there was no "monkey business" going on.
My focus was on Tish and we seemed to have hit it off very well. I gave her my phone number and asked her to call me when she heard about the job. I told her that I would be more than surprised if she weren't chosen. That seemed to pump up her spirits. We spent a lot of time talking about ourselves. I let her do most of the talking.
She and her girl friends had plans for Saturday, so I wouldn't see Tish again until she returned. I was operating on the assumption that she was a "mortal lock" for the job.
I slept well that night and didn't crawl out of bed until ten on Saturday morning. I put the coffee on and then headed for the shower. By the time I was finished, the coffee was ready and my mind was well into beginning my puzzle solving exercise.
I had picked up two important software programs when I took my night school courses; Firebird 2.0.4, a relational data base, and Excel, Microsoft's ubiquitous spread sheet program. I planned to use both of them to document what I was hearing on the radio. I purchased an inexpensive 16GB digital recorder which would allow me to transcribe what I was hearing and accurately load the information into both programs. In addition, I would use the usual search engines to look for background information on individuals and companies that were indentified in the stories.