Radio Days Pt. 03bycoaster2©
Hello, it's me again, Ozzie Hanswatter. If you've been following my story, you know I've inherited what appeared to be an ordinary transistor radio. It turned out to be anything but ordinary. I discovered that it broadcast the future. In fact it broadcast several time points in the future, from a few days ahead to several years ahead.
My uncle left this radio to me, telling me it was a puzzle that he thought I could solve. I'm not so sure. Oh yes, I've been able to document each of the time points and how to find them. I've also been able to authenticate the information the little device broadcasts ... I think. So, is that the puzzle? Or is there something else?
In the meantime, I've met the girl of my dreams. I mean it! Leticia "Tish" Darling is something special and I'm determined to make her mine. Perhaps I'm putting too much pressure on her, but I find I want to be with her constantly.
We went for a nice drive upstate to the town of Rocky Point and Tish appeared to be having a great time until I asked someone to take our picture. She seemed nervous about that and I thought it was odd.
Radio Days: Solving the Puzzle
We left the little café and continued our stroll around the town. Gradually, the frown and worried look on Tish disappeared and her happy expression returned. We found a lookout spot near the lake and we sat down to just enjoy the scenery for a few moments. I snapped a couple of pictures on my digital camera, but thought better of taking any more of Tish. It seemed to make her uncomfortable and I didn't want to ruin the mood.
It was Tish who broke the silence.
"Ozzie, tell me about yourself. I mean, the things we haven't talked about," she said unexpectedly.
Her request caught me by surprise.
"Uhhhmmm ... I'm not sure what you want to know," I said carefully.
"You were married ... for ten years I hear," she said straightforwardly.
"Yes ... yes I was. How did you know?"
"Julia told me. She said your wife left you. She said she took up with a guy with a questionable background." She knew more than I expected.
"It seems my private life isn't so private," I mused. "How does Julia know that?"
"She thinks she met the guy at her real estate office. She said he was asking a lot of questions that weren't about buying property. She didn't like him and didn't spend much time with him. Later she saw him with your wife and they seemed pretty ... buddy-buddy."
I thought about what she was telling me. Martha worked as an assistant at a different real estate office, but I wasn't surprised that Julia would know her, or about her.
"Yeah, well ... she left me for this guy ... Burk Dunkley. She said I wasn't exciting enough and she wanted more out of life, so ... she left," I shrugged.
"That must have hurt," Tish said sympathetically.
"Yeah ... for a while. I guess I got over it and at the same time, I knew that she was right. I wasn't much of a 'catch.' That's when I decided I had to change ... you know?"
"You did a great job of it," she smiled. "I think your ex-wife made a very bad decision. You are a very handsome man and a very nice one as well."
I was caught off-guard. She was complimenting me and I felt it was genuine. I didn't get any sense that she was trying to "butter me up."
"Thanks, but ... you really don't know that much about me."
"I know enough. I can tell. I've seen the other side of the coin," she said cryptically.
"Julia hinted to me that you'd had a ... hard time lately. I guess you said something about that when you told me you didn't have a boyfriend." I was reminding her of her comment that first Friday night at Dorsey's.
"I've been having some personal problems these past few years," she admitted. "I was always a bit shy and not very popular when I was in high school. It was later, when I was in college that things changed. I became more accepted and a lot of guys wanted to date me. I was flattered and happy that I had become more ... popular. I just wasn't very picky about who I went out with.
"I learned the hard way. I had lots of short-term boyfriends and they ... took advantage of my inexperience. By the end of my sophomore year, I had a reputation ... not a good one either. It was the start of my junior year that I met Julia and Tommie. They took me under their wings and got me straightened out. I owe them a lot."
She looked a bit forlorn after her recounting of her youthful experiences. I felt sorry for her, but I knew there must be more.
"It's good to have friends like that," I said. "You're very lucky."
"Yes ... I am ... very lucky," she agreed. "But when I graduated and we split up, I made another mistake." She paused, looked down at her hands and then back at me. "Let's not go there right now, OK?"
I nodded. I didn't want to push her and I didn't want to upset her. I felt for her. She truly was vulnerable and not very worldly. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her it was all right and that she could trust me, but I wondered if she would believe that. I tentatively reached out and held her hands.
She looked at me and smiled. I didn't detect any nervousness or reluctance. I just wanted her to learn to trust me. If she could find a way to open up, it might be cathartic. I knew then just how careful I would have to be to gain her complete confidence.
"I'm glad it was here that you decided to make a new start." I was smiling.
She smiled back. "I'm being careful, Ozzie. I want to trust you, but ... I'm being careful."
I was still holding her hands. "I know, Tish. I don't blame you. I understand. Why don't we head back to Little River," I smiled.
"Yeah ... let's," she smiled back.
We did a lot of talking about our likes and dislikes that afternoon, but in the end, I really didn't know any more about her past problems. I looked at my watch as we arrived back in town and saw it was almost six.
"Tish ... let's go out for dinner," I suggested as we pulled into my driveway.
"No ... Ozzie ... let me make something. I'd just as soon stay here and relax for a while. We can talk without worrying about anyone overhearing us," she said with surprising candor.
"OK ... let's look in the fridge and see what I have," I agreed.
We ended up with macaroni and cheese, a tossed salad and shared a bottle of white wine. It was perfect! When we'd cleaned up the dishes and poured the last of the wine, Trish dried her hands on the towel I was using and then surprised me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me the nicest long kiss I could ever remember. It must have been the mac and cheese.
"That was nice," I said softly. "We should do the dishes more often."
"Don't go getting any ideas, Mr. Hanswatter," she warned. She smiled when she said that and I knew we were OK.
"Well then, Ms. Darling, how would you like to spend the evening?"
"Why don't you put on some nice music and we can sit on the sofa."
I didn't need a kick in the backside to know what to do. I tuned in my favorite seduction fm radio station and sure enough, the music was just right. I moved to the sofa and sat close to her, my hand moving to hers and closing over it. She snuggled up close to me and closed her eyes as the softly-played piano sounds filled in the background. We didn't need to say a word. It was wonderful.
I suppose we were there for several minutes before I stirred and took the opportunity to put my arm around Tish. If she was asleep, as I thought she might be, she was comfortable and moved even closer into me. The scent of her delicate perfume was the intoxicant that caused my male libido to stir. I began to imagine what it would be like to make love to this beautiful woman.
"I feel safe here," she murmured.
"Good. I won't tell you what I feel," I chuckled.
She gave me a light punch in the shoulder as a reply.
"Safe is good, Ozzie. I need safe," she said quietly, looking up at me.
"Can you tell me why? You know I'll do anything for you, don't you?" I hoped she would accept that I was being truthful. I really would do almost anything for her.
"It's a bad story, Ozzie. Maybe ... maybe when you can tell me about the puzzle, I can tell you about what I mean ... OK?" She looked up at me again with a pleading expression. "It isn't very nice and I don't want to spoil this evening for us."
"You tell me when you want to tell me, Tish. You know it won't go any further," I promised.
"Thanks," she said as her head dropped to my shoulder and I heard a sigh of contentment.
I don't think I could have felt any more emotional about someone than I did at that moment. I was falling in love with a woman I hardly knew and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. On the other hand, there wasn't a damn thing I wanted to do about it except let her know. Somewhere along the line, I was going to have to tell her.
Shortly after nine, I drove Tish back to the Timely's house and walked her to the front door. We kissed and this time she put more into it than before. It seemed pretty intense to me, but I was already a goner anyway, so how would I know? We parted and said we would see each other tomorrow in the lunchroom and I headed home after she closed the door.
I didn't sleep very well that night. Mostly because of Tish and my feelings about her, but also because I was very unfocused lately. I could do my job without problem, but my mind was constantly wandering between thoughts of Tish and my inability to resolve my uncle's puzzling bequest. The little "radio" had become more of a challenge than I expected and it was only with unusual determination that I didn't share my secret with my new lady.
Only two people in the world knew about the little device and I was one of them. At least, that's what I assumed. I was sure that Felix Bindle knew about it. It would be odd that he did not, considering the information he shared about the foundation my uncle had created. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to talk to Mr. Bindle once more and see what else I could learn. I was missing something and I needed his help.
When I arrived at work Monday morning, I looked over my schedule for the next two weeks and then picked up the phone.
"Bindle and Snipe," the aging receptionist answered.
"Good morning. It's Ozzie Hanswatter calling. May I speak with Mr. Bindle, please," I asked in my most polite voice.
"Of course Mr. Hanswatter. I'll get him right away," she said brightly.
Now that was a change from the first encounter. I didn't have to wait long for Felix Bindle to pick up the phone.
"Good morning, Mr. Hanswatter. How may I help you," he answered in a pleasant tone.
"Mr. Bindle, I'd like to make an appointment with you to discuss my ... inheritance," I began.
"Yes, I rather expected your call. When would it be convenient?" he asked.
Convenient? He was asking me when it would be convenient?
"Ahmmm ... I was hoping for next week, say ... Thursday?" I offered hopefully.
"Yes, of course. That will be fine. Morning or afternoon?"
"Morning, please. I'd like to get back to Little River that evening," I explained.
"Understood. Why don't we schedule for eight am and then see how it goes," he suggested.
"Yes ... yes ... that will be fine," I said, slightly bewildered. This was not the response I was expecting, but I was pleased that I had so little trouble getting to see him. "Thank you, Mr. Bindle. I'll see you next Thursday morning at eight," I confirmed.
"I'll look forward to it," he replied and we rang off. I sat at my desk looking at the telephone almost in disbelief. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this type of reception. It was a complete turnaround from my normal dealings with lawyers. Suddenly, I seemed to be welcomed. I gave my head a shake and went back to my work.
At coffee, I wandered down the hall to my boss, Milo Selwind's office, and arranged two vacation days for the following week. I explained that I was still working on my uncle's estate and that seemed to satisfy him.
I saw Tish at lunch and explained that I would be away for a couple of days next week as I travelled to Paramount to meet with my uncle's lawyer. I didn't offer any details, but I could see the look of interest in her eyes and her slight smile. I suspected she was determined to find out more about "the puzzle," but I wasn't offering anything yet.
The balance of the week was spent working at compiling the information I had obtained in my study of the little radio and putting it in a form that I could access readily on a pair of CD's. I put the CD's in my safe and then began to think about the questions I wanted to ask Felix Bindle.
I was beginning to think that Mr. Bindle knew more about my "radio" than he let on. My phone call on Monday and his response to my request left me feeling that he was almost anticipating my request for a meeting. In fact, he had said he "rather expected my call." I was curious as to why.
The following weekend was spent with Tish again. We had become quite close in the past three weeks. I marvelled at my good fortune and vowed to enjoy every minute of my time with her. I wanted to move our relationship along to something more intimate, but I was being overly cautious because of Julia's warning and Tish's comments the previous weekend. I reminded myself regularly not to push too hard. Be patient!
I was struggling with the idea of telling her about my inheritance, but until I spoke with Felix Bindle, I decided to say nothing. I really wanted to get some idea of what I was supposed to accomplish. Over the past few days, some disturbing ideas had floated around in my head.
One was the consequence of changing the future. If I were to use my advance knowledge to achieve a certain result, would that alter the future and thus cause events to occur that should never have occurred?
I remembered a lesson in college about what might happen if a seemingly insignificant event happened that was not "destined" to happen. Perhaps as small as the movement of a rock on a hillside.
There was great debate in class over this question with the students pretty much split down the middle between assuming no effect and assuming all sorts of consequences if the rock were to roll down the hill. I remember it got pretty heated and then the class ended and the whole thing was pretty much reduced to theoretical discussions over a beer at the Student Union Pub.
So far, I had not taken any advantage of the device and I wondered why. Or maybe the question was; why not? I was reluctant to test the little radio in practical or profitable terms. Why? I couldn't think of a good reason, but still, I was waiting for something. Permission? This whole business was producing a feeling of discomfort.
I was restless until Wednesday came along when I set off in my car for Paramount. I took it easy, knowing tomorrow would be a long day and I wouldn't be home until quite late in the evening. I had prepared my list of questions for Felix Bindle and I thought I was as prepared as I could be under the circumstances, but I wasn't sure I knew all the questions I should ask.
After a restless night's sleep in the motel, I arrived in Felix Bindle's office promptly at eight the next morning. His secretary actually smiled when I entered.
"Good morning, Mr. Hanswatter. Right on time. I'll tell Mr. Bindle," she said brightly as she entered the lawyer's private office.
She wasn't gone more than fifteen seconds when she reappeared, holding the door open for me.
"He'll see you now," she smiled. Another smile! This was getting spooky.
"Good Morning, Mr. Hanswatter, nice to see you again," Bindle said, sounding sincere.
"Good Morning, Mr. Bindle. Thank you for the appointment," I replied.
He offered coffee and I accepted as he poured from the sideboard behind his chair. We exchanged small talk about the weather and the drive to Paramount before getting down to business.
"Well, Mr. Hanswatter, what can I do for you?" he said with what I thought was a knowing smile.
"Mr. Bindle, I'm wondering just how much you know about my uncle's affairs?" I asked bluntly.
Felix Bindle sat immobile, watching me, but not appearing uncomfortable or upset.
After a few moments, he began. "I was his advisor and confidant in all things pertaining to DMH," he admitted. "As such, I knew quite a lot about ... well ... quite a lot."
"Did you know what was in the small carton that was my bequest?" I asked directly.
"Yes." It was the simplest of responses with nothing more forthcoming.
"Do you know what it does?"
"Yes, Mr. Hanswatter, I do."
I pressed on.
"I've spent quite a bit of time documenting the information I've been getting from the little radio and I am at a loss to understand just how my uncle might have used it to create the massive wealth that you have outlined in DMH," I stated in a straightforward fashion.
This was becoming frustrating if not infuriating.
"Really, Mr. Bindle, you clearly know more than you are telling me. I'm looking for answers. Will you provide them?"
That was it? Just "No!" Nothing else? No explanation?
"Mr. Bindle, this is very frustrating. Are you telling me that I am not entitled to this information?"
"No ... on the contrary. It's just that I'm not the right person to ask," he said with a slight smile. I got the impression he was enjoying this cat-and-mouse game.
"Then whom should I ask?" I spat, raising my voice, exasperated with this pointless conversation.
"The gentleman that you are about to meet, my partner, Mr. Finneus Snipe. He is the Chairman of the Board of DMH and only he is entitled to give you information of a highly confidential nature." Again, Bindle was smiling as if he were the reincarnation of the Cheshire Cat.
I slumped back in my chair and took another sip of my coffee. It was time to calm down and get my thinking back on track. Bindle's little game with me seemed to amuse him, but I couldn't think why.
At that point, Felix Bindle stood. "Come with me, Mr. Hanswatter, and I'll introduce you to Mr. Snipe. I'm sure you'll find the conversation informative ... and fascinating." Again, with that enigmatic smile.
I stood and followed him to a door in the far side of his office. He opened it, waiting for me to enter. As I did, I saw another office, quite large and just as elegantly furnished as Bindle's. Seated behind a massive desk was a man. When I first saw him, the immediate impression I got was that he looked very much like Ming the Merciless in the ancient Flash Gordon serials.
He was sitting at the desk looking at me with an expressionless gaze. His age was indeterminate. He might have been forty. He might have been sixty. His hair was jet black as was his goatee and his suit. A plain white shirt and a blood-red tie completed what I could see of his wardrobe. The only thing missing was the leather skull cap.
"I'll leave you gentlemen now," I heard Bindle say as the door closed behind me.
"Please, sit down, Mr. Hanswatter," Ming spoke. I almost laughed out loud. I would have to be careful not to blurt out what I was thinking.
"Thank you," I said simply. I had decided to start playing Bindle's game of vocal minimalism. Let's see where that gets me.
"I've been expecting you," the man said in a deep baritone.
"Yes ... I've been following your activities and I felt fairly certain you would be seeking more information."
"Yes, that's why I'm here."
"What would you like to know?" he asked quietly, his hands folded beneath his chin, his mouth barely moving as he spoke.
"My inheritance ... the radio ... is that how my uncle amassed the fortune that DMH controls?"
"No ... not really. It's how he knew what to do with it."
"I don't understand. How did he create all that wealth?"