Rose – Chapter 2 of 17

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Charlie was working beneath the hood of Ned’s car when the postman entered the shop with a certified letter. It was from the Federal Communications Commission. After whipping his hands on a shop towel, he tore the envelope open and read that the amateur radio frequencies were now released for normal amateur use, effective immediately.

He felt a certain satisfaction. Things were returning to normal. After finishing with Ned’s tune up, Charlie unlocked the door of his radio shack and pushed it open. Inside, on the desk, sat both his transmitter and receiver. They were home-brew rigs, projects from four issues of prewar QSTs. They’d brought the world to his shack. After using a feather duster to fan away the accumulated dust, Charlie switched on the power. Leaving them both on standby, he leaned back in his wooden office chair to watch the filaments glow. Somehow it reminded him of his first assignment after finishing radio school. He was to locate and destroy a clandestine radio station in Europe.

He’d been chosen for the task because of his gifted ability to mimic other people’s fists. In this case, he’d been chosen to locate a station operating on the coast of Spain. The stations regular contact had been silenced and Charlie had substituted for more than a week.

From an aging fishing boat, he maintained the scheduled contacts until he had established its location. Then under the cover of darkness, he went ashore in a rubber raft and made his way inland, carrying some explosives. Using an R6 spy radio he maintained contact and by dawn, he’d found the station in question.

It was a shack built of weather-beaten driftwood slabs. Working his way closer, he tried to determine if only one person occupied the station? At last a man stepped from the doorway to relieve himself. Charlie recognized his photo on a QSL card. He was an Italian ham he’d worked many times before the war. He couldn’t recall his name, but he distinctly remembered his call sign. Now he had to find a way to destroy the station without getting himself killed.

Taking a chance, he transmitted the man’s ham call sign, and then followed it with random Spanish call. The man’s head spun around and he stared at his shack, but he made no move to respond.

This wasn’t working.

Charlie repeated the call, and then, using what little Spanish he knew he added: if he can copy this meet me on the beach where a creek feeds into the sea I have supplies. The operator did not respond. Instead, he moved off toward the beach. Charlie waited for sixty seconds before he moved toward the shack to set his charges. After lighting the fuses, he quickly set out for his rubber raft. He had almost there when he heard the explosion.

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