Q Signals – Chapter 5 of 17

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Charlie walked Rose and her parents as far as his booth. He wanted to ask Rose for a date, but with him being older by five years, he wasn’t sure how her father would react. Something in their conversation hinted that they were farmers. So she would probably not get into town except during the weekends. Any chance of seeing her often was remote. However, she called the shop the following day.

“I’d like to see your QSL collection,” Rose said.

“Sure, anytime you like, Rose,”

“My father wants to know if you can work on his pickup tomorrow?” she asked.

“What kind of work?”

“He thinks it needs clutch work – disc, pressure plate, and turn the flywheel. And then he’d like you to tune the engine, too.”
The following morning, shortly after eight Virgil brought his pickup to the shop. Rose was with him, so Charlie took Rose into his radio shack and retrieved several boxes of cards from a closet. After setting up a folding table and chair he left Rose to sort through them at her leisure.

“If you have any questions I’ll be the shop. I remember some of the QSOs.”

“QSOs?”

“Conversations. Radio people call them QSOs. It’s another Q-signal. You may find some of the cards stating: FB QSO. FB means Fine Business, it was a good conversation. Others refer to fists. We call the hand that works the key a fist. Each fist has its own distinctive rhythm, or signature, each as distinctive as ones voice,” Charlie explained. Then, almost as an afterthought, he unrolled a world map, so that she could locate the countries from which the cards had been sent.

Then he returned to the shop and started on Virgil’s Chevrolet pickup. Anne waited in the Ford sedan she’d driven to the shop.

“How long do you think it will take?” Virgil asked.

“We should have it finished by noon.”

After Charlie started working Virgil and Anne drove to May’s for breakfast.

“Hello Virgil. Hello Anne,” said May as she placed menus before them. “Where is Rose?”

“Rose is down at Henry’s Automotive. We’re having Charlie work on the pickup,” Anne explained.

“Do you know Charlie well?” Virgil asked.

“Yes, he’s lived here all his life. His mother died when he was a youngster, so it’s been he and his dad. He’s a fine young man.”

“That’s good to hear,” Virgil said

“He’s a fine your man,” she repeated, sensing there was more to the question than was stated. “What can I get for you?”

“Ham and eggs over medium, wheat toast, and coffee,” said Virgil.

“I’ll have the same,” said Anne.

“What are we going to do with our time? The pickup won’t be ready for nearly four hours,” said Virgil, sipping his coffee nervously.

“We can go home. I’m sure there are things needing attention. You mentioned a flat tire on the wheat drill, and the west fence on the north forty needs mending. I know I can use this time to prepare some apple jelly and pear butter,” Anne suggested.

“What about Anne? Are you suggesting we leave her here in town, at the shop?”

“Of course,” said Anne, touching the back of his hand. “She will be fine. She is getting an education that might be useful when she goes off to college. She can drive the truck home when it’s ready.”

“I not so sure that’s a good idea,” objected Virgil, tugging at his handlebar.

May pushed through the kitchen door and started for their table with their orders.

“Can I get you anything else – salsa, catsup?”

“I think we’re good,” said Anne, smiling.

“Do you really think she will be alright?” Virgil asked, after May was out of earshot.

“Tell me your worst fear, Virgil,” she urged.

“I suppose you’re right,” mumbled Virgil, digging into his breakfast.

Anne could see that he was uneasy, but she let the matter drop and they ate in silence.

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