As the plane banked to the
left, Paul's stomach tightened. He pushed his head
back into the seat and reached up to turn the air
nozzle. The cool air felt good as it blew into his
golden blond hair. He closed his dark blue eyes and
tried to pray, but could not. His worst fear was yet
to come and his mind started filling with
distressing thoughts. If this plane crashed, all
my problems would be solved. I wouldn't have to
confront my lifelong friend. David would never find
out how I used and destroyed his name. But then all
these innocent people would die, and. . .
Ding ding click. The
pilot's voice came on over the speaker. "Please
fasten your seat belts. We will be landing in Denver
in fifteen minutes. It is an unseasonably cold forty
two degrees this fall day. Winds are out of the
northwest at seventeen miles per hour, and don't
forget we gained one hour since leaving San
Francisco. The time is now 11:41. Thank you for
flying with us." Click. The pilot signed off
and the Fasten Seat Belt light came on.
The stewardess leaned in toward
Paul and spoke softly. "Please buckle up your seat
belt, Father Miller. We will be landing in about
twelve minutes." She knew his full name because she
had read the seating assignments when Paul boarded.
She did notice his white collar but was mostly aware
of how handsome he was. When he walked by her, she
could smell his aftershave, and the smile he offered
her pierced her heart. However, all fantasies
vanished when she saw the "Fr." preceding his name
on the seating assignment list.
As Paul opened his eyes and
smiled at the stewardess, the thought of death ebbed
from his mind. He turned to look out the cabin
window. The mountains poked up through the clouds
and just the highest tips were blanketed with a
fresh dusting of snow. The whole area looked remote
and isolated. Paul now understood why his best
friend, David, lived here.
David McIntosh, a rough outdoors
type, was not one to live in the city or suburbia.
It had been more than twelve years since Paul had
last seen him face to face; the thought of what he
had to tell him caused his hands to shake. He
struggled to get the seat belt together. Finally, he
clicked it shut and pulled it snug across his trim
waist. He brought the seat back to the upright
position, closed his eyes and prayed for David's
understanding and forgiveness.
The bumping of the plane tires as
it touched down caused Paul's stomach to tighten up
even more. How will I tell David? Should I wait
for a day or should I tell him right in the airport?
He could have me arrested. Will he believe I am
sincere on becoming a priest? All these thoughts
kept running through Paul's mind as the plane taxied
to the terminal.
The plane came to a stop, the
door opened and the passengers got off. Paul sat
there, unable to stand. He wished he were dead.
Alone in the void of the cabin, the dread of
confrontation petrified him. He could not do it.
"Father, you will have to get
off. Denver is our final stop," the stewardess said
as she checked the overhead compartments and moved
forward up the aisle.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Paul replied.
As he sat numb, his mind became
foggy and drifted back to a similar feeling some
twenty plus years ago. It was his first tour of duty
in Vietnam. He was sitting in a Huey helicopter,
hovering over a rice field. All the soldiers had
jumped out; he just sat there frozen, his stomach in
knots, his body unable to move.
Suddenly, somebody threw him out
the door and he went face first into a deep water
pool. The weight of his heavy pack carried him to
the bottom. Thrashing around in the muddy water, he
kept pushing his hands to stand up, but they just
slipped and slipped in the mud. It seemed like an
eternity. His lungs were ready to explode, his
throat throbbed and both the straps and the weight
of his pack pinned him to the bottom. With all his
strength gone, he quit fighting, went limp, and lay
on the bottom of the pond — in darkness and silence.
And then for a moment, a great
feeling of tranquillity came over him and the
darkness turned brilliant. He was floating through a
tunnel of light toward a silhouette, and wanted for
nothing. Abruptly the moment faded and his mind got
a jolt, some type of message like, "Not yet. You're
not ready; it's not your time." Only then did he
fear death. He started to struggle again. Suddenly,
he felt the straps on his pack pulling him up. In
the next moment, his head cleared the water. Choking
and gasping for air, a huge hand grabbed under his
armpit and lifted him to his feet.
He was never able to shake that
near-death experience from his mind. He often
searched his conscience for answers to the same old
questions and now they were surfacing once again.
Why could I have not passed
through that day? Why was I sent back, not only to
ruin my life but my family's and now my lifelong
friend? The last years of my life are to be lived in
torment over which I have no control. It just does
not seem fair that my journey has been so difficult.
I pray every day but my prayers seem to go
unanswered. Oh, how I want to feel that tranquillity
and peace I experienced on the bottom of that pond.
I put all my trust in you, Lord, but please . . .
"Father, are you okay?" the
Paul snapped back to reality and
replied in a broken voice. "Just feeling a little
uneasy, but I'll be fine." He stood up into the
stillness of the plane and could feel his heart
beating. The anxiety kept building as he exited the
plane. As he walked up the ramp he could see
somebody at the gate. Is that David? He
looks bigger and older. The figure waved.
Paul waved back. Every step
forward was like drudging through knee-deep snow.
Holding his head low, Paul avoided eye contact. Oh,
how he wished he had not used David's name on that
medical form. He was now at the top of the ramp and
stood face to face with his alias.
"It's been a long time!" David
said as he extended his hand to Paul, giving it a
firm shake. "Do I call you Father, or what?"
"Paul will be fine. No sense in
changing things at this point," Paul said as he
looked David over, noticing that some of his hair
was gray and he had put on more than a few pounds.
"I'm glad you got in touch with
me, Paul. I was meaning to write but you know how
that goes," David said. Paul's being in collar made
David a little uncomfortable and he was uneasy over
the urgency in which Paul had to come to see him.
"You look good, David." The two
men let loose of their handshake and tried to break
the ice. Paul's stomach still had butterflies. All
he could think of was the news he had to spring on
David. He wanted to grab David and hold him. He
started to blurt out the bad news but nothing came
out. I'll wait.
They went on to the baggage
claim, not saying much to each other. The tension in
the air was as uncomfortable as a muggy summer
night. Gathering up one suitcase and a satchel, they
exited the terminal and David suggested lunch.
David pointed out a pickup truck
in the lot and they walked toward it in silence.
Unlocking the passenger door first, Paul stored his
luggage behind the seat, then hopped in. They
stopped at a small cafe about fifteen miles
southwest of Denver in a small town called
Englewood. Entering through two swinging wooden
doors, the mingling aromas of bacon and coffee
rolled out into the fresh air. "Truckers always know
where the best grub is," David said as he looked
around to find a table. They took a window booth
that looked out over the asphalt parking lot filled
with semi-trucks. The waitress strutted to the
table, her Wranglers hugging her hefty hips. Her
hair was bleached blond and her makeup a little
heavy. She took their order and called it back to
the kitchen just by yelling through the smoke filled
A beep came from David's pager as
they started to eat. "Excuse me, I have to call in."
David got up and walked to the back of the truck
stop to make his call. Three minutes later he
returned and started to gulp down his food. Between
mouthfuls he said, "I got a job to take care of
immediately. The translator is out up on Mount
Antero and I have to check on it before we go back
to my house. You'll love the awesome view from the
transmission site." They hurriedly finished lunch
and headed south down Highway 285.
David, an electronic technician,
was under contract to keep the translators
operating. The translator repeated the Denver TV
stations to Canon, Pueblo and other small towns
south of Denver.
Turning off the main highway onto
a gravel road, a small weather-beaten sign read MT.
ANTERO 3 MILES. The road narrowed as they started to
climb at a fairly steep incline. The dangerous
drive, compounded with the silence in the cab, made
David nervous. He tapped his hand on the steering
wheel while looking out the side window making sure
not to get too close to the edge. As the incline
approached forty degrees, the rear tires of the
truck started to spin, causing it to hop and
fishtail. David grabbed a lever in the center of the
floor and shifted the pickup into four-wheel drive.
The truck bogged down and gripped the road like a
tank. "You're not getting nervous are you?" David
asked, trying to break the ice.
"It is a little frightening, but
what a view," Paul replied, now overcome with the
awesome surrounding and the massiveness of the
mountain. For a brief moment the beauty filled his
head, allowing him a respite from his anxiety. It
had been twelve years since he had seen David and
scarcely an occasional card. The altitude, along
with his anxiety, forced him to lay his head back
into the seat. Sweat was beading on his brow and
soaking his shirt under his arms.
David slowly and methodically
guided the pickup toward a rusty metal gate. The
road leveled out onto a landing that had been carved
out of the side of the mountain. He stopped the
pickup inches from the gate, shut off the motor and
applied the brake. "Well, we're here. What do you
Paul looked out through the gate
and noticed how a section about the size of a tennis
court had been cut out of the side of the mountain.
The site was littered with wooden pallets, cable
spools and other debris, giving the place a junk
yard atmosphere. To the right, in a straight line,
were three different antenna towers all secured with
guy cables attached to huge anchor bolts coming up
out of the ground. To the left stood a cubed shaped
gray concrete building about fifteen by fifteen feet
with a black fuel tank attached to it. Straight
ahead, between the building and antennas, was a
beautiful view that extended across the Rockies. The
sun's rays poked out from the clouds and touched
gently into the lower valleys. Out beyond the edge
of the landing there were no signs of men scratching
their existence into the face of the earth; this was
virgin wilderness. It took a few moments for Paul to
reply. "It's awesome out there! But," Paul's eyes
moved from the center then to left then to right,
"this site here kind of detracts from the beauty."
"I agree with you about that, but
people need their TV programs. The environmentalists
don't even fight us over this site." David said
laughingly. "You can't take away people's soaps and
talk shows. I'd better go find the problem. Probably
got some mad people by now — they've been without TV
for almost two hours. " David unsnapped his seat
belt and reached for the door handle. The door
popped open and he got one foot on the ground.
"Wait!" blared out Paul. "I have
something to tell you." He took a deep breath,
swallowed hard and mumbled. "I've tested HIV
"I have the AIDS virus." Paul
looked away out the passenger window.
Mesmerized with one foot on the
ground and one still in the truck, David forgot
about repairing the translator. AIDS! I
bet he got it from helping at a hospital or a clinic
someplace. That makes sense. After all, he's a
priest. After a few minutes David said, "I am
sorry. I don't know what to say."
"You don't have to say anything.
Please just forgive me." Paul said, still turned
looking out the side window.
"Why should I forgive you? I
mean, it's not your fault."
Paul felt relived at David's
calmness. "I just found out about four months ago
and you are the second person I have told, besides
my dad. He won't even talk or write now; that really
Why won't Dean talk to him?
David wondered. Something's not right. Paul
can't be gay. We were best friends throughout
school. And why tell me now, after not seeing each
other for twelve years? Trying to be diplomatic
and hoping for the answer he wanted to hear, he
asked, "Your dad knows you got the virus helping
people, doesn't he?"
"That's not true."
Paul started to tense up and
could feel things were going to be bad. If David
wanted to believe he contracted the virus some other
way — then why tell him the truth? But he couldn't
lie. "I got it from a friend."
"What do you mean? You were
helping someone with AIDS and you accidentally
Paul swallowed hard. "No, David."
The air in the cab could have
been cut with a knife. Paul finally looked over
toward David who had his head locked straight
forward, gripping the steering wheel so tight that
his knuckles turned white. David couldn't stand it
any longer. Turning, he looked Paul straight in the
eyes and said, "So what you are trying to tell me?
That you're a fag!"
The word stung. "Yes, I'm gay."
In a rage, David jumped from the
cab and slammed the door shut with so much force
that the half opened side window shattered. Glass
flew all over! Paul just sat there with his head
slumped forward, not able to even look over toward
David or the broken window. He had prayed for a
different kind of reaction, but he kind of expected
this. His father had reacted about the same way. The
two men that he looked up to the most now hated him.
Why can't people understand? I tried to live up
to my father's expectations and he disowned me. Now
David hates me. Please God, help me get through
this. I only ask for their forgiveness — before I
When the glass imploded, it flew
all over inside the cab. Paul started wiping the
glass away that had landed in his lap. When he
finally lifted his head, he could see David walking
toward the concrete building, leaning hard into the
wind. There was a sign on the door, in big red
letters: DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE.
Paul still had more to tell.
Taking a deep breath, he reached for the door handle
of the pickup. When he tried to open the door, he
could feel how hard the wind was blowing and had to
use his foot to help push it open. Then lowering his
head and leaning into the wind, Paul started jogging
toward the building. All of a sudden his head
snapped back! Something had hit him in the forehead,
knocking him to his knees. He had run into one of
the frayed guy cables that held one of the antennas.
Putting his hand right above his right eye he felt
something warm start to run down his face.
David had just pulled a bunch of
keys from a ring that hung on his belt to unlock the
door when he heard the twang of the cable. Looking
back over his shoulder he saw Paul just getting back
to his feet with blood flowing from his forehead.
The cable had put a deep cut in Paul's forehead.
Blood was rushing from the gash, down his right
cheek, dripping from his chin. In a panic David ran
back to the truck for some bandages. He searched
frantically and the only thing he could find was a
red shop rag. He ran back to Paul with the rag.
Pointing to an old wooden cable spool, David said,
"Sit over here."
David started to apply the rag to
his wound. "Hey, don't do that!" Paul reared back
his head. "Stay away from my blood!" Paul grabbed
the shop rag and applied pressure to his own
It just crossed David's mind, as
he stood there watching Paul administer his own
first aid, he could have been jeopardizing his own
life. "What can I do?"
"Just be careful. Can you see if
I'll need stitches?" Paul pulled the rag from his
head while David bent over to look. It was hard for
David not to reach out and use his hands to spread
the cut to see how serious it was. Without using his
hands David could see that it was about two inches
long and just ran above Paul's right eyebrow.
"It looks like you won't need
stitches. You'd better go back to the truck and
wait." Suddenly angry, David asked, "Why were you
wandering around out here anyway?"
Paul looked up and swallowed hard
to clear the lump in his throat. "I have one more
thing to tell you."
"What, that your lover is a
fellow priest! Or that Jesus never condemned
homosexuality, so it's okay? How about that God has
forgiven you because you are holier than thou? I've
heard it all. I'm so sick of you fags being on TV
and in everybody's face pushing your lifestyle. I
hope all of you die. The sooner the better!"
Paul stood, shook his head side
to side and then returned to the truck without
saying anything. David's words were like a knife
shoved into his gut. It took about a half an hour
before Paul could focus his hurt toward forgiveness.
God, please help me. I can understand how your
Son must have felt before his death. Alone,
neglected and spurned. Yet his last words were,
"Forgive them Father, for they know not what they
do." Jesus forgave and so must I, no matter what
David says or does. But it's so frustrating not to
be able to explain how I feel, that I didn't plan
this, that it just happened. Oh, how I had hoped
that David's reaction would have been different than
my father's. I've now let down the two people that I
respect and love. And I still have to tell David
what I did to his name . . .
Tick tick tat. Paul opened
his eyes. It had just started to rain and with the
force of the wind the drops on the windshield were
quite loud. He had his head leaned back and was
still holding the rag to his cut. He sat up, checked
in the rear view mirror to see if the bleeding had
quit, then looked at his watch. It was almost 6:30
and a bank of thick gray clouds had darkened the sky
and caused the temperature to drop. I wonder
where David is.
Paul's eyes scanned the site and
after a few minutes David emerged from the concrete
building. He walked to one of the antenna towers and
started to climb it. The tower looked about thirty
feet tall and had a ladder surrounded with a wire
mesh tunnel for safety attached to the side. Halfway
up the tower he stopped climbing, inspected a heavy
black cord, then climbed back down and went back
into the concrete bunker. The clouds were rapidly
moving closer together, blocking out the last of the
daylight and bringing more rain.
The wind blowing in through the
broken window was bone chilling. Paul was kneeling
on the seat trying to get his jacket from his
suitcase when he heard a click, then a
squeak. He flinched and bumped the back of his
head on the roof of the cab. It was David opening
the door. "You startled me!"
David jumped into the cab and
started to rub his hands together. His clothes and
hair were wet and beads of water covered his face.
"The transmission cable about halfway up the tower
has a bad fitting. I'm going to have to splice it."
"Now? It's raining and it's
almost too dark to see."
"Can't let people go a night
without TV." David reached for the key in the
ignition and started the truck. I need the
headlights to see. I'll turn the heat on for you."
David jumped back out and Paul
watched him in the beam of the headlights as he
climbed back up the tower. Paul strained, barely
able to see through the rain drops beating on the
windshield. As he looked around the dash for the
wiper control, Paul noticed a phone that was hooked
into a box connected to some wires to the dash. He
almost laughed to himself; this phone contraption
reminded him of the things that David used to make
when they were kids. He could still remember the
time David wired a microphone into the girls'
bathroom in high school.
Up on the antenna tower David was
working at repairing the cable. The job normally
would have taken about twenty minutes but the rain
and cold was slowing him down. Besides what Paul had
told him made it impossible to concentrate. As he
distractedly sliced through the cable, he also
sliced into his hand. "Damn it!" The knife flew from
his grip and ricocheted off the tower before it hit
the ground. Blood gushed from David's hand and as he
climbed down, each grip on a rung pumped blood from
the cut. When he got to the ground, he used his
thumb to stop the bleeding and headed back for the
Jumping back into cab David
yelled, "I cut my damn hand." He turned on the dome
light, spotted a shop rag on the dash, grabbed it
and used it to apply pressure to his bleeding left
hand. The heat in the cab felt good and David had
not noticed how cold it had gotten. He lifted the
red rag to see how badly he had cut himself.
"I sliced my hand trying to cut
through the cable," David said, avoiding eye contact
with Paul. "It's not that bad, but I've got to
finish the job. I'll just get warmed up first."
Neither said a word. The only
sound was that of the heater in the truck blasting
away. David kept turning on the dome light to check
Finally Paul spoke. "While you're
here I have one more thing to tell you."
"Paul, can't it wait? I need to
concentrate on getting that cable repaired and the
television translator back on, not you."
"Sure David, it can wait."
The truck was now overly warm.
David shut off the engine before he opened the door
and slipped off the seat into the last bit of dusk
and cold driving rain. The beam from the headlights
now became beacons to aid him in the twilight. Back
up on the tower he fumbled in the rain and cold
darkness for about twenty minutes to complete the
repair. He climbed down and sloshed back to the
concrete bunker to switch the translator power back
on. There was a low hum as everything came back.
David only waited half the time required by the FCC
to do a Frequency-Drift-Check but added half an hour
to the time and wrote it down on the log chart on
the side of the translator. Then he used his
flashlight to gather up his tools. From the doorway
an instant panic came over him. "Oh, no!"
David dropped his toolbox and ran
full speed toward the two dim headlights and yanked
the door open. Paul's head was cocked back, his eyes
closed. He had been resting and was startled by the
opening of the door. David jumped in and switched
the headlights off. Paul sensed the urgency and
asked, "What's the problem?"
"I forgot! I've been having
problems with the battery," snapped David, reaching
for the ignition and turning the key. Eer eer ...
eeer click click click. The starter quit
turning; the engine did not start. "It was stupid,
to shut off the truck and leave the lights on." Only
the sound of the rain as it beat against the cab and
window was heard as both men sat there thinking over
"Can't you use the phone there on
the dash?" Paul asked.
"Yeah, with a dead battery."
David said, rubbing his hands together to stay warm.
"Let's see, I could take my phone and hook it to the
phone company's equipment in the equipment shack.
I'll call Bill at work have him come up here and
give us a jump. No, it's too late. He won't be
there. I'll call Marcea and have her go to one of
our neighbors for help. That'll work." David picked
the flashlight off the seat and switched it on.
"Here, hold this on those phone wires." He handed
the light to Paul.
Paul shone the light, watching
David's hands shake as he unclipped some wires up
under the dash. "I never knew you married."
"I'm not." David quietly mumbled
as he took back the flashlight and grabbed the phone
in the other hand.
Paul watched the flashlight beam
bounce around the landing as David headed back to
the bunker. The rain had eased off and the clouds
were just starting to let the moon peek out as they
broke. Paul zipped up his jacket as he watched
David's silhouette from the flashlight through the
open door of the concrete building. It looked like
David was smoking as his breath vaporized into steam
and floated into the air inside the cold concrete
David shone the light around the
terminal board on the telephone microwave equipment.
He found the loop test terminal and clipped his
phone up. He was an expert with this type of
equipment and knew exactly what to do. In school he
would often sneak into the telephone room and clip
up a phone and make long distance phone calls. Then,
while in the military, his expertise grew as he
worked on communication equipment. Even now, he
would do some occasional wire tapping or electronic
surveillance for a private investigation company. He
moved a switch on the handset to line and a
high-pitched squeal almost blasted his ear off.
"Damn! It's a dedicated computer line!" He shone the
light around the terminal board for another line but
there was nothing.
Back at the truck he had to use
the steering wheel to help pull himself in. The
combination of the cold; along with the weight of
his wet clinging clothes, made every move laborious.
The broken window added one more problem: there was
no way to warm up and the temperature was dropping
rapidly. David shivered out broken words. "I ca...
can't ca... call. It's a com... computer relay
"You mean you can't call for
David drew a deep breath so he
could try to talk without shivering. "All there is
are, com... computer da... data lines, no voice
lines. Don't don't worry. Marcea will send help."
Paul figured that David must be
living with this Marcea. After all, David had never
married and always seemed to be in some type of
relationship. One of the most difficult things Paul
had learned at the seminary was not to pass judgment
and at the moment this was the least of his
concerns. A real sense of urgency came over Paul.
"Will Marcea know where we are?"
"Then how will she know where to
"When I don't don't show up,
she'll ca... call Bill at home."
Paul could feel David's shivering
through the bench seat and knew that they could not
just sit there and wait. "How long do you think
she'll wait before she gets worried? What time does
she expect you home?"
David started to shake even more.
He was becoming delirious, the first sign of
hypothermia. In the beginning it only causes
irrational thinking. The next steps would be sleep .
. . followed by death.
"I asked you what time does
Marcea expect you home?"
Still, no response.
"What time does she expect you
home?" Paul yelled as he reached across the cab and
shook David's shoulder.
"Hey don't don't touch me you
fa... fa... fag."
At the sound of that word Paul
yanked his hand back, folded his arms across his
chest and leaned up against the door. Another ten
minutes passed without a word being said. The wind
had quit and the sky was clearing, letting the moon
shine on the mountain. When David's shivering slowly
ceased, he finally broke the tension by letting out
a strange sort of laugh, then said, "You know, I
almost forgot. Marcea is staying with a friend
tonight. I didn't want you to find out." A short
chuckle. "I was living in sin." More silence
"Will she call or anything?"
"Probably not. I told her my best
buddy and I would spend some time together the first
couple of nights, and that she could meet you
Sunday. That way you wouldn't realize our living
arrangement. We even had one of her kids in on the
lie. I guess this is my punishment. We will just
have to wait it out."
Now Paul started to shiver. He
unzipped his jacket and put his hand inside under
his armpits to keep them warm. He couldn't fathom
David's just sitting there, soaking wet yet calm.
"Aren't you cold? I noticed you quit shaking but I'm
freezing. Shouldn't we try to put something in place
of the window?"
"No, I'm fine. I've got more
insulation than you." David patted his belly and
laughed. "Bill might call my house to see how the
job came out and figure out we are stuck up here.
Then he will head up here to give us a jump start."
Paul noticed a jolly and
reassuring mood had seemed to come over David. If he
only had known that becoming incoherent was the
first stage of hypothermia he would have not decided
to spring the rest of the news on David. "There's
one more thing I need to tell you."
"And what might that be?" David
replied as his mind played tricks on him. Unaware of
the danger he was in, his body temperature had
dropped yet he thought he had warmed up. He was only
picking up a few of Paul's words.
"Don't get upset. I'll pay
whatever it cost to get the records straight," Paul
"What records?" David tried to
focus on the conversation.
"Some computer records."
"Yes, some computer records."
"How did you know about my
computer records?" David shouted at Paul. "So you're
the S.O.B that altered my military records! I've
been working the last twenty years trying to
straighten them out. You bet you can pay for it. I
hope you got plenty of money. I just paid five
thousand dollars for a Clipper Chip."
Paul was bewildered. "What in the
world are you talking about? I never said military
records. And what the heck is a Clipper Chip?"
"Here. I'll show you what you owe
me five grand for." David turned in the darkness.
Reaching behind the seat, he pulled something out
and sat it between them. The sound of two latches as
they snapped open echoed in the cab, then there was
the click sound of a switch. A blue rectangular
display lit up and the outline of a laptop computer
could be made out. It was too dark to make out the
Clipper Chip on the back of the computer. David
picked up the flashlight off the seat and shone it
on the back of the computer at a black box about the
size of a pack of cigarettes. One end had a cable
running into the computer and the opposite end had a
female phone jack molded into it. "This is a Clipper
Chip. I bought it from a drug addict stationed at
Lowry Air Force Base. I can break into any computer
data system with it. It is the latest in
cryptography hardware. The government has been
working on it for over seven years. If I got caught
with it, I would go to prison for twenty years."
David said proudly, bragging of his great find with
a rush of adrenaline.
"David, I don't know what you are
talking about. All I need is a simple signature to
straighten things out. I don't even have the
slightest idea what you think I have to do with your
military records." Paul said, staring at the little
box, noticing the words, PROPERTY OF US GOVERNMENT
engraved across the top.
It was typical of David to have
all the newest high tech gadgets. He was always
involved with tapping someone's phone or getting
into a bank's main computer. Now he had the Clipper
Chip, the key that could break into any computer.
Still confused, Paul leaned over
and examined the little black box. Something just
popped into his mind. "Can you use that Clipper
thing to tap into the computer data lines in the
concrete bunker over there?" Paul pointed in the
direction of the communication shack.
David smacked his forehead with
his hand. "Why didn't I think of that!" Then he
didn't say a word, just sat still for awhile.
It's too risky. Someone might asked how I tapped in.
Then they'll find out about the Clipper Chip. We'll
just wait it out. I'm tired anyhow. I'll just close
my eyes and take a nap till Bill . . . or . . .
"David! Are you okay? Aren't you
going to try to call someone with your computer."
"Yeah, sure, it might work. It's
at least worth a try," David rambled as he folded
down the screen then opened the door.
"Is there anything I can do?"
asked Paul as David slid out into the dark.
"No! You cut your head open last
time you got out of the truck," responded David with
sarcasm. "There's electric energy all over in the
shack. I don't need you electrocuting yourself. Just
stay here and don't start wandering around."
Walking to the building, David
noticed his wet clothes were now stiff, actually
starting to freeze on him. Inside, he used the
flashlight to find the loop test terminal once
again. This time the high-pitched squeal was what
the computer expected. He had only tested the
Clipper Chip once, and that was to get into his own
account at his bank. He hoped it worked now. The
cable clicked into the modular test plug and ran
down to the black box which connected to the
computer. David had set the computer on a small
shelf in front of the terminal board and had flipped
up the screen. He could see the steam from his
breath in the beam of the flashlight.
Turning on the computer he loaded
up the Clipper Chip communication software. A menu
popped up and he chose the auto connect mode. The
cursor on the screen started to blink then a message
"Come on . . . on . . . Co . . .
connect," David said in a jittery voice. He was
getting chilled again as his heart started pumping
faster, circulating a higher volume of warming blood
through him. While waiting at least ten minutes, his
vision and mind blurred as the uncontrollable
shaking took over his whole body for the second
time. Hypothermia was winning the race as precious
moments ticked by.
Finally the word CONNECTED
appeared on the blue liquid crystal display. David
hit the ENTER key twice. His eyes locked on the
computer screen, the link to his survival.
More printing flashed on the
SENATOR BRIAN BUCK LEADS
POLLS IN RACE FOR REELECTION. POLLS SHOW 64%
OF VOTERS FAVOR HIM. CHARGES ON CHILD ABUSE
AND DRUG SALES TO MINORS FALSE. HIS RECORD
The Clipper Chip worked. David
stared at the message, trying to figure it out. The
name Brian Buck was familiar. He must have read it a
thousand times in the newspaper. I must have
tapped into a wire service. Now all I need to do is
send an emergency message and I'll get help.
Reporters are reading the wire service day and
Desperately, David typed:
MY NANE DDAVID MCLINTOCK
PLESSE HELP I''M TRAPD ON MTANTREO.
As he looked at his message. He
realized he had not hit the right keys. His hands
were shaking too hard. He wanted to correct the
spelling but his thought processes now were under
the full siege of hypothermia. The display changed:
HIT F2 KEY TO SEND
Than a small beep came from the
computer. David struggled to move his shaking finger
to the F2 key. The last thing he remembered was the
display having changed to: