David picked up Paul from the motel. All
the way to the airport they talked about how Marcea had stayed up most of the night,
elated about everything that happened Sunday. The airport was busy with the early Monday
morning travelers and they sat in the terminal waiting for the boarding call. David had
run out of things to say and just kept quiet not one for long good-byes. Paul, also
short of words, sat silently. This is so ironic. Just three days ago I wished the plane
would have crashed, to spare me from hurting David. Things started off terribly but turned
out better than I had prayed for. Meeting Marcea, Ann and Danny was so wonderful. I hope .
The first boarding call for Paul's flight back to San Francisco was
called. "I'll go ahead and get on now so that you can get to work," Paul said,
breaking their silence.
"Okay," replied David bluntly. "And hey . . . Uh, never
Paul stood. "I guess this is it. Good luck and God bless
David stood and extended his hand to Paul. "Maybe I'll call you
when I come down to get those records straightened out."
Paul hoped David would, but knew better. "That would be
great." They shook hands one last time. Walking down the corridor to board the plane,
Paul looked at the palm of his hand. There was blood!
David moved to the ropes to watch Paul walk down the loading ramp.
Realizing this could be their last good-bye, he wanted to jump over the rope barrier, run
and hug his best friend. But Paul turned the corner and was gone. David stood there,
wishing he had told Paul he forgave him, or at least told him he was still his best
The Denver airport was huge and shaped like a big horseshoe. It was
over a mile to where David had parked. He got on one of the moving sidewalks, ashamed
about the blunt send-off. Something warm in the palm of his hand caused him to stop. As
the people walked past, he stood rigid, looking at the blood dripping from the cut on his
hand from Friday night. David took a handkerchief from his pocket and held it against the
cut. This only reminded him of how rudely he reacted on Friday night. I always act like
a jerk! I showed no loyalty and now I let Paul get on the plane without even saying I was
sorry. I may never see him again. Paul could die soon! It's not fair! Forget work today.
I'm going to get drunk. Damn, life is . . .
Suddenly, David was almost knocked over by a silver haired man in
an expensive suit. "Hey, watch it jerk!" he yelled as the man hurried down the
people-mover. Then, distracted by a commotion behind him, David turned and noticed a
reporter and cameraman running, chasing the man in the suit. Here comes another
busybody reporter out to discredit someone. Probably just like the one I sent the teletype
to years ago. They're all jerks!
"Get out of our way!" yelled the reporter with a
microphone in hand. In front of him ran the cameraman, a long cord dangling from the
camera connecting the two. As the cameraman ran past David, the long microphone cord
flipped up and hooked over David's left ear. The reporter snapped back on the microphone
and David's ear felt like it had been ripped off. That's it! All David's pent up
emotions came to a head. He let his elbow fly and caught the running reporter in the
chest, making him drop the microphone and double over. David then grabbed him by both the
back of his pants and the collar of his jacket and threw him over the railing of the
The cameraman stopped, turned around and hit the RECORD button on the
camera. As soon as the red RECORD light came on, David jumped toward the cameraman, yanked
the camera off his shoulder, hit the EJECT button, took out the video tape, and smashed
the plastic case into the floor. The cameraman cowered when David shoved the camcorder
back to him. There were witnesses all over. Not wanting to be confronted by airport
security, David hurried down the walk and ditched into the first rest room. After hiding
in a stall for a couple of minutes he emerged to find that the silver-haired man the
reporter and cameraman had been chasing was waiting for him. His face was always in the
news. "I know you. You're Senator Brian Buck."
"Why did you stop that reporter?" quizzed the senator.
"The guy hit me on the ear with his microphone cord. I was mad at
myself, so I guess I took it out on him," answered David.
"Poor guy," said the senator sarcastically, relieved that
David was neither assassin nor foe.
"I don't like reporters. They all need to have the crap knocked
out of them, just like they do to everyone else."
"Boy, you can say that again," laughed the senator.
"Nice to meet you, Senator Buck. But I'd better get going. You'd
better also; airport security will be in here any minute."
As David reached for the door, he thought of what he had read about
Senator Brian Buck when he had tapped into the wire service late Friday night. He looked
back over his shoulder. "I bet you are glad they found you innocent of those child
abuse charges. And congratulations it looks like you will win your
David exited the rest room and hurriedly blended into the crowd.
Noticing two security guards running up the corridor, he glanced away. They ran right past
him. David picked up his pace, thinking he was in the clear, when suddenly someone grabbed
him by the arm. "I need to talk to you!" It was Senator Brian Buck. "Just
walk with me to my plane."
"After you let loose of my arm!" said David. Then he pulled
away from the senator's grip
"You said you knew about me being innocent of those child abuse
charges, and ahead in the polls. Where did you get that information?" asked the
senator as the two men walked.
"I read it off a wire service Friday night."
The senator stopped dead in his tracks, not sure who David was. It
could be a coincidence . . . or? "Are you positive it was a wire service you got the
Now David was becoming suspicious. "Oh, did I say wire service? I
meant I read about you in the newspaper."
"That's not what the newspaper is reporting. Here, read
this!" The senator pulled a newspaper from under his arm.
David opened it. The front page read: SENATOR FALLS BEHIND IN POLLS AS
MORE ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD MOLESTING COME FORWARD. This seemed just the opposite of what he
had read off his computer screen. David mumbled, "I must have misread it. I wasn't
thinking straight that night. It has to be my mistake."
The senator glanced up and down the corridor and then stared right at
David and asked, "Do you know about DOS?"
David was quick to reply. "Yes. It stands for Disk Operating
System, the operating system most computers use today."
"Okay. And thanks for stopping that reporter," said the
senator as he turned and walked away.
David thought about the D.O.S. letters he noticed on the microwave
equipment. He ran after and caught back up to the senator. "I know where some
equipment is with the initials D period O period S period on it."
The senator grabbed David by the arm, felt David tense up, then
immediately released his grip. "We need to talk, but not here. Can you meet me in the
airport Sky Chef Lounge in fifteen minutes?"
"Sure," said David. "But you have to promise to help me
with a problem I have."
"I will help you," said the senator as he nonchalantly walked
David spent ten of the fifteen minutes wait wandering around the
airport in amazement. Can I trust the senator? He might turn me in. But he is the one
that could get my Dishonorable Discharge corrected. Until just recently he has always been
one of the most respected statesmen. But now, with all the bad press he has been getting
and all . . .
David walked by the entrance of the Sky Chef Lounge three times and
kept peering in for the senator. The lounge was quiet, with only three people sitting on
the tall bar stools and gazing at a television that was mounted above the dark green bar.
David got a gut feeling that something was not right. He started to make tracks, wanting
to put some distance between himself and the lounge. About fifty feet from the lounge a
man in a dark blue suit, white shirt and black tie stepped out of a side door. His apparel
was a dead give away: FBI. David's instinct was to turn and run, but he froze when
the agent reached inside his jacket. He's reaching for a gun! I'm had! I knew I
couldn't trust a politician. The Clipper Chip is still connected to the computer behind
the seat in my truck. The small dark-suited man approached with his hand still inside
his jacket. If this guy wants to search my truck, I can overtake him in the parking
lot. He's not that big. The man stopped in front of David, blocking any getaway.
"Are you waiting for the senator?"
"Senator Brian Buck, and don't play dumb with me," The man
whispered man forcefully. "Do you know about D.O.S.?"
"Yes," said David.
The man pulled a brown crushproof envelope from inside his jacket and
handed it to David. "I'm the senator's aide. He couldn't risk meeting you but senator
told me to give this to you. He wants you to call him next week." Then the man walked
off, without saying another word. David glanced at the package. The outside was stamped
with red ink: TOP SECRET. Bewildered, David started walking. This could be part of a
setup. Noticing a restroom, he ducked inside, went into a stall, and tore open the
package. It was an audio cassette tape with the words COPY TWO OF TWO on it. David put his
foot up on the toilet lid, slipped the cassette into his sock, wadded up the brown
envelope, and flushed it.
Relived to be finally out of the airport and at his truck, David took a
deep breath. Strangely, he actually enjoyed the adrenaline rush and thrill. David always
wanted to work for the FBI or CIA doing some sort of covert surveillance, but with a
Dishonorable Discharge there was no way. Somehow, with this tape, he would help Senator
Brian Buck; then the senator would be obligated to help him finally get his military
David unlocked the door and got in. Just as he started the truck there
was a huge explosion! It was too loud to be a backfire. He jumped from the cab and scanned
the parking lot. Sirens started to blare! There was a huge black plume of smoke coming
from over the airport terminal. "Oh, my God!"
David sprinted toward the terminal! The cassette tape came out of his
sock and skidded across the asphalt. He grappled for the tape, ran back to the truck and
threw it on the seat. As he once again ran at full speed toward the doors of the airport,
he heard more sirens. Horns were blaring and people where running in panic. The doors to
the terminal clanked shut and were automatically locked. David ran around trying several
more doors; they were all locked. He pushed his head against the tinted glass and could
see the chaos inside. Then he heard someone yell, "There's been a plane crash!"
All David could do was stare through the glass at the pandemonium
inside. Please God, don't let it be Paul's plane. I haven't even been able to tell him
that I love and forgive him. I still need to tell him how I feel. I should have told him
before he got on the plane but I just couldn't; it's something men don't say to each
other. Please, don't let it be Paul's plane.
David started to run up and down the outside sidewalk, trying
desperately to get back into the airport. Spotting passengers exiting by one door at the
far end, he ran to it and tried to enter. The security guard stopped him and said,
"No one can enter."
"What happened?" David yelled at the guard.
"No comment," the guard yelled back, pushing David back out
Standing at the door and watching one of the security guards frisk
everyone as they exited, David started asking the travelers if they knew what had
happened. The third person he asked answered. "A small private plane blew up on take
"Are you sure it was a small plane? Not a big jet?" David
"Yes. I'm positive. I saw the whole thing. This small two-engine
plane was sitting on the ground waiting in line to take off and it just blew up,"
explained the traveler before he hurried off.
Paul is safe; he boarded on a jumbo jet. David felt guilty for
feeling good, but now he could leave. Sirens were coming in all directions. Just as David
stepped off the curb a big van almost ran him down as it screeched to a stop. Out jumped
two men in what looked like battle gear, the words BOMB SQUAD written on the front and
back of them. Knowing they would be searching people and cars if they suspected a plane
was bombed, David hurried to his truck. Kneeling on the seat, he pushed his laptop
computer further back, more out of sight in case of a quick inspection. All the time he
wished that he had removed the PROPERTY OF US GOVERNMENT tag off the Clipper Chip.
People were running toward the airport to see what had happened. There
was no line at the parking toll booth. The booth attendant, all of her attention focused
on the commotion going on, just lifted the orange barrier and let David drive away.
Out on the interstate, David could finally relax. He kept tuning the
radio for the news. Finally, a newscaster reported, "Senator Brian Buck's plane
exploded on takeoff at Denver International Airport. The senator, his aide, and pilot are
feared dead. More news to follow as information becomes available."
David immediately looked for the cassette tape. It was gone! He checked
his rear view mirror, then the side mirror. A white sedan was in the left lane coming up
on him fast! David pulled into the right lane and then swerved off at the next exit. The
sedan stayed on the freeway. In a panic David slammed on the brakes, jumped from the truck
and started searching for a bomb or tracking device. Whoever took the cassette tape was
probably onto him. He checked under the truck and then lifted the hood; everything looked
normal. He searched the cab under the dash, then under the seat nothing. Now, with
his hand checking the crevice of the seat, he found some coins and some candy. Then he
felt something different! It was the cassette tape. The tape had slipped into the crack
when he had knelt on the seat to hide his computer.
Relieved that no one had taken the tape, David assured himself that
nobody knew he had it and that he was over-imagining. Now, anxious to know what was on the
tape, he got back behind the steering wheel. The truck did not have a cassette player but
there was one at his bench back at Bill's shop. Back on the freeway, David's mind raced
almost faster than he drove. I wonder what was so important that the senator's aide
gave me this tape. Why was the bomb squad called to the airport if the plane crashed? I
wonder what D.O.S. stands for.
David hastily parked the truck and entered by the rear door. The
front of the blue building had Bill's face painted on it and below in bright red letters
it read: BILL'S ELECTRONIC SERVICE. The minute David got through the door, Bill approached
him and asked anxiously, "Were you at the airport when the senator's plane
"Yeah, I was in the airport parking lot, just leaving, I went back
to see what happened but they had locked up the terminal. I think it may have been a
bomb." David tightened his clutch on the cassette tape as he spoke.
"Bomb! The radio hasn't said anything about a bombing,"
reported Bill as he put a VCR on the customer pick-up shelf. "You've been watching
too many spy movies."
David almost blurted out about his encounter with the senator, but
decided to listen to what was on the tape first. It was best not to get Bill involved with
the Clipper Chip and all. It was hard, but David just kept his mouth shut while he looked
toward the pink boombox it had a cassette deck.
"The parts are here to splice the cable up on the translator. Make
sure to get a new battery for your truck before you go back up on Mount Antero. Your buddy
Paul won't be there to save you," said Bill kiddingly, trying to turn the focus away
from the bad news about the plane crash.
"I'll get up there and repair the cable this afternoon," said
David inattentively. Then he walked to his work bench and inserted the tape into a small
pink bomb fastened to the wall above his workbench. David hit the PLAY button; the tape
started. There was nothing! He checked the tape it was moving, but even with
turning up the volume there was still nothing. He hit the REWIND button; the tape rewound
and then stopped. David hit the PLAY button again a bunch of different tones. It
was someone dialing a phone number, a ringing sound, and then someone answered.
"Department of Statistics." David hit STOP on the boombox so Bill wouldn't hear
it. He looked around the shop and found a set of headphones, plugged them into the
boombox, rewound the tape and started it again. David listened carefully to the dialing,
the phone connecting and the female voice answer the phone.
"Department of Statistics."
"Connect me with Jack Henderson, please."
"Could I tell him who is calling?"
"Yes, this is Senator Brian Buck."
"One moment, senator. I will ring his office."
Ring ring ring.
"Jack Henderson here."
"This is Senator Buck, Mr. Henderson. I just wanted to let you
know that I cannot get any money appropriated for that study of how much mentally ill
people cost the taxpayers."
There was a long pause. "You must not be trying hard enough. I
told you this was an important project for me and if you wanted to get reelected . . .
"Well, Mr. Henderson, it's not only that we don't have an extra
ten million dollars to appropriate. I have been checking into your Department and it seems
that many of your special projects never amount to much. And most of them seem, well, far
"Who gave you the authority to check into the Department of
Statistics? We have immunity from the President."
"I know that, Mr. Henderson, and that is why I am going to see the
President next Monday. I am going to ask for an investigation into the Department of
"Senator, I'm warning you do not get involved. I can make
your life miserable. You think those child abuse charges were hard to deal with! I'm
warning you to back off."
"I had a feeling your Department leaked that erroneous
"So what if we did? That's just standard mud slinging. The
President himself pulled the same thing during his election campaign."
"Yeah, but the President didn't appropriate money to your
Department to get elected."
"Don't kid yourself. He took money from special interest groups
and is as dirty as the rest of you snakes."
"Thank you, Mr. Henderson. You just gave me what I needed to know.
I have been recording this conversation."
Click, was the last sound on the tape. David couldn't tell if
the senator hung up on Mr. Henderson or vice versa. David rewound the tape and listened
carefully for some clues of a crime or something else incriminating. All that he could
tell was that the senator just did not want to fund Mr. Henderson's project. It sounded
like two bureaucrats trying to buy each other off. The information on this tape would not
even make the evening news. David listened to the tape one last time and considered the
senator's unfortunate accident. He even briefly contemplated calling the news station and
giving them the tape but it probably would be like his experience when he mailed
the teletyped printout to the news media when he was in Vietnam. The tape seemed
As soon as David took off the headphones, Bill approached from behind.
"Here are the parts to repair the translator up on Mt. Antero."
"Good, I'll go get a new battery for my truck and head up there
after lunch," said David, taking the parts from Bill.
While the battery was being installed, David sat in the customer
waiting area of the garage. The TV attached to a ceiling bracket was airing the story
about the senator's plane exploding on takeoff. I should give that tape to someone, but
there is nothing important on it. What a bummer. The senator could have helped me. Oh
well, I still have the Clipper Chip. I will just have to do things myself. I'd better
remember to take the tape out of the boombox and destroy it when I get back to the shop.
The noontime news ended and a talk show came on. David got up and walked out of the
Turning onto the gravel road that lead up to Mt. Antero reminded David
how just three days ago Paul and he were right there. Boy, I will never forget this
road. This is where Paul told me that he's HIV positive. I was lucky he was with me. I
would have frozen that night. Everything did seem to turn out okay, but I should have told
Paul that I have forgiven him. He surely has been through a hell of a life.
David pulled the truck up to the gate, stopped, got out, grabbed
his tools and went into the radio bunker to shut off the power to the antenna. He hurried
up the tower and cut the bad section out of the transmission cable, careful this time not
to slice into his hand. Working rapidly, he installed the new couplers and a new section
of cable in less than ten minutes. This similar task had taken more than forty-five
minutes Friday, but today there was no rage to divert his energy and skill.
David climbed down, returned to the bunker and switched the power to
the translators back on. Checking his watch, he saw it was almost two thirty. He mentally
calculated that the television signals were off for a total of eighteen minutes. David
knew Bill would be pleased a lapse in transmission much longer than that would
really anger the viewers. As it was, Bill probably already received twenty calls. While
doing a few last tests, David noticed the swatch of a piece of his blood-covered tee shirt
and pushed at it with his foot. Then he noticed more dried blood drops by the door. Boy,
my hand must have really been bleeding. That was a nasty cut. I should've had stitches.
The cut in David's hand tingled from thinking about it.
David made one last check, picked up his tools, locked up, and went
back to the truck. Putting the key in the ignition, the truck started right up this time.
Gazing straight ahead between the concrete building and antennas, David took note of how
awesome the view really was. It was almost like he could make out the image of Paul
standing there praying, the same as had he witnessed Saturday morning.
Almost mystically, David turned off the truck, got out and walked to
the edge of the cliff where Paul had prayed. David remembered Paul's words: Listen to the
silence and you will hear His words. David stood gazing into the valley and the
surrounding snow-brushed mountain peaks with the sun rays shooting from behind the white
cotton-like clouds. He listened, but heard nothing. Filled with apprehension, almost
afraid that he might hear God, he started bartering. God, I really don't pray enough.
Probably because I don't know many prayers. I have tried to lead a good life and I never
thought about living with Marcea as wrong. I am helping her. And I did get her away from
dancing. The comparison Paul made, it being the same as his living with his friend, kind
of makes sense. Maybe I should marry Marcea after I get my military records fixed. If you
could help me do that I would be more ready to get married. And please take care of Paul.
He really is a good guy.
David returned to the truck. It was after three, hardly enough time
left in the day to warrant going back to the shop. He thought of stopping for coffee on
the way back, but then he had a better idea. The Clipper Chip was under the seat just
wanting to be tested again. In a matter of minutes David had his computer in hand and was
headed back to the radio bunker. He unlocked the door, unfolded the laptop computer and
prepared to snap the jack into the terminal test jack with the letters D.O.S.
These letters on the equipment finally had meaning. When the senator
had asked if he knew what D.O.S. stood for, all he could think of was Disk Operating
System. Then on the tape the senator was talking to someone at the Department of
Statistics. I bet this equipment belongs to the DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS!
After getting everything hooked up, the Clipper Chip started
decrypting the D.O.S. data line. As usual, it took several minutes for the screen to come
to life, but finally the information flashed on the screen:
SURVEY TAKEN OF REGISTERED VOTERS SHOWED ONLY 32% OF REGISTERED VOTERS
WOULD FAVOR A DEATH WITH DIGNITY BILL IF VOTED ON TODAY.
NEXT MESSAGE: PRESIDENT'S POPULARITY CONTINUES TO SLIDE.
NEXT MESSAGE: PROZAK, NEW WONDER DRUG HAS BEEN FOUND TO HAVE SERIOUS
SIDE EFFECT. THE FDA WANTS IT PULLED OFF MARKET . . .
David felt more confident that this was just a wire service feeding out
the current news to all the news rooms around the country. After about twenty minutes of
reading he had enough and was just about to disconnect the Clipper Chip when an article
about the senator appeared on the screen:
FIRST REPORTS INDICATES SENATOR BRIAN BUCK'S PLANE MAY HAVE BEEN
BOMBED. PLANE HAD BEEN DELAYED FIFTEEN MINUTES FROM DEPARTURE TIME. BOMB SQUAD SPECULATES
BOMB WAS TO DETONATE IN AIR. EYEWITNESSES SAID PLANE JUST BLEW UP ON RUNWAY. BOMB SQUAD
INVESTIGATING. MORE INFO TO FOLLOW AS REPORTS COME IN.
David was stunned! He stepped outside the bunker to get some fresh air.
He needed to think things out. I delayed the senator's plane! That person at the
airport did say that the plane just blew up. Next the bomb squad shows up. Something just
isn't right. Neither the information on the radio all morning nor the noon news said
anything about a bomb. What I do know is Friday night I read about the senator being
cleared of all the charges, I mentioned it to him, he wanted to know if I knew about
D.O.S. and he handed me a newspaper that was printed a day later that said the charges
against him were true. And what the hell is the Department of Statistics? I have never
heard of it.
David returned to the computer to read some more. Almost everything
seemed normal. He was suspicious, but of what? The only thing David could deduce was that
this line was hooked into the Department of Statistics which maybe monitored the
statistics for the wire services. Why or what for, was another question. But this was the
government, another Department wasting tax dollars. Or could it be that the government
actually was the press? That they controlled everything? Maybe the first amendment to the
constitution was just a ploy to make people think they were free. David shrugged it off. Bill
is right. I do watch too many spy movies.
David had enough. As he reached up to disconnect the computer one
name came to mind Mr. Henderson, the person that the senator asked for on the tape.
He couldn't think of his first name. David should have disconnected the computer but
instead he moved his fingers to the keys and typed:
IS MR. HENDERSON THERE?
Then he hit the F2 key. In less than a millisecond the message went
from his computer screen through the Clipper Chip, up the wire, into the terminal board,
and down to the microwave transmitter with the D.O.S. letters on the side. It was too
late! From the concrete bunker the data flowed down the transmission cable, up the antenna
tower, and radiated out a microwave dish pointed at Pueblo, Colorado.