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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

The Subheroes Chapter 6: Driver In Exile

Submitted by on August 23, 2004 – 9:15 AMNo Comment

Outside, the light has guttered down to the horizon behind the scrub pines, and the air is cool and soft like a sheet.

Inside, it’s warmer. A loaf of bread is sitting on the counter, cut into, waiting for butter, keeping company with the big bowl of tomatoes and the phone book and the pen cup and the radio. The radio is tuned all the way to the left on the AM band, and it makes a wavy shushing noise.

Outside, a woman is sitting in a lounge chair with a striped cushion. A lop-eared dog is sitting under the chair, watching the moths. The line of light behind the trees is getting thinner and thinner, just a ribbon of it now, and the woman tells the dog, “Days are getting shorter, Jerry,” and the dog sighs through his nose.

Inside, the radio says, “Shhh. Shhh. Shhh.”

Outside, the woman traces the braids that run along the side of her head to the back, following them with her fingers where they wind into a bun in the very middle of the back of her head, and she says, “Getting shorter.”

Inside, the radio says, “Shhh,” and then it hums, and then it says, “Voice beginning transmission to Driver remote station. Anyone at this station? Over.”

Outside, under the woman’s chair, the dog picks up his ears.

Inside, the radio says, “Repeat, Voice to Driver Remote, anyone at this station? Anyone at this station, go ahead, over.”

Outside, the light is a thread.

“Anyone at this station, please go ahead. Over.”

The light is a strand of cobweb.

The radio speaks softly to itself: “Voice to Finch, no response on the frequency, please advise. [shhh shhh] Finch to Voice, try it again at twenty-one hundred. [shhh shhh] Voice will try again at twenty-one hundred, over. [shhh shhh] Copy, see you at nine, Finch out. [shhh shhh] Copy that, Voice out.”

The light is gone.

The radio says, “Voice to Driver Remote, ending transmission, repeat, ending transmission.”

The woman sits in the dark.

The radio says, “Voice out.”

The woman gets up, and as she gets up, the dog gets up too and stands nearby, waiting. The woman holds the door for the dog and walks into the kitchen behind him, and the dog goes to his bed, and the woman takes a knife out of a drawer and lines up her tomatoes and studies them and murmurs to the dog, “Remind me to walk you at nine o’clock.”

The radio says, “Shhh.” Then the radio says, “Copy that, Driver Remote, how’s twenty-one fifteen work for you, over,” and the woman jumps a foot in the air and flails half a tomato across the counter and it skids into the toaster oven and the woman booms out “JESUS” and slams the knife down and snatches it back up again and backs away from the counter, and the radio says, “Finch to Voice, told you, over,” and then the radio says, “Voice to Finch, frequency is live, over,” and the woman is staring into the corners above the cabinets and clenching her knuckles on the knife handle.

The radio hums.

The woman puts the knife down and grabs the radio to look behind it and underneath it. She doesn’t find anything. She shakes it. Nothing. She thunks the radio back down and grabs up the toaster oven and checks the bottom, knowing she won’t find anything, and thunks the toaster oven down too.

The radio says, “Finch to Driver Remote, better check your fillings too, over.”

The woman folds her arms and glares at the radio.

“Voice to Finch, we’ve got it from here, over. Voice to Driver Remote, copy twenty-one fifteen, over.”

The woman doesn’t move.

“Voice to Driver Remote, copy twenty-one fifteen, over.”

The radio hums.

“Voice to Driver Remote, expect you on the frequency at nine-fifteen, need you to copy, over.”

The woman picks up the radio and cradles it in one elbow like a bouquet, drumming her fingers on the housing. Thinking.

The radio is also thinking. It hums. Then it says, “Moran to Voice, is Diz going to give me some coordinates or do I get to drive around Lodi until I’m forty years old, over,” and before the woman realizes what she’s doing, she’s holding the radio up like a baby she’s about to tickle and yelling, “PAT MORAN!” and the radio says, “Voice to Moran, Diz is on channel 4, over, Voice to Driver, I’ll take that as a copy, over,” and the woman is staring into the radio’s little speaker and again she yells, “PAT MORAN!” and the radio says, “Moran to Voice, the hell, over,” and The Voice says, “Voice to Moran, channel 4, copy it, over,” and the woman says, “Aw, it’s Pat Moran,” and Pat Moran says, “No shit it’s Pat Moran, Moran to Voice, can we clear this channel or what, I need coordinates and a goddamn bathroom, over,” and The Voice says, “Voice to Moran, CHANNEL FOUR, this is channel 7, 4 is the one between 3 and 5 on your console dial, COPY IT, over,” and the woman says, “Shit, I thought you were quitting,” and Pat Moran says, “Seriously, Moran to Voice, clear the channel,” and The Voice says, “Voice to Moran, ‘seriously,’ CHANNEL FOUR,” and the woman puts the radio back down on the counter and shakes her head and smiles, and Pat Moran says, “Moran to Diz, Moran to Diz, need coordinates, copy it, over,” and the woman snorts, “Try Channel 4, Pat,” and Pat Moran says, “Moran to whoever that is, THANK you, CHRIST, Moran out,” and the radio says, “Diz to Voice, I can’t raise Moran, any thoughts, over,” and now the woman is doubled over laughing as The Voice says, “Voice to Diz, Moran is on channel 4, please copy that, over,” and Diz copies it and wants to know what’s funny.

“Voice to Diz, nothing funny on this end, over.”

“Finch to Diz, clear the channel please, over.”

“Diz to Finch, we need you on channel 5, over.”

“Voice to Diz, Voice to Finch, Moran is on CHANNEL FOUR, f-o-u-r, over.”

“Finch to Diz, handle it, I’m on channel 7, over.”

“Voice to Finch, he knows, he’s on the same channel, Voice to Diz, CHANNEL FOUR, copy it, over.”

“Diz to Finch, I’ll take channel 4, you talk to Moran, copy it, over, Diz to Voice, sorry, repeat last, over.”

“Voice to Diz. Moran. Is on. Channel. 4. Won’t you please copy it? Over.”

“Diz to Voice, copy that, Moran is on channel 4, Diz to Finch, pick up channel 4, over.”

“Finch to Diz, I need you to handle Moran, over.”

“Diz to Voice, who’s on channel 5, over.”

The woman opens a drawer and gets out a pack of cigarettes and lights one off the stove and says, “Oh my fucking God.”

“Voice to Diz, channel 5 is not in play, you need channel 4, please proceed to channel 4 for a transmission from Moran, over.”

“Diz to Voice, Moran is on channel 4, over.”

“Finch to Diz, what did she just tell you seventeen times, get on channel 4 and tell Moran how to find Duff or I will kill all of you, over.”

“Lionel to Voice, copy please, why is channel 5 turned off, over.”

“Voice to Lionel, channel 5 is not in play, please clear the frequency, over.”

“Diz to Lionel, try channel 7, over.”

“Christ, Diz! Finch to Lionel, nix that –”

“Voice to Lionel, clear the frequency, copy it, over.”

“Fuck, sorry. Diz to Lionel, channel 11, I meant to say channel 11, copy it, over.”

“Voice to all points, can we clear this frequency, please, over.”

“Moran to Voice, channel 4 isn’t responding, please advise, over.”

“Diz to Moran, meet me on channel 11, over.”

“Voice to Diz, Voice to Moran, CHANNEL FOUR, Voice to Lionel, CHANNEL ELEVEN, Voice to Finch, open up channel 5, Voice to all points, CLEAR THE FREQUENCY. All points COPY IT. Over.”

“Marie to Voice, did you want hot peppers on that sub, over.”

“Finch to Marie, how many times do I have to tell you, do not use the channels for dinner orders, over.”

“Marie to Finch, tell The Voice to answer an interoffice email for once in her life and I wouldn’t have to, over, and they’re out of barbecue chips also, over over.”

“God, these people, these fucking people,” the woman says again, runs water over her cigarette, chucks it in the trash, clears her throat, and says quietly into the arguing din, “Driver Remote to Voice, can you find a closed channel for twenty-one fifteen, over,” and The Voice says, “Copy that, Driver Remote, closing the circuit on one-seven for twenty-one fifteen, over,” and the woman says, “One-seven at twenty-one fifteen, thank you, Driver Remote out,” and she turns off the radio and says to the halved tomatoes all askew on the counter, “Pat Moran. It never stops, does it,” and the tomatoes turn their faces up to her, silent.

August 23, 2004



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