Posted by: fotpress1 | August 18, 2009

‘See You Soon,’ Len by Ray Cates (Adolphus)

My parents owned the place in Scrambletown Florida. It was about the sorryest wreck of a type of house you could imagine. It started out as two 1950’s one bedroom trailors, bullet shaped vehicles, that were built on-top-of. A sort of house was built of scrap lumber and metal around and over the trailors. My parents thought that ‘the residence’ was a huge laugh. They hooted and howled about building codes and every month Mr Christian Blankard sent or brought us $125. in cash, in a brown faded envelope.

We live in Jacksonville and that’s over 100 miles from the property. I remember asking my mother, “Why does Mr. Blankard come all the way up here to pay his rent?”

“None of our business Len,” she would say.

“Does he live up here or down there?” I asked.

“We don’t ask tenants questions like that.” Mother answered.

Well we had a jewelery store on the road to Jax Beach. I was a graduate student at the University of Florida. My area of study was Early American Inhabitants. I was living in Lake County, on an island in the middle of Lake George. I lived in a metal building that was climate controlled with three other students. They were all college women. Two slept in the same sleeping bag and the other had her claws into some millionaire journalism student who mostly was from Miami (for tuition purposes). Strange how someone filthy rich doesn’t just put down Long Island for their home and pay up?

I wouldn’t be a red blooded American boy if I didn’t ask, and Mary Ann, the girl who had already extended her claws into millions, said, “Look Len I’m not interested in ANY kind of sex with you.”

So they all three went off the island in one of the motor launches for a weekend in Gainesville for the ‘Almost engaged’ one, and to a dark motel in Ocala for the kissy, kissy lesbo girls. I slept with my radio on to keep up with the national news. Really the three of my fellow workers didn’t even think of me as male anymore, but just pranced around in their undies. Well I never complained, but if the island had been an Indian camp hundreds of years before and women had danced around for them, well maleness would have been asserted. That was hard not to think about.

On this one Saturday night the radio was full of announcers saying, “Seek out hard shelter at once.”

One announcer in Florida said, “go in your basement and stay!” Florida houses don’t have basements (well 99%.) In many places the water table is just underfoot. You can dig down a few inches and presto water.

I was in a windowless Quansit Hut. It covered our dig and all our food and supplies. The announcers said, “Do not go outside until you hear the ‘all clear’ on this station.”

I had the world’s best Gigg Radio. I could pick up foreign broadcasts and transmit to headquarters in Gainesville and basically anywhere radio waves could travel, and that was everywhere.

I was listening to WAPE Jacksonville, my home town radio. They played music and local talk. “If you have a boat go south,” they said, “If your driving, drive south.”

Then I got the Miami station that I sometimes listened to WGUN in Fort Lauderdale/Miami and they were also evacuating telling people “Go north, by boat plane or car get yourself and family out of here — NORTH.”

Only in Leesburg and in the Villages were the stations saying, “Stay where you are. Get inside and don’t come out. Go in a shed or a basement.”

I tried my parents number in Jacksonville Beach and just got a busy signal and then a message, “All lines are now out of service for the rest of the emergency.”

Slowly all the Jacksonville and Miami stations were off the air. Orlando stations seemed to all be gone at once. The U.S.A. Network was broadcast out of Washington DC and said, “They socked us and then we punched them back. China is no longer the most populus country in the world. Now it is empty of people. The United States has wiped it off the Earth.

On our island no one ever came. Fishermen and women rode by on the lake and often talked to us during days when we were out of the hut. It was our signs that kept people away, they were big and threating, one said, ‘ALL TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED AND BILL 4926 OF THE YEAR 2428 OF THE FLORIDA STATUTES MANDATES 6 YEARS HARD LABOR FOR TRESPASS ON A FEDERAL SCIENTIFIC SITE.’

The last message I heard from my radio was horrible, “Here in Leesburg all those who went outside the WLS studio are now dead. I’m sick,”

“Please don’t go out” was another last utterence from somewhere.

Then, “god all of us are dying.”

Someone even said, “Goodbye”

By Saturday afternoon I got no more radio signals.

Saturday night, Sunday morning someone started beating on the only door. It was a female voice and I thought of the garden and Adam and Eve. The voice said, “Look you’ve got to let me in. Everyone is dead.” More banging and I didn’t let anyone in. Thinking how I wanted to let Eve into the garden, but then fearing the poison gas.

By morning the noises outside had stopped. I only knew it was morning by my super fine watch. My parents in the jewelery business got me the best timepiece. I wondered if time would matter anymore?

About a week later I had listened to an incredible amount of radio static and read O Henry -the Complete Stories, Private Eyes  by Jonethan Kellermen and I did none of my graduate work, work I could have done without distraction from big busty co-workers.  They seemed still around, but I knew they would always stay in whatever dark motel they had found.  And in the bed of an off campus plush apartment.

The phones didn’t work, and thusly I didn’t work! 

One recorded message, radio station came on every day at noon.  It was broadcast from different places, but the same thing over and over, every day.  “This is the United States of America broadcasting from the Rockey Mountains.  The war is over — we won.

Where ever you are in the world, stay there.  Don’t try and travel.  If you are inside a safe place don’t open windows or doors yet.

I don’t know how much poison is in your area, but stay inside for as long as you can stand it.  And then go out and build the world again.”

This exact message was played over and over day after day.  I stayed inside and read: John Steinbesc,  The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler .  I read and had my mind somewhere else the whole time.  I listened every day to the national message which played the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ song before and after the message.  The song was the best thing every day.

I could have stayed in my metal building for months, years.  The food was as good as people ate on Mars.  Probably there were more people there now, than here.  Probably no more ships would take off with supplies, not any more.

After 4 weeks I rigged up my own broadcast message that would play over and over to the world.  It would work on solar power for as long as the sun kept the Earth in orbit.

My message on the continuous loop said after asking everyone to stand for the national song was, “This is Len Booker and I’m 22 years old and a University of Florida scientist and eager to meet girls.  From Ocala going East or Ormond Beach going West on Route 40.  I will have signs to lead you to a place on the map called Scrambletown Florida.

Let’s all meet there and begin a normal bomb free life there.

See you soon, Len.”

 

Contact the author with your comments at: rcates2@cox.net

My mailing address is: 121 NE 13th Ave. Ocala, Florida 34470

My fax number is: 1-352-629-1573

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