Bound for Carlotta

by D. J. Herda

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Book Opening:
“Goddamn it,” he growled, forcing the gnarled leather knob on the aging Blaupunkt first one way, then the other, in a futile attempt to pull in WKOW late night.  “Goddamn it, I just had it!”  He wiped the corner of his mouth on the sleeve of his parka and peered up over the steering wheel at the asphalt road before him.  The car’s fog lights cut jagged streaks through the thick April air, pocked with mist.  A ribbon of snow clinging tenaciously to the side of the hill on his left sped by, the last lingering signs of a long, gray winter. 


Now and again the ribbon split open by a splash of brown and black mottled with ochre before surrendering, once again, to the band of crusty gray. 


“Damn it,” he cursed again, “I just had it.  Where the fuck …” 


He twisted the knob right, then left, then right, again.  Nothing.  He looked down, peered more closely at the face of the glowing box, his index finger pressing up against the salmon-colored DX switch.  Suddenly, the roar of static leaped out at him—hsssss-phhhttttt! 


“Jesus Christ!” he shouted, jumping back against the seat.  The static rolled to a stop, replaced by the sound of the dial coursing quickly past a handful of stations, as if on its pre-set search for the Holy Grail.  For a second, quiet. 


Then the speakers crackled again. 


One-Eight-Hundred Messiah.  One-Eight-Hundred Messiah has helped save thousands, just like you.  More static, a split second pause, and then the unmistakably hard twang of a guitar chord.


“I’ll be damned,” he grinned, looking back up and out over the running asphalt.  It was the beginning of a song.  It was all the beginning of a song.  He’d never heard anything like it.  The sound of static, the quick roll of the dial past several simulated stations, and then the Twilight Zone voice with the Messiah message.  And now, the music. 


Jesus, he thought.  What a great opening.  He made a mental note to catch the name of the band at the end of the cut.  He’d try to find the album at Disks and More in the morning.  He looked back down at the glowing faceplate, bobbed his head to the beat of the drums, the solid harmony of the husky vocals.  He felt his left hand instinctively tap out the jazzy rhythm against the leather-clad steering wheel.


He looked back up at the road.  “Oh, my God!

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