The Radio - A Short Story- Conclusion

The Radio

Conclusion



For weeks, Danny slept fitfully; waking occasionally to look up at the ceiling, but the only glow was from the dim streetlight. The radio still worked fine, but all the facets on the crystal were a dull lead color. There was no yellow glow.

There was no further word about his father from the Army, and his mother’s face was now pale and drawn. He had heard others say it was easier to hear that someone was lost than to wonder what became of them. He would not allow himself to think his father was not coming home. He simply could not imagine life without him.

His paper had been entered in the scholarship contest, and Mrs. Hartman had seemed pleased, although she had said nothing. He supposed that she did not want him to get his hopes up, and he understood. He had little chance no matter how good it was, and he knew it.

Late August in Iowan was always hot and sticky, so most people slept with the windows open. To the south, heat lightning flashed soundlessly, and Danny was hoping it would develop into a cooling rain. Around midnight, he got his wish, when the first sprinkles blew through the open widow and onto his sleeping face. He got up, and for several fascinated minutes, he watched the lightning and the sheets of rain. Then a close bolt of lightning lit up the room, followed almost immediately by a loud clap of thunder. He hastily closed the window, and was ready to return to bed when he realized that the room was still lit up from the yellow glow of the lightning flash. Then reality dawned on him, and he ran to the radio. The facet was glowing a brilliant yellow. He slapped on the earphones and put the cat’s whisker on the yellow dot.

Well Danny, this is it. We are ready for the final dash to our lines. I’m in a horse drawn cart, inside a wooden box and the whole darn thing is covered in horse manure. Not exactly pleasant accommodations, but it sure beats a German war prison. God is with me, Son. God is with me.

He logged it and placed it inside the binder with the others. He was baffled by what was happening with the radio, and he even wondered if he was crazy or something. He had told no one about the strange messages, but he was absolutely certain that they came from his dad.

Fall in Iowa was beautiful, with crisp days, fall colors, and of course, the harvest and the fairs. Melissa wanted to go to Hawkeye Downs for the fair, and she wanted Danny to take her. She did not mention that Ruth Devers was going too, or that Ruth had a huge crush on her brother. Danny agreed to take her on the bus. There were several exhibits he wanted to see.

“Danny?”

He was instantly alarmed. His mother’s quavering voice was on the edge of a sob. He ran to the window that faced the street, and his fears were realized. Another Army staff car was at the curb.

He ordinarily took the stairs two at a time, but he saw the same redheaded Captain solemnly standing in the hall looking up at him, so he slowed down, approaching cautiously.

To his amazement, the Captain suddenly grinned. “Your dad is in the hospital here in the states, Danny. He’s recovering from his wounds, but he escaped from behind enemy lines, and I’m sure there’s a medal in his future. He should be home in time for Christmas.”

It was better than that. Danny’s dad was home for Thanksgiving, and other than a pronounced limp, he was no worse for wear.

A full week went by before Danny asked his dad if he was well enough to negotiate the stairs.

“I built a crystal radio, Dad, and I want you to see it.”

His father grinned at the radio, and slapped him on the back. “That’s a great job, Danny! Neat and well built as anything I’ve seen. How does she work?”

His father was seated in the chair in front of the radio, so Danny handed him the headphones. He fiddled with the cat’s whisker for a moment, and the suddenly turned and glanced up at Danny, with a big smile on his face. He listened a moment and then removed the headphones. “WMT, loud and clear! Congratulations son! You are a radioman!”

Danny said nothing, opening the binder with the logged messages. He read them one more time and then handed them to his father, explaining the circumstances and the glowing facet. For a moment, his father just stared at him, and then his eyes dropped to the logged messages. He read them silently and then read them again, slowly. Finally, he looked at Danny, awe in his eyes.

‘I remember these! I remember these exact words. They were silent prayers I was uttering, and I have no idea how they could possibly have come to you.”

He turned and stared at the silent radio. He caressed the crystal with a fingertip, and then looked again at his son.

“And you never said a word to your mom?” Danny shook his head.

“So you carried this burden all alone?” Danny nodded.

“I’m probably the proudest father on earth right now, Danny."

The doorbell rang, jarring the moment. It was Mrs. Hartman, and she congratulated Danny’s dad on his safe return home and his pending medal. Then she turned to Danny, her hand extended. Bewildered, Danny took it and, she shook his hand vigorously, a huge grin plastered on her usually stern face.

You won Danny! You are going the University of Iowa on a scholarship!

The week before Christmas, the family drove to the lot through gently falling snow to pick up their annual Christmas tree. Danny and his dad tied it on the top of the car and they were still several miles from home when his dad grumbled that a tire had gone flat. They were in the process of changing it when a patrol car pulled in behind them, his red light on. The officer got out of the car and approached them, one hand on his service revolver.

He shined his flashlight inside the car, and then on Danny and his father. He stepped back and addressed Mister Langford.

“You folks aren’t from around here. What’s your business?’

Danny’s father grinned. “Just taking our Christmas tree home, Sergeant.”

“What? How do you know I was a sergeant? Do I know you?” He shined the light directly into Mister Langford’s face and peered closely. Then he did a very strange and astounding thing. He put his hand to his mouth, and large tears welled in his eyes.

“Oh my Lord! It’s the Major!”

He dug into his back pocket, and pulled out his wallet. He took out a picture and handed it excitedly to Danny’s mom in the car, shining his light on it.

“See? That’s me and the Major here, shaking hands!”

He wiped his eyes, suddenly embarrassed.

“I was a tail gunner on a B-17, ma’am, and we were getting the sh…hell kicked out of us by a flight of ME-109’s when your husband here and his flight of 51’s jumped them and saved our asses! Well, I'm sorry for the hard language, ma’am and kids, but we were on fire see, and your husband escorted us all the way back to base. He was low on fuel by then, so they gassed him up and our entire crew went over to meet him and thank him. That when I got my picture took with the Major here!”

He turned to Mister Langford.

“I know your fighter group was the three thirty second, Major, but what was the name you boys went by? I forget.”

Danny’s father smiled. “We were called the Tuskegee Airmen, Sergeant.”


The Radio - A Short Story

The Radio - A Short Story - Part Two

More by this Author


Comments 54 comments

SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 4 years ago from eastern North Dakota

You did it again, Will, saved the twist to the very last words. I absolutely did not see that coming, but I gotta tell ya I was expecting something because your story just wasn't ending like they always do, and then came those last words, the third word from the end in fact.

Great story!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Another great story with a heartwarming ending, Will. I saw the recent movie about the Tuskeegee Airmen and they were remarkable, brave aviators in World War II.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi James, and thank you! Iowa was among the best at giving blacks an even break during those days.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi, drbj!

I love that movie, and I saw segregation up close and personal in the early fifties when we moved to the deep south for four years.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

Another great story, Will, and people here sure appreciated the involvement of all the US airmen in the last real war , WW2, (Vietnam was too sad for words). We have a small marble memorial to the US bomber crews stationed near here and it always has fresh roses on it...some people remember, and the bravery of those crews, fighting for things they had no real stake in, will live on for ever.

Bob


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Bob,

The Tuskegee Airmen were based mainly out of Sicily, and they were America's famous, all-black fighter pilots. Their success was phenomenal.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

WillStarr - This was a truly awesome ending, thanks for doing this. I have read quite a bit regarding the Tuskegee Airmen and it is fascinating reading. They were truly among the best we had.

Now you need to see if you can fix the New America so I can quit worrying about that. This will be a good day for me with everything resolved with The Radio.


Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 4 years ago

Hey you, that last line nailed it in more ways than one--- I have never read a book or seen a movie twice except the one about the Tuskegee Airmen, they were the real hero's in my eyes. Thanks


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Mike. I too am fascinated by what they achieved under such awful circumstances.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 4 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Perfect timing for the 4th of July...God Bless you always Will...:O) tears are falling...very touching story...:O) Hugs G-Ma


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Ginn,

They were superb in every way, and I hope they don't mind a piece of historical fiction about them.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, G-Ma, and hugs backatcha!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Beautiful -- and suspenseful story, Will. I've always found the Tuskegee Airmen absolutely amazing -- and your story is a tribute to their bravery against all odds. Totally enjoyable read and loved the ending. Best/Sis


slcockerham profile image

slcockerham 4 years ago from Tallahassee, Florida

Another awesome story Will! Loved how you brought in a commendation for the Tuskegee airmen, as well as a glimpse of how God works in mysterious ways that defy our natural laws and leave us truly amazed. How did Iowa come into it Will? Just curious, as I'm originally from Iowa.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Independent of our upcoming holiday, this story is inspiring and impressive with the importance of its message.

I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish! UP & ABI. Hugs, Maria


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Wonderful story and ending. I have a friend who's husband was maintained the aircraft for the Tuskeegee Airmen. He is turning 81 this summer. Well done.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

Brilliant piece of writing. Love the ending, in fact, I love everything about it. Voted up , up, up.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Angela,

I am in awe of the dedication to their country, despite the hateful obstacles.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi slcockerham,

I too am from Iowa, and the first station I tuned in on my own crystal set was WMT, Cedar Rapids. I also understand that at least one of the Tuskegee airmen came from Iowa, sooo...!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, sweet Maria!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi, teaches12345!

Wow! A direct connection! I envy you!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Pop,

I miss breakfast on weekends!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

Just saw the movie also but didn't anticipate your story's end. Thank you so much for your great writing. I will share this.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Whoa! Thank you, suziecat7!


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

So heart wrenching and beautiful. Your writing just seems to be getting so much deeper and meaningful with each thing you write. I love it. Voting up, needless to say, I always do, you always deserve it.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Wow! Thank you Polly.

You know it's a good story when you get a lump in your throat while writing it. You also know you are a bit of a loon!

^_^


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Will I read this story from start to finish. It is well crafted. You delight in the twist at the ending. Your followers here on Hubpages really like that your stories come with a punchline.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Mike, but I may have created a monster. What happens if there's no twist?


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Will, I think they are going to send it back to the chef complaining that it is not done.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

LOL@ Mike!


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Will another gem! I got to admit, I let my "whiteness" direct me to thinking all along, it was a white family. Never entered my mind as to where exactly you was going with this.... BRAVO!

I still want these into a TV series!!!

:)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi, Chris!

The point I was illustrating was that, given the opportunity and a goal, anyone with intellligence and ambition can succeed in the US.

What a great country!


bethperry profile image

bethperry 4 years ago from Tennesee

Will, you've brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for such a wonderful, wonderful tale!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Beth, for your kind words!


femmeflashpoint 4 years ago

Will,

I don't think I have enough of a vocabulary to sufficiently brag on the entirety of this piece.

It's beyond awesome. And, the ending thrilled me to my core.

I'm sharing this with some of my military friends, who like me, are fans of the Tuskeege Airmen.

femme


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Well, I missed this when you published it, I took my husband to the VA that day. I didn't think you had published the last chapter of this story yet and was looking for it. Glad to read this wonderful conclusion finally. Great story, as usual.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, femme! You just made my day!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Becky, and thank your husband for his service!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It's an education for me, as I was unfamiliar with the Tuskeege Airmen. Maybe because I don't go to movies much.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Don.,

I'm a big fan of the Tuskegee Airmen. They are true American heroes in so many ways.


Patriette profile image

Patriette 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Immensely satisfying story as always, Will. Thank you and God bless.

Lynne


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Patriette!

Glad you liked it.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Will,

Applause! Applause! A wonderful story. I can see the smiles on those Tuskegee Airmen's face if they read your story.

Voted up and away!

Take care :)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Glad you liked it, Sueswan! Thank you for taking the time!


Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

An excellent ending Will, I must say you have a way of writing suspense that is superb.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Mark! I checked your site and will be both following and reading you.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

The ending was outstanding, as was the entire story! Thanks Will for an exciting read!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Glad you enjoyed it, Sunshine!


resspenser profile image

resspenser 4 years ago from South Carolina

I have been on vacation and away from Hubpages for a few weeks. As a result, I got to read all three of these in one sitting. You did an awesome job once again. Thanks for the story!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Ronnie!


whowas 4 years ago

Thank you, sir. That's a great story and has left me with more to discover about the famous and noble Tuskegee Airmen.

Keep writing and I'll keep reading, too!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you for the great comments!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

I enjoyed this story Will and nice little ending. Well done. Enjoyable read. Up and shared.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Justin!

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