Destruction Aftermath, Book 1
Chapter 5

Copyright© 2010 by radio_guy

Shirley began calling "CQ" on HF but received no answer. She said we would try off and on during the day and evening.

"Jack, there are a number of bands and frequencies on each band. It's not surprising that we didn't get a reply on our first try."

"I understand, Shirl. It would have been nice to have made a contact." It was quiet and I heard a rhythmic grunting from another room.

"Ed and Janice seem to be making contact." Shirley said and giggled.

I looked at her and gave her my best leer. "There are other rooms available."

"Not yet, Jack. That will be an important event for me."

"Are you a vir--"

"No." She cut me off quickly. "There haven't been many. I'm choosey and there's plenty of time to make that choice."

I came up close to her and kissed her lips gently. "Okay, I'm not in a hurry either."

"Good. Let's go outside. I want to look at your truck. We need to mount a radio or at least get ready to mount a radio in it. I like that truck better than the one we took that has a radio. We can give it to Ed."

I went willingly as I wanted to escape the sounds of Ed and Janice. The sounds made me hot and I didn't want to push Shirley too fast. We actually did look over my truck. Shirley suggested that another trip to Atlanta would be a good idea if only to raid the ham store there. She said that we could pick and chose from new radios to fit as best as possible and get the right antennas along with anything else not nailed down. We walked around holding hands until Ed came out. Ed asked what we were doing and we told him about the trucks and another trip to Atlanta. He was not excited about another trip. He said he didn't want to expose Janice to the dangers of Atlanta. I felt that he didn't want to expose himself but kept that to myself.

It was late in the afternoon and they took the other truck and went to Ed's parents' house. We stayed and tried the radio some more. I went outside and called my parents telling them where we were and why we were there.

I came back in the radio room and said, "Dinner in two hours."

Just as I said that, I heard "CQ, CQ. This is Charlie, WX4XA, in Columbia, South Carolina, is anybody out there? CQ, CQ. This is Charlie, WX4XA, in Columbia, South Carolina. Over."

Shirley keyed the mike and said, "WX4XA, this is K4SAA, Shirley, in West Georgia. Over."

"K4SAA, this is WX4XA. It's good to hear someone. I read you 5-9. How are things where you are?"

"WX4XA, K4SAA. Charlie, there are lots of dead people here. We are not far from Atlanta and there is almost no one alive there either. I am with family here, Charlie. Is there someone with you?"

"No, Shirley, I am alone. I think there are a few people in Columbia but not many. Would your family welcome another person? I really want to be with people."

"Charlie, I will have to ask but you will probably be welcome. How is the power over there and food? Do you have a vehicle? Over."

"Shirley, power is still on and there is food in the stores. I have a car and can mount my rig in it for HF mobile as well as for two meters."

"Okay, Charlie. Hang tight. As I said, I must talk to the family first. We, Jack and I, will call you back in..." She looked at me. I held up four fingers. "Four hours from now. We must travel and gather folk for a decision. Same frequency."

"Roger, Shirley. I will be waiting for you. I will continue to call CQ on this frequency while I wait."

"Roger, Charlie. This is K4SAA. Clear."

She turned the volume down and I could faintly hear Charlie saying, "WX4XA. Clear."

She said, "Well, we made a contact and that's good. Let's go to your parents' house. We need to talk to them about Charlie and I want to use your computer to look him up on QRZ " [Ed. note: QRZ.com exists but the calls used in this story are not in its database intentionally.]

"Okay, Shirl. Let's go." As we walked out, I added, "I guess we need a computer here and an internet connection?"

"Jack, that would help. It would give us a way of checking on people at least a little bit."

"That makes sense." We got in my truck. "We need a radio in here, too. You're right."

She grinned, "I know." I smiled back at her and drove to my parents' house. She held my hand all the way there. I parked the truck and we got out.

She went inside and I went over to my dad who was working on his tractor putting a different implement on the back. "What'cha doing, Dad?"

"Setting up to plow that rough patch that we haven't used in a year or two." He answered. "We don't have to use that area but I have in the past and I want to make better use of our land, now. What did you and Shirley find?"

"We found old Ted is still alive and set up the station in the Carlisle place at the head of the road like I told you over the phone. It would make a good, central meeting place as well as being on a knoll. Shirley says that helps get our signal out. We made another contact other than Ted. There's a guy in Columbia, South Carolina, who is alone and wants to join someone like us. Shirley is going to look him up on the web site we used to locate local hams and I guess we will discuss it over dinner. Also, we want to make another trip to Atlanta and raid a ham store there for more equipment."

"Lots to go over it at supper, Son."

"Yes, Sir."

"Well, let's get inside and see what the ladies have ready and talk." We went inside and washed our hands. Dad and I went into the kitchen following our noses to the good smells coming from there.

I was in front and heard Mom and Shirley talking quietly so made a bit of noise to let them know we were coming. The voices stopped as we came in the door but not before I heard Shirley say, "Yes, Ma'am. I really liked him then, too." I would have to ask her about that.

Dad said, loudly, "What's for supper, Annie? The men are hungry!"

"Nothing you like, Robbie. But, if you're hungry, you'll eat it anyway." she kidded back.

Shirley just smiled at me. "Hi, Jack. Your mom and I were talking as we worked."

"What about?" I asked.

"Later."

Dad said, "You are already keeping secrets from him. Ha, ha."

Mom said, "Leave them alone, Robbie. You will embarrass them."

As we ate, Shirley explained to mom and dad more about what we had done today and what we would do this evening. Dad was interested. I don't think he had ever seen anything that didn't interest him. He said, "I would like to go with you."

Shirley said, "We would be glad for you to come and show you what the radio can do. Right now, we have only a one-band antenna up and it needs more work but we will develop more ability in the next few days."

Mom said, "Robbie, I have need for you here tonight. You can go over some other time."

I didn't know whether to be relieved or saddened. It didn't matter though, Mom's decisions were final. She might change it after she and dad talked privately but they had never argued in front of me or anyone else to my knowledge. None of us hurried through our meal. I enjoyed being with my parents as they described their day. Shirley and I joined in with more descriptions of our day.

Dad was very interested in Ted's talk about lions and dogs. He said, "I really hadn't thought about that even after you and Shirley described your encounter with dogs. That makes carrying a side arm a bit more important."

"Yes, Sir." I said. "We have been carrying pistols on all our trips now. I don't want to see one of the big cats though. I don't think a .45 would be sufficient."

"True," Dad agreed, "I think your rifle should be on your rear window rack loaded along with extra ammo for both in the truck. I'm going to do the same beginning with my next trip. Annie, we will have to do something for you when you travel."

"Robbie, I have had the revolver in my purse since all this happened. Strange men and dogs are both a potential problem. The death of Janice's mother and Ted's description of looters verifies that in my mind. However, I think that a holster might be a better solution. My purse seems a bit useless now."

Dad said, "Something else to consider and prepare against. Jack, carry your pistol all the time and I am going to start doing the same. I will get your mother fixed up tonight with a holster. Shirley, do you need a pistol and holster?"

"No, Sir, I have my .38 revolver in its holster in Jack's truck. We have been leaving them there to avoid worrying either of you."

"I guess you know how to shoot then." He said.

"Dad," I volunteered, "she has a ten pointer on the wall at her parents' place." Dad looked a little startled while mom just smiled. I could tell she knew. What had she and Shirley been talking about while supper was cooking?

We finished eating and left for the ham house. I didn't speak on the way over though we held hands again. I parked the truck and we got out and went onto the front porch. Shirley said, "Jack. let's sit out here a minute and talk."

"Suits me." There was a swing for two facing the road and I went toward it. We sat down next to each other.

She put her hand over mine and said, "I guess you're wondering what your mother and I were talking about before supper."

"Yes, it wouldn't be normal for me not to be curious. I heard the last little sentence you said before we came in."

"Oh. Well, your mother knows as much and maybe a bit more than you do about me. I don't want us to have secrets so, here goes."

"Shirl, you can tell me anything."

"Jack, most of your mother's and my conversation was about you. That last bit was my admission that I have liked you since being in your class. I think you're great. But, there are two things. One is that we really don't know each other well yet and the second is the circumstances around us. I had planned to take a class you taught or get into a research project that would involve you this next semester."

I smiled and said, "I guess we're taking a class together in survival and we are involved together in this project."

"I know but that's not quite what I had planned. Sleeping with you, even innocently, was not in my plans."

"Shirl, you've talked to Mom, so you know that I haven't dated much either in high school or at Tech. I have never had a 'girl' friend who had adult interests and who was as smart as you are. I like you a lot. Everything I learn about you makes me like you more and want to be with you more. I hope that is okay."

She turned to me and smiled. "It's very okay," she said, "and I like you a lot. Your mother helped me get my thinking straightened out a bit." She leaned forward and kissed me hard and passionately. After an eternity, we came up for air with me holding her tight while her arms were around my neck. She looked me in the eye. "We have a promise to Charlie we must keep. Then, we will continue this discussion."

I released her slowly. Her body felt really good plastered against mine. I didn't want the moment to stop yet. She moved back some more and then stood. She took my hand and pulled me up and we went inside to the radio. We were a couple of minutes late.

As the radio came on, we heard, "This is Charlie calling Shirley. Come in, Shirley. Where are you? Over."

Shirley keyed the mike, "Charlie, this is Shirley. All is well."

"Does that mean that I can come?"

"Yes, it does. However, you have to be careful. We have seen some looters. Here's Jack to talk to you."

"Jack, it will be good to hear another voice. Go ahead."

I took the mike and pressed the contact. "Charlie, I am Jack. We have traveled to Atlanta and back. We have found looters, though very few. However, they are violent. Also, we had a run-in with a pack of dogs. Do you shoot? Do you have guns? O-over."

"Jack, it's good to hear you. I haven't been out much since the Day. I don't shoot nor do I have any guns. What do you suggest?"

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