Black Petals Issue #107, Spring, 2024

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(After) Life is What You Make It: Fiction by Richard Brown
Gauche Cuisine: Fiction by Gordon L. Stewart
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Insights Into the Trajectory of Human Cetacean Communication: Fiction by Andre Bertolino
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Resemblance: Fiction by James McIntire
Sign of the Times: Fiction by Liam A. Spinage
The Attic Party: Fiction by Michael Fowler
The Renovators: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Balance: Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Bawk Dark: Flash Fiction by Michael C. Jessen
The Incident With the Mismatched Man: Flash Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Radio Tower: Flash Fiction by Blair Orr
Take Me With You: Flash Fiction by Steven French
Slippery: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Where Dead Babies Come From: Poem by Nolcha Fox
302 Asylum Avenue: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Another Story: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Home Repairs: Poem by Joseph Danoski
A Creepy Leap Year: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Funeral Memorial: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
BatGrl: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Twin Flame: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Shadow Play: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Dark Ride: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Leviathans of the Void: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Sunbursts: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Into the Eyes: Poem by Anthony Bernstein
Airtime: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Gloria: Poem by Peter Mladinic
The Sorcerer: Poem by C. Walker
Frozen Eve: Poem by C. Walker

Blair Orr: Radio Tower

107_bp_radiotower_henrystanton.jpg
Art by Henry Stanton 2024

RADIO TOWER

 

Blair Orr

 

 

Pete and Derek had been down on the ground sipping coffee and planning ahead for deer season. Pete always hunted out of his father’s farm near Shawano . Derek was exploring new places. He had spent a few weekends camping and driving around northern Wisconsin.

They had drawn straws and Timmy had lost. He had to climb the tower that day, up into the chilly fog. After about 50 feet up the radio tower Timmy was out of sight, lost in the fog. They had considered using the fog as an excuse to put the job off until the afternoon or the next day. Still, if they got it done quickly, they could be back in Milwaukee by noon on Friday. That was the motivation, home early. Timmy went up in the fog.

“Jeez,” Pete commented, “that is some weird whistling the wind is making going through the tower.”

“Yep,” Derek replied, “especially for such a small breeze. Can’t say I’ve ever heard anything like it.”

“Each tower has its own life,” Pete said.

“Sure as shit.”

Their job was to change light bulbs in radio towers as a precautionary measure. All the lights were working, but the companies liked to change bulbs before they burned out, so they changed all the lights on a tower at once. Timmy, Derek, and Pete were one of three light bulb teams roaming the Upper Midwest for Milwaukee-National Antenna: Specialists in Tower Construction and Maintenance.

Just as Pete started in on the story of his uncle’s huge buck from several years back a thud hit the ground in front of them. It was Timmy. He didn’t have his harness on. They got closer and saw a huge cavity in his chest. His face was bleeding. Derek puked. They went back to the truck and called 911.

The coroner’s report said that a large animal had attacked Timmy. The claw marks looked like a bear although there was some indication that the claws were longer than those of a typical bear. The heart had been ripped out and the heart was never found. The coroner hypothesized that the heart might have fallen to the ground, been overlooked, and scavenged by animals. The broken bones were the result of the fall of the already dead body. The death was ruled accidental. Nobody explained how or why a bear would want to climb a radio tower.

Pete climbed the tower on a sunny day about two weeks later with the same mission, replace all the bulbs on the tower. After Timmy had died nobody wanted to climb the tower, not even to investigate cause of death. They used a drone to go up and look at the harness on the tower. Timmy had made it about a third of the way up. His shredded harness was visible even from the ground. The drone picked up the blood spattered on the structure. Going up and down Pete did his best to avoid the harness and blood. He felt that cold shiver.



Blair Orr is a retired economist living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Every now and then he can still get spooked in the woods.

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