Jill, Moira and I helped Don into his apartment. Jill went to his kitchen to get some ice for his nose. Moira and I tried to put him on the sofa next to BJ, but Don shook his head, slinging blood all over his messy hoard of crap. He made for his radio room like an elderly calf going for a teat.
Bethel, who’d been left in Don’s care during the bird war, trotted over and opened her mouth lap up a little blood. I immediately bent over to snag her, lifting her in the air by her harness. I carried her in one hand like a small, struggling briefcase.
Before we even stepped into the room, we could actually hear the radio squawking tinnily from Don’s bulky old-style headphones. The sound would have made an ordinary person’s ears bleed, if he dared to don Don’s headphones.
“Deaf much?,” Moira asked him.
“I’m OLD,” Don glowered at her. “When you get old, you’d better hope that a little hearing loss is all you experience. Women are prone to loss of bladder control.” He plopped down in his chair and unplugged the headphones. The headphones went silent and two small speakers on a crowded desk immediately sprang to life. I strained forward, trying to make sense of what I heard, but it was a muddy babble. Don fiddled with dials, obviously searching for a clear frequency.
Jill joined us, handing Don a Ziploc baggy full of ice, which he dropped into a nearby garbage can without even looking at it. Mike wasn’t far behind her, with Kate and Kat in tow.
“It was dead,” Mike said. “I stopped by my place to get the girls and the guns, but I didn’t need any of them.”
“We don’t need you either, boy-o,” Kate said to him.
“Those old cat ladies ran outside with knives before we could blink,” Kat said. “The cats are having chicken, tonight. Big chicken.”
“Hush,” Don said. “You people are damned loud people, and I’m glad you aren’t here often.” He grabbed a microphone that was straight out of “Fibber McGee And Molly” and started speaking into it. “CQ, CQ, CQ. This is K4AAA calling CQ and standing by.”
Nobody talked back to Don. We stood quietly, straining to hear what we’d fought a giant bird to hear. Then, out of the ether, we heard, “K4AAA, K4AAA, this is AB3GD, Alpha-Bravo-Three -Golf-Delta.”
I’m not prone to displays of glee, but I did jump up and down a little in excitement. But it was short lived. I didn’t know how in the world we were going to understand this radio talk. I started to wonder if we were again going to be forced to take Don’s word for what the Ham universe was reporting, but the conversation immediately became less formal. CB radio babble was harder to decipher. This was more like a phone conversation.
“What is your location, K4AAA?,” the disembodied voice asked.
“I’m in Manhattan, AB3GD,” Don answered. “Right in the middle of giant bird country. How’s about you?”
“The same, K4AAA. Manhattan, here.”
Don’s eyebrows shot up. He obviously hadn’t expected to find someone else who was on the island on his first try. “What part of town are you in, AB3GD?”
“Midtown west, K4AAA. You?”
“Upper east side,” Don said, lying.
“How are things up there, K4AAA?”
“Not good,” replied Don. “Not good at all.”
“You need to get yourself down here, then. And everyone you can find. We are making a raid on the Lincoln Tunnel. Hoping to get out of here. If we have enough people, we can rush the soldiers, get through the tunnel to New Jersey. We are gathering at Manhattan Plaza on 43rd St. Between 9th and 10th. Over the big Food Emporium.”
I stepped forward and took the microphone from Don’s hand. He looked at me quizzically. “Is this thing off?,” I whispered. He nodded. “This guy is one of the bad guys, Don. He’s with The Mouse.”