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DIVISION OF AEROTRON, INC.

Man, was I in double trouble. It was a long week-end. The kids were away with their grandparents at the beach. In an early morning, clear and mild, the YF and I were at breakfast on the sun porch. All should have been serene and happy. But, not so.

I had disgraced myself the night before, but that was not the end of it. I had made away from home plans without telling my OG. We all know what that means, particularly as she was planning a party and had been slaving these past two days to bring the house to its best.

Jadedly, I knocked the top off a boiled egg. My spirit seemed about the same as its contents; weak and soft,

1 gazed across the table at the Nephritete-likehead of my beloved and wondered at my devotion all these years. The shiny black hair tumbled as she bent over the morning paper, reading me the headlines.

"Drug running now big business off the East Australian coast. Racketeers continue to elude patrols/'

"Do you think they use radio?" she asked. "Who?"

"The dope smugglers." "Yes, almost surely/" But my mind was on the week-end plans. How could 1 manage to tell her, especially after last night? I finished the egg, toast and coffee and felt a little more virile.

Every married male might be the man around the house, but the subtle master is the mistress of it. In my case, should I threaten to step out of line, I was given the "ego boosting" treatment. A sort of confidence trick it is really. With a meaningful look from the XYL's gypsy-like eyes, I am reminded every so often that I am a gentleman. Mow could I ever be unethical. Thus my will is imprisoned and conduct assured.

But this morning the male was about to roar. I was going away for the week-end, because arrangements t ad been made, even if they were concluded through a slightly ineb

Alan Shawsmith, VK4SS 35 Whynot Street West End, Brisbane Queens, Australia riated haze, the night before.

"Iioney," I said in a voice that was meant to be quietly final, but in effect came out weak and pathetic.

"Forget about the party tonight. 1 want to take you away for the next few days."

There was no immediate reply. Then she raised her head and looked past me into the kitchen.

"What are you going to do about thoseV*

"Ah yes, those " Oh my shame, I must explain.

Last night, leaving the pub after my quota of a quick two, I ran into Harry Watermaine, Field Day fever possessed him. (Actually I had forgotten about the event.)

"Say," he enthused. "I know of a DX Utopia. The perfect QTH. Optimum angle of radiation and everything is Sci plus. Vm taking the car and caravan. You must come/'

Each succeeding beer made the idea seem rosier. It was late at night before the final details were settled and I could hardly wait.

Unsteadily creeping up the front porch steps, I knocked over a milk bottle. End over end, it went shattering the quiet.

"Shh, shh," I hissed, "You'll wake the YF/'

^Where the heck is the door key. Why does a man need so many pockets. Top and bottom, back and front, inside and out. Eventually, it was located but a lot of 10 and 20 cent pieces were spilled in the fumbling process, "Never mind, I'll retrieve all in the morning."

I awoke with the expected. Headache and heartburn and my excesses demanded I rise immediately. Foggily the loose change on the porch came to mind. Unsteadily I opened the door and stepped back in amazement. The silver money was gone but in lieu, si acked phlanx-like, were 27 bottles of milk. Surprise quickly gave way to irritable temper. "A smart-alec milkman," I mused. What a cheap piece of petty capitalistic exploitation. Then through my misty hangover the ridicu lous began to dawn. Tottering back to bed I burst into a loud guffaw of laughter.

Sleepily, the YF opened her eyes and regarded my mirth suspiciously.

"Sweetheart, is there any rum in the fridge?"

"No. Why, haven't you finished yet?"

"Ha, ha, ha. Where's the cat?" This brought her boft upright.

"How should I know. Are you all right? What's so funny?"

"Like a bath in cow's juice?"

Disbelief crowded into the half-awake face,

"Aw, fair go kid. I'm okay. That smart Charley of a milkman just sold me 27 bottles of milk."

This was too much for my Helen. She fell back and pulled the bedclothes up over hei ears.

"Go and have a cold shower-and shut up/' came the muffled voice.

So, now I suggested we put all those bottles in the freezer until our return. "From where-and with whom?" The YF challenged coldly.

Remembering her planned party, I prepared myself for the ego build-up bit.

"Up to the Lost World country- It's AR Field Day tomorrow, Monty Watermaine is taking his gear-and us."

''Aw gee, Honey/' I pleaded. "Field Day only comes once a year, We can hold a barbecue anytime.17

"The party's off. When you didn't come home last night, I rang no one. A trip to the mountains is okay-but not with 'Gusher'." (This is Monty's nickname. Aptly tagged because his effacious manner irrates most of his friends.)

"No," she insisted. "Not with that arty eccentric. Besides you only want me along as a char- While you two drool over the rig, Tm the one to attend your creature comforts—or act as a rigger on the sky hook/'

She banged the newspaper on the table in one of those small transitory piques, I had come to know so well.

"Look my Sweety I implored again. "This is a chance too good to miss. Monty has found a DX Eldorado. You know, a place where reception! is super dooper. All sigs Sc) plus,"

"Why Gush-and how did he locate it?"

"Oh well, he paints you know and seeks out virgin country for his landscapes. Sometimes he takes a radio along."

"Rings phoney."

At that moment, there was a mounting roar from outside.

"Oh thafll be the pantechnicon for the Hunter's. They' re moving you know. One more TV griper off your back, eh? I must wish them good-bye."

I let the barb pass and stared miserably at the vibrating dishes. The milk bottles tinkled in sympathy. My heart rose in my throat and what courage I have trickled into my slippers.

She was back in a second; wide-eyed.

"Hey, it's Gusher and he's towing a railway carriage."

"It's his caravan," I said feebly.

"Where did he buy it-from a circus or the Government?"

"No, it's homebrew."

"It's like a tired daschund. Sags in the middle. Who painted it?"

"Why so monstrous?"

"He uses it for his art besides AR. Has a piano in it too. He plays you know."

"A black square Buick and a tangerine and mauve caravan. Ye Gods."

"...and the interior is psychedelic," I sna]> ped irritably.

"How could I drive away from here in that?"

"Shame. Where's your integrity?" It was my turn now,

"Monty," I called from the door, "won't be long."

In the bedroom the YF was camouflaging herself behind dark sunglasses and a large bandana.

"I can see," she said, "that if I care for your safety, I have no choice other than to come along and protect a couple o fools from themselves."

I sighed deeply.

It is best to draw a veil over the trip to the mountains. We eventually made it, but the fates must have been in a benevolent mood, Enroute. a service station pad was cleared to allow us to draw in and fill up. The proprietor was paid for his pains by Monty driving off with most of the stations advertising bunting. Off the main road the Buick's brakes weren't up to a sudden stop and we nearly removed a farmer's cattle gate by flattening it; and a mile further on, the caravan's radio aerial sliced off someone's telephone wires. After several stops to allow the old bomb's gasping, wheezing motor to cool down and recover its strength. we suddenly emerged from a tropical rain forest, out on to an elevated plateau. A magnificent panorama surrounded us. Behind were the towering mountain peaks, and away below, now hazy in the fading light ran the ribbon of coastline. A white string between purple Pacific ocean and lush green vegetation. But even up here human habitation was apparent. Well-tended banana plantations nestled against the slopes,

"Monty," I said softly. "This splendor humbles me."

But Gusher was impatient tötest his theory and in no mood for philosophy. Besides, he\l been here before.

"See that Flying Fox just there. It's about half a mile long. What a great long wire antenna, if I swing a bare wire over it for a lead in. No one will be using it over this week-end/* {A Flying Fox in this part of the world* is a long cable or wire, strung from one elevation to a lower one, down which bananas and crates, etc., are slung to a central point. A great manpower saver.)

"Okay," I said, "it's your gear—go ahead."

Monty deftly weighted his lead-in with a stone and skillfully threw it so that it wound around the Flying Fox,

"Boy Scout days," he smiled at my admiration. "Let^s have a listen first up and see-Wow."

He threw the wire from his hand. "Thai's HOT—it burnt me/'

He sniffed a forefinger. "Yep, that wire's got rf on it,"

"Impossible/ I said, gingerly testing it. "See-nothing- The altitude s got you/ 1 ribbed.

"Well, let's go in and tie it to the receiver."

The set was barely warming up, when a harsh, distorted voice crackled through the speaker,

"—use alternative rendezvous at 03. wo

The S meter was slammed hard i gainst the pin, Monty frantically wound back the controls.

"What was that? What frequency?" I asked surprised.

"Well the receiver was on 28 mcs but it was all over the dial. It could only be a local sig. Probably outside the ham band because the image rejection in this ole set is crook at 30 mcs."

Suddenly it came again, I his time the i all text.

* Queensland, Australia

"Zl, ZL raps trolling the reef Use alternative rendezvous. 03, Two drops. Use caution. Confirm/'

Monty reached over and touched the aerial.

"Yep, that Fox is being used as an rf line, for sure/'

We left the receiver running and sat in hopeful silence for something further, but nothing eventuated. We began to speculate on it's significance.

"The Fox disappears into those trees down there," I observed.

Helen, my YF, said, "If I know my geography, the only reef east of here is Shark Reef, and the newspapers have been saying it is a likely spot for dropping contraband."

"Let's examine the message some more," I said. "Traps in criminal vernacular means the police or the law. Trolling' is patroling. 03 is most likely 3 a.m. East Australian Time, and 'two drops/ two packages or containers."

"Put like that, it sounds ominous, but couldn't there be quite a simple explanation. Maybe it's just a message for fishermen somewhere?"

"What, so far from the coast and not showing a proper aerial?"

"Who'd look for a drug gang up here,'1 Helen said.

"Aw heck, let's ignore it. We came up here to test this QTH and work DX, so why worry about it. 1 can sling up a Ground Plane in ten minutes. I've got a tri-bander pre-cut stowed here in the caravan." Field Day fever still gripped Monty and he was itching to get into the thick of things.

"There s a law that says every citizen is duty-bound to report any criminal act or what appears to be an irregularity/' Helen said.

My YF was at it again, setting me up. Her eyes were directly on me and the meaning clear.

"If we report this and it turns out to be authentic, well look like a trio of nosy ir-responsibles with red faces," I cautioned.

All sat silent, ruminating. Finally, I said, "If anything is to be done, it must be now as 03 EAST is only hours away. Will that ex-disposals TX work Monty- and on the small ships base frequency?"

The set-up in the caravan was a wonder to behold. Being unmarried, Monty could afford to indulge himself. His gear was a mixture of new and old. The TX in mention had general coverage.

"We'll load it into the short vertical on the caravan roof," explained Gusher.

"Honey/' I beckoned, passing her a pencil, "I'm going to try and contact a base station north of here. I want you to take down the text of what passes both ways—for the record/1

In response to my first call, back came the reply. "You're loud and clear. Have you a message?"

The text of what we had picked was passed and the request was made, that if the message lacked authenticity, please pass to the proper authorities. After identification, we signed off—quickly.

"Probably think we're the phoney's," Monty voiced the guilt within us all. '"We've just operated outside the limits of our license."

"Yes> but with good intentions."

" which may be hard to prove. What if the sender of that message picked up our transmission?"

The YF interposed. "He's either laughing his head off at a couple of silly hams - or if we've hit the jackpoL slipping a slug or two into his shoulder gun and coming to find

"Please, Helen," I demurred, "don't be so sinister. You make it sound like a TV movie.'"

A sort of frustrated, embarrassed silence descended upon us as if we were the wrongdoers. We had done ourselves as far as Field Day activity was concerned. All that was left was to pack up Arab-style and fade into the night-

Defeated, I went to the caravan door and looked down into the night to where the Flying Fox disappeared into a clump of trees. It all seemed so unlikely that ! began to feel we were the victims of altitude hallucinations. But worst of all, 1 had spoiled Monty's week-end, So, with the question of the site as a DX Utopia still unresolved, we set the old Buick moving at it's lowest possible revs and crept off the plateau on top of the Lost World and began our descent into the mists and vapors of the heavily scented rain forests. Unbridled imagination is truly a bolting horse. On every bend I expected to see a road block and a couple of characters standing in our path. The sight of the highway back to town brought a big sigh of relief.

Back home, the noise of our tired arrival probably woke (he neighbors but even the YF was too travel-weary to worry.

"Stay and have a kip," I invited Monty. "You look dead beat Om"

"Me too/1 yawned Helen.

The sound of the piano being played brought me out from the last layers of sleep.

Must be Gusher keeping his hand in. Whew, it was hot. Must be late in the day.

The OW breezed into the room. Refreshed, prim and pert. Ï could see immediately by her eyes that something was up.

Log," she accused, "We tried to tell you the news earlier, but stirring a dugong from its sleep is impossible. So we just let you be," "Wa-ssat? Er- thanks. Oh, what news?" "Gusher, will we tell him or leave it to the reporters?"

"-reporters?" I was now on my feet. She pushed me down again.

"We scored a bullseye. They ve picked up some of the smuggling gang and expect to arrest others. The newspapers want to interview you and Monty/'

The weight of sleepiness vanished. "What? Great, great! When are they coming?"

"You d better get dressed because we're having a ¡"»arty tonight. May as well cap our little achievement with a little get together. Monty's staying to play piano."

"That message?" I said curiously. "It was rather vague. Fair dinkum did—?"

"Yep, caught >m red-handed, and it seems like the credit's yours and Monty's. Appears the drug runners were able to obtain prior info on the patrol's movements but we settled that."

L ife suddenly seemed warm and rich, tike a perfect spring day-or nearly so. There was still the matter of the bottles of milk.

The time was 3:30 a.m,. and the last guest had bid his farewell. What a wonderful evening! Monty's skillful fingers had charmed away the irritation his mannerisms had caused the YF. We had enjoyed the wit and humor of friends, my beloved's wonderful cuisine, and the radio news flash of our it tie drama up on the Lost World,

Helen appeared with the last edition paper in hand and bounding with impish mischief. Opening tile fridge she peeked in at the milk bottles- all 27 of them, then came close and slipped her arms around my neck-

"Darling/'she said, "there are times when you are magnificent—LOOK."

She waved the paper under my nose. It's headlines read: "Milk Strike. No Deliveries for 4 or 5 Days. "

She chuckled, 1 laughed. We both laughed and laughed.

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