Radio chatter4 min read

Radio chatter4 min read

You’re not going to believe me, and that’s OK. I really don’t believe it myself. I’m writing it down because I have to. I don’t know how much time I have. There isn’t anywhere to run.

I listen to those app scanners on my phone. Used to listen. The police scanners. You can choose from all over the place. All the big cities and some of the medium ones. I used to like listening to Chicago PD. It’s amazing how calm all of them stay. The professionals who keep society from fraying. I wouldn’t want to face the kind of grind they do. Constantly dealing with people who are on the edge of disaster, or have gone over the waterfall completely.

The situations play out in ways more macabre than any reality show writer could come up with. The questions and conversations baffled and fascinated me all at once.

“Seven children being taken into protective custody. Parents argumentative. Need assistance at 1024 Roberts. 10-4.”

“I have a recovered box of stolen items. Do I need to hold it for fingerprinting?”

“What’s in the box?”


“They can’t print clothing.”

“Short hair, hoodie, dark jeans, white shoes.”

“Time for a shift change. Good night everyone, and get home safe.”

Male voices. Female voices. Impassively discussing the fragility of civilization and the bad behavior of the days and nights in the cities where they act as counterweights to every type of bad behavior imaginable. It’s a show, and I’m in the audience nearly every night.

Or was. Until I tuned in last week. I dialed up Chicago PD, except that’s not what I got. Something got snarled up.

“What’s the status of the shipment?” I couldn’t place the accent on the male voice. Perfect English. Like too perfect. Everything enunciated crisply. Like someone who isn’t from anywhere at all. Maybe someone who has lived everywhere and been to some kind of school that teaches you to talk perfectly.

“Shipment due at 2300. Agent is in place to receive.”

“What about the entry team?”

“We’re go. Team is assembled three clicks from insertion. Status yellow. Will go green when shipment has been delivered and QAed. Primary and secondary extraction plans look good. Six approved.”

The feed squelched. Then I heard, “Passing 5100 block of Walcott. Wearing green shirt and blue jeans. Wanted for eluding police. One Amelia Anderson. She is a 27-year-old female, short blonde hair, blue eyes.”

“Two male blacks aggressively panhandling and grabbing people walking by. They have a bottle of whiskey.”

“Rolling northbound.”

“Thank you units.”

“The kill order is confirmed. We are Romeo, Echo, Alpha, Delta, Yankee. Will update when the package is in place.”

“Two black males, shoplifting.”

“He’s in the alley going through garbage.”

“This is the leader of the free world we are talking about. This is the highest profile target in the United States. There will be fallout.”

“Three male Hispanics having a loud argument, West Plains and 30th. Six one eddy. Headed to complainant.”

“Stand by a second. Twenty is going east. How is the victim?”

“She’s fine. We’re rolling to the hospital.”

I hear the static of an open mic and then, “Watch your keys, watch your keys. We’ve got an open key.”

I shake my head, trying to make sense of the secondary conversation. Someone must be playing a practical joke. I wonder who will be getting a visit from the Secret Service in a few hours or maybe days. I wonder how they track down trolls making jokes about stuff like this.

“We’re cleared.”

“Two one Robert we need a welfare check. Four two three Robert, who has the plate reader?”

“Thirty-three is coming in with it.”

“Confirmed with the client that there is an individual bonus. Double the standard rate. Whoever gets the best body cam footage of the terminal moments earns triple. Verification that team will be extracted to non-extradition territory per original discussion.”

I shut it off then. I was scared I could get in trouble just for listening. I’m not dumb enough to shout “bomb” in a crowded airport, and I don’t want to be party to people playing jokes that are also felonies. Christ they sounded serious. People. Never cease to amaze me with their stupidity.

I took some NyQuil and lay down in bed. Next day, I checked Google News. Nothing. Trolls. Just trolls.

Except two weeks ago, the President was assassinated. That was less than 72 hours after the weird radio chatter I heard.

I deleted all those scanner apps. Too late.

There are people following me. I don’t know who they are. I don’t know what they want. I don’t know who to tell. No one is going to believe me.

I didn’t do anything wrong. You need to know that about me. I was just listening.

The TV news people are saying it was probably the Russians, but I know what Russians sound like. They weren’t Russians. They sounded like broadcast news anchors to me. Broadcast news anchors who kill important people for a living.

Shit. I’m fucked. Maybe all of us are.

Also published on Medium.

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