The slider went up, and the sound presented itself front and center.
“OH, SCARBO! You’re on with Papa Spanks!”, Charles screamed into the mic. He never distanced himself from his mic, but leaned in and tried his level best to shatter the diaphragm. Let them sort out the distortion in post.
“Umm…this is Jerry from Harbo. Second time caller, and a constant tuner….in.”, a shaky voice on the other end said.
“HARBO! I can’t get those jerkwater places sorted out in my head! Scarbo’s the one with the giant mechanical dipper that serves you any sort of soup from a Campbell’s soup can that you bring it, right?”.
“I…I have no idea. Scarbo is 4 towns east. It’s very inconvenient for Harboians to visit.”
“I bet.” Charles slams his hand on a large red button and 4 airhorns gaff taped to mic stands blast into a mic on the other end of the room. “What can Ol’ Papa Spanks play for you tonight?”.
“It’s my ex-wife’s second anniversary, congrats Beth and Gary, and I’d like to play for them the wma file that I just sent you from my Juno account.”
“Alright, hold on just a tic….”. The sound of Charlie clicking can be heard across the line. He squints and tilts his head upwards, as men of his age and background are prone to do. “Which-w…..what account did you send it to?”. His cursor was dancing aimlessly across his desktop.
“The one for Free Money Thursdays. I would have sent it to Breathers Inc, but the b key doesn’t work on my phone.”
“YOU’RE ON WITH PAPA SPANKS IN THE MORNING! WFAQ 98.7 THE KIT! TRYING TO FIND AN EMAIL WITH OUR FRIEND FROM SCARBO!”.
“I’m-I’m from Harbo.”
Charlie leans back from the mic and turns towards his assistant in the mixing room. “Do we get Juno on this?”. His assistant runs in and silently typing on the computer. “WE’VE GOT BARRY ON THE JOB!”
“BARRY FOUND JUNO, HE HAD TO GET IT UP ON THE E BROWSER!”. Jerry was quiet on the other line.
“OKAY, JUST DOWNLOADING RIGHT NOW. VERY EXCITING STUFF…..WHERE SHOULD I SAVE THIS, BARRY?…………..DESKTOP IS FULL…….”. Charlie hits another button on his separate PC that is dedicated to media playback and a Kelsey Grammar soundboard. A sultry British voice presents herself, backed by a synthetic orchestra completely obliterating any attempt of presenting a consistent level.
“This is Papa Spanks and Barry in the morning. Get your affairs in order and tune right in right now.” A chorus of 4 men and 2 women explodes into the mix as the synth instruments climax into a standard Rock stinger as they sing “SPANKS AND ENGINEER BARRY IN THE MORNINGS! WFAQ 98.7 THE KIT!”.
“Okay…”, Jerry says into the screaming cacophony of digital instruments. “Okay.”
“AND WE’RE OPENING WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER, JERRY FROM SCARBO! ANNNNNNNNNNNNNND..”.
The sound of heavy breathing fills the airways. The inhalation hitches in places as the source appears to be exerting energy somewhere. Charlie lets the breathing play uninterrupted for 4 minutes, smiling and holding his headphones to his head. Barry stands in the mixing room and faces the corner sobbing. Jerry quietly agrees with his recording as it plays.
“THIS IS FOR YOU, BETH. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.”, Charlie erupts at one point, then goes silent for another 6 minutes as the breathing continues, phlemy and obstructed.
At some point, Jerry hangs up the phone, but Charlie doesn’t know. He can’t know, because he is gone in the breathing. It has broadened and deepened like a river, a river he floats down to nothingness.
Jerry takes a cab across town to see Beth. There’s no traffic, because no one misses Papa Spanks in the morning.
A short while later, Charlie comes to and stops the recording. He slams his hand on the red button, the air horns blast, and everyone is back.
“PAPA SPANKS WANTS TO TAKE YOU TO…”, he jams his finger onto the keyboard to play the next song, first hitting the N key, then the plastic directly below the space bar, then the space bar. Under The Boardwalk begins, along with a new day.