Author : Gray Blix
The music was driving him crazy. Or rather, he feared, he heard music because he was already crazy.
“Which came first” he asked himself loudly, so he could hear himself speak over the music, “the Louis Armstrong or the lunatic?”
Others sorting through clothes in the thrift store cast wary glances at him.
The Armstrong piece was one of his favorites, but he had grown to like almost the entire repertoire, even the classical stuff. He selected a red ski jacket with white racing stripes. Not his style, but the warmest one in his size.
Of course, it wasn’t only music that ran through his mind and dominated his consciousness. There were sounds of birds and heartbeats and trains and Morse code and scientists giving lectures and others speaking in foreign tongues saying he knew not what. It had begun almost a year ago, never stopping since, and it had ruined his retirement.
He dug into his pocket for six crumpled dollar bills, which he handed the gray haired lady at the register. He had taken note of her on a previous shopping trip. No wedding ring. About his age. If he hadn’t thought himself crazy, and if she hadn’t thought him crazy, he might have asked her out. But, no. A man prone to shouting over the sounds in his head wouldn’t stand a chance with a fine woman like that.
The sounds of the mother kissing her crying baby always stopped him cold. The child calmed down, as he did. He left the store, emerging into a snowfall. Thick flakes soon covered his ski jacket, but he was comfy inside, listening to some sort of electrical sounds.
“What is that infernal static?”
“It’s a pulsar.”
“Well, shut it off and play more of that classical…” He realized that something new had happened. Had the soundtrack become interactive?
“Uh, remind me, what exactly is a pulsar?” he said, barely loud enough to hear his question.
“It is a neutron star that emits pulses of electromagnetic radiation as it rotates.”
He leaned against a brick wall.
“Of course. I knew that. But I don’t think I know you.”
“I am just passing through. I very much enjoyed your recording. I wanted to thank someone. Thank you.”
He slid down the wall to a sitting position. A young lady stopped to hand him a dollar bill.
“Thank you,” he said to her.
“No, thank YOU,” said the voice.
“But I didn’t do anything to deserve thanks.”
“So, you are modest as well as talented.”
“Talented? I used to be talented. Many years ago I was talented. I was a technician for NASA. I wore a bunny suit in the clean room and I assembled… I assembled…”
“Are you all right?” said the young lady, still standing over him.
“BUT I NEVER BOTHERED TO LISTEN TO IT,” he shouted.
“And yet your connection to it somehow brought me across your solar system directly to you,” the voice said.
“THIS MAN NEEDS HELP,” the young lady shouted to a policeman down the block.
“Thank you,” he said to the voice.
“No, thank YOU for Voyager.”