Sue stirred from her sleep. It was early morning and the sun had yet lifted the velvet blanket of night. The moon was new and Sue’s bedroom was draped in inky blackness. She looked across Dan’s chest to read the clock by his bedside. The soft glow of the alarm clock display was gone. Instead more darkness greeted her. She thought Dan had probably knocked the clock over. The fall is what probably had wakened her.
She fluffed her pillow and snuggled closer to Dan for warmth. Another knock sounded. She nudged Dan. He turned and mumbled incoherently. More knocking. The knocking formed meaning and Sue determined it was someone at the front door. The banging continued and became more insistent.
“Dan wake up”, Sue whispered. Dan grumbled out a tired "what?"
I hear knocking," she said. She wondered why the person just didn’t ring the bell. The knocking was strange. Who knocked on doors these days?
“I don’t hear anything, go back to sleep." Dan was not a morning person.
Again pounding and louder. The knocker had tired of banging with his hand and decided to start pounding with something with more substance. That motivated Dan to get out of bed. He reached for the chain dangling from the lamp and gave it a tug. It clicked but no light streamed forth to brighten the room.
“Power must be out”, Dan grumbled.
“Who is at the door?” Sue queried.
Dan grunted and left the bedroom. He walked through the living room towards the front door. The knocking continued and Dan could see flashes of light flick back and forth in rhythm with the knocking. Through the windows he could see the steady beams of a car headlights.
“Who is it!”, Dan yelled.
“It’s John! Open up.”
Dan and John were old school buddies. They had known each other since they were kids and had lived in the same Idaho town all their lives. Dan had went off to college and came back to open a small branch bank. John had and had worked through the ranks of the county sheriff department and was now Sherriff.
Each Wednesday Dan would close the bank early and meet John south of town near old Millers farm and throw a couple of fishing lines in the lake to whittle the afternoon away. John often teased Dan about keeping banking hours. John was always quick with a joke and a smile. He was the best kind of sheriff you’d want. He had a friendly nature that quickly disarmed you. This helped John turn many bad situations into o.k. sorts of things. You didn’t say mad around John. He just had that way about him that made you feel he was a friend.
“Hurry, open up”, John repeated.
“Hold your horses I’m coming” quipped Dan as he opened the door.
The mystery of the loud pounding was revealed. John, in his impatience, had reverted to using the butt end of his flashlight to bang on Dan’s door.
“You’d better not scratched that door with your banging. Sue just painted that door last week and I’ll be damned if I’m going to get out that paint bucket again!”. Dan was not handy. Indeed Sue was the ‘handy man’ of the house while Dan spent most of his time in front of calculators, ledger books and computers. Sue would often complain about the lack of help around the house but they had a system and it worked. Sue kept the house and Dan. He indulged Sue’s desire to decorate and redecorate their small two bedroom home.
“What is it?” Dan said. “It’s damn early. What the hell happened to the power?”
“Come with me Dan I want to show you something.” John turned and walked back to his police cruiser. Dan followed dutifully. Not because John was the sheriff or felt compelled to follow the voice of the law. No it was the way John said it that made Dan follow. He had known John for a long time and when John was serious all the levity and humor that normally skirted on the edges of his voice and crinkled his eyes left and was replace by stern resolve.
“Here listen to this.” John pointed to the dashboard in his car. Static was emanating loudly from the speakers.
“It’s static, so what?” Dan said. “You didn’t drive all the way out here and wake me up at lord knows what time to have me listen to static?” Dan knew that wasn’t the case but he was groggy and needed coffee. John had better get to the point if he expected him to do any serious thinking.
“No you idiot. Here, keep listening.” John turned the knob on his radio. More static. He went all the way and up down the dial. He did it twice and each time deliberate and slow. Where there should have been five or six stations there was nothing but static.
“So your radio is broken. Get a new one.” Dan grumbled. He was getting more edgy. John was trying to point out something but Dan was too tired and was thinking if he was going to be up much longer he better start drinking that coffee.
“My car radio ain’t broke. My police radio ain’t broke. The phones are out and the entire county as near as I can tell is out of power. Now I can figure a power outage with maybe a storm blowing through but their hasn’t been a drop of rain in weeks. Plus that wouldn’t explain the radios. At least not my car radio.” said John.
“Dan is everything all right?” Sue had dressed in her blue house robe. She looked like the velveteen rabbit in thing and Dan hated it. But Sue kept it and because Sue loved it and said it kept her warm and was comfy.
“It is o.k. dear. It’s just John. We’ll be in in a second. Why don’t you light some candles and put a pot of coffee on the stove.” Dan asked. He was out in the country and they were on propane and the stove was a hot burning gas model. Sue loved to cook and she insisted they get a gas stove. According to her that was the only kind that could really heat up the pan. Dan had relented because in the end he really didn’t have a clue about cooking and after several years of marriage had learned that in the kitchen Sue was master.
The eastern sky was brightening with the approaching dawn. Dan thought to himself as he and John turned back towards the house that they probably were not going to make that fishing appointment today. He had a suspicion that a lot of things weren’t going to get done today.