Greenville was a quiet, humble little town, about 3 miles across. Plunk down in the middle of Nevada, it was obscured by the surrounding desert. Very few people came to visit, and when they did, it was simply to stop for gas, a meal, maybe one or two nights at the local hotel. Still, we were proud. Around the early 90s, a radio station emerged from the middle of the town, known as “Strongbeat Radio.” There were a few DJs there, but the most popular was known as “Sammy Smooth.”
Sammy, whose real name was Samuel Heidy, was the son of the owner of Strongbeat. He had a slurred yet energetic voice, fun to listen to. He cracked jokes, made cynical remarks, the works.
On the front page of the local newspaper, 1998, April, perhaps March, something like that, was an article that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and a very unstable kind, type 1. Later that year, sometime in August to October, another case showed that he was acting extremely hostile towards his co-workers.
Some people thought this was simply his irritability, a symptom of bipolar disorder. Some theorized he was a sociopath, although this theory was controversial and unrealistic. Although, maybe it was true, looking back?
2003 rolled around, and with it a shocking report. My 17-year-old self understood mental illnesses much better, and so this seemed so alien, so malicious, even for someone with such manic depression. He had burned down the radio station. He had to skip work that day, for reasons he claimed were connected to his depression. During the middle of the day, when the radio was playing “Start the Commotion”, he arrived.
The whole scene was shrouded with mystery, but from what observers could make out, he used gasoline and matches to burn down the station. He, as well as most of the people working there, were burned to death. This included his father, John Heidy.
Whether his own death was intentional or not was up to debate.
This was pretty scary shit, even if I was 17. If he didn’t die, he could have been committing more homicides, and even though he was pushing up daisies, something felt wrong. The town was lovely, and nothing bad really happened, other than the occasional robbery or public offense. Something like this was off, unheard of and unpredictable.
You could say he was a dead heir.
Cut to 2012, when I was 26. Obviously I could drive now, and I loved taking long rides in the dark of night. It seemed peaceful and comforting.
“Hey Wilson,” my friend called out to me at the gas station. My tank was nearly empty, so I needed some fuel to knock it up a notch. I groaned at the gas prices and looked backed at him, a bit startled.
“What, what is it?” I called back in an irritated voice.
“Nothing man, I was just saying hi.”
“Then just fucking say hi!”
“Whoa man, what got you in such a shitty mood? Heh, not that you’re ever not in one.”
I snarled a bit at him.
“God, could you shut up for once? How the fuck are we even friends?”
He pouted at me. I continued speaking.
“And besides, Don, I’ll remind you I don’t like talking a lot while I’m doing my drives.”
“Shit, man, you could of just said.”
He wasn’t putting up with my bullshit, and he just walked off to his own vehicle.
I drove off after filling my car, and got in a better mood. Everything felt great, I was on top of the world, all that good stuff.
I’ll never do this again for as long as I live.
I liked to drive into the desert, on the freeway, sometimes off the road a bit. While on the freeway, I hear a popping noise.
I got out of the car and observed my tires. My back left one popped, and I noticed a shard of glass in it. I pulled the glass out. Brown. Probably from a beer bottle. “Fuck you,” I said, to whoever did break a bottle here, even if they would not hear it.
“Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.”
I called a nearby auto service provider, and he said it would cost a bit to replace the tire. 200 dollars, which I felt was overpriced. But whatever. They said that they were busy, and that they might be over in about an hour.
So, an hour in the middle of the desert, with no one around, and nothing to do. Marvelous.
I went back in the car. The late autumn air was chilly, and since I was wearing shorts, well, I didn’t exactly want to take a stroll. The sun was setting. At least I got to see that.
I turned on the radio, and began browsing stations. T’was the same old country music, occasional trashy pop and rock.
I kept going from station to station, and came across 93.3. It was the frequency Strongbeat was on. Normally, it would just be static. No one bothered putting any new stations up on that frequency, and so dead air it was.
But this time, it wasn’t static. It was just silence, like something was being broadcast somewhere but no sound was being produced. I decided keeping it on was a good idea, just to listen to whatever was going on.
The sun set as I did this, and to my shock, I heard a familiar jingle, the same one Strongbeat played. It was composed of electric guitars and xylophones, an odd, but recognizable combination, at least to me.
“Hey guys, this is Sammy Smooth, and you’re listenin’ to Strongbeat radio, where the jams and slams be.”
I forgot his atrocious grammar. It would be laughable if I wasn’t fucking confused.
“And this goes out to my main man,” he continued, “Wilson.” I let out a screech. What the fuck? How the fuck did he know my name? No, it was a coincidence, had to be.
But the radio started playing “So Happy Together”. That was my favorite song as a child. Still though, just luck. Coincidences happen, right?
I was a bit happy to hear the song, and I couldn’t help but crack a bit of a smile. That is until it ended, when it immediately cut back to Sam’s unusually coarse voice. “Did you enjoy that Wilson?”
I jumped again, but remembered the whole coincidence thing. Just keep calm, I thought to myself, this is just some tribute or something.
“You’re wrong, thinking that.”
I began panting, and frantically switched the station. But nothing changed. Sure, the frequency did, but it was the same thing, his awful, angry voice. “Stop trying to escape me, Wilson. It won’t work.”
I turned off the radio, and the whole thing went black, no numbers or anything on display. Yet I could still hear him, coming from my speakers as if he was trapped in them. He began to laugh. His laughing turned into sobbing.
I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I unlocked it, and pulled the handle, but it still refused to open. I kicked at it, screaming, desperately trying to escape the manic sobs that Sammy was spurting out.
In his sobs he said things like “I’m so fucking sorry, dad.” “Please forgive me.”
“I didn’t mean to burn you, honest.”
“FUCK!” I yelled, and I began to cry and shake.
The sobbing cut to silence. No noise was heard. I turned back on the radio, and it was playing just some random pop music on another frequency. I tuned back to 93.3, and it was just the same, continuous dead air.