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E-Books (english-e-reader), Arlo's War (2)

Arlo's War (2)

Arlo had to stop at a set of traffic lights. The car next to him was a sports car with an open top. The man at the wheel was young and wore dark glasses. He was listening to loud rock music and was nodding his head to the rhythm as he listened. Arlo could not understand how anybody could listen to such a loud noise without damaging their ears. He could feel the noise hitting his own head in solid waves. It was painful. He shouted to the man to turn the sound down. The man saw him and laughed, then turned the sound up even more. Fortunately, the lights changed at that moment and they both drove away. Arlo let the sports car speed ahead, taking its noise with it.

Everything seemed to be noisy on that journey. Other cars had noisy radios. Arlo swore at the Tucson rock music radio station as he passed it by. Then he heard some loud machines at some new building works. Car horns sounded at every pause in the stream of traffic, and everywhere people seemed to be shouting, shouting, shouting.

At last, the turning for The Havens came into view. He could hardly wait to enter the peaceful building! As he drove through the private grounds all the awful noises disappeared into the distance. When Arlo stopped the car his body was shaking and covered in sweat. Echoes of loud noises were still in his head, some of them terrible memories of the war. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself, then picked up his designs and walked into the big house.

It was nine o'clock at The Havens. Bernie Dimaggio was early. He was waiting in the office as Arlo walked in. He noticed that Arlo was holding the envelope containing the new designs. He also noticed how upset Arlo looked.

'Hi Arlo! Hey, are you OK? You don't look so good, if you don't mind me saying so. Are you still sleeping OK? Hey, if you need anything just say the word.'

Arlo smiled. Bernie was always concerned about him when it was time to hand in his designs. Did he think he would finally go crazy before completing them? Probably. Bernie had always been a worrier. Arlo looked into the familiar suntanned face and answered, 'I'm fine, Bernie. At least, I would be if I walked around with my ears closed. I swear this town is getting noisier every day.'

'Oh no,' thought Bernie. 'I hope he's not going to give me another long talk about noise pollution!' Bernie decided to change the subject quickly.

'You have the designs I see, Arlo. All ready for production?'

Arlo handed over the envelope, giving it a firm tap with his hand on the way.

'You bet, Bernie. This one is going to be a winner, I'm telling you. The kids are going to love it! It's easy to control, yet it's as quiet as a baby asleep in its mother's arms!'

'Everything's checked?' asked Bernie.

'Checked and double-checked,' Arlo answered. 'You ought to know me by now.'

Bernie did know. If Arlo said something was ready, it was ready. He put the designs in his briefcase and began to walk towards the door as he thanked Arlo. Then he stopped and turned to him, pulling another smaller envelope from his jacket pocket.

'Oh, I almost forgot... said Bernie, though he had done no such thing. 'Here's some mail from the factory for you.'

'What is it?' Arlo asked as he took the envelope.

Bernie looked at his watch. He wasn't brave enough to face Arlo's reaction to the sale of The Havens. 'Hey, I've got to go to a meeting right now. See you later, OK?'

'OK,' said Arlo as Bernie smiled nervously and left. 'He sure was in a rush,' he thought. 'Maybe the noise has been getting to that guy, too. I wouldn't be surprised. Nothing surprises me anymore.'

Arlo sat down with a sigh and opened the envelope.

Eva De Cruz tested her coffee. It was black with no sugar, just as she liked it. As she sat at her office desk she thought that things, on the whole, could be a lot worse. It had been a month since the old man had left them. She had expected him to make a lot more fuss about the whole business. She knew he would never work in the factory grounds, not with his unreasonable attitude towards perfectly normal noise levels. All the other designers had agreed to the new arrangements. She couldn't change the world just because one employee had had some unfortunate experiences in the war. That wasn't her problem. Besides, The Havens had been knocked down by the new owners. They had already started to build a new radio station on the grounds. It was going to be the biggest rock music radio station in Arizona. Teckno-Toys had made a lot of money out of the sale. And if the old man didn't like it... well, that was just too bad.

Eva De Cruz had known Arlo for most of her life. She had even played with some of the toys he had designed while they were in the testing stage. She had loved the toys but the man who designed them was, to her, just a strange old man who hated noises. She had never been close to him, though she had liked his wife. Maria was nice. It was true that the old man had been a first class designer but nobody is so good that he can't be replaced - especially if they're half crazy and more trouble than they're worth. Besides, the company had already made a lot of money from his designs. There were plenty of excellent young designers already applying for his job - they weren't troubled by noise at all. They were cheaper, too.

'No, there will be no problem replacing Arlo Penton,' Eva thought to herself as she poured out a second cup of coffee. 'No problem at all.'

Arlo had given up his job as soon as he .had read the letter. There was no way he was going to work in that noisy factory! He had enough money saved. He could take care of himself all right. He didn't need false friends who broke their promises. He could manage alone. That's what he kept telling himself.

But it was a month since he had left his job and die noises in Arlo's head were getting worse. He often forgot to take his pills now. Sometimes he would wake up in the early hours of the morning covered in sweat and screaming at the ceiling. Only now there was no Maria to help him get over the nightmare. His memories of the war had returned and he was alone in the middle of them. To Arlo, it seemed that the guns were firing again. The guns in his head and the sounds outside were joining together. The difference between memories and reality was breaking down in his mind. When he went out in the car for his groceries he would hear the guns. Every loud radio, every noisy machine seemed like an exploding bomb to his ears.

He wondered why something wasn't done about it but nothing ever was. And all the time the noise was there. Why didn't people notice what was going on? Were they all deaf? He could hear the enemy. His enemy was noise.

He had to do something or he would go crazy. Nobody else seemed to be doing a thing about it. It was all up to him. He would have to stop the noise.

But how?

'That ought to be enough,' said Arlo. It was one week later and he had decided what he would do. He had been making the tower he had next to his house higher and stronger so that he could increase the range of the radio signals to his models. He placed his electronic equipment on top of the tower and the higher he built it the better his electronic equipment worked. He now had more control over his wonderful models than ever before with a range that allowed him to fly them high over the city.

Arlo had a wide variety of models to choose from. He had, over the years, collected over a hundred models in his garage. They were all in perfect working order. Teckno- Toys had let him keep them. He had tiny television cameras fitted to his models. This allowed him to see on his computer screen indoors where his models were while they were in use, even when it was cloudy or too hot for him to go outside. Arlo had learned a lot about how to make explosives during the war. He could attach a small but powerful explosive onto a model and then, from the comfort of his own home, direct it to a target. The video cameras would show him exactly where his target was; all he had to do was aim the model (usually an aeroplane) towards the target and BOOM! - the target was destroyed.

Nobody suspected anything. Arlo, after all, was just working on his models like he always did. No-one knew that he was making bombs as well. Chico called by with more rats for Susie. He saw Arlo working in his garage where Susie lay sleeping in her glass-fronted box. Chico liked Arlo, even if he didn't eat snakes. He stopped to watch in admiration while Arlo flew one of his wonderful models high into the sky.

He had no idea that Arlo's campaign against the enemy had begun.

Arlo's first bombing campaign was against the old Tucson rock music radio station. It was successful. Just one small model aeroplane had delivered enough home-made explosives to bring down the radio station's tower. It was easy. They wouldn't be playing loud music from that station for some while.

Tucson's local papers all published stories about a strange explosion that had blown up essential equipment at the local rock radio station. Nobody had been hurt in the explosion, they said, but the station would be out of action for a long time. The police could see no motive for the crime but did not reject the idea of some individual playing around with explosives for fun. This was worrying.

They were right to be worried. Over the next week there were several more explosions: large noisy machines on building areas were destroyed and a fireworks factory was seriously damaged. But nobody had been hurt. Not yet.

It was a few days after the explosion in the fireworks factory and Sheriff Calhoun was in the office of the Vice President of Teckno-Toys. He badly wanted a cigarette. He was trying to give up again and had not brought any cigarettes with him. Worse still, none of the other officers smoked so he couldn't even get a cigarette from one of them. This was making him bad-tempered, but he had a job to do. He stuck another piece of chewing gum into his mouth.

'Tell me again, Mr Dimaggio...' The Sheriff paused as he softened the fresh gum in his mouth. 'You told me when you rang me on the telephone earlier that this guy - what was his name...?'

'Arlo Penton, Sheriff.'

'Yeah, Arlo Penton. You said he had been one of the top designers at Teckno-Toys?'

'The best we had. That's him in that picture on the wall just there. He's the one holding the model Mustang fighter plane. That's our biggest selling model and he designed it.'

Sheriff Calhoun looked at the picture in Bernie Dimaggio's office. Bernie liked to keep photographs of all of Teckno-Toys' best toys with their designers. Arlo featured in a lot of them. In this one, Arlo was smiling and looked happy and relaxed.

'And you got rid of the guy?' asked the Sheriff.


Arlo's War (2)

Arlo had to stop at a set of traffic lights. Арло довелося зупинитися на світлофорі. The car next to him was a sports car with an open top. The man at the wheel was young and wore dark glasses. He was listening to loud rock music and was nodding his head to the rhythm as he listened. Arlo could not understand how anybody could listen to such a loud noise without damaging their ears. He could feel the noise hitting his own head in solid waves. It was painful. He shouted to the man to turn the sound down. The man saw him and laughed, then turned the sound up even more. Fortunately, the lights changed at that moment and they both drove away. Arlo let the sports car speed ahead, taking its noise with it.

Everything seemed to be noisy on that journey. Other cars had noisy radios. Arlo swore at the Tucson rock music radio station as he passed it by. Then he heard some loud machines at some new building works. Car horns sounded at every pause in the stream of traffic, and everywhere people seemed to be shouting, shouting, shouting.

At last, the turning for The Havens came into view. He could hardly wait to enter the peaceful building! As he drove through the private grounds all the awful noises disappeared into the distance. When Arlo stopped the car his body was shaking and covered in sweat. Echoes of loud noises were still in his head, some of them terrible memories of the war. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself, then picked up his designs and walked into the big house.

It was nine o'clock at The Havens. Bernie Dimaggio was early. He was waiting in the office as Arlo walked in. He noticed that Arlo was holding the envelope containing the new designs. He also noticed how upset Arlo looked.

'Hi Arlo! Hey, are you OK? You don't look so good, if you don't mind me saying so. Are you still sleeping OK? Hey, if you need anything just say the word.'

Arlo smiled. Bernie was always concerned about him when it was time to hand in his designs. Did he think he would finally go crazy before completing them? Probably. Bernie had always been a worrier. Arlo looked into the familiar suntanned face and answered, 'I'm fine, Bernie. At least, I would be if I walked around with my ears closed. I swear this town is getting noisier every day.'

'Oh no,' thought Bernie. 'I hope he's not going to give me another long talk about noise pollution!' Bernie decided to change the subject quickly.

'You have the designs I see, Arlo. All ready for production?'

Arlo handed over the envelope, giving it a firm tap with his hand on the way.

'You bet, Bernie. This one is going to be a winner, I'm telling you. The kids are going to love it! It's easy to control, yet it's as quiet as a baby asleep in its mother's arms!'

'Everything's checked?' asked Bernie.

'Checked and double-checked,' Arlo answered. 'You ought to know me by now.'

Bernie did know. If Arlo said something was ready, it was ready. He put the designs in his briefcase and began to walk towards the door as he thanked Arlo. Then he stopped and turned to him, pulling another smaller envelope from his jacket pocket.

'Oh, I almost forgot... said Bernie, though he had done no such thing. 'Here's some mail from the factory for you.'

'What is it?' Arlo asked as he took the envelope.

Bernie looked at his watch. He wasn't brave enough to face Arlo's reaction to the sale of The Havens. 'Hey, I've got to go to a meeting right now. See you later, OK?'

'OK,' said Arlo as Bernie smiled nervously and left. 'He sure was in a rush,' he thought. 'Maybe the noise has been getting to that guy, too. I wouldn't be surprised. Nothing surprises me anymore.'

Arlo sat down with a sigh and opened the envelope.

Eva De Cruz tested her coffee. It was black with no sugar, just as she liked it. As she sat at her office desk she thought that things, on the whole, could be a lot worse. It had been a month since the old man had left them. She had expected him to make a lot more fuss about the whole business. She knew he would never work in the factory grounds, not with his unreasonable attitude towards perfectly normal noise levels. All the other designers had agreed to the new arrangements. She couldn't change the world just because one employee had had some unfortunate experiences in the war. That wasn't her problem. Besides, The Havens had been knocked down by the new owners. They had already started to build a new radio station on the grounds. It was going to be the biggest rock music radio station in Arizona. Teckno-Toys had made a lot of money out of the sale. And if the old man didn't like it... well, that was just too bad.

Eva De Cruz had known Arlo for most of her life. She had even played with some of the toys he had designed while they were in the testing stage. She had loved the toys but the man who designed them was, to her, just a strange old man who hated noises. She had never been close to him, though she had liked his wife. Maria was nice. It was true that the old man had been a first class designer but nobody is so good that he can't be replaced - especially if they're half crazy and more trouble than they're worth. Besides, the company had already made a lot of money from his designs. There were plenty of excellent young designers already applying for his job - they weren't troubled by noise at all. They were cheaper, too.

'No, there will be no problem replacing Arlo Penton,' Eva thought to herself as she poured out a second cup of coffee. 'No problem at all.'

Arlo had given up his job as soon as he .had read the letter. There was no way he was going to work in that noisy factory! He had enough money saved. He could take care of himself all right. He didn't need false friends who broke their promises. He could manage alone. That's what he kept telling himself.

But it was a month since he had left his job and die noises in Arlo's head were getting worse. He often forgot to take his pills now. Sometimes he would wake up in the early hours of the morning covered in sweat and screaming at the ceiling. Only now there was no Maria to help him get over the nightmare. His memories of the war had returned and he was alone in the middle of them. To Arlo, it seemed that the guns were firing again. The guns in his head and the sounds outside were joining together. The difference between memories and reality was breaking down in his mind. When he went out in the car for his groceries he would hear the guns. Every loud radio, every noisy machine seemed like an exploding bomb to his ears.

He wondered why something wasn't done about it but nothing ever was. And all the time the noise was there. Why didn't people notice what was going on? Were they all deaf? He could hear the enemy. His enemy was noise.

He had to do something or he would go crazy. Nobody else seemed to be doing a thing about it. It was all up to him. He would have to stop the noise.

But how?

'That ought to be enough,' said Arlo. It was one week later and he had decided what he would do. He had been making the tower he had next to his house higher and stronger so that he could increase the range of the radio signals to his models. He placed his electronic equipment on top of the tower and the higher he built it the better his electronic equipment worked. He now had more control over his wonderful models than ever before with a range that allowed him to fly them high over the city.

Arlo had a wide variety of models to choose from. He had, over the years, collected over a hundred models in his garage. They were all in perfect working order. Teckno- Toys had let him keep them. He had tiny television cameras fitted to his models. This allowed him to see on his computer screen indoors where his models were while they were in use, even when it was cloudy or too hot for him to go outside. Arlo had learned a lot about how to make explosives during the war. He could attach a small but powerful explosive onto a model and then, from the comfort of his own home, direct it to a target. The video cameras would show him exactly where his target was; all he had to do was aim the model (usually an aeroplane) towards the target and BOOM! - the target was destroyed.

Nobody suspected anything. Arlo, after all, was just working on his models like he always did. No-one knew that he was making bombs as well. Chico called by with more rats for Susie. He saw Arlo working in his garage where Susie lay sleeping in her glass-fronted box. Chico liked Arlo, even if he didn't eat snakes. He stopped to watch in admiration while Arlo flew one of his wonderful models high into the sky.

He had no idea that Arlo's campaign against the enemy had begun.

Arlo's first bombing campaign was against the old Tucson rock music radio station. It was successful. Just one small model aeroplane had delivered enough home-made explosives to bring down the radio station's tower. It was easy. They wouldn't be playing loud music from that station for some while.

Tucson's local papers all published stories about a strange explosion that had blown up essential equipment at the local rock radio station. Nobody had been hurt in the explosion, they said, but the station would be out of action for a long time. The police could see no motive for the crime but did not reject the idea of some individual playing around with explosives for fun. This was worrying.

They were right to be worried. Over the next week there were several more explosions: large noisy machines on building areas were destroyed and a fireworks factory was seriously damaged. But nobody had been hurt. Not yet.

It was a few days after the explosion in the fireworks factory and Sheriff Calhoun was in the office of the Vice President of Teckno-Toys. He badly wanted a cigarette. He was trying to give up again and had not brought any cigarettes with him. Worse still, none of the other officers smoked so he couldn't even get a cigarette from one of them. This was making him bad-tempered, but he had a job to do. He stuck another piece of chewing gum into his mouth.

'Tell me again, Mr Dimaggio...' The Sheriff paused as he softened the fresh gum in his mouth. 'You told me when you rang me on the telephone earlier that this guy - what was his name...?'

'Arlo Penton, Sheriff.'

'Yeah, Arlo Penton. You said he had been one of the top designers at Teckno-Toys?'

'The best we had. That's him in that picture on the wall just there. He's the one holding the model Mustang fighter plane. That's our biggest selling model and he designed it.'

Sheriff Calhoun looked at the picture in Bernie Dimaggio's office. Bernie liked to keep photographs of all of Teckno-Toys' best toys with their designers. Arlo featured in a lot of them. In this one, Arlo was smiling and looked happy and relaxed.

'And you got rid of the guy?' asked the Sheriff.