“Call of Terror”

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ARGENTINA Through Harold’s Lens:

USA.
Auburn, New York
4:12 am.
January 9, 1955.

The brass ringer bell on our rotary phone screams and screams and screams outside my bedroom door.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

I’m in deep sleep.

Ring. Ring Ring.

I am only 14.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Old enough to know only bad comes with a call in the black of night.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

I’m into horror movies.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

I am terrified.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Slapping bare feet rip down the wooden hallway.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Total silence.

A mind-piercing scream rips through my bedroom door. I leap from my sheets. I tear open my door. I’m face to face with my Mother. Wracking in tears. Sucking for air. Eyes wide with terror.

“Maudie”, Mom gasps. The hospital. Her five-month old daughter. Dead. I wrap my arms around Mom’s heaving, sagging shoulders. Mom and I cry.

Please Lord. There is an order to birth. An order to death. Our children are not to die first.

A jet black old rotary in an antique store in Buenos Aires evokes a 50 year old painful memory of an ice cold January morning in upstate New York and the value of life.