… Christiana was in town, having sublet her place near mine and electing instead to stay at the 104th Y down and across from me as a youth counselor in a tiny room she populated with a subset of her extensive Limoges collection and an AM transistor radio. … The only station she listened to on her transistor carried Top 40 from 5 years ago, exactly synchronized to the day. But after nine it switched to an all-weather talk station, with open lines and a vocal DJ with an affected lisp (”The Cumulocumber Hour with DJ Randy Steed.”)
I could never tune to it regularly as my corner apartment fended off high-hundreds kHz through the snaked path of alleys and rusty fire escapes but she exclaimed at times to be in love, serious love, love past an eyelash with a regular caller DJ Randy knighted “The Criminal.” The Criminal would call (presumably from some plate-reverb chamber that made his voice seem to sit atop the station’s bandwidth) to interrupt the usual discussion of upper-atmospherics and Coriolis controls with a meterological prediction for the next day. At first DJ Randy tried to cut him off, the house rule “Don’t Predict—You’ll Contradict” spit through his lavalier mic. But The Criminal persisted. Eventually other regulars (Sammy G, Marcus the Baker, Dr. Saul, Ph.D. from an Ivy League University) started keeping score and found a mystifying correlation: The Criminal was always wrong. If The Criminal said it was going to snow, it wouldn’t, with one-hundred-per-cent accuracy. If he said it wasn’t going to rain, it would, every time. DJ Randy brought this up to him one day, with characteristic flair: “Criminy, I give you this: when you’re wrong, you’re right. I know our networked friends” (Randy was positive that his silent listenership included the local faces of meteorology—the network weathermen—) “have been taking notes, and I don’t blame them. But don’t you look out the window?” and The Criminal, sighs ringing around an infinite response, boomed “The sky I see is always true.” And hung up.
I can’t say I blame Christiana for the draft she feels when that voice cuts through the static —