Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Here is the first of hopefully many chapters in a book I am currently writing about my experiences working as a small town newspaper reporter. The book will be a collection of stories of my most memorable experiences. I was planing to attach a pdf, but cannot figure out how, so sorry about the sloppy formatting. Sheesh. Anyway, I'm open to feedback, so please give me suggestions on how you think this can be improved.

Angels in the Airwaves

“Have you come to see the angel?” an elderly man asked, his eyes glazed over and pupils nearly white with cataracts.

I had just arrived at a small, A-framed house in the mountain community of Mount Shasta. It was my first “big” story as a freshman reporter for the Siskiyou Daily News. Cars were parked at every curbside, forcing me to walk nearly two blocks to reach my destination. It wasn’t hard to find the right house; it looked like every hippie within 500 square miles was loitering in the front yard. I was approached by the oldest member of the group. As he stared at me with his foggy eyes, I wasn’t sure if he was in a trance, tipsy, or just plain crazy. His breath reeked of garlic and ginger.

“She’s come to give us a message,” he said in an eerie, high-pitched voice. “You must go in and see her.”

“I’m with the newspaper,” I said. “Have you seen this angel?”

“Yes,” he said, turning to the house. “She’s inside. It’s a miracle. But I knew she was coming. I know lots of things because the Lemurians tell me.”

I shifted my weight and opened my notepad, pulling out the pen from its spiral rings. “The Lemurians?”

The man nodded slowly. “So you don’t know. You’ve never heard of the giant angelic beings who dwell in the Great Mountain?” He motioned toward the white-capped mountain that rose above the town. To New Age cults, Mount Shasta is one of the hottest cosmic energy spots in the world. It had attracted thousands of people during the Harmonic Convergence, which had just ended a week earlier.

“They are real,” the old man was saying. “I know because I have seen them. They come to me.”
I was quickly jotting down notes when a woman with long gray hair and a faded purple dress walked over and stood beside the man. She was listening closely and clearly annoyed.
“They tell me things, lots of things,” the man continued. “They—"
“That’s enough, Leonard!” the woman said sternly. “She doesn’t want to hear about that. She’s come to see the angel.” She looked at me and smiled. “You really should go inside and see her for yourself.”

Relieved, I nodded. “Can I just go in?”

“Yes, go straight in,” the woman said. “She is anxious for all to see her. She is good and pure.”
I could smell the incense before reaching the door. It was burning on every flat surface in the small living room. Soft oriental music was tinkering from hanging speakers and all the windows were covered. People--some dressed in robes, others in baggy shorts and T-shirts--were staring at a dark television set. “The angel” was actually a light emanating from the middle of the TV screen, shaped somewhat like an angel.

I took a few photos from the back of the room, then slipped back outside and found the woman who invited me in. She was smiling eagerly.

“Did you meet her?” she asked. “Isn’t she marvelous? It’s such a miracle!”

“Do you know who owns the house?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, pointing to a woman who was talking to a group of people. “That’s Marsha. Marsha,” she called out.

A woman in her 40s with long dark hair and heavy eye makeup, turned and eyed my 35-millimeter camera and notepad. She came right over and eagerly shook my hand.
“How long has your TV been this way?” I asked her.

“Ever since the Harmonic Convergence ended,” she said. “We’ve had people from all over the world and news cameras from almost every network here to film this. It’s a miracle. I don’t know why she chose me, but I am very honored.”

“How do you know it’s not just a broken TV?”

“Because she has spoken to me,” Marsha said. “The Supreme Lady has chosen this venue to elevate forth and communicate through. ”

“The angel told you this.”

“Yes. She is sending a message of peace to all mankind,” Marsha said, handing me a piece of paper with a long message typed in all caps. “This is the message she gave me.” A few people nearby gathered around to listen. They nodded in agreement as she explained, “This is the time to channel the Earth’s energy to meet as one in the sphere of unity and completeness. It is a message of hope, a message of renewal and spiritual rebirth into the chasm of eternal unification.”

I scanned the "angel's" message on the piece of paper, trying to make sense from its garbled language. Giving up, I folded it and put it in my camera bag.

“So you’ve opened your house to anyone who wants to come and see this?”

“Yes, my house is open to everyone. All who come finds peace and fulfillment in the aura of her presence. Some have been here for days. Others come and go. But all are changed by her supreme presence and message of hope. All find peace.”

Clearly it was time for me to leave. I clicked a few more pictures and said goodbye.

Later that day in the newsroom, I stared at my blank computer screen. After a few paragraphs, I realized I needed more information. I picked up the phone and called a TV repairman in Mount Shasta.

A friendly voice answered.

I introduced myself and explained my reason for calling. “What do you think about all this?” I asked.

He chuckled. “I’ve got an angel of my own, you know.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Come by the shop and I’ll show you.”

The TV repair shop was in a rundown building at the south end of Mount Shasta. A middle-aged man wearing jeans and a t-shirt shook my hand after I introduced myself.

“I’m Jesse Norwalk … and this,” he motioned towards an old television set in his storefront window, “is Esmerelda.”

I walked around to get a better look. The angel on this television set was shorter and fatter than Marsha’s angel, but came from the same kind of light shining through the middle of the screen.
“It’s a broken capacitor,” Jesse explained. “The light can come in any shape or form. But it is what it is: a broken TV.”

“Have any of the angel folks seen your TV?”

“Yup. I even went over there and offered to fix the lady’s TV for free, but the she wouldn’t let me. ...Can you imagine?”