Race to Space

My index finger entered the circular hole of the rotary disc. I dialed the figures scrawled on the paper before me. A job lead, maybe?

The seconds taking me to dial had me reflecting.

Boy oh boy, just yesterday it seems. I was five-years-old – shedding the leg brace. Then nine – hospitalized by the second polio bout.

My thoughts easily moved to the sweet angel on crutches. What an impact she made. . . Still does, I mused.

 The ringing at the line’s other end stopped. Hello, this is Richard.

Placing Richard’s voice was easy. Ultra-deep bass. Warm, of a kind surely passed to him from an older sister. The angel on crutches – Opaline.

Hi, Richard. This is Jerry returning your call. How are things?

A short exchange then, Jerry I’m calling to let you know the aerospace company I’m with is hiring. If you’re interested in a Tulsa job, I think you might get on here. He was right.

My first day on the job had me trudging through rows of filing shelves – aisle on aisle of engineering data. I thought of my earlier years when I peered at oddly-textured, blue-tinted paper spread across the hood of my father’s pickup. His fingers traced images while his mind tracked their silent messages. Here, taking in rows of files, my senses mingled. Feeling the green, metal pickup hood beneath my palms, smelling the print-room chemicals from the nearby room in this place.  Wow, I never imagined so many blueprints.

The company, its employees in the thousands, processed me for security clearance. Heady stuff for a country boy raised on a farm just south of here.

The United States and Soviet Union race-for-space had launched in earnest. Brilliant American minds developed and crafted a top priority project. Where will all this lead? I wondered. Over coming months my hands felt after, retrieved, refiled blueprints by the hundreds Many bore a name out of Greek mythology.


©2016 Jerry Lout



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