Chapter 36 1972 - Aftermath

Henry had been inconsolable after the burglary. Insurance covered the losses, but he could only blame himself for not making the proper protections for the property.

“Dad, it’s OK,” I told him. “Some of that stuff was junk. I’ll be able to get better equipment.”

“All the more reason to protect it. If we don’t do something, those punks will be back for more.”

Henry set to work in his workshop and pulled out the old designs for the Rat Deflector. If this can keep the rats away, it will keep the bigger rats away, too, he thought to himself.

He got to working on modifications. A lethal electric shock was not his intent, but he decided to at least keep a mild one. In addition, he hooked up the circuitry so that it would trigger an alarm bell when it was activated. When installed, it was connected to the metal window frames as well as the doorframes. Even the air vents for the cooling system were wired. No possible entrance was left unprotected.

The first incident proved to be a false alarm. From all accounts, a stray dog had been nosing about the air vents, and set the system off. The police were called, but they were unable to disarm the system. Henry was awoken at 3 AM.

“Henry,” the police chief said. “You’ve got an alarm that's going off down here at the old hatchery. You better come and do something about it.”

Henry was sure they’d apprehended the culprit and rushed down to the site. He turned off the alarm and spoke with the police chief. “Let me at him. I’m going to punch that punk right in the face.”

“Calm down Henry,” the Chief told him. “It’s a false alarm. As far as we can tell, there’s been no break in. It was probably just a wandering dog. You’ve got to back off on the sensitivity of that thing, or they’ll be more late nights like this. If this happens too often, I’m going to make you yank the whole thing out.”

Henry got to work on modifications. He disconnected it from the vents, putting reinforced bars over them, but left it on the windows and doors. It was two months before the next incident.

“I’m warning you, Henry,” the Chief said. “It’s a public nuisance. You’ve got to fix it once and for all, or that’s it.”

Once again, Henry revised his design. In order to disable the touch sensors, he had to lose the electric shock feature, which he considered the heart of his development. The only protection in place was now the door and window sensors. If they were disturbed, it was a sure thing a break in was responsible. Henry could finally rest nights knowing the equipment was safe and false alarms were a thing of the past.

The Golden Fingers band was steadily improving and had developed quite a local following. To celebrate their success, they scheduled their first big concert for I-Day. The Stomping Grounds wasn’t big enough for their new popularity, so they set up in the High School football stadium. Three thousand gathered that night to see the new local phenomenon. The town had never had an event of that proportion, and certainly nothing as loud. The high schoolers were in complete awe, and even some of the cooler adults were enjoying what they were hearing.

What they weren’t hearing was the fire sirens as they sped to the old hatchery studio. Like events nearly two decades earlier, the building was in flames.