Based on a true story...
Monday, July 27, 4pm
"Good afternoon, it's Barney Fracas coming your way with music, weather and news from WBLD-AM 1540 on your dial. From the heart of America's Dairyland we've got you covered. Let's start off with a little Roy Orbison, and his ' Pretty Woman'." (Music plays)
"It's a beautiful day, 78°. We can expect showers this evening continuing on into tomorrow morning... excuse me. This just in. There has been a terrible accident on Highway 97 about 5 miles north of town. The police are saying that a car has hit two small children on bicycles. One of the children, a girl, has been killed and a boy was severely injured. A passerby found them and called an ambulance and police from a nearby farmhouse. The ambulance has been dispatched but we have no word on who caused it or who the children are. We will give you more information on this as soon as we have it. WDLB-AM, your news source in Central Wisconsin.”
Monday, July 27, 6pm
"Good afternoon. It's Barney Fracas coming your way with music, weather and news from WBLD-AM 1540 on your dial. From the heart of America's Dairyland we've got you covered. Breaking news. Authorities have learned the names of the two children who were struck today as they rode their bicycles north of town on Highway 97. Nancy Jacobs, nine, was pronounced dead with a broken neck when she arrived at the hospital. Her brother, David, 7, has severe head injuries and is in a coma at St. Joseph's Hospital. He also has multiple broken bones. John and Mary Jacobs learned of their loss when their children did not come home from an afternoon ride and they called the police. It is still unknown who struck the children. If you have any information please call this radio station or the police. And now, for all the children, Peter Paul and Mary’s 'Puff the Magic Dragon'." (Music plays)
Monday, July 27 10:58pm
"This is Barney Fracas signing off after an evening of music, weather and news from WBLD-AM 1540 on your dial. Remember to tune to 1450 to get the latest news about the two children who were hit today while riding their bicycles north of town.” (The radio station theme song plays)
Tuesday, July 28, 4pm
"Good afternoon. This is Barney Fracas coming your way with the latest news on the tragedy that is gripping Central Wisconsin. Police have discovered black paint on both bicycles that may have come from the car or truck that hit the two children yesterday as they were riding their bikes on Highway 97 north of town. Nancy Jacobs, the little girl who was killed, is at the Frederick Funeral Home. We are asking for donations because her parents, farm hands, can't afford to pay for her funeral. Please send your donations to the radio station, care of the Nancy Jacobs fund. Our prayers go out to the Jacobs family for the recovery of David at a time like this. David is reported to be coming out of his coma, but does not remember what happened. Once again, if anyone saw anything--happened to be driving along Highway 97 around 3:30pm yesterday--to please call the radio station or the police with whatever information you have. It will be clearing this afternoon and the high will be 67° just before sunset. I'm playing this one for all the little children that we have lost and especially for Nancy and David, 'Where Have All the Flowers Gone' by Bob Dylan."
Wednesday, July 29, 4pm
"Good afternoon. This is Barney Fracas coming your way with the latest news on the tragedy that is affecting us all. Those of us at WDLB in the entire community are trying to rally around the Jacobs family in their loss. Beginning tomorrow at noon, well-wishers can view the body of Nancy Jacobs at the Frederick Funeral Home. As you know, her parents are very poor, so we have set up a fund, the Nancy Jacobs Fund here at the station for her and her family in their time of need. The police still do not have any leads as to who may have caused the tragedy. If there is anyone out there who knows anything, please call the station or the police. We know you have the family in your prayers but we need your help to help us find whoever did this terrible thing. Please help us bring them to justice. It is sunny and pleasant and 75°. We can expect weather like this through the weekend. And now, for all the little children, especially Nancy and David, 'Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang’ from the MGM movie soundtrack."
Thursday, July 30 2:15am
"Crisis hotline. How may I help you?"
"I... I... don't know. It's for my friend, Jim. I'm worried about him."
"Worried? Worried about what?"
"Well, it's... it's just that he... he can't sleep. It's bothering me."
"What's your name? I'm Tony. I'm here to help."
"I'm Ken, Tony. But it's about Jim."
"I know, Ken, but I'd just like to know who I'm talking... you know... so we can share."
"I get it, Tony. Well, it's Jim that's got the problem and he's bothering me. Keeping me awake too."
"Is Jim drinking? Is he taking pills or drugs? What's keeping him awake?"
"I don't know. He had a couple of drinks before he went to bed, but he always does that and sleeps like a rock. Since Monday though, he just tosses and turns and doesn't sleep. Keeps me awake. Makes it real hard for me to concentrate." There was a real sense of desperation in Ken's voice. There was also a strange familiarity that Tony couldn't quite pin down."
"Well, is Jim depressed over something? Did he lose a girlfriend? Tell me Ken, is there anything happening in his life right now that would make him lose sleep?"
"No, Tony. He’s… Not that I can think of. I think he's getting sleepy now. He's calming down. I'm going to hang up. Is that all right? Is it okay if I hang up and let him sleep?"
"It's okay. It's your call. Remember, I'm always here at 11pm to 7am Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays on your crisis hotline. Bye for now. Call me if you need to."
"I will. Bye."
Tony thought, that voice is sure familiar.
Thursday, July 30, 4pm
Good afternoon. This is Barney Fracas bringing you the latest news on the hit-and-run of the two children of the Jacobs family on Monday afternoon. Nancy Jacobs will be laid to rest in the Westside Cemetery at 4pm tomorrow afternoon. Father Ivan Sebastian of St. John's will preside over the funeral at the Frederick Funeral Home at 2pm the family wishes to thank everyone for their outpouring of generosity, but is asking that only family and friends attend the funeral because of the limited space and their need for privacy. The public is welcome, however, at 4pm at the cemetery. Police still have no leads and no one has come forward with information leading to the arrest of the person or persons who did this terrible crime. Once again, we are asking you to remember where you were and what you were doing about 3:30pm on Monday and if you remember seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary that could lead us in the police to who might have done this. It remains sunny and 82°. Tomorrow it should be about the same at the cemetery. We recommend hats or umbrellas to keep off the hot sun. And now, for all the world's children, an old favorite by Saxie Dowell, sung by Kay Kyser, ‘Three Little Fishes’."
Friday, July 31, 2:03am
"Hello, crisis hotline. How may I help you?"
"May I speak to Tony? Is Tony there? Can I speak to him?"
"Tony's off tonight. How may I help you?"
"That's okay. I… I… just want to talk to Tony.” [Click -- he hung up]
Friday, July 31, 4pm
Good afternoon. This is Barney Fracas at the Westside Cemetery. WBLD-AM 1540 is offering this live report as a public service to the community. The hearse carrying Nancy Jacob's body has just arrived here at Westside and the pallbearers are about to carry her casket to the gravesite. You can probably hear in the background the music being provided by the community band that plays weekly in the Central Park bandstand. Father Ivan Sebastian of St. John's is leading the family and the procession to the gravesite now. Once they arrive we have a microphone set up so that you can hear all of Father Sebastian's words as little Nancy is laid to rest. Listen now to the music and to the father's words. I will only interrupt if necessary to let you know what is happening."
Saturday, August 1, 1:47 AM
"Crisis hotline. How may I help you?"
"Is this Tony? This is Ken. I have to talk to you."
"This is Tony, but I'm on another line. I'm sorry, but I'm the only one here. Can you call back, or... can I call you?"
"No... No.. You can't call me. I'll call you back.” [Click].
Saturday, August 1, 1:55 AM
"Crisis hotline. How may I help you?"
"Tony, this is Ken. I have to talk. I have to talk!"
"I'm sorry Ken, but I'm still on that call. Can you call me back in 10 minutes?"
"I can. But I... I…” [Click -- Tony accidentally hung up on Ken]
Saturday, August 1, 2:05 AM
"Crisis hotline. How may I help you?"
"Listen, Tony. This is Ken. We've got to talk. Don't hang up..."
"I'm here, Ken. Got rid of that call, finally. How can I help you?"
"It's Jim. I'm so worried about him. He hasn't slept a wink since last Monday. He started taking sleeping pills, but they aren't working."
"Ken, I'm worried about Jim too. Is he drinking and taking the sleeping pills at the same time?"
"Yes. But it's not doing any good. He still isn't sleeping." There was an undertone of desperation in that familiar voice.
"Can you put him on the line? It's dangerous for him to take sleeping pills with barbiturates. He could die."
"I... He just wants to know what he could do to get to sleep. Do you have anything that you can do to help him?"
"I don't know. I'm not a doctor. All I can do is talk to him, and try to find out what's causing him to lose sleep."
" I think I know... Ah... well I think I know. You know that accident that happened last Monday?"
"Yeah--that hit-and-run where that little girl was killed?"
"Well... I think he knows something about that accident."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because he drove through there about that time. He always does--going to work."
"What kind of car does Jim drive? They said there was black paint on the bicycles."
"I don't... I don't know. Don't know what kind of car he drives."
"You tell me that Jim is your friend and you don't know what kind of car he drives? Anyway, it doesn't matter. Is it black?"
" Well... I guess you could... could call it black. I think it's a Buick. That's it--a black Buick."
"Tell me, Ken. Is there anything else you noticed about Jim or that car?”
“Well, I saw him on Tuesday, I think, touching up the paint on the front of his car."
"And you didn't think it had anything to do with the accident?"
"That car is almost new. Jim had an accident with it right after he got it, and the body shop gave him that touch up paint. I... He is always uses it to cover up every little scratch. He's real proud of that Buick."
"Sounds like Jim has a real problem, Ken. He may be the hit-and-run driver. Can I talk to him?"
"He's not here. I was just calling about him, that's all. I... He just couldn't sleep."
"Well, I'm not a psychiatrist or lawyer. There can't be that many black Buicks sold in town the last couple of years. I could call the police and they would be on it right away. I really need to talk to Jim. Sounds like he's got a real problem."
Tony could hear sobbing on the other end of the line. Finally, Ken came back on the phone. "Tony, I lied. There is no Jim. I just couldn't bear it. I had to talk to someone. Thank God I got to talk to you. It's worse than you think. I'm not Ken. I made him up too. It's all been a pack of lies. I've been lying to myself ever since it happened. Ever since I hit those kids because I was fiddling with my radio trying to get Stevens Point and not paying attention where I was driving like I did in that first accident.
“After I hit them, I just kept going. I could see them in the ditch in my rearview mirror, hoping that they would jump up and be okay. But, I had to be to work at four. I'm always on time. I give them the news, the weather, and music that I've carefully picked out before the shift. I couldn't afford another accident on my insurance. I'm a role model for the community and I couldn't have that... that stain on my reputation. I was shocked when I heard that the girl died and the boy was so badly injured. But once I started lying I just couldn't stop. One lie led to another until I had convinced myself that I could come in every day and broadcast that awful news without affecting the radio station, the community, or me. It's just that I couldn't sleep. That's why I called you. Jim couldn't sleep..."
Monday, August 3, 4pm
“Good afternoon. This is WBLD-AM 1540 station owner and general manager Clyde Adams. I know you are all expecting to catch Barney Fracas, but I have the sad regret to tell you that Barney turned himself into the police this morning and confessed to the hit-and-run death of Nancy Jacobs. You can expect a major thundershower this evening and.…”
Copyright 2006 © Ronald W. Hull