Jack Forecasts The Weather Oct12


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Jack Forecasts The Weather

And other things.

One of the first Earth men, one called, Jack, by his few wandering fellow hunters, stepped out of the cave in which he had taken shelter from last night’s raging storm.  The cave had done its job and as he was still dry and a lot warmer than when he slept in a tree, which did nothing but protect him from night roaming four legged creatures, and only somewhat discouraged the climbing ones, he found that he liked the cave better.

Much better, because he found flint rock inside on the walls, and small wood pieces that had blown in against the walls, so he had even succeeded in building a fire at the opening to keep other animals out.

How to find it again after the day’s bright sky light went away over the sea and down into it, might be a problem,  He stood at the nearly hidden entrance and looked around.  Seeing a small log a few feet away, he dragged it over and stood it up next to the entrance.  He pulled a few small heavy rocks around the bottom to keep it in place.  It seemed rather bare and difficult to spot, so he took a smaller short branch from a hillside bush and laid it crossways on the top of the log.  It had a few green leaves on it and even some rather sweet, bright red flowers.  Ahh, now he could look for the Red Flowers to find his new home.  It became the first address… Red Flower Cave.

He looked at the sky to try to figure out how much time he had before he must return to be in his cave before the sky was raging with wind and water again. He saw the glowing day, sky, light as it was crawling up from behind the far away mountains.  The clouds were opposite, all the way across the sky to the sea, where they were resting on that water.  If they woke up and traveled toward the mountains they would bring more wind and rain onto him before the sky light was even straight up above his head.  

The clouds were so dark that they might even put the light out or make it fade, so he guessed what to watch for in the sky, in order to stop hunting for food and find the warm cave here by the Red Flowers.  He was now the first Weather Forecaster.

When he returned in plenty of time, he carried a caught rabbit to roast for his dinner and something else more lasting.  He had met a young woman who was growing roots and greens.  He told her about his cave and the roasted rabbit, so she went home with him, carrying some of her tasty produce.  It would prove to be a very good partnership, as he hunted and she tilled the land nearby. I can’t say she was the first girl friend, but she was the most long lasting and eventually the mother to his children.  Shall we say the first Wife?  Just for the fun of it? Her name was Margie, and she began by planting a red flower bush next to the cave door by the log because the flowers on the broken branch had died and blown away.

Many Forecasters would follow him to many more addresses in a vast number of communities over the coming years.  They would even Forecast dozens of other things from the future of the Stock Market and the Sex of a coming child, or Who would Win what Contest or Award, but most Forecasts were not as important as the Weather.  

People who got up each morning in all of those larger more complicated caves, with fancier addresses, usually created by other people and sold, loaned or rented to them, wanted that important Weather information first thing in the morning. 

So Jack, the Weatherman had a desk in the local Television Station, where he studied the information given to him by thousands of other people, who sent their very accurate equipment gathered facts to him.  He sifted that info through his brain and was then able to turn, when the red light went off and the green one on, to tell all of the those folks watching his program what to expect in their coming day or even the week.  

On Sundays he did a special Television Forecast showing Photographs taken by Space Satellites that showed where the big swirls of computer generated green rain clouds were on his life size map at that precise time and Forecasting where they were heading next by the Highs and Lows in the Air Pressure. 

Now everybody could be his own Forecaster and try to out-guess Jack.  As most watchers thought Jack was just guessing all the time.  In a way he was.  But his was an educated and experienced guess.  Even so the masses were very proud of themselves if they were right on, the few times his Forecast was off a bit or just down, right, wrong.  Still they watched or listened to Jack everyday to start their day.

Now they knew what to wear.  That was a good start.  After that, how his Forecast affected them was dependent upon what they did for a living.  If they had a store that also sold umbrellas, rain was predicted, they knew just where to place the rack full in plain sight for the hurried customers.  If they sold ice cream the temperature was very important.  On a cold day the Picture of the ice cream cone was replaced by a picture of a steaming cup of hot…whatever the customer wanted to make of it… coffee, chocolate, tea or soup.  That had it all ready.

Airline Pilots needed to know where the green stuff was now and which way it was going, in order to file a flight plan.   Outdoor Musical Concerts would be cancelled or simply warned about, depending upon the hardiness of their fans.  Parks stayed empty, while theaters filled up, and vise versa.  Yes, Forecasting was now big business, as Jack found out the day he was fired.  With big business it’s the bottom line with money and accuracy.

What had happened?  Jack was devastated, he went home to Margie his wife for the sympathy he needed.  He had worked out his Forecast statistics to be about 80% correct, but his replacement had 82%.  So what! It could change tomorrow!  It did change every day! He opened his home computer to try to get it to tell him what had gone wrong.  His computer was even a Forecaster… everyone was!  What could a has-been Forecaster do now?”

On the third day Margie became discouraged by the way Jack was taking this lay off, or is it called, “ Being made redundant” these days.  Anyway her redundant husband was getting on her nerves and she wanted him to do something about it.

“What are you going to do now?”  She wanted to know.  Jack just shrugged and told her, “I’m a Forecaster!  That’s what I do.”

“Then don’t just sit there.” She said, as he had been on the couch for three days, “Forecast away! Tell me what your next job as a Forecaster is going to be. You look into the future.  What do you see?”  Margie plunked down on an overstuffed chair facing him.  “I’m waiting.  What do you see in the future?”

“Yours or mine?” Jack asked, as he stalled to think about what he did see in the future.

“Both.  They are pretty much linked are they not?”   Jack closed his eyes in order to see the future more clearly.

“I see, “  Jack began as the picture rolled by him like a movie.  “You are about to lose your job too. And I see our landlord evicting us from this house to move in himself. …nothing to do with our payments, as we haven’t missed any.”  Margie’ eyes were wide as she listened.  She wondered, was he kidding her?  But she stayed quiet, for he seemed to be speaking from far away… as if to himself.

“I see us moving to a new town called…”  Margie held her breath.  Where were they moving to?  Jack stopped.  I can’t see it clearly, but it starts with an S.”  Margie’s mind jumped from Seattle to San Francisco and off again to Saint Louis. Obviously she was not a Forecaster as Sioux City and Santa Barbara rapidly came next… all wrong!”

“I see it now,” Jack, sounded pleased with himself. “It’s… San Diego! Our house in San Diego is green on a block where the other homes are white,  Isn’t that strange? “  he asked himself.  “I wonder why?”   But my job there is to be a Forecaster for the U.S. Navy.” 

Jack stopped talking, exhausted as if Forecasting the future was a very tiring task. 

“That was very good, Jack.  But I don’t believe a bit of it. You are very good at making up stories though.  Maybe you could be a writer?  It sounded so real while you were speaking.  But I am not going to lose my job at the school.  They never fire anybody.  Nurses don’t have tenure, but we never get fired either.”  Then she decided to ask him, “Did you do any cooking while I was away at work, or do I work all day and have to be the cook also?” Jack had his eyes closed and snored lightly, then turned his face to the back of the couch to shut out the light.  It was as though seeing the future was extremely tiring.  Margie shrugged and went to the kitchen.  Eggs or canned soup, she wondered to herself as she really had no desire to eat much, or fix much.

Jack shouted from the couch.  “Eggs…  and toast.  So my husband is a Forecaster and a Mind Reader, what talent! She smiled as she took the eggs out of the refrigerator.

The phone rang and she turned the stove off to answer it as Jack didn’t even hear it.  He could read her mind but not hear the phone.  What a big help he was. 

The phone call was from her school.  When she hung up she was aware of the fact that Jack had been right.  She had just lost her job.  All of the perfectly good reasons they gave to her, as they apologized were nothing but a blur.  That Jack had been right was all she remembered.   He had actually given many more predictions, but who was counting?  At least one could accidentally be correct, right?  It was in the odds, but why did it have to be her job just after Jack lost his?

Margie waited until after Jack had come in for his eggs, bacon and toast, but still didn’t tell him what had happened.  No point in ruining his simple but delicious smelling little supper.

The door bell rang and Jack got up to answer it.  How nice of him, Margie thought, when he brought the delivered message in to her still unopened.

“It must be the Landlord’s Eviction.” He said, as she began to open the envelope, Margie stopped to ask, 

“Why do you say that?”

“Because it was served by a Process Server, what else could it be…unless you are divorcing me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!”  Margie didn’t like to even kid about divorce.  She thought marriage was just as she had said to the Preacher…Until death do you part.”

She yanked open the envelope and saw the truth.  They were being evicted.  It didn’t matter the reason.  Jack had been right again! How lucky could he get?

The next morning Margie was home, as her job was discontinued, so she took the phone call for Jack who slept in that morning and for all she knew, every morning.  It was  a Navel officer, calling from down in San Diego, who usually watched Jack on the T.V. Weather Report and since a new man was doing it, wondered if Jack was looking for a job, because the U.S. Navy has a civilian opening for a man exactly like Jack.  In fact they would prefer to have the real Jack the Forecaster, if possible.

Margie took down his number and said she would give Jack the message as soon as he was available.

Then she ran straight in and woke Jack up.  “Just wait until you hear this, The U.S. Navy has a job for you.”

“Didn’t I tell you that yesterday?”  he yawned.

“Yes but then you were guessing.”  Then she wondered, “Did you already talk to them?  You knew about this yesterday?”

“No.  I saw it when I looked into the future.”   He put his hand over his heart. “Honest.”

‘Okay, have it your way, but just wake up and go accept that job fast. I’m going to be packing to move.  We have to anyway.”   

Margie stood still.  There was so much to do that she was overwhelmed and did not know where to start.

Jack rolled out of bed to make the call, but he stopped to hug poor Marge who was  

standing still and doing absolutely nothing.  

“Don’t worry, Sweetheart, that job is what Movers are for.  They have all of the equipment.   You just go decide what clothes go to charity.  

A week later living in their, as predicted, little green house in San Diego, Margie ceased wondering if Jack actually saw this all in advance or they just chose what he had said, because he said it.

Jack went off to see what his new Navy job was to be all about.  With so many of the Navy’s ships and small boats plying the San Diego waters and all across the Pacific Ocean the weather was very important to the United States Navy.  A man like Jack could track the weather for them and they could relay it to the ships at sea.  He seemed so right to the men who had mostly grown up watching him on the T.V. for most of their young lives.

Then one day after he had studied the incoming reports and given his opinion of up coming conditions close to home port, he sat back and saw in his mind a cyclone that was traveling toward the shores of San Diego. Wait! He quickly told all ships within its range to seek shelter on the lee side of an Island if possible to be out of the cyclone risk.  All of the ships that took the warning were safe, only a few fishing boats, not tuned in to the Weather Station, were whipped around and up ended by the short lived, but fierce,  Cyclone. Helicopters stood by to scan from above for stranded fishermen, after a couple of their boats went under but no life was lost, due to Jack’s warning.

“How did you know?”  he was asked, 

“I knew because that is what I do.  I’m a Forecaster.”  He told anyone who wanted to know.  The truth was he was not sure. After that night when he was forced by Margie to go into the future for a Forecast, he had come to realize that he had been doing that all along, for most of his life without mentioning it, because he wasn’t yet aware that he could do it at will. Sometimes he just closed his eyes and forced himself ahead of time to see what was happening, then he was on the look out to see if it did happen or not.  It always did.  He was seeing the Real Future. 

What he needed to know was could it be changed? Or was the future set in stone. How could he find out?  He saw that Margie was going to take their car to go out for a job interview and that as she parked she would drive too close to the low yellow Fire Hydrant in the parking lot and put a big dent in their front right fender.

After a great deal of thought about how to do it he just gave her a hug and looked her in the eyes and said plainly,  “Look out for that yellow Fire Hydrant on the passenger side as you park, or the fender will get bent.  Oh and good luck with the job, but you can be choosy.  The Navy pays pretty well when they hire a famous celebrity like me.”  They both laughed at his arrogance and she left smiling, happy that her old Jack was back.  But what was that first part?  Something about a yellow fire hydrant?

When she arrived home Jack walked around the car to see the likely dent, but there was none.  He could change events from his Forecasts.  That was a very good thing to know.

At his desk in the Naval Headquarters, he beamed his mind out over the Pacific Ocean to see if all was well. He saw a collision. It actually was not a very dangerous collision he discovered he was seeing, between a small Navy Destroyer and a very large Oil Transporter.  Even though it would not result in fatalities it would cause a disastrous oil spill from the Coast of San Diego to the Port of Ensenada Mexico.  

This was defiantly something he must try to prevent at all costs because of the oil.  Because he was right there nearby, he went to the ship itself as it sat still in Port and asked to speak to the Captain.  He was ushered to the Captain’s quarters by a seaman who recognized him from Television. Sometimes Celebrity paid off.

“Do you know who I am?”  Jack asked the Captain, 

“Yes, Of course I do.  You are the Weather Forecaster on T.V.”  Captain Rogers admitted.

“Not anymore.“ Jack explained.  “I work for your Navy now as their Forecaster, and right now I am trying to prevent a problem that I foresee.  There is a very large Oil Transporter approaching our waters as they are being forced in this direction to avoid serious weather on their regular route.  As I understand it your ship is due to leave tomorrow.”

“That is correct at dawn tomorrow.”

“I can foresee a possible accident involving your ship and the tanker with enormous consequences if the oil is spilled.”

“I don’t think it will be a problem.”  The Captain told him, “Our Radar is very efficient and will prevent a collision, so don’t worry.”

‘But I must.  The Tanker is very full and not one of ours, however, we don’t own the Ocean either and if he must use this course this time, he must.  Today he has no other choice.  You do.  You can postpone sailing until tomorrow for the California Coast’s protection and that of the birds, seals and wild life that populate this Coastline.”

“But our Radar.”  Captain Rogers began again, “and we have a lookout, who can give an ample warning.

“And if the Captain on the Tanker has Radar and a Lookout also… and they make the same corrections, before you can either one of you change plans it will be too late.” Jack explained.  

“Haven’t you ever come face to face with a person on the sidewalk where you both step from side to side in place as you, smile because it is so funny that you cannot just pass each other. “

“You are right, Jack the Weather Man, why take a chance when all we have to do is wait a single day.”

“Good choice.  I can see why you are the Captain Sir.”  They shook hands and parted.

There was only one bad result.  The word got out by an unknown subordinate of the Captain’s that a serious oil spill was avoided by a Forecaster who predicted it would happen if the ship had sailed on time.

Predicted.  The key word for the Newsman who created a headline regarding the incident or non-incident as it turned out. The headline in the next day’s paper read,

“Navy hires a Fortune Teller.”  Followed by just below the headline a column explaining, A Fortune Teller prevented an accident by predicting it in advance.  He saw in his crystal ball the accident between one of our ships, and an Oil Tanker, and kept our ship safely in Port to prevent it from happening.  Good thinking, Mr. Fortune Teller.  If you see Aliens invading us from Outer Space, please let me know so I can warn everybody.

Soon people were hounding the Navy to give up the name of their Fortune Teller so they could get predictions of the future also.  Jack and Margie escaped to Paris for a vacation.  But first Margie made Jack look ahead to see if the ship would cross the Atlantic Ocean safely.   Jack was wondering how he could shake this Fortune Telling curse.  How had it started?  Maybe there was a clue in that.  He had the entire trip to try to figure it out.  

If anyone saw him sitting in a deck chair with his eyes closed, that was what he was doing, trying to learn how to not be able to do what he could do.  Was that like trying to unring a bell? Don’t think about an elephant? Or shut an open door without hinges.  He wanted to close a door in his mind.  It was the one that said “Forecaster” in gold on the front.

And what was Margie doing while Jack was thinking?  She had met a nice younger man in the line for a show and they sat together and laughed together and ate dinner together afterwards.  Then they went to the movie and followed that with a night cap in the ship’s Mahogany Bar.  His name was not Bill or Bob or John, it was very modern, Tyler…Ty for short.  As if a name as short as Tyler needed to be shorter.  They laughed about everything together and met the next morning in the workout room.

Why was it that Jack hadn’t Forecast this?   Then the situation turned for the worst.  Someone leaked the name of the Navy’s Fortune Teller and it was a headline on People Magazine with a very good professional photograph of Jack taken while he was the fair–haired boy of the Weather Men. He hadn’t looked like that for five years. 

“Top Weather Man works for his Country”  it said beneath his picture.  Now that might have been considered flattering, however the result was a line that formed from his little green house in San Diego, all the way around the block, requiring ten Police cars to monitor the traffic and attempt to keep the people waiting from camping in the neighborhood.  

Maggie and Jack were put up in a room on the Naval Base out of the public’s reach.  The T.V. cameras sent to cover the line-up interviewed the people waiting to talk to the Fortune Teller.  They nearly all wanted him to answer a personal question for them.  A Police loud speaker roamed the crowd with the unwelcome word, that The Weather Man was not home and did not answer questions about the future… ever.

This threw Maggie and Jack together in self defense and Tyler out.

Jack was still trying to find out how to shake himself free of the gift, which he thought of as a curse.

Back at home and on the job, Jack was suddenly awakened from a deep sleep with the unwanted knowledge that a rather large piece of Space Junk was on its way down and would hit somewhere near the Base where the ships were moored.  He went at once to the Captain who hired him with this new knowledge, although what he considered true was just guess work to others until proven.

Of course the Captain was aware that U.S. Space Surveillance Network was tracking more than 22,000 objects larger than 4 inches in diameter.  He told Jack,  “As you know, Junk is speeding in Space at the incredible rate of 17,000 M.P.H..”

He went on.“Junk is defined as any man-made object that has no longer a useful purpose.  Usually they are low, below 1,250 miles up, though some speed around the earth as high as 12,000 miles up in the high Geosynchronous orbit.”  Jack nodded.  As a Weather Man he had studied all of those same things. 

The Captain continued to explain what Jack understood. But he listened politely. 

“All of this tracking is rather difficult, but necessary.  The International Space Station needs to be informed when a dangerous item is speeding for it, as the speed is what can put them in danger from even a small piece, so they have to maneuver out of the way to prevent a hit at least once a year.

We cannot maneuver the Earth, so we must track the Junk to the final landing, usually into the sea, but a warning may put an entire town on watch. No one has control over the speeding junk.  N.A.S.A. has a chart showing the number of basketball size or larger objects that have entered the Earth’s Atmosphere where the 1000 working Satellites from different Countries are put in danger.  We take them all seriously until they re safely down.”

But he paused, “So far we have not heard of this one you say is heading for us.”

 “Can you call a test or something to put the ships under the landing area out to sea for a day or so?”

“What are you going to do?  The Captain wondered,  “In this apartment you are very close to the landing you pointed out.”

“We could go home if the Police have cleared our street.”

“And if they haven’t?”

“We can go to an uptown hotel for a couple of nights.  Once the Space Surveillance Network picks it up and follows it, you will know when it is down and may bring back the ships.”

“I’ll see what I can do. Why can’t I wait until I get the word from them?”

Jack thought, then reminded the Captain  “Its traveling this way at 17,000.M.P.H.  How long does it take to get a large ship at dock to get turned on, up, and moving?  I’m sure you know better than I.”   He had done his part so he went back to the Navy Base apartment to get Margie and leave until he knew it was over.

Their home was dark with no one lining up in front so they went in and shut all of the drapes and used very little light to keep the crowd from forming again.

“Well what do you think, Margie”. he asked, “Is this the life for us?  If we chose another town and another type of less public job, wouldn’t life be better for us?”

“But your job!” Marie worried.

“I’m not in the Navy.  I may leave at will.”  Jack wanted to make clear. “Where would you like to live?”

“How about Montana?  It is so beautiful and quiet there.”

“Too cold in the winter.  Where else?”

“ I liked Hawaii if you want to be warm.”  Margie suggested.

“Then let’s pack a few things and go try it out.” Jack said.

“Right now? Margie said surprised.  “Do you see us doing that?”  she asked,

“I don’t want to look ahead anymore.” Jack admitted out loud for the first time.  “I just want to live for the, Right here and right now… and right now I want to leave the Forecasting to others and go to Hawaii with my lovely wife.”  

So they did and if they came back from time to time, they didn’t tell anyone except the friends and relatives they visited. 

But after his last Forecast, even in these little Islands, thousands of miles from the event, the newspapers heralded the Hero, Jack the Weatherman with as much in the way of coverage, interviews of witnesses and photographs as they could muster.

Headlines in many languages read:  

“The Forecaster Who Saved the Navy’s Ships”… by predicting and giving them advance warning that a very large piece of Space Junk, which has since been identified as an approximately one ton hunk of an old Russian Rocket Engine, was headed down to Earth and exactly where it would crash, so the Navy ships docked at that location might go to sea and escape harm, as like a huge shooting star it came flaming in their direction with a loud bang as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere from its former orbit in Outer Space and took out a large wood and steel dock where the United States Navy ships and their crews had been moored, spraying the area for a square mile with hot steel debris.  Jack the Weather man and Naval hero could not be reached for comment.

The world didn’t know it but Jack the former Weather Forecaster and his wife, Margie were basking in the sun near their small, but popular, ‘The Tropic’s Best Ice Cream Stand,’ which featured Margie’s large crispy homemade cone filled with her specialty, creamy, Pineapple, Ice Cream, sprinkled with Toasted Cocoanut.  Folks walked that extra mile to get it and the couple who created it did not even have to switch to Hot Chocolate in the wintertime.  

Jack made only one last prediction upon retiring from Forecasting, that was that close to nine months from the day they arrived on this Island and their new haven on earth in the Tropic’s, Margie would give birth to the first of their four children.  

The World was full of Forecasters and so Jack was content to let them carry on their important and necessary work.  

The End

Beverly Mosier – October 2013