Leaving the VCR running, I grabbed my ten-inch crescent wrench from its place onthe coffee table, ran through the dining area, kitchen, and utility room, andslammed out through the back door.The temperature outside had dropped about fifteen degrees since I'd finishedtinkering with the SkyVue, and the shock of the cold stopped me for an instant. Inthat instant, I saw that the night was clear and beautiful. Except for the dullorange glow of Topeka eight miles to the north, the sky was purplish-black andfull of stars. The hills of northeastern Kansas were silhouettes that hid all buta few of my various neighbors' mercury-vapor yard lights, and the black outlinesof the bare trees were still. It was a different sort of night than it had beenwhen the Winter Dance Party had played in the stupidly named Surf Ballroom atClear Lake.I shivered, and that broke the spell. If I didn't hurry, I'd miss the Indianattack and the slaughter of most of John Wayne's relatives, so I sprinted acrossthe dead lawn toward the eight-and-a-half-foot aluminum dish. It glowed a dullwhite in the wash of the yard light, but that didn't help me see the stepladderthat I'd left lying on the ground beside it. I tripped over the ladder and fellforward, banging my head on the dish's lower rim. The SkyVue rang dully, like anold church bell.Despite the cold, or because of it, I didn't feel much pain, so I wasted no timerecovering from the blow. Instead, I set up the stepladder on the concave side ofthe dish, climbed in, and proceeded to use the crescent wrench to whang on thecylindrical cover of the block converter at the antenna's focus. A satellite-videospecialist would cringe at this remedy, but as Mother used to say in her morelucid moments, "Whatever works." The much-cratered skin of the converter wastestimony to the fact that the crescent-wrench-whanging method not only worked,but had been employed often.The noise brought back memories. Mother had bought the dish from an obscure outfitin El Dorado in the spring of 1983, and we had developed this method of adjustmentshortly thereafter (mainly because the wrench had been packed in the parts box andwas handy). It had been easier when Mother had been alive, because she could yellfrom the house when the Sony's picture had been whanged back to normal. Since herdeath, I'd had to adjust the antenna by trial and error.Currently, about twenty-five whangs seemed to do the trick. I gave it a couplemore just to be sure and then jumped down from the ladder and ran back to thehouse. I was wearing sweatpants and a ROCK-CHALK, CHICKEN-HAWK, F*** KU! T-shirt(my movie-watching uniform), and my arms had popped out in goose pimples fromwrists to pits.I dashed into the living room and saw John Wayne on the Sony, as big as life andtwice as studly. You never would have thought to look at him that he wouldeventually have a pig valve in his heart. I dropped the crescent wrench on thecoffee table, giving the veneer another nick, and flopped into the recliner,pulling its orange afghan down to bundle myself.It happened this quickly: A corner of the afghan, fuzzy and fluorescent, passedbefore my eyes, and when it was gone, so was John Wayne. In his place, standingalone on a marbled gray plain, was Buddy Holly, wearing a powder-blue suit with awhite shirt and black bow tie. A woodgrain-and-white Fender Stratocaster was slungon a strap over his left shoulder, and behind his black-framed glasses, his browneyes looked bewildered. A pinkish proto-zit was just visible on his chin. Behindhim, an enormous banded oval of red, orange, and white hung suspended in black.