Chapter 2:

No Moving Parts

What Morgan found Linda’s father working on that afternoon at Ashlawn was his prototype for a fan and air-filter, a device that could move air — with no moving parts.

The apparatus looked like an over-sized window-fan, or, rather, the disembodied window box itself. A three-foot square wooden frame stood perched on a triangular base that rose from the floor next to Dr. Brown’s desk. Stretched horizontally across the front of the box were dozens of parallel metal strips and wires that resembled Venetian blinds. But there the resemblance to a window fan ended; behind the panels there were no whirling blades and no electric motor. Nevertheless, air poured silently and steadily through the baffles.

Morgan stared at the apparition before him. He peered through the front panel, and felt the air moving gently on his face. He walked around the device, like he was looking for some magician’s secret hidden behind it. How could air be moving through it if there were no fan blades?

Finally convinced that his guest was sufficiently amazed, Dr. Brown explained how an electrically induced force-field moved the air, describing how the electrical field “squeezed” the air, “the way your fingers would squirt a watermelon seed.”

“How cool,” Morgan thought, his mind beginning to reel at the site of something so totally foreign to his experience.

Then Dr. Brown flipped another switch, and suddenly the fan became a loudspeaker, with clear, bright, undistorted sound pouring through the baffles without any kind of cone or magnetic coil to move the air.

Morgan could not believe what he was hearing. This really was new, different, and exciting. “My mind was blown,” Morgan recalled, “and as he turned up the volume of the music my mind went away on a very long trip!”

Dr. Brown then explained that since the fan/speaker had no moving parts, there was no distortion, and so the frequency range could go well beyond the range of any kind of conventional loudspeaker. And he explained how the speaker could be constructed in a set of matching pairs, one acting as a transmitter, the other as a receiver.

Suddenly Morgan felt like “some kind of bomb had gone of inside my head.” Dr. Brown watched him, with an impish, quizzical look on his face as Morgan sorted through the possibilities, slowly grasping the implications of what he was seeing and hearing.

“So, if there’s no limit to the frequency, you could use this as a communications device… you could send a signal with this, and nobody else would be able to hear it, huh?”

Dr. Brown just smiled at Morgan. “Nope,” he said, putting his glasses on and going back to work.

As if right on cue, Linda appeared at the door. As she would recall later, “Unlike my other friends who had seen the fan in operation, Morgan was asking questions — insightful, intelligent questions. I could tell that Daddy was delighted with him. I happened to walk in just as Morgan was saying "so, it could be used as a communications system, huh?” No body else I knew had ever come even close to understanding that possibility.”

Linda broke the atmosphere, asking Morgan, “so, are you coming skating with us?”

But at that moment. ice skating with a bunch of giddy high-school kids was furthest thing from Morgan’s mind. “I made up some excuse and beat it out of there. I offered up a hurried goodbye — and a sincere ‘thank you’ to Dr. Brown. I just needed to be out in the cold air, to hide in the dark a bit.”

Somewhere between that door and about a half mile down the road, Morgan realized “I’d just passed a turning point in my life. I had always harbored a vague dream that somehow, I was going to become some kind of ‘secret agent man.’ I indulged all kinds of James bond fantasies but had pretty much figured that was all Hollywood fabrication and not real life. Stuff like ‘The Mad Scientist and His Beautiful Daughter’ didn’t really exist…. Except….huh??? I thought my head was going to explode.”

I can remember bursting out of the door of Ashlawn .... after making a hurried goodbye .... and thankyou ... to Dr. Brown. I just needed to be out in the cold air .... hide in the dark just a bit .... You are right. I thought that my head would "splode"

It wasn’t until much later that Linda learned of Morgan’s abiding interest in intelligence work that was the whole reason he was taking Russian classes at Great Valley. In fact, Morgan had already talked to recruiters for the Central Intelligence Agency, who had impressed upon him the need to finish college before he would ever be considered for acceptance among the legion of gentlemen spies.

Had Linda known of Morgan’s interest, she might never have given him a second look: “It was common knowledge at Great Valley that the CIA actively recruited schools along the Main Line for prospects, many of whom wound up at Villanova before going undercover. Many of my friends were vocally opposed to the whole idea of the CIA; we didn’t like that our classmates were being used to infiltrate some of the student organizations that were beginning to form. To us, it all was sounded like the arrival of Big Brother.”

It was just as well that Morgan did not know of Linda’s misgivings. In the weeks that followed the encounter at Ashlawn, he found it difficult enough to get close to her. He was accustomed to sizing people up, studying their character and habits and getting a handle on them before he made any kind of moves. He started to direct his familiar tactics in the direction of Linda Brown.

“When I was younger,” Morgan recalled, “I practiced my moves with the girls I was fortunate enough to take to bed; With the guys I practiced how to demolish them in the wrestling arena. In either case, it was just a matter of studying their characters and ferreting out their strengths and weaknesses. I was pretty confident. I figured I knew exactly where I was and what I was doing. I had my classes in order, was making solid A’s ... ruled the roost in most of my classes. I worked hard. Was prepared and in control. I did my homework.

But none of his familiar tactics or techniques seemed to be working with Linda Brown.

“When I first met Linda, my carefully practiced system went completely haywire. I found myself doing strange and stupid things. I’d drive by her house in my brother’s old car, and just sit in the darkness, listening to the classical music that poured forth from her father’s study and smelling the wood smoke rising out of the chimney. One time, I went so far as to stomp my initials in the snow that covered their lawn, but I don’t think she ever noticed. Sometimes I look back on those episodes and wonder, ‘what was I thinking’?”

Whatever system Morgan had perfected just wasn’t working with Linda. “She fought with me in class and won. That’s when I decided then I was going to make a "run" at her. I was determined to seduce her. I actually started to devise a plan. I didn’t like this loss of control. One time I tried to call her, just to ask for a date. I never even spoke to Linda. Instead I found myself talking with a stiff, curt man named Charles, who assured me that ‘Miss Brown will be unavailable that evening…’ I was not easily intimidated, but this Charles character scared the crap out of me.”

So Morgan stewed, and Linda demolished him one more time in a class debate. Morgan did everything he could to get Linda’s attention, but she kept avoiding him. When he finally managed to talk to her long enough to ask her again for a date, she declined his invitation, informing him she was ‘going steady’ with Howie.

Morgan knew, though, from scuttlebutt around the school yard, that Howie would be leaving in the spring to start basic training for the National Guard.

“Yes, Linda said, “he’ll be leaving in May.”

“I’ll be around,” Morgan offered. And to his surprise, as he studied Linda’s face, he was sure he caught an expression of relief in her slight smile.

Winter melted into spring, with Morgan still making every possible effort to make his path cross Linda’s. But as much as he was thinking about Linda, he found himself thinking as well about the curious device he had seen in her father’s study.

Howie shipped out in early May, and word got back to Morgan that Linda had given him back his ring.

“Now, I’m not entirely dumb,” Morgan said. “She seemed to really like me. We started hanging out as spring turned into summer. We went for rides on my motorcycle, swam at the old quarry, spent entire days at Ashlawn. I kept telling myself to move on her, but… something kept me from following my usual course. Looking back on it, I understand what was actually happening. Something very different had come over me, and I didn’t even realize it. I just knew that when I looked at Linda and talked to her, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that this relationship was rare and valuable and that my responsibility was to guard and protect it — not exploit it.”

Morgan was hardly the first to fall under the magic spell of Townsend Brown and his family, and he certainly would not be the last.

Next Chapter


© 2005 Paul Schatzkin/Tanglewood Books. All Rights Reserved. ANY reproduction of this material without the express, written permission of the author will be dealt with severely. Contact: Contact via e-mail



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