The air raid
They tested the air raid sirens on the first Monday of every month. For fifteen minutes at noon they howled to let us know they worked. I always knew that if the Russians were going to bomb us, they'd do it on a first Monday. There was a siren on the roof of my school, and when it went off, the ground shook. The horn rotated on a pedestal so all the neighborhoods could hear it. When it turned my way, if I was on the playground, I could feel the sound waves pounding against my body. It was that strong. But, like sonic booms, nobody thought much of air raid tests. It was normal to hear those things in Albuquerque.
The Manzano Mountains lie east and a little south of Albuquerque, and Sandia Base reaches into the foothills. I've heard rumors that they're filled with nuclear weapons. If you fly out of Albuquerque International Airport, you'll take off over the Manzanos, and if you look down, you'll see many concrete bunkers, or silos half-buried in the side of the hills. A maze of roads connects these "garage doors." The army never has said what's inside, and that in itself is a pretty good indication. My imagination has run wild thinking about a vast, cavernous warehouse. The mountains could be hollow and stuffed with warheads! Until the army tells me otherwise, I'll continue to imagine these things.
M.P.s on the mesa at night
In high school we used to go out into the desert at night. To drink beer and race our cars. Or to look at the city lights and make out. On the east mesa of Albuquerque, miles of dirt roads run into miles of fence that surrounds the base. No matter how far out we went, if we were near the fence, the military police watched us. As soon as we saw the fence, headlights appeared on the other side. They'd follow us all night if we stayed out that long. But they never talked to us or called the sheriff. They didn't care if we were drinking or racing or anything--as long as we stayed on our side of the fence.