Midday Wail

Every day at noon in Curicó a siren goes off at the hill near my parent’s place. It signals midday and like clockwork upsets the two dozen dogs living around me. Even though I’m two decades out of elementary and middle school that sound still sends a shiver down my spine.

I don’t know why, but we watched The Time Machine (1960) constantly in school. Or maybe the few times we watched it with a sub were so striking it seems like I know it by heart. Anyone who has ever seen this film no doubt remembers the zombie-blondes and the siren that beckons them into the cave to die.

That’s the same siren that sounds here every day at noon. And if there’s a fire or other emergency you also hear it. After all these years it remains one of the most terrifying sounds I know. But soon I’ll be in Santiago where they mark midday in a more acceptable manner: a cannon blast (without the ball, at least that’s what they tell me).

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