Monday, June 1, 2015

How I became a Mad Scientist - Episode 12




“Don’t move, George,” Frank said. “If she pulls you out to the middle, you’ll drown.”
“Gee, thanks,” I growled, trying to wriggle loose. I hooked my feet under a large rock. Maybe that would keep her from dragging me further out. The sludge floating on top of the river slapped against the middle of my thigh.  I wondered what weird chemicals I was absorbing through my skin. My shoes would probably stink for weeks. “Frank, we need to find something she likes better than me.”

“Impossible!” Frank said. “She thinks you’re her mother. She’s probably afraid to go out into the river without you.”

I groaned.  “Ok. So no trading. Can we get her to go to sleep? She usually goes limp after some warm milk.”

“We’re at a park. Where are we going to get warm milk?”

I thought for a moment. “I’ll hang on here. Run down to the Frostop and get some soft serve ice cream in a cup. It’ll warm up by the time you get back here. It’s practically the same thing.”
Frank looked over his shoulder. “What if someone wants to use the boat ramp while I’m gone? They could spook Bessie and she’d drag you under.”

“It’s the middle of the day on a weekday. No one’s going to want to go boating.  Besides, it’s our only chance, Frank.   I wouldn’t even be in this predicament if it wasn’t for you.  Go get that ice cream”  Frank nodded and left.  I wasn’t sure he’d get back in time to put Bessie to sleep, but at least if she did drag me under, he wouldn’t be stuck on shore, watching.

I glanced up at the park. Most of the people were totally ignoring me, but one kid stood at the edge of the playground, staring at Bessie and me.  I glared at him.  He turned around.  I concentrated on not getting dragged out into the river.  Bessie was getting more insistent.  She could tell there were fish out there and she was getting hungry, but she still refused to let me go.

I felt a sharp tap on my shoulder.  “You look like you need a hand.”  The kid from earlier had come up behind me.
”Go away. I’m fine,” I snapped.  The last thing Frank needed was an audience. He’d be in juvie in no time if this kid realized what was going on.

“My uncle wrestled and octopus once.  He said there’s a trick to it.”

I gritted my teeth.  “This is not an octopus,” I growled. “This is a Kraken-Cow and I am trying to focus here.”

“All you have to do is grease your skin, and an octopus can’t hold you,” he said.  He dumped something oily on my skin.  “I swiped the Italian dressing off the picnic table. It should be slippery enough.”  Bessy gave a panicked moo, but she loosened her grip on my leg.  I scrambled out of her arms and onto the shore.

“Thanks,” I said.  “No problem,” said the kid. “I’d hate to see you die in such a stupid way.”  He walked up the ramp and disappeared into the crowds at the park.

Bessie was still looking at me.  “Go on, girl!” I yelled. “It’s time for you to learn to fish!”  She swam out to the middle of the river and sunk from sight.  I clenched my fists and ignored the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. She was a good little Kraken-Cow. I’d miss her.  I wandered over to a bench and sat down to wait for Frank and the melted ice cream.

I probably should have waved and called Frank over when he came through the gap in the floodwall. But at the time it seemed funny to keep quiet, so I just sat and watched as he raced down the boat ramp, carrying the Styrofoam cup of what had once been soft serve. When he got to the bottom of the ramp, he stared out to the river. The cup fell from his hand and smashed against the concrete. 

“George!” Frank yelled. “George, where are you?”

I snuck up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. “Right here!"
  
He jumped and screamed. “I thought you were dead! How could you do that to me? How did you get free?”
 
“Some weird kid saw me and helped me get loose,” I said. Frank sat down on the concrete.

“Great. Just great. I’m doomed. Off to Juvie it is.”

“He didn’t see you, just me. It’ll be fine.  And Bessie’s safely under the river. There’s nothing to worry about.”

And there wasn’t, really.  I mean, yeah, local news started covering the sudden dip in Asian carp populations. But they’re an invasive species anyway, and the wildlife management guys were taking all the credit for the sudden decline.
 A few people on boats claimed to have seen some sort of a monster lurking in the river off of Derby, but they were mostly drunk, and no one believed them. After a week or two, we were pretty sure that we were in the clear.  And, after our adventures with Bessie, clear felt a little boring. I needed a new project to fill the empty summer days.

Chapter 3
Frank, meanwhile, was still trying to master the skateboard.  There aren’t many good places to skate in Tell City. Either the pavement is too rough for a beginner, or you have to keep stopping because of kids, dogs, and joggers. It really stunk. I wanted to be able to take Frank around town with me, but unless we were on bikes, he was a disaster on wheels.

One day, after yet another fall, he threw the board down and kicked it. “This is ridiculous,” he groaned. “How can I get good at skating when there’s nowhere smooth to practice?” The skate park had closed for repairs the week before, and the paper said it might be closed indefinitely. A bunch of the neighbors had decided they didn’t want kids hanging out there and making noise all summer.

“You’re the inventor,” I said. “Can’t you make wheels with shock absorbers or something?”

“It wouldn’t help,” Frank said. “What I’d really need is some sort of hover board…. And that would get me into trouble.”

A hover board? That sounded like the board of my dreams.  But how could I convince Frank to help me make one?

Next Episode.

1 comment:

Anna said...

"Go get that ice cream."

My uncle wrestled an octopus once.