Friday, September 4, 2015

How I Became A Mad Scientist -- Episode 17

“Um, I’ll be right out,” I said, choking on the words. I took a deep breath and stepped outside to face the agent. “Don’t I get a lawyer or something?”

The man chuckled. “Mr. Ramondi, lawyers are only for people who’ve done something wrong. You haven’t done anything wrong, have you?”

“No sir,” I squeaked. This conversation was not going well. Come on, brain, I thought. Start working. I don’t want Frank to go to jail.

“I noticed that you seem to have constructed a hover board course in your garage. It looks like it was a lot of hard work. Did you have any help?”

“Most of the guys in the neighborhood. Except Frank. He wouldn’t even pound a nail or help with the wiring, because he says it would violate his parole. The other guys were kind of irritated at him. His parole terms are making him pretty unpopular.”

“I see.” The agent’s face remained expressionless.

“Could you, maybe, change them, sir? If he doesn’t get to do anything fun, he could revert to his life of crime.”

“I don’t think ‘reversion’ is likely to be a problem. We’ve heard reports of a strange creature in the Ohio. Did everyone but Frank make that too?”

“You found Bessie?” My stomach flipped a little. “She’s a good girl. Don’t hurt her, please.”

“So you admit that Frank was participating in ethically questionable genetics experiments?”

“No, that was all me. Frank didn’t participate. In fact, he freaked out when he saw how big she got.”

“I see. Thank you for your time, Mr. Ramondi. It appears your cousin’s bad tendencies run in the family. I’ll be watching you closely.”  The agent turned and walked towards my front yard.

“I haven’t broken any laws!” I yelled. “There’s no law against playing around with science!”

He stopped. “You haven’t broken any laws yet, Mr. Ramondi. But I fully expect that to change in the near future.”  He disappeared around the corner of the house. I heard a car door slam and an engine roar down the street. I slumped onto the ground, exhausted from our conversation.

“You handled that well,” a voice said. I looked up. The kid from the river was standing next to my garage. “You’re trying hard to protect your cousin. I’ll remember that.”  He hopped on a bike and rode away.

Chapter 4: The Best Science Fair Project Ever

Summer ended. School started. The power company’s new “Powering the future” educational center opened, and reporters came from all over the country to see the town where any visitor could ride a hover board.

 Between the technophiles coming through to try our invention and the cryptozoologists hanging around to study Bessie, the town was flooded with tourists. The mayor chalked it up to the visitor’s center she’d built a few years back, and local businessmen started planning a new hotel.

Frank and I had made Tell City famous, but we couldn’t tell the papers. It irritated me, but Frank was philosophical about the whole thing.

“We’re having fun and I’m not in jail,” he said as he helped me pack my supplies for the first day of school. “Who cares about being famous?”

I headed off to a new year at the Junior High while Frank was stuck at home. He seemed to be OK with it though. He said his work only took about 2 hours a day, and after that he could read or practice his skateboard or take walks.

Meanwhile, eighth grade science was going to kill me. Apparently, the school board had decided that we needed more STEM in our lives. Science went from ‘fun with science’ to actual problem sets involving math. We had lectures and labs, and we got marked down if we did the lab wrong. We even had weekly tests. I was pretty sure I was going to fail.

Then, at the beginning of September, the teacher announced the science fair. It would be a chance for struggling students to earn extra credit. Suddenly, I had hope. Frank was going to help me win the science fair so that I could pass this impossible class.

I explained my plan to Frank when I got home. “You’re going to help me build a nuclear reactor,” I said. “It’ll be amazing, I’ll win the science fair, and I’ll pass the class!”

Frank seemed skeptical. “You can’t just go and get some nuclear material and make a reactor,” he said. “There are laws…”

“No! I read an article once about a kid who did it. I mean, sure, he’s a genius, but so are you. He just wanders around the desert and finds chunks of uranium or something. We can do that.”

“George, we don’t have a desert. And your mom isn’t going to fly you out west for a uranium hunt. This is Indiana.”

“I’ll come up with something,” I said. “I just need your help on the details.”

“It sounds like you hardly need me at all,” Frank groaned. “Look, why don’t you do something that’s simpler and less attention grabbing? You know, a little wind generator or a mini hydro-electric plant. You’re still generating power, and I won’t get arrested.”

“Nope. My grade is in the toilet. I have to go big or I’m doomed. I’ll figure out a way to get the Uranium. And I’ll do all the work. I just need you around to make sure I don’t accidentally blow everything up.”

Next Episode.

1 comment:

Anna said...

minor recommendations...

“No sir,” .... “No, sir,”

“Powering the future” ... “Powering the Future” (since it's the city's title for their project)

And thanks for the referral to Laura Moriarty!