Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How I Became a Mad Scientist -Episode 16




I dashed into the alley. If I could stop the truck before it got to the garage, maybe Frank could get away. I wasn’t worried about the other kids. They weren’t going to get in trouble. Frank was the only one of us with a court order that forbade him to mess around with science.

I banged on the door of the truck. The driver rolled down his window. It was Doug Werner from church. That was a relief. Doug was young. He’d only been working for the power company for a couple of years. I went to school with his little brothers. Doug wouldn’t call the cops on us.
“George, there’s something going on at your house. I need to check it out. There could be a wire down or a fire.”

“Or a hover board?” I asked, grinning widely. “Like in the movies, but in a garage?”  Frank had to be gone by now, and if he was around, Doug probably wouldn’t recognize him. “A bunch of us figured out how to made one.”

I led Doug to the garage. He watched, speechless, as one of the guys flew down a ramp, up the other side of the garage, and got far enough into the air to hit the roof top with his hand. The board stopped when its rider crashed into one of the air mattresses.

Doug pulled himself together. “Your mother is going to have a huge electric bill, George. Power isn’t free, and it’s summer. These are peak rates.”

“Told you we should have charged admission,” Joe interrupted. I scanned the garage. Frank was definitely long gone. Hopefully, when his parole officer came looking he’d be curled up on the couch with a book. And he hadn’t touched anything, so he wouldn’t have left a fingerprint on our hover board course.

Of course, if I played it right, maybe Frank’s parole officer wouldn’t even hear about the course.
“Before you make us shut it down, do you want to try it? I mean, not many guys can say they’ve gotten to ride a hover board.” I could tell Doug really wanted to give it a try. “And then, maybe… instead of just trashing it, we could sell it to the electric company? For educational demonstrations and stuff?”

Doug was really quiet. “I mean, if we gave it to you, maybe we could call it even, and mom wouldn’t have to see the electric bill? We worked really hard on it. And it taught us a lot about electricity and safety and stuff. Didn’t it, guys?”  Everyone obligingly nodded and murmured their assent.
Joe jumped in. “Heck, it could sort of become a tourist thing or something. People might come from all over the place to ride the Tell City Electric Company hover board!” Joe always had great ideas about how to put Tell City on the map. He planned on running for mayor as soon as he was old enough.

“Maybe I’d better try it out,” Doug said. “I mean, it would be silly to let all your hard work go to waste.” Someone slid the hover board toward him. He deftly stopped it with his foot, hopped on, and pushed off. All of the kids hooted and applauded as Doug shot off down a ramp, up the other, and into the air. He grabbed his board, did a 360, and came back down. On the next trip, he did a flip. He skated for about 10 minutes, which was more than his fair share, but who was going to kick him off?

 When he stopped, the garage erupted into applause. Doug grinned and wiped his face on his shirt. “I used to be pretty good, back in the day. Thought I was going to be the next Tony Hawk.” The other guys were so busy talking to Doug and congratulating him that I was the only person who heard the pounding on the back door of the shed.

I opened the door just a crack, praying that it was another kid, and not my mom. A man in a dark suit and sunglasses stood there. His arm shot inside before I could close the door again. His hand cradled a badge with the words “Federal Bureau of Investigation” on it. I froze.

 Behind me, Joe and Doug were discussing the best way to move the hover board setup to the electric company, and negotiating riding privileges for all of the kids who’d helped build the course. In front of me, a smooth voice said, “Mr. Ramondi, I have a few questions for you about your cousin Francis. Would you care to answer them now, or will I have to involve your mother in this…situation?”

Next Episode.