One response to my last post was the following:
“My bet is that the redneck’s pit bull woulda had a mouthful o’ nuts as soon as you stepped on Dumbass’ hand.”
Horatio Thaddeus McSweeny, hereafter known as Dumbass, was having a fine day. He’d gotten a great deal on Bungalo Paneling, had scrounged a truckload of junk from Grandma’s old house trailer, and also acquired some bent 2″x4″ studs by tearing down a rotten shed. He was going to combine all this shit to make his garage the talk of the town.
The paneling, which was composed of recycled Chinese newspapers and ground corncobs, wasn’t supposed to get wet and it wasn’t supposed to be tacked up on bare studs. Then again what’s the point of being a redneck if you don’t flout convention? He’d left the paneling in the rain for two days and now he was going to tack the soggy mess to bare studs because… Well because by God you can’t tell a man like Dumbass anything! He smiled.
Just then there was a disturbance in the space time continuum and some freak from the future showed up. Future Guy seemed uptight. He ranted about taking measurements and using a level. Dumbass did have a level but he’d used it to pry open a stuck barn door and now it was as crooked as Nixon. As for measurements? Math is hard.
He’d let Future Guy ramble but then things got violent when Dumbass reached for another beer. Luckily, Spike came his rescue.
Spike was a 3 month old Pit Bull that had just showed up one day. He never figured out which of the 37 children adopted it. None of them seemed to claim him. The dog was already huge and growing quickly. It answered to the name “Get Your Ass Over Here”, spent most of the day licking his balls, and had recently eaten a barn cat. Now the dog had Future Guy by the balls and that was awesome. Ha!
Future Guy muttered “I’ll be back” and vanished along with the dog. He left behind a backpack filled with change and a toolbox. Dumbass, happy to be free of both the dog and Future Guy, hefted the backpack and hustled toward his car. This was at least $500 and he knew just what he was going to do with it!
Behind him, the 37 children descended on the toolbox. Dumbass paused. Should he save some tools for himself? He saw one kid grab a 4′ level and wield it like a baseball bat. Two other kids had swiped a set of carpenters squares and were hurling them like boomerangs. Another group of kids were squabbling over a pile of tape measures. One little girl was using a new hammer to drive drill bits into the dirt. Nah… let the kids play. Dumbass had bigger fish to fry!
Back in the current time Adaptive Curmudgeon was gingerly prying a dog’s teeth from his crotch. The dog, disoriented from time travel, submitted quietly and retired to a corner of what looked like a Mad Scientist’s Lab. The dog began to lick its balls; something that it did for hours.
Curmudgeon limped to a stool, sat down gingerly, and pondered his next move. He couldn’t go back to the same point in time and simply shoot the dog. For one thing the mutt, once it was pried from his privates, was just a rambunctious puppy. It seemed likeable enough. For another thing, if you go to the same exact moment in time twice you will be haunted for all eternity by the ghost of Gene Roddenberry. This was an established time travel fact.
It would be best if he could return to roughly the same year though. An adjustment of a few days or weeks was no big deal but he was running low on the components necessary for big recalibrations to his time machine; specifically eye of newt and another AMPEREX 4-250A Vacuum tube (which would be destroyed during the process). He had a stack of tubes but they weren’t cheap. Even worse was the matter of newts. Hunting newts takes too damn much work and their eyes are teeny tiny little things so you need ’em by the bucketload. His back ached just thinking about it. And it had to be done manually. If he tried to buy eye of newt on e-bay the NSA would know. That would be the end of his time machine… again. “Rookie mistake” he muttered under his breath. Everyone who has a time machine knows about the newt thing but the Curmudgeon had learned the hard way.
Soon he’d made his plan. He scrawled his message in chalk on the side of a hefty piece of metal; something big enough that he was sure Dumbass would find it. (The metal turned out to be the exhaust manifold from a 1956 DeSoto. Every Mad Scientist’s Laboratory has a few Desotos, it’s just common sense.)
“WELL PLAYED. MY NUTS ACHE AND YOU WIN THIS ROUND! HOWEVER, IF YOU USE THAT BUNGALO PANELING YOU WILL REGRET IT.”
He tossed the manifold in his time machine and launched it into the aether.
Then he picked up the phone and called Tactical Tom. Tom, who never used his real name (probably because it was Eggbert) was so paranoid and reclusive as to make the Curmudgeon seem gregarious. Curmudgeon didn’t make the call without reservation. Even the act of contacting Tom would require four phone calls, a countersign, and a clandestine meeting at a pre-arranged location which would almost certainly be inconvenient. However, the man was a genius at the art of dog training.
Curmudgeon eyed the gangly mutt in the corner. It was trying to lick mercury out of a test tube and leaning against a charged 600 amp power supply. He was going to need a trainer.
At midnight, at an undisclosed time, at an undisclosed location, on a dark bridge, a man and a dog started walking east. The dog stopped to pee on every lightpost. Curmudgeon hunched his back nervously. His dog training friend was always an inch from freaking out. Would this be the night?
“Stop right there!” Came a disembodied voice.
Curmudgeon stopped. Tom was probably trying to decide if he was a Russian spy. Tom never got over the fall of Soviet Russia. Some ideas sort of stick with a man, at least a man as sticky as Tom.
“I’ve got a dog. I need him trained. I’ll pay.” Curmudgeon shouted into the darkness.
“Pay? How? With useless fiat currency? You haven’t got enough gold to hire me and the Russkies could have followed you! You shouldn’t have used my telecommunicator.”
“It’s a phone and just because it’s a landline doesn’t mean it’s encrypted!” Sighed Curmudgeon.
“What? Wait! They can tap my landl….”
Speaking quickly, hoping to interrupt what would certainly become a rant, Curmudgeon let fly: “I need this dog trained right now! Drop everything and do it! I need this dog to be well behaved at all times. Except…”
“Except what?” Came Tom’s voice.
“…except in the presence of Bungalow Paneling.”
“Yes, when the dog sees Bungalow Paneling I want it to attack everything… Wait. There will be kids around. Ummm, I want it to attack everything taller than 3′.”
“You want me to train a dog to be a furry IED in the presence of a certain kind of building material?”
When he said it like that, it seemed ridiculous. The Curmudgeon was ashamed. Obviously it was impossible and also…
“I’ll do it!” Shouted Tom.
“Well OK then.” The Curmudgeon agreed. “Here’s your payment.” He set a duffel bag on the ground.
“What is it?” Tom sounded suspicious; which is what Tom always sounded like.
“Well fiat currency is out so I got you some cool stuff that I think you’ll enjoy. I picked it all to match your interests: A case of Billy Beer…”
“But how did you…”
“A Sears Home PONG game, mint condition…”
“Really that’s so cool…”
“An unsanctioned Disney poster of Mickey Mouse flipping the bird and saying ‘Hey Iran, fuck you’.”
“Oh wow! I lost mine and never found a replacement. How did you…”
“A mint condition 1979 Dungeon Master’s Guide…”
“Hey, that’s a totally legitimate form of entertainment and also…”
“And now for the most valuable stuff… sixteen mint condition Star Wars Action figures still in the box.”
“They’d better not be counterfeit.”
“I guarantee ’em. In the case of the zombie apocalypse…”
Tom blurted out the rest of the sentence “…action figures will be currency. I’m glad you understand now.”
“There’s a seventeenth action figure. Chewbacca. But I opened the package”
“You what!?! Are you mental?”
“It was totally cool. I had to play with it! I mean that’s what it’s for. Also you’re the one shouting from a canoe tied to a bridge abutment so don’t call me mental.”
“Hey you don’t know where I am! That’s tactical information that you don’t need to…”
“Whatever, I also threw in 5,000 rounds of .22 ammo, a half pound of junk silver, and a case of Mountain House . ‘Cause I’m nice and dogfood ‘aint free. So we’ve got a deal and you’ve got six months to train him. I want this dog to go apeshit in the presence of Bungalo Paneling… Oh, and also the AMC Gemlin. I hate Gremlins.”
“Paneling has a scent. How I to teach a dog to recognize a Gremlin?”
“Train him to recognize the scent of failure.” While not a helpful answer, The Curmudgeon was sure Tom could figure it out. The guy was the best dog trainer in the world.
Back in the 1970’s Dumbass glanced at the crooked garage wall. The paneling was sagging and it made him nervous. He’d gotten six threatening messages from Future Guy and they all mentioned the wall. Each message was chalked on a car part and babbling about level walls and proper materials. The future obviously sucked. Dumbass sure as hell wasn’t going to install a vapor barrier and hang up drywall just because some freak was making violent threats. Dumbass prided himself on never changing his mind.
Besides, Future Guy had been a boon so far. The backpack full of change had made a good down payment on his pride and joy. With a bargain interest rate of 14% and only 55 more payments the shiny yellow AMC Gremlin was his! It sure was pretty.
It was up on blocks right now. In the six months he’d owned it had broken down four times. Even Dumbass, who considered foreign cars evil because of their metric parts, had to admit AMC was having quality issues.
At each break down he’d fixed “Hot Yellow” as he called his car. He’d grown to love his car more with each repair. There was duck tape on the rear window, a wire holding the hood down, and a paper clip jammed into the radio. All excellent examples of Dumbass’ ingenuity.
This time he’d stripped the oil pan bolts with an adjustable wrench (who has time to find a socket?). The oil pan had been leaking since the car was made anyway. Since the bolts were stripped maybe he should just hit it with a hammer? Or cut it apart with tin snips? Buying a proper wrench set was, of course, out of the question.
He heard another disturbance in the space time continuum. He was getting used to them. When would Future Guy give up? Then he heard a growl. Spike was back!
Dumbass watched in horror as Spike found himself in a garage with Bungalow Paneling walls and an AMC Gremlin in the bay. The dog went berserk. Dumbass’ 37 children scattered but Dumbass was doomed. In the midst of the attack, blood got all over the Gremlin’s vinyl interior.
After sending the dog back to the 1970’s, Curmudgeon walked out to the garage. Had the gambit worked? With a glance he knew.
The walls weren’t even drywall. Oak! Solid oak! Lovingly worked with expert joinery and elaborate moulding. Curmudgeon ran his hands over the woodwork, which glowed with a deep lustre indicating it had been rubbed down with expensive linseed oil weekly… for decades. Maybe the dog thing had been overkill? The rest of the structure was just as nice. It far outclassed any reasonable garage. The Curmudgeon wept for joy.
Above an elaborate stained glass bow window was a mahogany overlay “In Memoriam For Horatio Thaddeus McSweeny who died here with his beloved Hot Yellow.”
Ouch! Curmudgeon shuddered. Spike must have been fearsome indeed.
Then Curmudgeon rolled down the garage door and saw it. Embedded in the ceiling, covering the entire bay, with tiles lovingly placed by expert hands, was a fresco; vaguely reminiscent of the works of Michelangelo. At the base there was a rampaging pit bull with glowing red eyes and blood on its paws, as if to represent Hell unbound. In the middle, Horatio Thaddeus McSweeny, with a halo over his head and a bent screwdriver in hand. At the top, resplendent in obvious reference to the hereafter, Jesus at the wheel of a bright yellow AMC Gremlin.
The Curmudgeon reached for a jug of gasoline and a pack of matches. Apparently he was going to have to build a new garage, starting now.