Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The machine

Meet Jim.  He is seven years old, blue eyed and, when freshly bathed, fair as a field of wheat.  This happens about twice a week and lasts, generally, less than thirty minutes.

As many boys are, Jim is curious.  But as many boys  do not, Jim has the inexhaustible energy to follow his curious nature to whatever end it leads.  His mother calls him busy when she's having a good day.  Other times, she calls him "Dammit Jimmy!"  His grandpa, who was once a little boy very much like Jim, calls him EnJim #9.

 Jim lay on his bed, staring at the glowy stars pasted to his ceiling.  It was still too early to get up.  7 was the first number he ever learned, and on a Saturday morning, if the first number on his clock is not 7, he is trapped.  His floor might as well be shark infested lava, because he's not going anywhere.

Jim was impatient.  He had work to do, and he would need the entire day to do it.  He'd found some springs in Grandpa's garage yesterday, and a wheel from a lawnmower.  Grandpa had said "Sure thing, EnJim, they're all yours.  Whatcha gonna build this time?"  That was Grandpa’s question every time Jim found the perfect thing.  And Jim’s answer was also always the same.  “I’m not sure, Grandpa, but you’ll be the first to know.”

At 7:00:01 Jim was out of bed.  He pulled on yesterday’s t-shirt and his baseball pants, tugged the sneaker box out from under his bed, and was out of Lavasharkville by 7:01:27.  There were snoring, muttering sounds coming from his parents’ room, but Jim didn’t pause to knock.  7 was the magic number and it was most definitely past 7.

Breakfast?  Didn’t occur to him.  Face washed?  Teeth brushed?  Really?  No.  There just was no time to waste.

Jim spread his collection of perfect parts out on the kitchen table.    Three springs - two large, one small.  The lawnmower wheel that, upon closer inspection might have actually come from a wagon.  He had eighteen screws of various sizes and metals.  A large rubber washer, and a rubber band exactly the same color.  A square piece of plywood, with a corner broken off, and a stick that formed a perfect letter Y.  Uppercase.  He had a roll of Scotch tape, a blue jay feather, and a bottle of sand he got at the beach last August.

Elbows on the table, hands on cheeks, blue eyes dancing over his treasures.  Jim cataloged his materials. 

He was ready.  And Grandpa was going to love it.

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