Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Conductivity Ep 1 (Pt. 2)

At the elementary school, the children sat in the dim light that shone through the dirty windows and listened to their teachers drone on about fractions and adverbs. They listened and didn’t sleep or wander off, contradicting their inner most desires. They didn’t look out the window and daydream in fear of their teacher’s brutal hand. They stared blankly at the teacher and followed instructions with discipline. A break would come soon for the children, in which they could drink white milk or eat a dull snack void of any flavor. They had to sit or stand in one place as they ate and drank. No colorful playgrounds or fields of grass to play in, just another grey room and bland food. A bathroom break was then issued, one of only two throughout the day. Fifteen minutes of that and back to class. Henry, Hanna, and Hayley had deliberately been put into separate classes as to not be distracted or distract others. They performed accordingly, as did every other student in the facility. Rules on the wall in every hall stated the following:

No Talking

No Running

Keep Questions to Yourself

No Drawing

Stick to Your DRESS CODE

More rules were written in smaller font, but these were of the utmost importance, appearing in four inch block letters throughout the school.

“Thanks for the purchase, Stew. It really helps the store out,” Ted told Stewart as a delivery truck loaded up Stewart’s latest purchase. “We’ll start installation tomorrow. A crew from out of state comes in and helps us. All the way from New York! Can you believe that? They come all this way to do one small job. Eh, I guess the pay is worth it for ’em.” Ted shrugged as he walked out to the back of the store to watch the delivery personnel. “Be careful with that!” Ted yelled at the young men. “Boys, you know how they are. Careless.” He slugged Stewart on the arm, a little too hard for Stewart’s comfort.

Stewart rubbed his arm and said, “Yeah, Henry can be quite a handful, but he is only five. Anyway, Ted, I better get going so I can meet the truck at my house. I’ll catch you around.”

“Alright, Stew, you…uh… you be careful with that new machine. I’ll… I’ll make sure it gets installed correctly.” Ted nodded as he stated this. Confused, Stewart just waved and walked back through the store to his car.

He got to his house before the delivery truck and caught Rebecca up on the news about the SCRUBMASTER and the gab on Ted’s relationship. She wasn’t angry about the price of the machine because she knew it would be worth the cost.

“I’ll just be glad to not have to worry about those backswimmers biting me anymore,” Rebecca said over her cup of iced tea. “And I knew that woman was weird as soon as she set foot in our backyard for that barbeque last summer,” she scoffed.

“Yeah. Yeah. She was pretty weird,” Stewart agreed. They both heard a beep-beep-beep and knew that the delivery truck had arrived.

Just as Stewart arrived at the front door a loud knock came from behind it. He opened it and greeted the gruff man in front of him.

“Yes, hello. I’m here to inspect your pool before we deliver this system. I just gotta make sure it is compatible with our system. Can I go around back to take a look?” the man asked.

“Of-of course. That’s fine. Would you like to come through the house?”

“Oh, no. My shoes are dirty, thanks though.”

“Well, I’ll come with you…uh—”

“Frank. Frank Rose. I’ll be overseeing this whole install.” Frank said. His scraggly beard seemed to bounce with every word he said.

“Oh, I thought Ted would be overseeing it, haha,” Stewart responded.

“Yeah, uh, he doesn’t get paid enough for that, sir,” Frank curtly stated.

“Ah, okay,” Stewart nodded as he stepped out of his house. He latched the door behind himself and showed Frank to the side gate. It was big enough to fit a car through, so he hoped that it would be a large enough entranceway for the installers. Frank commented on the gate, asking where Stewart got it.

“Oh, Phil’s Hardware down the street from the Lawson’s warehouse built it and installed it for me. It automatically opens when either I or Rebecca stands in front of it, and, when open, it compresses down to save space. See?” Stewart stood in front of the gate and it slid open like an accordion, pressing down to a final size of about four by four inches by the height of the gate, looking like an ordinary fence post.

Frank nodded his head and made an approving noise from the back of his throat. “Hey,” Frank said. Stewart turned back to look at him. Frank’s face was solemn and he was looking at the ground. Concerned, Stewart asked him what was wrong. Frank looked at him, and his face was constricted as if he was struggling with what he wanted to stay. “Can I… Can I,” Frank managed to throw out. He coughed and covered his face with his hands.

Stewart put a hand on Frank’s shoulder. “Are you okay, man?” he asked.

The bearded man looked up at Stewart with fresh tears glazing his eyes and said, “Can I be Frank with you?” He busted up laughing and the tears rolled freely down his cheeks. Confused, Stewart stood there for a minute until he got the joke.

Frank was bent over wheezing with laughter and Stewart soon joined him. Out of the wheezing, Frank whispered, “I really like the gate,” then fell to his knees, cackling. After a few minutes of this event, the two got their composure and stood up. Eyes and faces red, they stepped through the gate. “That joke never gets old,” Frank said with a smirk. Stewart chuckled lightly as his throat was hoarse from the fit of laughter.

They rounded the corner of the house and got a full view of the backyard. A wooden awning covered metal patio furniture. Out past the awning was a large kidney shaped pool surrounded by plastic grass. It was adorned in seafoam green and sky-blue tiles, and at its center two dark blue mosaic dolphins formed a heart. A shed at the far end of the yard contained all the home-maintenance machines.

“You got a real nice backyard here, Stewart,” Frank said taking in the view. “And your pool is the perfect candidate for our machine.” Stewart nodded, happy with the news. “So, I’m just gonna go over everything we gotta do briefly, alright?” Stewart nodded once again. “First, we’ll drain your pool and make sure it ain’t got no cracks. We’ll remove your fake turf in the area we need to work in, then we’ll dig down next to your pool, ensuring that we support it fully. We will cut about a two inch by three foot slot in the side of your pool for the net to enter and dispose the debris into a tank that is connected to the net containment. We will install the easy-clean tank below ground, so you can just open the ground-level hatch and dump out the catch. And the pulsing system is, honestly, just a simple sensor and two shock wave transmitters. We put one at each end of the pool and a sensor at the very bottom. The pulse is sent out by each transmitter and they meet at the middle of the pool. The sensor ensures that no one is in the pool. It understands the difference between the weight of a human in the pool compared to the weight of a squirrel or lizard and it blocks the signal so the pool cannot be shocked. ” He stopped and scratched his beard. “Uh… but the shockwave is safe for humans as the product states, we just include this sensor for humans as we don’t suggest being in the pool during extermination. They are of course aesthetic friendly and come in many colors to make sure that it matches your pool well. I think Ted picked out yours since he knew what color your pool was.” Stewart nodded through all the explanation, although Frank wasn’t done just yet. “It comes with a remote that controls the net… Oh! The net, we install a small track around the whole diameter of the pool and that’s what the net cascades along. It’s flexible enough that it fits any pool and fits into the disposal slot, but strong enough to push a little dog through. Ha! Not that it needs to but we know its capabilities. And the remote controls the pulsers as well. You can even set it on a timer so it’ll do it at whatever time you please.” He took a deep breath to say more about the product and Stewart put his hand up.

“You don’t have to sell me on the product. I already purchased it.” Steward laughed after stating this. Frank laughed and caught his breath.

“Sorry, they like for me to give the whole spiel. I had to memorize that whole thing, haha. Man that was a bitch.” Frank put his hands on his hips and looked at Stewart’s pool. “This should be an easy job. We’ll go get the system and bring it back here.” He walked back out front, leaving Stewart to gaze at his pool.

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