Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Conductivity Ep 1 (Pt. 4)

“Their ears must be burning,” Frank said as he closed the accordion glass door. Henry stayed put on his stool at the window even as his parents headed up the walk to the front door.

They encountered Frank and his workers at the front porch as they were leaving.

“Where’s Ted?” Stewart asked.

“Oh, he didn’t drop by today. I think the boss assigned him another job,” Stanley—the man in dirty coveralls—said before Frank could.

“Oh, okay. Well, you want to let me know what you guys got done today?” Stewart asked, hoping that they got most of it done in the few hours they had been there.

“Well, sure, but it’s not much,” Frank answered. He led Stewart to the backyard and began his explanation. “We drained the pool and began digging next to it. We only got about a foot down before y’all got home. I suggest that you lacquer the pool again while it’s empty, just to protect it better. Actually, I think the company that invented the SCRUBMASTER 5000 makes a lacquer that is compatible with the pulse that it sends out. It doesn’t burn or give off any chemicals when shocked.”

Stewart nodded, figuring that sooner or later they were going to try to get him to buy more products. “Well, where can I get this lacquer?” he inquired.

“I believe Lawson’s bought some from us. And I think one of our guys is actually qualified to apply that stuff. Let me ask,” Frank turned and ran to the front, where he found Tim. He brought the young man back and presented him to Stewart. They introduced themselves and Tim explained how he got the certification required to apply the copyrighted ShockProof Lacquer.

“I’d gladly lacquer your pool for you, sir.” Tim got out a business card from a weathered wallet and handed it to Stewart. “I work the same days Frank does, haha.” He shook Stewart’s hand and left them to talk.

“He’s a good kid. Does real good work, too,” Frank said.

“Yeah, I’ll talk to Rebecca about it. Let’s get down to it, or rather, be frank about it,” Stewart elbowed Frank and chuckled and Frank returned it. “How much will it cost for him to lacquer the pool?”

“A job like that would cost about two hundred, for supplies and labor. This stuff that they use is really corrosive so you can’t get it on skin. They make it like that so it’ll stick to the pool tiles without a problem, but it makes the cost of the job that much more,” Frank explained.

“Alright, yeah. I’ll talk to Rebecca about it for sure. Do you have like a pamphlet on it or something?” Stewart asked just as Tim returned with a small booklet in hand.

“Hey! Mr. Canin! I just remembered that I had a few of these in my car. Here,” Tim said as he handed Stewart the pamphlet. “It has a bunch of info on the pool lacquer. Thanks for considering—and hiring—PoolTech workers!” he waved his goodbyes and left, for good this time.

“I like that kid,” Stewart said. “He’s got drive.” Stewart nodded.

“Yeah, he sure is something,” Frank said.

The install didn’t take nearly as long as they had once thought. Starting on Friday afternoon, the crew finished on Monday evening.

“Wow, you really can’t see it!” Stewart said. He called for Rebecca to come look.

“Ooo, it’s very sleek,” she said as she poked her toe into the water.

Ted had been a no show the entre install, so Frank gave the grand tour, ending with the operation of the machine and a few surprise tidbits.

Rebecca and Stewart watched as the pool was electrocuted. Backswimmers floated to the surface of the water and all struggling insects ceased movement. At this, Rebecca gasped. A net ejected from the slot in the side of the pool. It floated to the other side of the pool, then connected itself with its tracks. Once on the tracks, it skimmed the whole pool, from top to bottom and side to side in one stroke. It then collapsed onto itself and stuffed into the slot it came from. Once inside, a click was heard and Frank walked over to the disposal hatch. He pressed a button with the toe of his boot and the hatch popped up, looking like a small, metal suitcase. Frank bent down and picked it up. He brought it over to Rebecca and Stewart who were gazing at their now crystal clear pool. He presented the case to Stewart and instructed that they open it up. Stewart lifted the lid and was taken aback by how much debris had been floating around in their pool: hair; bugs; leaves; seeds; even feces of some sort. It was at least three inches deep with crud.

“Now, imagine cleaning all of this out with a net,” Frank said in his best salesman tone.

“Jesus,” Rebecca said. “Well, the kids with be glad.” She looked back and saw the children watching from the back door.

“Yeah, definitely,” Stewart said and nodded.

“I’ll go dispose of this out front,” Frank said as he walked toward the side yard.

“That system really is amazing. You made a good choice, Stewart,” Rebecca said as she looked down where the disposal cartridge went.

Frank returned in swim trunks.

“What are you doing, Frank?” Stewart laughed.

“I’m not done showing you guys the system,” he said and clicked the cartridge back into place. He used the diving board and cannon balled in, splashing Rebecca’s dress and Stewart’s house suit. “Been waiting to do that for a long time,” Frank heartily laughed. “Now,” he said swimming to two plugs in the side of the pool, “we plugged these holes up and deleted your chlorine pump, as the shock therapy will keep your pool balanced.” He dove down, his beard squishing against his face and resurfaced with a black cube in his hand.

The triplets watched as closely as they could from the back door.

“This is one of your pulsers. We made them detachable from their bracket for replacement or repair purposes. There’s a little button on the side that you push and voila! The pulser is off and ready for repair. There is no manual way to engage a pulse on the pulser itself, so you don’t have to worry about accidental electrocution, uh, even though it is such a small amount of electricity. We just don’t like people exposed to it.” He dove back down and clicked the pulser back into its place and swam to the ladder.

“Happy with the system?” Frank asked as he shook out his hair.

“Of course,” Stewart said, smiling. “It was well worth the money.” He shook Frank’s hand. Frank went over and lightly shook Rebecca’s hand and they bid their goodbyes.

“Oh, before I forget. Would you guys mind if we made appointments with you and had people interested in the SCRUBMASTER come over and check it out? You’re our first customers in the area and we’d give you a bit of a kickback,” Frank asked with hope.

“No, of course we wouldn’t mind. We’d be glad to show off the system a bit. Right, honey?” Stewart said.

Rebecca nodded, unsure if she really wanted strangers poking around their backyard.

“Great! I’ll let the fellas at Lawson’s know,” Frank said.

“Alright. Speaking of Lawson’s, have you heard anything from Ted?”

“Actually, he called on Saturday and said he was sick, but I haven’t heard from him since.”

“Hmm, okay. I’ll have to check in on him then,” Stewart said while leading Frank to the front yard. He shook Frank’s hand and said his goodbyes once again. Frank left and Stewart went inside the house.

The kids were already in their bathing suits; a very modest, ruffled one piece for the girls and swim trunks and a t-shirt for Henry. The girls’ eyes were bright as they anticipated swimming in their freshly cleaned pool. Henry was less eager. A bit of fear scratched at the back of his mind.

While changing into his bathing suit, he had felt cold air enter his room. It had sent a chill up his spine, but when he checked his window, he had found that it was closed. He had passed this off as the air conditioning system, but it still poked at his brain.

Rebecca had changed into a two piece swimsuit with ruffles. Still modest but in a different way than the girls. Stewart rushed off to their bedroom and changed into his swim trunks. He met the family on the back porch and the kids dove in.

Pool floaties skimmed around on top of the clean water; a donut; a horse; a rabbit.

“Wow, it’s so nice to not smell chlorine anymore. I bet this system will make our skin less dry!” Rebecca eagerly stated. The kids nodded their heads in unison and continued their play. Stewart sat on the edge of the pool and dangled his legs in, occasionally splashing water at Rebecca, who was floating about on the donut.

The kids soaked up water with round sponges and threw them at each other. Rebecca slid off of her donut and pulled Stewart’s arm.

“No, I don’t want to get all the way in, yet. It’s too cold right now,” Stewart protested.

“Aww,” Rebecca pouted, “That’s just too bad.” She yanked his arm and he came tumbling in, face first. He held his breath and barely caught his glasses before smacking the surface of the water. Rebecca laughed as Stewart’s head bobbed out of the water. He gasped for air and clutched at Rebecca. Air returned to his lungs and he laughed.

The sun shone on all of their beaming faces. The system had brought them together and they rejoiced in the calm evening, splashing and throwing things at each other until the sun began to set.

“Alright, kiddos, time to dry off and get dressed for dinner. I’m starting to prune!” Rebecca said as she climbed the stairs out of the pool. The kids, at the deep end of the pool, ceased their play and climbed the ladder out onto the fake grass. Stewart followed after Rebecca.

“What’s for dinner?” he asked.

“I put a roast in the ChefPro and put it on surprise. We’ll see when it’s done!” she giddily said. As a girl, she had never thought that one day machines would do everything for humans. She remembered her mother laboring for hours in the kitchen to prepare just one meal for them. Now all she did was go grocery shopping and throw a few items in her ChefPro and let it do its magic.

They all dried off by the backdoor and entered the house, which smelled of spices and peppers.

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