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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Short Story -- Lincoln's Daughter Sort of an account of an actual event in my life

Lincoln's Daughter

Happiness. Everyone worked, for most it was required to go out into the real world and pretend that the hard labors of one's chosen profession could be used to buy that pinnacle of desire: happiness. It rarely did. We all did things to obliterate the visions of our labors so we could pretend to enjoy our pathetic lives. And be happy. It was the same with everyone: men, women, rich, poor, hardworking, beautiful, ugly and just the plain. I've been around the rich, they were the same, that happy face hid the reality of their despair. The happiest people I've ever been near and could palpably feel their happiness, were the bums on Van Buren. They had no cares, no worries. They begged for money and drank themselves silly. And were happy about it all.

I liked them; that real happiness invigorated and recharged my belief in reality. It made me feel happy as well. How could they not. They were truly happy. Their facade was anger at the world. The only thing about them that was fake.

"Marshall, we're all heading to the Cupcake Paradise after work. It's Lincoln's birthday." Was that a command? Perhaps it was the way it was said to me, it sounded like a command. What if I refused?

"Steve, I don't eat sweets. Ever."

"Christ Roy, it's a strip club."

I never went to strip clubs. Only been to one once. Didn't need to go back.

"Why do I need to be there?" I leaned closer to Steve and lowered my voice, "I don't really like the guy."

"No one does Marshall, that's why we need to be there." the ambiguity of his statement as he closed his locker and walked off left me wondering if I should stay at work today or not. But Steve was off to start the shift. Well, presumably to get in line to get decent gloves for the night. We worked greasy dirty jobs, gloves were important

Lincoln's locker was next to mine. He was married, two kids, and his locker is filled with nude photos from various magazines. Pretty graphic, spread eagle type of photos. Just a weird guy. Just the other day at lunch break a few of us were sitting and eating. Lincoln was at our table. Some of the guys were talking about a strip club they had gone to the week before. I barely remember the conversation, other things occupy my mind, anything other than his pronouncements. I do remember Lincoln told us he liked looking at women's breasts. A weird announcement.

Not wanting to go wasn't because of Lincoln. I have a difficult enough time dealing with other people. It's just not something that I have ever fully been able to cope with. Emotions. I don't deal with it at all. When people that I'm with are happy -- hey it's all good. But people are rarely happy. Mostly people are dealing with the world we live in. That makes them mad, sad, angry, or terrified. And not without a lot of lust and desire in their hearts thrown in to complicate matters. I don't like to be around anyone when those other emotions dominate their collective or individual psyches. I like happy.

But then, even happy was generally little more than a facade used to hide their true feelings. Happy is what everyone wants to be. Happy is the reason why everyone works, why we are here killing ourselves in this backbreaking work that is quite literally, a sweatshop.

That part couldn't be helped, it was over a hundred degrees on the lines. We all sweated.

Happiness. Steve was digging in the glove barrel trying to find gloves that hadn't shrunk too much from the repeated washings. Big hands were a blessing in this job, but protecting them was hard when the company washed the oily gloves each week and gave us barrels of unsorted unmatched grey and now shrunken gloves. It was a living.

Laughing at the ribbing he always took from everyone, Duane stood next to Steve. Sadly, everyone thought it was good natured. Duane never broke down and shot anyone. His dwarfism manifested itself as a normal body but with very short stout legs. He drove a forklift as he was unable to work the lines like us. His hatred of everyone about him was carefully concealed with his jolly banter and retorts to the jokes that were daily thrown at him. Everyone seems happy. None are.

As Duane pulled himself up onto his forklift he saw me and smiled. A genuine smile. He knew I understood. I never kidded him about his stature. I was the only one. They were all big guys. I wasn't. I was tall, but not big. I mean I wasn't BIG. To make up for that, I worked twenty-six gauge DUCT. None of the others like it. It was really hard work. At over a hundred and five pounds for each reel. The heaviest product the company made. At a hundred and twenty thousand feet, it ran a long time, but I had twenty-eight machines to keep running for an eight hour shift. A tall skinny guy that could do that commanded respect from all the big guys. Probably why they wanted me to accompany them and watch topless women gyrate to the sound of dollar bills being liberated from those that worked hard to earn them.

My shift began as it always has. Writing down the footage on all the machines. I then load the ones that had finished running. Open the door, cut the wire, remove the empty reel and heave in a full one. They weighed a hundred and five pounds. Tie the ends of the wire, repeat for the second spool. Then turn it on and wait for the knots to come through. When they did, I turn off the machine, cut the wire, and kicked out the big spool from the bottom of the machine. It contains a twisted pair of wires, over a hundred and twenty thousand feet long. The big ones weighed over two hundred pounds. We rolled them around. This was the first step in making telephone cable. My job -- run the twisting machines. I was called a twister. It was the worst job in the factory. There was oil everywhere, it was hot, stinky and we sweated all night. The job broke the backs of those that chose to work there. It paid more money than just about any other job in the plant. More twisters were out on disability than any other department.

For eight hours each day I walked my line, loaded when I needed, and had virtually no contact with anyone else. Except lunch, and start of shift. Tonight, I was to go to a strip club. To celebrate the birth of a man I didn't care to be around. But then realistically, I tried not to be around most people. I knew they were unhappy. I knew what lurked behind the pretense of happiness that they all bravely showed to their peers. It was a curse to be that aware and to know, really know, the world around me.

Eleven pm. Realistically I enjoyed looking at the breasts of women. I like my wife's breasts. When I see them, I get to do things with them. They are magical. They feed my son, excite not just me, but most men. They are round, and firm, smallish and quite delicate. Touching the nipple, I could watch as it hardens and enlarges. When I do that, I harden and enlarge as well. Tonight, when I see women's breasts, I got to look, get horny, and go home and wake up my wife.

Julie loved me. Real love. When I would come home, after I shower, she then relates how the day at classes have gone. Graduate school. She has a brilliant mind. Once finished with the recitation of perceived troubles and annoyances, she will smile and be happy. Rarely a disguise, she loves me and is happy. When we kiss, and as our lips touch, our spirits meld together as one being, our life forces entwine.. And I get to play with her nipples.

At break I called her from the one phone in the break room. "JD, I'm going to a strip club after work. It's a guy's birthday, we're all going."

"What, YOU! A strip club?"

She knew. "Yeah, I don't know why. They want me."

"I love you Roy, wake me when you come home."

It was a caravan. Trucks, Jeeps and my '59 Chevy Pickup. Ten of us in all. We drove the six miles there, parked around back and went in the front. I wasn't sure why. I was tired. I paid the five dollars to get in. Sat at a table off to one side, away from the stages. Away from the outpouring of emotional detritus about me. The strippers hated what they did. That hatred was like a flaming sword stabbing each of the sweaty men staring at them. The men, nine of them my friends, hated the women bouncing and gyrating in an imitation of dancing. Their hatred was less palpable. They hated the women for not loving them. Their lust however, was very real. It filled the room and caused a deepening pressure in my chest, my heart had to beat ever harder to countermand the oppressive emotions near the stages.

I drank a beer. The guys dragged me over to sit stage-side. To get an up close and way too personal of a view of what a tiny bit of thong was supposed to hide. I shivered as the guys stood and cheered at some movement of the dancer. Or perhaps it was primarily a jiggling maneuver that caused such reactions. I had my eyes closed. I was deep in thought, attempting to find my happy place where there were no emotions, no hatred, no fear, no lust.

I downed a second beer. That didn't help stop the flow of hatred funneling into the vision of reality that at times I felt I was the only one in the world that was this cursed. I excused myself, and left. It was more than I could handle.

Happiness. Home. Gentle kisses, and powerful lovemaking. I had the lust in me of a hundred souls.

The following afternoon, I was changing my shoes and putting on my oil-soaked work boots. Steve came in and sat down next to me. "Why'd ya leave last night man?"

I looked up at him, it was curiosity, and it was something else. "Steve, you know it's not my kinda thing. I got a wife at home that does things to me that I know for a fact, none of those women will ever do to me. I went home and let her."

He smiled at me. "Yeah, well, you're married. Most of us aren't. Hey, look. Lincoln won't be in for a long time. Do you know his locker combination?"

"Yeah, sure. I've watched him. What happened?"

"Let's just say that Lincoln met with a bit of reality in his little pervert world. Jaw is broken, ribs. Maybe some other bones too. We want to clean out his locker of all that shit."

"What? What did you guys do?"

"Look Marshall, we did what needed to be done. Remember last week at lunch and he told us that he liked giving his daughter a bath whenever he was home. It was the chance to watch her breasts develop as she grew. His daughter is thirteen."

And for the first time Steve gave off an aura of satisfaction. Happiness.

Short Story Vengeance from the Cosmos


Vengeance from the Cosmos


Roy Marshall

Hovering nearly 2 miles above the football field, the single passenger of the personal spacecraft was peering into a viewscreen that magnified the game going on below him.  The craft, of Virulean design, was able to screen itself from the observing radar coverage that blanketed the area over downtown Tempe Arizona.  Far below him the two rival football teams carried out a traditional hostility that was governed by a large and what seemed an endlessly changing set of rules.  The stadium seats were filled to capacity with fans that supported one team or the other.  The starting quarterback for ASU, Derek Hansom, nicknamed Handsome Hansom; was in his glory.  Cheering crowds, his team leading by 14 points, yes, good ol' Derek was in his glory.  But that was about to change.
The passenger of the craft, Intal, was ready to get even with the smug little prick.  Intal was a perfectly presentable humanoid; in fact he could easily pass for a resident of this minor little planet.  His was certainly not a huge body, but Intal did not appreciate that egotistical Derek calling him a wuss.  A WUSS!  The incident had occurred last weekend at a party that had been attended by a large number of college type youths.  Intal was fascinated by some of the female humans that seemed to be part of a sub-species called cheerleaders.  Of particular intrigue was their ability to deviate their bodies into unnatural positions.  And of course the sexual aspirations were of considerable interest also.  While attending a quaint little get together known as a "kegger", Intal was introduced to Derek Hansom.  This brute of a human made it known that Intal reminded him of what he called a "kicker".  According to Derek, all kickers and therefore Intal himself, were nothing more than wusses.  They were also as useless as tits on a boar.  Intal was not pleased with this ruffian and his pronouncements.  Intal did not like it when the nice blonde cheerleader left the kegger with Derek Hansom.  Intal wanted some revenge.  Intal knew that the revenge was certainly possible in light of the fact that he possessed superior technology. 
Keeping his eyes on the monitor, he awaited the moment for his revenge.  Soon it would be time for the kicker to perform his duties.  A wuss.  Well at tonight's game, the wuss would perform superhuman feats.  Let Derek Hansom call all kickers wusses then. 
Fourth down. Thirty-seven yards to go.  It was time for the kick.  Intal had spent several days at the library attempting to understand the game of football and had learned quite a bit about it.  The opposing team was spread out over the field.  Derek was sitting on the bench to allow the kicker to either triumph, or fail.
The moment came, the ball was kicked high into the air and was sailing toward the goalposts at the end of the field.  As the ball neared the apex of its arc, Intal spoke to his spacecraft, "Seize that!" was his command.  Although his spacecraft was of Virulian design, the computer systems were of Antularian.  And everyone in the galaxy knows how literal they are.  Even though it was completely familiar with every known Earth language as well as all of the over seven hundred thousand known languages in the galaxy; it had no specific order.  Just 'Seize that!' wasn't enough of a precise command.  Without such a specific object to seize, the spacecraft seized the object that filled the view screen - the planet Earth. 
Darkness was instantaneous as the primary and secondary systems completely overloaded at the attempt to apply a tractor beam to a planet.  The feeling of weightlessness overcame Intal as the small spacecraft began to plummet toward the earth.  The view screens went blank and he was submerged into darkness.  A pitiful wailing began to emerge from Intal.  Soon the final backup system came to life and the view screen flickered to life, only to show the ground rapidly approaching. 
"Primary and secondary systems malfunctioning, circuits broken.  Automatic repairs ineffective without manual assistance." The computer relayed the situation.
"Manual assistance, what does that mean?" Intal screamed at the computer.
"Open breaker panel A and reset switches please."
Intal desperately searched about him for the panel.  Finding it, he threw it open and reset the switches.  "Pull us out of this dive, now!"  He ordered the craft.
"Attempting to comply at this time, but I must warn you that our rate of descent may be greater than can be overcome by the engines provided by the manufacturer of this craft."
"And just what does that mean?"
"Please prepare for impact."
And the craft tried mightily to halt the pull of gravity and succeeded in slowing the craft and altering the trajectory from a straight line into a gentle graceful arc.  Unfortunately the arc did intersect with an older Volkswagen.  The beetle became a twisted chunk of yellow and chrome, resembling a sculpture produced by some New York fanatic that is incapable of making a living by selling his so called art work and must rely on the intervention of government funding.  Skidding along the pavement, the craft demolished several racks of swingers newspapers chained to a light pole.  As well as the light pole.  It came to rest next to a dumpster in the alley behind a popular watering hole for yuppies.
Intal lost consciousness right at the collision with the yellow beetle.  Fainted really.  The sudden appearance of the yellow object filling his view screen had shocked his sensibilities.  After a time, he began to awaken to find that he was still in one piece.  Even the lights were on as the craft remained motionless. 
"What happened?  Where are we?"  Intal asked of his spacecraft.
"We crashed.  A large group of inhabitants of this planet have moved this vehicle into a large empty building. There are currently a large number of Earthlings surrounding the vehicle.  They appear to be attempting to enter the vehicle through means other than the access door."
"Stupid Earthlings.  Oh well.  What happened anyway?"
The computer gave the short version of the attempt to tractor a planet.  Intal was not amused.  Then the computer told him the bad news, that they were stuck without any power.  There would be an interval of approximately 1 earth hour while the repairs were taking place by the automated system.
Intal was not pleased, "Well next time I go out for a little excitement I will be sure to trade this piece of Vilurian crap in for a better made model."
"Well, you have to be specific, Intal.  Vilurians cannot read minds."
"That may be true but Thelosian crafts can.  Anyway, I think that I will go outside and amuse myself with these Earthmen.  I don't want to sit for an hour and listen to you."
With that, he opened the hatch and walked out into the middle of a large group of men holding weapons pointed right at him.  Intal knew what a gun was.  Television from Earth was very popular throughout the known galaxy for its sadistic and arrogant entertainment value.  And the commercials were hysterical.
He certainly did not want guns pointed at him.  So he addressed the group as he felt they would expect to be greeted.  "Greetings Earthmen, I come in peace.  Please, restrain from pointing your primitive weaponry at me, I mean you no harm."
Of course quite the opposite effect was produced.  The men holding the weapons grasped them tighter and appeared even more tense than they were before he spoke.  Not a good thing, as these weapons seemed to be of the automatic variety.  Intal decided that it might be best to assure these men that he was not deserving of this sort of welcome.
"Please gentlemen, I assure you that I am not of any threat to you at all.  There is no need for these weapons."
One man took a step forward, and nervously began to speak to Intal, "You can speak English?"
"Yes, well, that is a profound deduction.  It is not hard for visitors such as myself to learn English.  You Earthmen broadcast primitive electromagnetic energy all over this sector of space."
"Aaah."  As this simple explanation reassured them all as to why Intal was able to communicate, the entire group relaxed just a bit.
"I do apologize for any mess I may have made during my power failure.  Hopefully no one was injured during the crash.  Was anyone?"
"Ummm, no.  No one was hurt.  Except a car.  I,.. we,.. have so many questions to ask you.  Where are you from?  How did you get here?"
"Please, please, I would love to answer questions.  But first, put the guns away."
The man who seemed to be the one in charge gave a few orders and soon the armed men retreated to the far side of the building.  Their weapons no longer aimed at Intal, but still held in hand.  Just four men in white lab coats were left directly in front of Intal.  Conferring in a small huddle for a few moments, they then turned to face Intal. 
"All right, first off, where are you from?" The man who appeared to be the leader asked.
"If I told you, would you understand?"
The four men huddled together briefly.  Then the leader began again.  "That's a good question, and at this time we will forgo the answer.  A moment ago you said 'visitors', does that mean that others have come to this planet before?"
"Well actually this planet is a very popular vacation spot for many space travelers."
Once again the group conferred for a moment. Then he began again.  "Are there 'travelers' here on the planet right now?  And would we recognize them as being from a different world?"
"Oh, well, I would have to say that there are probably a lot of travelers here at any one given time.  As I stated, this place is very popular.  There are certainly other planets that are more popular, but you earthlings are very interesting and primitive.  As to would you recognize them, well, most likely not.  Most of the galaxy's intelligent species are humanoid in form.  Even the Drakonians appear to be humanoid, it's just that they are covered in fur.  But they love to come here too."
A very long conference ensued after those last remarks.  Soon the leader came back with this question.  "Fur, you say they are covered with fur."
"Yes, bright orange fur, several inches long usually."
     "Wouldn't we, as Earthmen, realize that these beings were different, and probably from another world?"
"No, not really. Drakonians like to visit Hollywood.  They fit in quite easily with that strange crowd there."
The group of men all seemed to nod in assent of this new information.  Apparently the mysteries of Sunset Boulevard have bewildered Earthmen all over and the knowledge that fur-covered beings could be found there was not in the least bit surprising.
Another small conference, and the spokesman again gave another question, "What powers your,… vehicle?  We would like to know how it travels, and what powers it."
"An excellent question.  And I wish that I could give you an answer.  But I am just a guy out for a bit of fun.  I purchased this, vehicle, as you say, for a bit of vacation.  Knowing how it works is not of any interest to me.  How many people here on your planet could actually explain how the engine on their cars operate.  Or for that matter, how the gas gets to the station for them to put in their cars."
"So you don't know what powers your craft?"
"Nope, sorry.  Don't have the slightest idea."
"Can we ask what it is that you do back where you are from?"
"What do I do?"
"Yes, you said that this was a vacation spot.  Do you work, or have a job like people do here on Earth?"
"Oh sure, I am a brezzbabblipan.  That probably doesn't mean much to you does it?"
The men all looked at each other a moment before continuing, "Well no, it doesn't.  Is there something comparable to that here on Earth?"
"Well, I suppose that to you, I would be considered middle management."
"And what specifically does that mean?"
"It means that I receive a very large compensation for doing very little."
“You do very little….”
“Yes, and I do it quite well.  Actually I believe that I am on a short list for promotion to upper management where I can do even less and get compensated even more for it.  I’m sure that you must be familiar with this sort of structuring of labor here on Earth.  It is such a wide spread division of labor within the galaxy, certainly it operates in much the same way here does it not?”
Another conference ensued within the group, and after a few moments, they all looked back at him as the spokesman said, ”Well, we have seen similar examples here, yes.  But specifically, what is it that you do?  What does management mean there?  How much do you know about our planet, how can you relate what you do to what you know about ours?”
Intal held up his hands, “Wait, wait, slow down.  That is a lot of stuff.  First, what is it that I do.  Well, I basically sit in a chair, and it is a very nice chair.  I approve things.  I deny other things.  It’s management.”  He paused as the spacecraft beeped and made some gurgling noises and the lights inside began to flash.  “Oh no.” Intal said in an exaggerated manner, “It seems that my vehicle is in a mode notifying me that it may explode.  I need to attend to that to prevent such a catastrophe.” 
With that pronouncement, all the scientists backed up a pace or two and the men with the weapons began to advance toward him.  Intal hoped that his explanation of the beeps was sufficient and so he bounded up the stairs into the vehicle and was not shot.  “Well, what is going on now?” He inquired. 
“Repairs have concluded in far less time than originally anticipated and we are indeed at this time ready to leave.” Was the answer.
“Well that is a great comfort, these Earthlings were unbelievably boring.  How do you propose that we exit from this building?”
“First I think we should close the hatch before they climb inside.  Then we can begin by applying the screens to make us invisible.”
Looking toward the hatch, Intal concluded that was an excellent suggestion.  He informed the vehicle to do so. Then he told the craft to leave the building and sat back and waited as it gently nudged the giant doors at the end of the building open and left the premises.  As the viewscreen showed the exit, Intal was ecstatic and shouted out, “Yes, Elvis has left the building.”
The craft was silent for several seconds and then responded with, “I am not familiar with that reference.”
“It matters little, let’s get out of here, I think my vacation is over and I want to go home.  And get away from these humans for awhile.”
And with that, the craft went into hyperdrive and left the solar system heading back toward civilization.

Short Story Thnk Tank

Think Tank


Roy Marshall

Enveloped by the forest's impermeable growth, it seemed as though we were alone. In the building above us, the celebration from which the two of us stole away still endured.  My life, my passion, had been focused for years on the successful running of the world's largest private facility dedicated to pure research.  The on going celebration was planned by myself for the express purpose of introducing another new miracle to the world.  The successful fulfillment of that has been the only source of joy in my lonely life since the death of my beloved wife 12 years ago.  But now,isolated from the bustling world outside by this giant terrarium that housed a miniature rainforest; I was with a woman that I had admired for a long time.  And feelings that I had not felt in so many years were returning and were the driving forces for my actions.
Settling into the small grassy ledge next to the pond, she looked up at me in away that no woman had looked at me in such a long time. More fuel to fire my awakening feelings.  I poured champagne into two glasses and offered one to Margaret.  She accepted the glass with one hand, the other stayed and gently fondled my hand.  Youth was rapidly returning to me as Margaret gazed up at me.
"My, but it is a bit warm in here, isn't it?" she whispered hoarsely.
"Yes, yes it is."  Was my answer.
I began to feel that indeed, I wasn't as old as I once thought I was.  In fact, I began to think that I was about the luckiest man in the entire world.  For such a long time now I have been referred to around the office as a stodgy old fart.  But about six weeks ago my metamorphosis began, and it started with an unexpected visit by a rather unpleasant employee.  And I thought about the changes that have happened to me and smiled as I recalled how those events that began so innocently, have led up to my present situation.
It all began with a visit from Stanley.
"Al, Al, look at this!" Stanley Gabrowsky screamed at me as he burst through the door.  "Just look at this.  This is the last straw, look at this!"  He thrust a piece of paper in front of my nose for very nearly half a second.  Waving it wildly in the air, he paced back and forth in front of my desk.  "I can't believe it.  It's outrageous how you let that bum have authorization for purchasing his own equipment."
"Stanley, did you make an appointment with Marsha to see me?"  I knew of course that he hadn't, it's just that Stanley always barges into my office and it annoys me.
"Al, that bum Steigler has authorized more expenditures."
"Stanley, perhaps you don't understand the functioning of a research lab, but that is one of the things that we do here.  We spend money, we buy very expensive little toys so that our wonder boys and girls will play nice with those toys and invent wonderful things for me to sell."
"Don’t patronize me Al, I'm well aware of the function of this facility.  I take care of all the pluses and minuses in the money department for your wonder boys and girls.  And right now that wonder genius Leonard Steigler has an awful lot of minuses."
"All right Stanley, what is it now?"
"What is it?  What is it!  Haven't you been down to his lab lately?  He's got a rain forest set up down there.  He has this huge terrarium with giant plants and vines in it. And trees Al, real trees in there too.  It's huge.  And the cost Al, that thing has cost over seven hundred thousand dollars.  Then there's all the other aquariums and things.  There's hundreds of them, they're everywhere."
"Terrariums, aquariums, … what for?"
"For his god damn frogs Al!"
"Frogs?  Leonard is a physicist, what's he doing with frogs?"
"I don't know.  Look, look at this invoice.  This is too much.  Two breeding pairs of some frog whose name I can't pronounce, look, LOOK, nine thousand dollars."
"That's right Al, frogs.  Hundreds of them, not just these."
"Frogs Al.  Hundreds of them.  Look Al, I didn't mind when he wanted the particle accelerator, I mean everyone here still uses that.  In fact, we practically paid for it renting it out to the people from Scranton.  But frogs Al, what's he doing with frogs?"
"I don't know.  I don't like to interfere, but it has been some time since I looked in on Leonard.  This might be a good opportunity to find out what he's been doing lately.  Hhmmmmm, frogs.  Let's go and have a look."
     Leaving my office, I headed toward the elevator, Stanley scuttling along behind me.  While in the elevator on the way to the basement he hummed his off-key version of what I thought was Moon River.  It was difficult to tell.  Stanley is a very irritating person, he was competent as an accountant, but nobody really liked him.  They just tolerated him as I do.
     Reaching the basement, we made our way to Leonard's lab.  Some time ago, as recognition for his achievements, and because he said he would go elsewhere if we didn't; we had turned over half the basement to Leonard for his personal utilization and research.  With all that room came unlimited spending authorization.  It had been over a year now and I had had no cause to regret giving him that blank check.  Pausing at the door to Leonard's lab I asked Stanley, "How long has he been collecting frogs?"
     "About seven or eight months now.   He started that rain forest of his about eight months ago.  Small expenditures at first so that I wouldn't squawk.  I mean I had no idea what he was making for a long time."
     "When did you find out?"
     "When he bought the twenty five tons of leaf mold."
     "Oh boy,… Oh boy."
     Opening the door, I froze at the sight before me.  It was right in the middle of the lab.  About a sixty feet long and I'm not sure how wide.  From the floor all the way to the twenty-four foot ceiling was a glass-enclosed forest.  All around the edge, set into the soil were little ponds, waterfalls, ferns, bushes and trees.  Big trees.  An eerie mist covered the whole thing inside.  My God, it was a rain forest.  Right here in the sub basement of the only privately owned pure research facility in the country, was a rain forest.
     "Well Al, what do you think of wonder genius' new toy?"
     I didn't know what to think.  Ignoring Stanley, I walked into the lab.  The humidity was overwhelming.  And the sound of bubbling and churning came at me from everywhere.  Aquariums were all over the place.  Several hundred were lined up on huge stands all along the walls.  All of them were bubbling away noisily.  I walked further into the lab, closer to the large rain forest terrarium.  There inside among the trees and vines was Leonard.  He saw me, waved, then moved off in the other direction.  A few moments later he appeared from around the corner, he appeared to be still slightly damp from the mist inside.
     "Hi ya Al, long time no see."
     "I spoke with you just last week Leonard."
     "That's true, but it's been a while since you've come down here."
     Stanley grasped my arm for reinforcement, "Ask him about those expenditures Al, that's why we're here Steigler, to find out what you're doing with all these mighty expensive frogs."
     "It's simple Stanley, I'm trying to determine the degree of water tightness of their assholes."
     Stanley puffed out his chest; he felt the wrath of the self-righteous.  "This is no laughing matter Steigler, you're making unbelievable expenditures.  And you're making them with out any apparent results.  This is a business Steigler, and it's not here for your own personal enlightenment."
     "Look Al, Remember when you gave me the basement to do with as I pleased.  I recall that you were mighty pleased with those nine patents on particle ionization.  As I recall they still bring in a pretty hefty chunk of dough every month."
     "Yeah Steigler they do.  But it's supposed to finance more research.  What are you doing with all of these damn frogs?" butted in Stanley.
     "So you really want to know what I'm doing with these frogs Stanley?"  A strange glistening was in Leonard's eye as he said this.
     Well yes,..yes I do."  Stanley said suspiciously.
     "Stanley, I know this sounds unbelievable to you, but it really is going to work."  Leonard put his arm around the much smaller accountant, then lowered his voice in a conspiratorial way.  "Transmutation of matter Stanley, that's the key.  It's been difficult, but I think that I'm close, real close.  Through selected bombardment of gamma radiation, I'm breaking down the temporal structure of molecules.   And then I'm changing their alignment.  Mutating their very form.  I need these frogs to study their anatomical structure.  Real soon now I'll be able to turn a slimy little accountant into a real live frog.  And this, this will be your new home Stanley."
     Stanley looked aghast.  He looked at us, then at the rain forest, then back at us.  Color started to return to his face as Leonard began to chuckle.
     "Well, as usual, you find it difficult to discuss anything with me in a rational manner.  I hope that Al will have better luck with you than I.  Al, I'll see you later in your office."
     "Make an appointment with Marsha." I called after him, knowing it was futile to expect that of him.
     "I don't know why Al, but I just don't like accountants."  Leonard said to me.
     "Leonard, Leonard, what in the world is going on down here.  Frogs, what are you doing with nine thousand dollar frogs?  And that thing, all this stuff, aquariums, trees,…. Leonard, this isn't a biological research lab.  And you are not a biologist.  What ever happened to that sulfur dioxide problem you were working on?"
     "It was boring."
     "That's it!  It was boring?"
     "Sorry Al, it was boring.  Look when you gave me a free hand and unlimited funding, you said I could do whatever interested me."
     "I'm aware of all that Leonard.  It isn't that I mind spending money, it's where that money is spent that I worry about.  I find it difficult to understand why a physicist is keeping frogs, that's all.  If it's important, then fine, there's no problem."
     "Well Al, it's hard to explain.  I've been in a slump lately."
     "A slump?"
     "Yeah, a slump.  It's hard to just turn on genius.  You don't wake up in the morning some days and say to yourself. 'Well, today I'll discover something remarkable.'  It just doesn't happen like that."
     "I understand that Leonard, but where do the frogs and your rain forest fit in?"
     "I don't know, Al, they interest me.  I think that somehow they might, in some way, well, inspire me.  Who knows, it beats staring at the walls."
     "What do you do, dissect them or what?"
     "I watch them."
     "You watch them?"
     "I watch them breed."
     "You watch them breed."
     "It excites me."
     "It excites you?"
     "Well…. that is…, certainly…, unusual."
     "Unusual!  Al, unusual is how you would describe Marsha's butterscotch bean dip.  This is perversion."
     "Well,… well, you're certainly honest about it.   I … don't quite know …. I'm not exactly sure how this company, in it's impartial and unending quest for knowledge for the sake of science can…  well, participate in the…. well, the deviant obsessions of one of it's admittedly prize researchers…"
     "Cut the crap Al.  What you really want to say is that you're going to revoke my spending authorization."
     "Well in a manner of speaking, yes.  Look Leonard, I don't mind a little diversion now and then.  I'm sure that Einstein had a few peculiarities, however medieval they may have been.  But this, this Leonard, is a little extravagant."
     "Well I went to a porno movie and it didn't do anything for me."
     "So you built this?"
     "Sulfur dioxide Al, is nowhere near as interesting as the transmutation of matter."
     "Good-bye Leonard."
     "Bye Al."
     I had to leave.  The sight of that huge terrarium and the reactions it caused were very depressing.  Sitting alone later in my office, I found that I couldn't concentrate on the business before me.  Something disturbed me about Leonard's sudden appetite for the perverse.  I decided to talk to the company gossip.
     I called her over the intercom, "Marsha, could you come in here for a moment, and please bring the latest expense reports from Leonard Steigler with you."
     Momentarily she appeared.  I took the rather large file from her and ushered her to a chair.  "Sit down, sit down, Marsha.  I want to speak to you for a few minutes."
     "It's about Leonard, isn't it.  I mean that's what you want to talk about isn't it?"
     "Well, yes Marsha, what do you know about his frogs?"
     "I won't go down there to see them, I mean, it isn't proper.  Not while you’re supposed to be working.  And besides, I won't talk to him after what he said about my bean dip at the Christmas party."
     Ah, yes, Marsha's infamous Butterscotch Bean Dip.  It haunted me for two days, yet I had barely tasted it.  My Christmas was mostly spent on the commode.  "I don't recall what it was that he said about it."
     "Well he had the nerve to say that it wasn't fit for human consumption!"
     Secretly I felt that was an excellent explanation as to why the accounting staff went after it with such enthusiasm.  But, to the matter at hand, "Now Marsha, you mustn't let one person's opinion upset you.  I personally don't like guacamole.  Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, if I remember correctly."
     "That's true.  I suppose you're right.  And I don't like fish."
     I waited a moment for her to finish that thought.  But then it was Marsha.  "Yes, fish.  Well Marsha, you said you won't go down to see his frogs.  Does anyone else go down to see them?"
     "Oh sure, all the girls go down there.  Or almost all of them do.  Cindy doesn't.  She just got married in September, remember?  And Teresa is pregnant again.  And well Sally just isn't Leonard's type at all, but well yeah, most of the girls go down there."
     "Uh, huh.  And they go down there to see his frogs?"
     "Well you know, they go down there for more than that!"
     "For what?"
     "You KNOW!"
     "No, I'm afraid I don't know."
     "Oh Al, haven't you ever made love in the forest before?"
     "Ah, I see."  I didn't really, I was raised in the city and couldn't understand any special fascination with it.  "Well thank you Marsha, you've been a big help to me.  I will of course keep this information strictly confidential."
     "I'm glad I could help Al."  And she left, taking that queasy feeling in my stomach with her.   A small gift of sorts leftover from Christmas.
     My work seemed to go a little easier for the entire month afterwards.  Even Stanley's frequent visits were a little more tolerable knowing that Leonard was down in his forest getting a little inspiration.  Eventually, I felt that the aphrodisiac power would decrease as the novelty wore off.  Leonard was a genius, and I really did have the utmost confidence that eventually great things would happen.  I was almost right.
     Walking into my office on a Monday morning, I was greeted by Stanley, seated at my desk, in my chair.  He jumped up, and began gesticulating wildly as he shouted at me, "Al, this has got to stop!  It can't go on anymore!  It's an outrage!"
     "You're right Stanley, it must stop.  You can't keep coming into my office without an appointment."
     "No, no listen to me Al.  Do you know what that pervert Steigler is doing down in that lab of his.  And we're financing it!  Do you know?"
     "He has sexual relations with some of the female employees."
     "He … he what?  That's not what he told me."
     "You're too gullible Stanley."
     "Gullible!  Gullible!  He once told me that we were going to make money out of thin air.  That was before I had ever heard of particle ionization.  What am I supposed to believe?  Do you have any idea how much money those thin air patents bring in each month?  And just from the Auto industry?"
     "Well, roughly yes I do."
     "Yeah, well when he says things like that, I believe him.  He told me he was, well he told me he watched… he said …. He has sex with the girls.  Wow!  So what does he do with those frogs?"
     "I don't know, Stanley.  I'll talk to him though.  See what he's really working on.  Perhaps his little diversion has gone on long enough.  I have some busy work I was going to pass around.  But I think that I will let him work on it."
     "Busy work, Al?"
     "Just some particulate dispersion problems for the electric companies.  The perfect thing to help a genius out of his slump."
     "Well good.  He's had way too much unproductive space for far too long.  You don't always think about these things Al, but when you gave that much space to one person, whew you skew the whole accountability of the entire operation.  And then when we don't make any profit, well Al, it's a nightmare, a nightmare…"
     He was still jammering away about income per square inch or something as I ushered him out the door. 
     Going to see Leonard proved to be unnecessary.  He came to see me the very next day.  He even had an appointment.  He walked in holding a thick file and a large bluish frog with orange spots.  Tossing the file onto my desk, he crossed the room with his companion and sat down. "I suppose you've been wondering what I've really been working on?"
     "No, not really."
     "Well, thank you Al.  That shows that you really do have confidence in me.  I'm impressed.  And I hope that little number I just gave you will show that your confidence in me isn't unwarranted."
     I looked at the file.  All handwritten as usual.  The title caught my attention: Separation of Isotopic Hydrogen Via Biological Means.
     "Isotopic hydrogen?"
     "Yeah, you know heavy water.  For bombs, fusion reactions and the like.  Nobody has gotten that far with the fusion yet, but it's only a matter of time.  Especially if I get interested in it."
     "And is it cheaper?"
     "It's dirt cheap.  And very valuable.  Who knows what else you might adapt it to.  Won't be long Al, pretty soon you can get out those dusty plans for the new wing."
     "Plans?  What plans?"
     "C'mon Al, everybody knows that you had an architect draw up plans for a new wing.  That was over fifteen years ago, way before I came here even."
     "Yes, well it was something that I and my,… wife, wanted to do.  I haven't thought about it for some time now.  A new wing would certainly look nice though.  I suppose that deep down, I knew that you would be instrumental to this facility.  And now you may just help to achieve the growth that was dreamed of such a long time ago.  I'm impressed.  I never doubted your abilities Leonard.  Your methods worried me at times.  I mean frog fantasies, what was that all about anyway?"
     "Al, I just hate being bugged about anything, and especially by that asshole Stanley."
     "Well, I don't see that happening again in the near future.  I am still curious about your rain forest and its appeal to your female companions."
     "Ah, I see, you old dog you.  As a matter of fact, I do my best thinking right after sex.  The novelty of the rain forest helped provide me with suitable opportunities."
     "And what about the frogs?"
     "Everyone needs a hobby Al.  Frogs fascinate me.  Along with the transmutation of matter."
     "Okay Leonard, as long as you're happy."
     "See you later Al."  And he left, taking his unusual amphibious friend with him.
     I set right to work with Marsha transcribing his handwritten pages into readable text.  Then we sent off copies to the legal and patent departments.  Then, I locked the door to my office and got out those plans for my new wing.  After ten years, there were a few changes needed.  I set to work on them.  I hadn't felt that good for some time, just working on the changes was invigorating. 
     By the end of the week we were ready to announce the news of Leonard's discovery.   That meant a press party.  Well, mostly it meant a party.   Scientists are normally a stodgy group of people, but they always seem eager to celebrate a colleague's success.  I think it's because they get to mingle with press people and talk about themselves.  And also the fact that someone else's success means a little more money in the pot for us to distribute to their personal projects.
     The day finally arrived, the announcement was made and the party was going quite well.  Enough liquor had been brought in to insure favorable copy from all the members of the press.  Having made the required rounds of all the heads of the news teams, I was about to retire to my office and allow the party to continue.  But as I was leaving, Margaret Mayer from the World Press approached me.  We began a lively conversation in which she regaled me with some anecdotes about some rather famous persons.  Then she asked me about the new wing for the facility.  I, of course, was flattered by her attention, and gave her a rundown of what the new addition meant.  It was during this conversation that I noticed Leonard and Marsha walk into the room, hand in hand.
     "Well, well well.  The call of the wild."  I murmured half to myself.
     She looked at me quizzically, "The call of the wild.  What in the world do you mean by that Al?"
     "Oh, I'm sorry Margaret, I was just thinking out loud.  Listen, would you like to see how our greatest scientist gets his inspiration?"
     "This isn't a joke or anything is it?"
     Looking at her well-exposed cleavage, I was suddenly inspired in the way that Leonard gets inspired.  I said to myself, 'I'm no fool nor am I that old either'.
     "No, really.  We've set up a rather special little secluded spot right here in the building where Leonard and others can go to get a little , …er, … inspiration.  It's quite impressive really.  And I'm willing to give you an exclusive look at it."
     "Oh my, I'm all excited!"
     "Good. In fact excellent.  Let me refresh your drink first."
     And we left for the basement.  While in the elevator Margaret asked me, "Where is that uncouth baboon Stanley.  Every time I come here he follows me around leering at me."
     "I don't know, come to think of it I haven't seen him for some time.  Let me apologize for him.  Although we may be unsure of his species at this point, I must admit that he recognizes beauty when he sees it."
     "Uuuuuuu, my,… Thank you Al."  She faced me directly and reached up and straightened my tie. "You old dog you Al."
     I was hoping that wasn't really what she was thinking when the elevator dinged and the door opened.  We both turned to go.  "It's right down this corridor Margaret."  I led the way down the corridor to Leonard's lab.  "We call it the Inspiration Chamber."
     Margaret looked at me with a slight look of disbelief.  Then we entered.
     "Oh my,… I don't believe it.  It's huge.  You weren't kidding Al.  It's incredible.  Can we go inside?"
     "Of course," I said, even though I had no idea how to get inside.  Walking around to the back, we found the entrance, then entered.  We looked around a bit and came upon an ice bucket with champagne and two glasses.  It was right next to a blanket near a small waterfall and picturesque little pond.
     "Oh Al.  Champagne?  Did you plan this?"
     "Margaret, you know how I've always been, somewhat attracted to you.  Here, let's sit down, let me get you some champagne."
     She lay back against some moss-covered boulders as I opened the bottle and poured.  We sipped in silence for a few moments.
     "My, but it is warm in here, isn't it?" she whispered hoarsely.
     "Yes, yes it is." I agreed.
     "Well, you don't mind if I take this off then do you?
     I was unable to answer her, but I watched as she began to unbutton the buttons of her blouse.  One by one, she undid them, and I beheld the joyous vision before me.  And then this large blue frog with orange spots hopped up and appeared to be ogling Margaret.  Then it began to hum what I thought was Moon River.  It ruined everything.

the end