Saturday, May 9, 2009

Slug Thumbs

There's really only one person I would turn to when a giant slug asked me to give it and its brood thumbs. I know, your first response is going to be Crazy Charley down at Crazy Charley's Thumb House and Various Prosthetic Limbs Discount Emporium, but what you have forgotten, my friend, is that Crazy Charlie was actually crazy and was trying to build a new Tower of Babel out of thumbs and plastic legs in back of the emporium. You must have seen it on the news. Anyway, I followed that story pretty closely and he ended up havin to go to court for buildin without a permit. He sunk all his money into that court case and went bankrupt. He moved away after that. I heard a couple stories about where he might be; either he's in a mental institution in Tuskegee or he's a famous avaunt guard artist in New York. No matter which of those is true, I can't really see me gettin a way to get the keys to the now run down and creepy CCTHVPLDE building so I can get in there and get myself some thumbs. So I definitely thought about gettin them thumbs from Charlie, but it just wasn't gonna work, so I went for the next best thing, I pulled out the old cellular phone and called up Charles Lindbergh.

The phone rang three times and then he answered in his usual way, "This is most certainly NOT Charles Lindbergh. Who's calling please?" He liked to keep his identity secret, you see.

"Mr...uh...Smith?" I thought I'd play along. "This here's Pat O'Neil and I got a request for you."

"Mr. Smith?!" He sounded scared. "Who's this Mr. Smith? I don't know no Mr. Smith!"

I guess I played along too well. "You're Mr. Smith, Mr. Definitely-Not-Charles-Lindbergh."

"Wait, back up a second. Who are you calling Mr. Smith and who are you calling Mr. Definitely-Not-Charles-Lindbergh? Is this a conference call? Did you put me on a conference call without telling me? Wrong number! Prank Caller! Prank Caller!" And then he hung up.

I turned to Alistair. "What was that?"

"Yeah," he said slowly, "that happens all the time. Just call him back. When he says 'who's calling', just answer the question."

So I did as instructed. He picked up again after three rings. Who consistently picks up after three rings, I ask you. I was always under the impression that two rings was the universally correct number of rings to allow before pickin up the phone. By the time you're on the third ring, you're pretty sure they ain't gonna pick up. Either that, or they been cuttin up some onions in the kitchen and your call made them slip and nick their thumb, not too bad, though. So they been spendin the first two rings runnin around yellin, "I'm comin, I'm comin, hold your horses!" while they wash their hand off and try to root though the junk drawer for a band aid. Then they grab the phone with one hand while they're openin the band-aid with their other hand and their teeth. That's why, when someone answers on the third ring, they almost always sound out of breath and like they have somethin in their mouth. But Lindbergh sounded like he'd just been sittin there listenin to the phone ring three times before pickin it up. Talk about a whacko.

But answer he did, "This is most certainly NOT Charles Lindbergh. Who's calling please?"

I was ready this time. "Pat O'Neil," I stated perfunctorily.

"Ahhh, Pat. It seems like ages since I've heard from you. How long has it been?"

"About 4 seconds, sir."

"Is that all? It seems longer than that."

"Yeah," I wasn't as prepared for this as I would have liked to be, "time sure flies."

"It sure does, son," he seemed ebullient, "it sure does."

"Yep," I concurred.

"Yes," he concurred.

Then there was an uncomfortable silence. I didn't know if I should continue the chit chat or if I should just jump right in to what I was asking him for. Luckily, he solved it for me.

"What can I do you for, there, Pat?" he asked.

"Well, sir," I stammered, "I'm standing here with some giant slugs who can lead us to McClawenstein."

"That's great news!" he belted out.

"Yes, it sure is," I agreed. "But they're requesting we do something for them first."

"Oh yeah?" he asked. "And what would that be."

"Well, you see sir, they want thumbs."

"Thumbs, huh?" he asked suspiciously.

"Yes, sir," I explained, "they would like someone to give them thumbs."

"Well, that's easy," he explained, "just take them down to Crazy Charley's."

"Yeah, I thought of that, but they're out of business."

"Right!" he bellowed, "The Babel thing, if I'm not mistaken."

"That's correct, sir," I affirmed.

"That's a shame. I loved that place. What was that slogan they had? It was very clever..."

I remembered it well, "You can get an arm and a leg without spending an arm and a leg."

"That's it!" he confirmed. "Well, I guess I could rig something up for them. Do they want hands, too? Arms? Laser cannons?"

I covered the phone with my hand and addressed the slugs. "Would you like hands or arms to go with those thumbs?"

"No, thank you," they responded, "just the thumbs will be fine."

I returned to the phone, "No hands or arms, sir, just the thumbs."

"What about the laser cannons? Did you ask them that?"

I sighed and rolled my eyes a bit, "Hold on." Then I covered the phone again. "He wants me to ask if you want laser cannons."

"No..." the slug trailed off. "What kind of laser cannon?"

I asked this to Charles. He told me, "Pointer."


"Well, yeah, you don't think I'd give a total stranger my death ray laser cannon, do you? We can start them off with the pointer laser and then, as they show more responsibility, we can work them up."

When I made this offer to the slugs, they consulted for a bit. "No, thank you," they finally answered, "just the thumbs will be sufficient."

I relayed this to Charles. He agreed to see what he could do. We had to clear out of the 99 Cent store because they were closin. Sheriff Tom got the law to back off a bit by tellin them I was drunk and he'd given me a stern talkin to and I'd promised never to visit the 99 Cent store again, which was just fine by me. He made sure all the cops cleared out before Douggy and I loaded them slugs up on the back of the tow truck and took them back to the shop. They hung out for a few days in the body shop, during which time we found out their slime made a fantastic car polish. We started bottlin it and got ourselves a couple sales, which all went into a find for the slugs. We didn't know what the fund would be for, but we figured we should have some money set aside, you know, just in case.

About a week later, a box arrived at the shop. Jared was the first to see it, so he brought it in and opened it up, thinking it was cleaning supplies or something. Instead, there were several belts stitched together into a harness. On the back of the harness was a battery pack and a solar panel and on the sides were two perfectly formed little robotic thumbs. These thumbs were connected to baseball caps that shot out wires like a an explosion at Radio Shack. I took it into the body shop to show the slugs and they got very excited about it. Douggy and I spent the next 10 minutes strapping the thumb harnesses on and adjusting everything. When we were done, we stood back and looked at our handiwork. There stood 5 slugs wrapped around with leather belts, giant solar panels on their backs and wired baseball caps on their heads. On their sides, their robotic thumbs were wigglin away like worms on a hook while they presumably adjusted to the brainwaves of their wearers. Finally, they stopped flopping and whirling around. And I swear, the slugs smiled. I don't know how I recognized it as such, but it was definitely a smile.

"So," I asked, "what do you think." And, of course, they gave me a thumbs up.

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