The Static of the Spheres
Chapter 10: Funny How Work Makes You Hungry
YOU CAN READ THE FIRST HALF
YOU CAN ORDER THE
we have to read the directions carefully,” said Guppa. “Before you
begin any project like this, you’ve got to read the directions a few times,
until you know them pretty well. Then you can start to work, but
you don’t just jump right in and start doing the first thing. Understand?”
“Oh, yeah, I understand,” I said, wanting for all the world to jump right in and start doing the first thing, whatever that might be. I pulled my metal stool up to Guppa’s workbench, moving in as close to him as I could. Here we were, working on a project together, and we were going to do everything just right, just the way it should be done. First, we’d read the directions carefully, several times.
Guppa bent over the old issue of Impractical Craftsman. He moved his finger along as he read the directions, and now and then he commented to himself under his breath.
“Ah-ha!” he might say
Or, “Well, well, well.”
Sometimes he would underline something with a flat red carpenter’s pencil.
I read along too, and now and then, to make certain that everything was done right, I commented to myself under my breath. Sometimes I asked Guppa a question.
“What’s this mean—superheterodyne?” I asked, pointing to the word in the second paragraph, where it had stopped me cold.
“Ah-ha!” said Guppa, and he underlined the word with his pencil. “That’s what kind of radio it will be, when we’re finished,” he said.
“What about triode?” I asked a little later.
“That’s got something to do with it too,” Guppa said, “but it’s not really as important.” A moment passed. “Well, come to think of it, it might be pretty important at that,” he said. He went back and underlined it. He read on. I tried to keep up with him, but I ran into so many words that I didn’t know that I gave up trying to read and put my effort into daydreaming about the real work of building the radio, the work that would begin after we had read the directions a few more times, and into saying “Ah-ha!” and “Gosh!” and “Hmmmm” under my breath.
When Guppa had finished reading the directions, he began reading them again, and I began turning on my stool and looking around the cellar. When he had finished reading the directions a second time, he began reading them again, and I began fooling around with the wringer on Gumma’s washing machine. When he had finished reading the directions for the third time, he straightened up and rubbed his back and then flipped back to the start again.
“You hungry, Guppa?” I asked. He turned to me with a look of some surprise, as if he had forgotten that I was there.
“Hungry?” he asked. “No, not yet, Peter.”
“When do you think you’ll want lunch?” I asked.
He looked at me and smiled. “Oh, in a little while, I guess,” he said.
“Maybe I should go upstairs and help Gumma make some sandwiches,” I suggested.
He looked at me for a minute before he said anything. “Maybe you should,” he said at last.
Gumma and I worked together on lunch. We made Guppa’s favorite, raw onion sandwiches, on toast, with butter. Gumma sliced the onions, as she always did, and she was a marvel to watch. With her old knife, worn by sharpening so that the blade arched upward, she cut uniform slices, with the precision of one of the women in the ruling room at the slide-rule factory. I got to make the toast, and spread butter on it, and lay the slices of raw onion on it, and I carried a tray with two glasses of milk and a plate of the sandwiches to the cellar. They were delicious.
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Little Follies is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
“My Mother Takes a Tumble,” “Do Clams Bite?,” “Life on the Bolotomy,” “The Static of the Spheres,” “The Fox and the Clam,” “The Girl with the White Fur Muff,” “Take the Long Way Home,” and “Call Me Larry” were originally published in paperback by Apple-Wood Books.
Little Follies was first published in hardcover by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.
For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail the author’s imaginary agent, Alec “Nick” Rafter.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.