#87 Brutal I pushed open the door to the dirty, cramped machine shop where I worked. A stiff Chicago wind whistled, blowing snow and me through the door. I slammed the door against the wind and saw Tom leaning against the lathe he runs all day. “Hey, Joe, whaddya know?” Same goddamn question every day. I gave Tom a disgusted look. “If I knew anything, I sure as hell wouldn’t be here.” “Where would you be?” I knew he wanted me to make up some fantastic story of where I’d like to be. “I’d be in a world where we’d never have to work.” “But I like working.” “That’s because you’re a retard.” I wanted to take my words back when I saw the hurt look on his face. He wasn’t retarded, but he sure wasn’t bright either. He started the lathe spinning and put a piece of his finished work aside, an unusual-looking hollow cylinder. I picked it up and looked it over. It had a flashlight bulb on each end and a spot for two D-cell batteries. “What’s this for, Tom?” “It’s a replicator, you know, it duplicates things.” I always thought Tom a bit mentally slow, but what he was saying was totally off the wall. “How’s it work?” “Can’t tell you.” “Why?” “The guy I built it for said it was a replicator. I followed his instructions, but I don’t know how it works.” I turned it over and over in my hands trying to figure out what the heck it did. The door blew open, and snow blew in along with a man so small that the word, midget came to mind. He saw the object in my hand and smiled. “Ah, I see you’ve finished my replicator.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred dollar bill. “Er, scuse me,” Tom said when he saw the hundred. “We agreed on three hundred for me to build this thing.” Tom took the bill from the midget’s hands. The midget took two D-Cell batteries from his pocket and said, “Let me have that thing, and I’ll make you another two hundred.” Tom looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders. “Let him have it. I want to see how it works anyway.” The midget carefully placed the batteries in it and tested the two bulbs. He lit one at a time, and when it was operational, he smiled. “Good job. Thank you. I’m going to give you a bonus for doing such a good job.” Tom’s simple face lit up at the praise. Him saying he was giving a bonus made me suspicious. I figured he was some kind of a con man. No one gives up something for nothing. We watched as he sprayed some sticky adhesive on a piece of cardboard and placed the bill on it. He then leaned the cardboard against a phone book on the counter so that it was a few inches above the countertop facing the replicator he had set a few feet away. He turned on one bulb and adjusted the distance until the light covered the bill. Tom and I watched intently, he out of curiosity and me out of speculation while I wondered how the midget would try to con us. The little man went to the door and turned the deadbolt. “Can’t be interrupted while replicating,” he said and went to his device and turned on the second bulb. The light on the bill intensified and shimmered, and it looked like the bill had atomized until a piece of cardboard with a hundred dollar bill stuck to it suddenly appeared on the other end of the counter. Tom’s jaw dropped. I wasn’t taken in. I figured he did some magic trick to make it appear. I expected him to try to sell us the replicator. Hell, if I believed it could duplicate money, no price would be too much for it, but of course I wasn’t that gullible. The midget repeated the process five times, peeled six one hundred dollar bills from the cardboard, stuck one in his pocket, and handed Tom five hundred. “Bet they’re counterfeit.” I grabbed two and saw they had identical serial numbers. “See,” I showed Tom, “We can’t spend these.” “Yeah, but what if instead of replicating money, we replicated jewels or gold? We could sell any of that. Right?” “Sure we could, but . . . Hey, where’d he go?” The midget had snuck out while we examined the money and snow blew through the open door. I slammed it shut. “Knew he was some kind of crook.” “But the replicator worked. We saw it with our own eyes. Didn’t we?” “Nah, I think he used sleight of hand to make those bills appear.” “I watched him pretty close, and I don’t think he did that. I think the replicator actually worked.” “We’ll never know now that he’s gone and took it with him.” “But I’ve got the other one I made.” Shocked into silence, I watched as Tom opened a drawer and pulled out a duplicate of the replicator. I searched my desk drawers, found two D-cells and gave them to Tom. He meticulously put them in the device and tested the bulbs as the midget had done. “All set, what’re we going to replicate?” I yanked off my 14-karat gold wedding ring and stood it on end. “Let’s try this.” Tom adjusted the light beam, so it covered the ring and turned on the other light. We watched as the gold ring glowed brightly and appeared to dissolve. At this point, a ring appeared on the other end of the counter. I grabbed it in disbelief. “Is it real?” Tom asked. I examined the new ring, and it was genuine down to the inscription inside that said “Forever together.” We spent the day replicating rings. Guess my opinion of Tom being slow showed I was a slower than him.. The end For more stories, poems, & other stuff. http://joedibuduo.com/ http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joe+DiBuduo PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR$1. A MONTH TO ENABLE ME TO CONTINUE WRITING A STORY A DAY. IF I CONTINUE FOR A YEAR, I WILL WRITE 365 STORIES. You'll receive them all for $1. A month. https://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=1772333&u=423048&alert=3
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