Doc Tempest And The Devil Of The Desert

…from the June, 1958 issue

Yet MORE “Life On The Magic Bus” entries! Only a few more to go!

Chapter 4, Part 3: On The Trail Of Giant Jesus

Winker arms herself
Lucy & Sasha go unarmed

4/27/2009

Destination Sign: Central City

When Winker entered the living room wearing her new mechanical arms, the reactions were…

Lucy: “What the hell?”
Sasha: “WOW! Winky is a cyborg!”

Grace: “Where did you get those things?”

Doc: “Uh oh! Dogs got hands. We are screwed now.”

The Magic Bus had been parked at the Seaside Haven RV park for the last day & a half while Doc had written the piece for Roadside Attractions Quarterly and they all took some Grace approved time to enjoy the beach. During that time, Winker had decided to tackle the “no opposable thumbs” problem. She had taken the easy route by finding a set of Zerillian Arm Units down in Joe’s workshop.

The body harness fit ok, if a bit tight around the tummy. The 6 foot long quadruple jointed arms, however, were taking some time to get used to.

“I got them from Joe, Mom.” She said this as one arm slowly reached out to pick up a chew toy. “The people these were made for don’t have actual arms or hands, so they use these.”

She missed grabbing the chew toy on the first two tries, but got it on the third attempt. Damn this only having one eye! Maybe she ought to look into a bionic eye. Maybe a bionic eye with a laser! No, no laser. The Parental Units would not like that.

Having picked up the chew toy with her four fully opposable mechanical fingers, she placed it on the nearest coffee table.

“I’m still getting used to them, but Joe thinks I’ll be handling tools like a pro soon.”

Doc came closer to check out the arms.

“Those are pretty cool, Wink,” he said as he ran his hands along the cool metal surface of one of them. “You look kind of like Doctor Octopus from the comic books.”

Sasha came over for a look. “Yeah,” she said with a giggle, “we’ll call you OctoWinky!”

Without even thinking about it, Winker gave herself a facepalm. This was exactly what she feared. Nicknames stuck like poop on a blanket.

Several hours later, just before dinner, Winker had practiced enough to be pretty skilled at most simple tasks. Dad had been really impressed when she poured him a pint of stout.

“Thank you, sweetie!” He smiled as he accepted the mug.

“Your welcome, Dad. Just don’t get any ideas about Winker the Barmaid.”

Later, she showed Lucy and Sasha how she could throw a ball, pick up & fold a dog blanket and drive a nail into a board using a hammer. They were impressed.

“Can we get arms like that?” Lucy asked. “I could catch some squirrels if I had arms.”

“Yeah,” agreed Sasha, “and I could play video games using a human based controller. And I could use tools & stuff!”

Winker has known this was coming. Fortunately, the answer was simple.

“Sorry, sisters, but there is only one set of these arms on the bus and now they’re imprinted to me.” This was the truth, although she had not mentioned that new sets of arms could be ordered from the W’Grrit & M’Lkuk catalog. Sasha was too young for arms and Lucy was, well, too Lucy.

That night, before going to bed, Winker brushed her sister’s coats before brushing her own. Then she got out of her arms and went to bed, where she dreamed of using wrenches and drills and impact tools.

Chapter 4, Part 4: On The Trail Of Giant Jesus

On the trail of gnomes

Grace shows Giant Jesus the light

4/28/2009

Destination Sign: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town

At 9:45 in the morning, the Clay family departed the Magic Bus and went to visit the Gnome Forest near Astoria, Oregon. Doc and Sasha were eager to see the “over 2,000 garden gnomes in fun poses”. Grace was pretty much just along for the ride, Lucy was hot to sniff out “assorted vermin, including those damned squirrels” and Winker was half asleep, having had a long night in the shop rebuilding a toxic vapor accumulator with Joe.

(Narrator: Speaking of squirrels, you might be interested that Uncle Ferdie was able to round up all of his squirrels. They were not physically injured during the riot, but several of them were mentally scarred for weeks. For that matter, so was Uncle Ferdie.)

The Gnome Forest was essentially a two acre plot of woods with garden gnomes placed in interesting and humorous spots. Several of the gnomes had been custom made, like the one who appeared to be taking a leak on a tree. There were also little gnome sized houses and gnome dogs & cats. The trail through the woods had many signs that told about the scenes one was seeing.

The walk took about 55 minutes, during which Doc & Sasha sang songs like “Gnome, Gnome On The Range” and “No Place Like Gnome” and “My Old Kentucky Gnome”. By minute 30, Grace was threatening to shove pine cones in their mouths and Winker was using some naughty words to describe their singing. Lucy was mostly complaining that her harness and leash were seriously impacting her rodent chasing skills.

(Narrator: Contrary to what Lucy might tell you, no squirrels were mocking her, although a few did mock Doc & Sasha’s singing.)

After bidding the Gnome Forest goodbye, they drove down the coast an hour to the World Famous Giant Jesus Of The Rock. This 70 foot tall statue was standing atop a tall rock about 100 feet offshore. Tourists could reach it by using a long steel foot bridge that Winker thought was of dubious engineering quality.

Despite the old hound’s misgivings, the whole family trooped out to the statue along with about a dozen other humans and two other dogs, one of whom Lucy declared to be a “stuck up little asshole of a bichon frise”.

This Giant Jesus had originally been meant to be used as a lighthouse, but then the government built a proper lighthouse just two miles away, so that aspect of it was dropped. Now, the light was only lit for an hour or two on religious holidays.

Jesus of the Rock was, externally, very good looking. The craftsmanship of the stone carving was excellent. Doc noted that the face and hands were some of the best he’d ever seen on a Giant Jesus. Sasha noted that his upraised right arm and hand had seabird poop on them, as did the back of his head.

Inside the structure, everyone climbed the stairs up to the top except Winker, who decided that she was too old for the climb. Grace stayed at the ground floor with her and the two chatted about various family matters.

Then Grace noticed that a power cord was very near to falling out of the outlet that it was plugged into.

“That’s not safe,” she said as she pushed the plug firmly into the socket.

It took Winker just about a second to put two and two together and yell, “NO, Mom! The light!” before everyone up in the head of Jesus began yelling. Grace quickly pulled the plug, but the damage was done.

First down the stairs was Sasha, who had escaped being blinded because she was busy licking her but with her eyes closed when the light came on. Next was an old guy who was blind to begin with, then a steady stream of blinking and temporarily sightless humans and dogs.

One woman was wailing that Jesus had blinded her for her sins, while Lucy said “Fuck that! I’m a dog and I’ve never sinned.” Winker thought that, while true from a strictly theological viewpoint, Lucy was not a beacon of purity.

Doc seemed to be blinded only in one eye, since he had been looking out to sea through the telescope mounted in the right eye of Mr. Christ. He gave Grace a mild stink eye, which made her blush.

After only a few minutes, everyone’s sight began to return and they left. The sinful lady seemed greatly relieved that Jesus had only warned her not to sin again. The old blind guy muttered, “Bunch of goddamned pussies.”

Back on the bus, Doc had Grace drive for a bit and Lucy laid on one of the sofas and griped that the spots she was seeing looked kind of like squirrels.

Chapter 5: Emails From The Road

Doc shuts down some twits
Sasha reports the news

5/2/2009

Destination Sign: Gondor

To: spiketronic@zmail.rpg

From: docrocket@zmail.rpg

Glad you and Mary made it home okay. That long layover in Minneapolis must have sucked. On the plus side, not much going on there at 2:15 am on a Tuesday anyway.

Things here are going just swell, if you don’t count my scaring the crap out of a couple of wealthy old twits who were parked next to us at an RV park for two days. They kept saying shit about how “quaint” and “rustic” our bus was, while continuously showing off the half million dollar land yacht they had. Finally, I invited them onto the bus.

You should have seen their faces! Eyes were not meant to open that wide. Jaws were dropped, oh yes.

LOL! By the time we were done with the nickle tour, they were speechless, which was the effect I was aiming for. They left the park a couple of hours later.

Regarding the situation for DogCon in Texas, besides you, Mary, & the twins, we have Avis, Ginie, Peter, Holly, the Mystery family and Sam & Rani staying with us so far. Not 100% sure but we may also have Poppy and her boyfriend du jour with us, too. Should be fun. Joe tells me he can expand the slide room and make it into a waterpark.

Gotta go. Tell all your womenfolk we love them.

Doc

From: graceclay@eol.com

To: madsciencegal@mit.edu

Hello, sweetheart!

I hope school is going well for you. I know this last year must be crazy, what with you going for dual doctorates and all. You know, your dad and I really admire you and your brother, since we didn’t go to college for years (in my case) and ever (in your dad’s case). We are very proud of you.

Our trip & our retirement go well so far. This whole idea of traveling around checking out goofy roadside stuff has been pretty fun, so far. There have been a few “Uh Oh!” moments, but mostly things are going great. Having Sasha & Winker on my side when your dad has one of his questionable ideas is a real plus. Of course, he does often have Lucy on his side, but we still outnumber them.

Yesterday, we saw a house made of old cars and went to a driftwood museum. Earlier today, we visited a Santa Claus Town that was in pretty bad shape. Your father said they ought to let it decay a bit more, then reopen it as a Zombie Santa Claus Town. The old couple who run the place were not amused. I thought he had a pretty good idea. The place couldn’t me much more creepy with zombies.

I’m attaching some pictures of the trip so far. One of them shows Winker wearing her robotic arms. She has gotten quite adept with them. Yesterday, she even managed to cook an omelet.

Time for dinner. Write or call when you get a chance.

Love,
Mom

From: lucylou@pmail.com

To: avb900@zmail.rpg

Hi, Auntie Avy!

I’m typing this by talking, since I can’t use robot arms like Winky does. It’s pretty cool.

How are you & Emma & Lydia & Spock? It said on the news that you had snow the other night. We have only seen snow on the distant mountains so far. I thought we ought to go play in the snow, but you know how dad feels about the “awful white stuff”.

We are on our way to see some albino deer. Earlier, we went to a kind of creepy Santa Claus Town that was just full of mice and chipmunks. Mom kept me on a short leash so I couldn’t chase them. That sucked.

Mom said that we will see you next month at a convention in Boston. That will be great! I hope you can bring Spock & the girls. They will love it here on the bus. Wait until they see the shoe room!

Daddy is reading your latest book, the one about the murder on the cruise ship. Every so often, when he gets to a twist in the plot, he says, “Damn it, Avis!” and we all laugh at him.

Ooh, Mom says we are at the deer place. Gotta go. Write to me soon.

Love,
Lucy

From: oneeyedbitch@pmail.com

To: customerservice/trilthoksubtronics@vintoth.com

Dear sentient,

Thank you for your timely replacement of the D-wave smoother that I received recently. The replacement functions perfectly. Your help in explaining where I went wrong in ordering was very much appreciated. I am somewhat new to having manipulative organs.

Respectfully,

Winker Sue Clay

From: sashajane@pmail.com

To: busterboy@pmail.com

Hi, Buster!

I’m glad we could get you on the bus and smarten you up before we left, so you can do email and stuff.

This has been a fun trip! I woofed at a bear and scared a bunch of humans! It was hella funny!

We have gone to lots of weird houses and stuff. Most of them smell funny, like rat poop and old wet stuff.

Me and Lucy and Winker and a bunch of other dogs caused a riot at a squirrel show. No, really, there were like, 100 squirrels there. We didn’t catch any of them and Daddy had to drive the bus out of town fast. Mom said we are scalawags, which I guess is ok, because her and Grandma G call Daddy and Grandpa Bill that all the time.

I gotta go, but you write me an email soon, ok? Tell Smokey and Duke and LeeLee and Toby and everyone else that I said hello.

Your buddy,

Sasha

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2 comments on “Doc Tempest And The Devil Of The Desert

  1. Anna Dobritt says:

    These are so excellent :D

  2. Anna Dobritt says:

    Reblogged this on Anna Dobritt — Author and commented:
    Another good one:D

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