Monday, September 21, 2020

Introducing Dr. Electro

 Letters from Josh

  Introducing Dr. Electro 9/21/20                                                                           Letter 24

Hey there, folks!  How’s everyone over there?  As COVID drags on and you’re surely growing tired of it all, remember, the CDC gives much guidance on masks, but has neglected to mention pants.  Make of that what you will (and you didn’t hear it here.)  Greetings and bad influence from...Professor Plum’s Library!  It’s DONE!  It’s DONE!  The room remodel is FINISHED!  Well - almost - is anything ever done? There’s a clock from 1896 that belonged to my great Grandmother ticking away, the classical radio station plays on a unit from 1962, and the dark wood floors catch the last of the evening’s light.  It’s fun to hear that everyone has been following along with the progress, so I thought it would be fitting to have the first dispatch from this room be a Letters from Josh.  All aboard!

  One time when I was playing my broom guitar in New York City (more about that another time), I heard a pure sound drifting up from the filthy subway entrance to the West 4th street station. Following the strains of baroque violin, I wandered below ground to find someone who would become a friend.  Alex was playing Bach and Vivaldi for the New Yorkers, a talented cricket in a concrete jungle.  He saw the photo of the Professor Plum room I posted online, and he commented “What is this?  Are you writing a sequel to The Raven?”  (The room intentionally looks old fashioned and mysterious.)  Bopping down the halls at work today, that question kept rattling around in my head, like the last few scraps of coffee in the can. 

  Why YES, this could be fun!  What if we embarked on a voyage of serial fiction?  A little nugget, a bit of a tale each week, something to look forward to?  I haven’t the faintest idea of what’s going to happen, both with the success of the format or the direction of the story, so I guess we’ll all be surprised!  And so, I’m pleased to introduce to you a man who arrived unannounced (in my head) this afternoon and is known as..

Dr. Electro  (Episode 1 - Rutherford Calling)

It was a dark and stormy night, although Dr. Electro would have preferred it to rain harder.  The rockstar Prince famously requested the same when the heavens opened on his Superbowl halftime performance in 2007, but Dr. Electro wouldn’t have known on this Jazz Age evening, eighty or ninety years prior.  He hadn’t built a time machine - yet.  The coils and wires gleamed in the gloom, and the four bulbs were understaffed in lighting a cluttered workbench.  A smell of ozone bit the air, unrelated to the thunderstorm in the distance.  Dr. Electro was thinking out loud, the electrons in his neurons seeming to pace the electricity in the massive strands of copper on the bench. 

“Where’s the damn..err..darn screwdriver?”  he muttered, rummaging around, checking his language.  His girlfriend was trying to clean him up a bit before her parents were introduced. Dr. E was smart enough to dream up fantastical dynamos and revolutionary circuits.  Unlike the ten thousand volts on the bench, though, he wasn’t exactly sure about the subtleties of Mabel, and his confidence was uncharastically shaky.  “Ah, there it is!”  Leaning in, carefully, carefully, around the glowing vacuum tubes, singeing three arm hairs, he turned a small screw, sweat beading on his forehead as the voltmeter started to climb.  “8,753  8,824  9,210 9,317” when...there was a knock.  At his window. 

What the Devil is that?” he barked to himself, head snapping up, almost dropping the screwdriver into disaster, and then wondering if Mabel’s parents would frown on mention of Lucifer in non-theological discourse, and then, remembering the knock at the window?  Squinting through the rain streaks was to no avail, so a grumpy creaking and sliding up of the pane matched the equally grumpy Dr. Electro.  “Who the heck is there?”  (Ah, he was getting better at this.)  “Shh!  They’ll hear you!” “Who?  What?  Who’s there?”  The azaleas rustled, and an oilskin hat popped up like a seafaring groundhog.  It was Rutherford, the eccentric, paranoid, well-meaning Englishman who had spent a bit too much time in a boiler room.  “The orphans need us, old chap!”  “Come in, come in, Rutherford”, Dr. Electro sighed.  The rickety workshop door slammed a gust of night rain out, and the Englishman dripped his way into the laboratory, waving his arms wildly.  “My good man!  The orphans!”  

(To be continued next week….)  

- Josh

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