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“He’s huge,” Matt leaned back and tried to see the bird from beak to tail, he had to take a couple of steps back.
“The beak alone is the size of our car,” he continued to look from tail to beak in unbelief.
“First it’s a duck and the beak is called a bill. The bill is the only part that can be occupied or used for storage everything else is essential for flight.” Sally wasn’t even trying to conceal the pride she felt in the completed work. It had been five years in complete secrecy. Matt was the first person not a part of the program to be allowed into the hanger.
“Why a duck?” Matt asked still distracted by the bird with individual feathers that could be used to tickle the nose of a president’s face carved into Mount Rushmore.
“It’s a male Mallard,” Sally said, excited by his reaction. “It can do anything a real duck can do. It can fly, of course, but it can land on water or land, it can float or paddle on top of the water and it can dive into water and swim.” Matt could see the love in her eyes as she described her baby. “It can even pick objects up with its bill and deposit them into a storage container.”
Matt gave her a sideways hug, “it’s wonderful,” he said. “And that’s a word I seldom use. When is the test flight? And when can you take me up?”
“We plan a flight at the end of the week,” Matt looked disappointed. “I can show you the inside of the bill right now if you’re interested,” In answer Matt took her by the arm and led her toward the duck not knowing exactly where the entry point would be. As they neared the bird Sally tapped a point on a pad that produced a whirling noise from within the foul, the neck lowered and the bill started to slowly open. They stepped together over a very real looking under mandible but at that point Matt was no longer looking at a bird but at what could easily be the inside of a space ship complete with consoles of blinking lights and a view screen that peeked out of the duck’s left nostril.
“Amazing,” Matt mumbled.
Reading from a print out, “What you said was: I intend, to the best of my abilities, to cut him into small bits of meat, to grind him into a pink mush and to plant him around my roses. Still reading from the long strip of paper, “you went on to say: If the roses die I will feel a tinge of remorse.”
“Thank-you, Mary,” the lawyer nodded to the stenographer and then stood in front of Patricia, still sitting quietly in her assigned seat next to the Judge. He looked her in the eyes, face-to-face and asked, “ do you deny making this statement?”
Patricia looked down at her hands, twisting nervously in her lap. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead as she refused to meet the eyes of the prosecutor.
The Judge turned toward her and said in a deep, soft, forceful voice, “Answer the question.”
She looked up from her hands and turned in her chair to face the Judge, “I was being sarcastic,” she said.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
I looked at this verse differently. What if you turn around? I was excited. It fit so well into the rest of the Bible. Repentance is an abrupt about face, turn from your sin and turn toward God right? So I shared it with three pastors. I’m thinking this will preach! But not only did no one get all excited and start to make sermon notes; they didn’t even like it.
Looking into it I think I now understand why. The modern day view of Grace is that our sins are made right. But sin is never right and can never be made right. God prunes the bad branches and takes them to the dump to be burned and while we are on Earth the consequences remain. Only Godliness goes to heaven. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
So how far is my sin from me? I’m a fairly normal guy. I read books and find descriptions of people who think a lot like me. I can be driving in my car singing worships songs (Walking West) until someone cuts me off for no good reason and I ride their bumper (Walking East) and then the love of God finds its way back into my heart and I back off and look for my place in keeping the highways safe (Walking West). I’m making an effort to walk toward God all the time, but I don’t and going from walking away from God and walking toward God is always an abrupt about face.
So what is the Grace God gives us? What is this undeserved gift that we should not be able to even conceive? I believe that because of the Grace of God we can understand what goodness is. We can make a choice between Good and Evil because of Grace.
My mother and father are not acquainted with Ricky’s parents; they talk on the phone when they are looking for their kid, or to get permission to take us somewhere, they shake hands at school meetings, and wave on walks when they pass each other’s house, but they haven’t even shared first names.
“I’m Huel, this is Betty. I guess you know Jimmy?”
“I’m Jill,” Ricky’s mom shakes everyone’s hand including mine. Well she doesn’t shake Ricky’s hand that would be weird. “Have a seat,” she motions toward the kitchen table a chrome metal and yellow Formica topped table with four vinyl cushion covered matching seats. As we take our places she asks, “Coffee?” she doesn’t mean me, she knows the juice I like and puts a glass in front of me and Ricky without needing to ask. “The police called when they found the car trailer,” she tosses out the remark to make it easier for the conversation to begin.
“So you know most of the story,” my father begins.
“I’m so glad you came by.”
After about ten minutes of this chit chat I’m about to die and can’t keep quiet any longer, “Mrs. Sanchez,” I slip into a gap in the conversation. Everyone turns and looks at me. “If it’s okay to ask, what is it that Mr. Sanchez does for a living?”
“I’m not sure this is the time for personal questions,” My father instructs me.
“No, it’s fine Huel, I know a little bit about how Jimmy’s mind works. Ricky has shared some pretty amazing stories and if he needs information…” she just kind of trailed off and then focused on me, “he does research.” I just let my eyes widen a bit and wait for more. “I really don’t know much about the specifics,” she looks around the table a little embraced and then adds, “he studied entomology in college.”
“Bugs?” I blurt out.
“Jimmy!” my mother reminds me of my manners.
“Well, insects, including bugs,” she smiles at how funny it sounds. “It’s really a very serious business, insects are very important to all of us. Ricky’s dad is quite successful in his field. He’s been all over the world sharing information. And he’s totally committed, he even brings his work home and does experiments here.” She can tell I’m interested so she adds, “have you ever been in his workshop?”
I look over at Ricky who doesn’t seem to know much about this workshop ether, “can we see it?” I ask.
“Ricky, take Jimmy into the basement and show him around, just don’t touch anything.” We leave the adults and Ricky leads the way to a narrow door, he pulls a string and lights a single blub and illuminates wooden steps.
“I didn’t even know you had a basement,” I inform Ricky on the way down the steps.
“I spend very little time down here,” Ricky answers. “When my dad’s down here he usually wants to be left alone. At the base of the steps Ricky flips a light switch and fluorescent strips make the dark cellar as bright as day. The cellar is the full length and width of the house and barely has room for walking. Insects on pins fill the walls. Insects in jars fill shelves. Live insects in small cages sit on tables. A long wooden table runs the length of the basement, at the far end of the table is a single chair, a computer screen, a pile of instruments and a desk light with a gooseneck.
“This must be where all the work gets done,” I say walking up to the chair.
“This is where he is always sitting when I come down to talk him into leaving his work and coming to dinner,” Ricky’s eyes water a little when he’s reminded that his father isn’t home this evening.
Between two towers of books, on the floor, leaning against the wall, I sit with my legs straight out in front of me and a book in my lap. If I tilt my head up and stretch my neck I can see Amy in the children’s section sitting at a short round table with some other children talking and reading. Kids are allowed to talk quietly in the children’s section. Adults are required to show more restraint.
A long time ago I had office hours at a local church. People came by looking for handouts. It was the policy of the church, and my personal conviction, that we should try to help out as much as we could. To me this required more than the quick handing off of a twenty. When, asked almost all, nine out of ten, of the people were heading for Fresno, California, a town a couple hundred miles away. For some of the people it was just a story that most likely would not be checked but many were nomadic people who spent their time traveling from town to town. Is it because the grass is always greener? Is this why we have a space program?
Okay, break’s over, the next step is costly, although I hear there are great deals in Mexico – purchase a rat hole drill. We are making the Kelly Bar and Bucket so those are not needed. The drill must have a mast at least thirty feet high, thirty-two feet from the ground sounds good to me. The drilling table should allow our thirty-three-inch bucket to easily pass through, so three foot inside the table is good. Inside the thirty-six inches a couple of “dogs” should be welded straight across from each other. These “dogs” will spin slowly, round and round when the engine is fired up and the table is placed into gear. With only one more major piece to build I’m afraid I don’t know what it’s called, I searched and did not find. Start with a three foot length of square steel three quarters of an inch thick and six inches by six-inches on the inside (so it will fit over the Kelly Bar we made). Perpendicular to this three-foot length on opposite sides at the top and bottom weld four bars of steel, these should form a flat letter “H” with the square steel forming the center of the “H”. Cut the ends of these bars so that when we weld two strips of steel to the outside edge of each perpendicular bar the over-all width from these new parallel bars from outside to outside is thirty-five inches. These bars that are parallel to the center thirty-six-inch length of square steel should extend from the top perpendicular bar to six inches past the bottom perpendicular bar. At the point where each of the two parallel bars are welded to the perpendicular bar heat the metal and with a sledge hammer bend the bottom six inches toward the center a couple inches (this will help this unnamed structure to pass into the drilling table). Weld a couple of two inch ears onto the tops of this structure making it thirty-seven inches wide at the very top (keeping it from traveling all the way through the drilling table). Gusset and re-enforce anyway you think might be helpful – weight is not a problem. Slip this “yoke?” of steel over the Kelly Bar lying on the driveway and weld a bit of metal onto the end of the six by six shaft so when we lift the Kelly vertically it will not fall off. There is just one more quick addition to our project before we can get started but let’s confront that after another break.