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Authors: Gina Marie Wylie

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BOOK: The Far Side
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As fast as she’d started it up again, she was now turning it back off.  Andrea turned to Kris.  “Okay, I know you’re a worry wart.”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”  They both laughed.

“I am going to leave this off until tomorrow morning, where I will turn it on briefly to make sure there’s still a happy face in the cave.  I will be on time for school and I’ll have my happy face on there, too.

“But, after school, you have to promise me, you’re going to come home with me and we’re going to work on this, including the report.”

“Ummm... Andie... do you know why I was gone this weekend?”

“You said your old man wanted you to work one of the cameras.”

“Yeah, and that’s what I did.  I didn’t mention why.”

“Why, then?”

“Andie, he seduced me with the dark side of the force.”

Andie laughed.  “For a second there, you had me going when you said, ‘he seduced me...’”

“I’ve worked a couple of times on weekends and after school for him on this.  He says I have enough time on set to meet the minimums for screen credit.  I’m going to get one on this movie.”

“That’s the romantic comedy movie set in Tarzana?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Gosh, I’m impressed.”  Andie didn’t sound very impressed.

“First steps, Andie.  First steps.  I know it sounds stupid, but I love to do things with the camera.”

“I know, Kris.  I don’t think it’s so much stupid, though, as crassly commercial.”

“And chasing after a Nobel Prize isn’t crass?”

“Two, maybe three of the little fuckers,” Andie reminded her.  “Yeah, okay, I guess it’s crass.  And it sure as fuck is commercial, because ya’ get almost a million bucks with each one!”

Andie had never hidden her dream of being financially independent from her father.  Her father had won his money in the lottery and literally, he didn’t care about money any more.  He’d bought an expensive house, and he’d bought a PT Cruiser to drive.  He didn’t travel except to a sports bar he used to hang out in up in Tujunga, where he drank with his buddies and talked sports.

Andie’s father was making $12,000 a day in interest and, Andie had told Kris, he didn’t think twice about spending a couple of hundred bucks buying everyone in the bar a round of drinks a couple of times a night.  Andie didn’t dwell on it, but she’d got her father to put a million bucks for her into a trust fund, and when she had offers from every top school in the country, a second million for college.

Her father closed out the bar most every night and slept until noon.  Kris’s own father had laughed at Kris’s description.  “You think he’s a bad father.”

“He’s inattentive.  Andie has to do everything for herself.”

“Kris, she’d shit a brick if he started interfering in her life.  If he paid attention to what she was doing, he wouldn’t understand half of it and he knows it -- and Andrea wouldn’t like it, either.  Andrea complains about him loudly, but the fact is, she wouldn’t have it any differently.”

Since that was true, Kris had thought long and hard about it.  She was Andie’s friend, but Kris knew she was Andie’s friend on Andie’s terms, not her own.  It wasn’t that Andie was cruel or mean -- she just wanted to be in control.  The fact was that no one else made Kris laugh like Andie did, and no one else did the whacky things Andie did either.

She and Andie had gone on hot air balloon rides, ridden gliders high up into the air over the Sierra Nevada Mountains...  They had in fact, walked the length of those mountains, climbed some of them, including Mt. Whitney, and skied down others.  They had a short bit of weightlessness in the private jet of a friend of Kris’s father...

Everyone else thought Andie was suicidal, but Kris had figured out that Andie actually was pretty conservative when it came to things like that.  Sure, they’d learned to scuba dive when they were fourteen and they met for the first time when they were ten and learning to ride horses.

Yeah, it was crazy, it was wild, but the truth was it was fun and not really dangerous.  Her father had made her explain why she wanted to do each and every one of those crazy things but he’d always nodded agreement when she finished.

Kristine had been sixteen before she finally figured it out.  Sure, most kids didn’t do the things they did.  But the fact remained that while this or that might have been considered adventurous, they weren’t really dangerous.  Sure, you could fall off a horse and get hurt, you could have trouble with your scuba gear -- all of that.  But you could fall in your own shower, too.  People got run over in the crosswalk all the time.

Andie thought the pause was something else.  “I promised, okay?”

“I know.  See you tomorrow.”

Kris picked her cell phone off her belt to call her dad for a ride, but it was deader than a doornail.  Andie went and got hers off the nightstand and the two girls looked at each other as Andie hit the speed dial.  “Evidently cell phones don’t do well close to intense magnetic fields,” Andie said apologetically as she handed Kris the phone.

Kris told her father where she was and he agreed he’d be there in a few minutes.  Give or take.  Making a left turn onto Laurel Canyon often required a bit of patience.  On the other hand, walking in the afternoon was one thing, walking on Laurel Canyon after dark was an invitation to trouble.

He pulled up in the circular driveway and Kris waved to Andie and shortly she was home.

“You’re sure Andrea is going to give a PG valedictory?” her father asked as they walked to the house.

“Sure, she’s secretly proud that they’re letting her do this, given her basic nature.”

Her father laughed.  “She’ll do something off the wall.”

“’So long and thanks for all the fish,’” Kris quipped.

“That’s rich!” he exclaimed.  “She will, won’t she?”

“Yeah.  Even if hardly any of them will know the reference, and even the few who recognize where the quote is from, won’t get it.”

The two shared conspiratorial grins.




* * *


A while later Kris’s mother came home and plopped herself down on a chair in the living room.  Kris looked over at her and smiled.  Kris and her father got along... but her mother had been distant for as long as Kris could remember.

“Mom?” Kris asked, while her father was off fetching his wife a glass of wine.

“Yes, Kristine?”

“What does it take to win a Nobel Prize?”

“Patience.  A lot of people do the research and don’t get recognized for decades.  Or, like Einstein, they snub his real breakthrough and they give it to him for something entirely different years later.”

“Has anyone ever won twice?”

Her mother chuckled.  “Dear, you’ll need to develop a technical avocation you’ve shown no aptitude for up to now.”


Her mother’s chuckle turned to an outright laugh.  “Sure, she could do it, particularly if she adds ‘Bush’ right after her favorite word and ‘Bush is a’ before her second favorite.”

“Helen,” Kris’s dad said with a grin, “you’ve told me a thousand times you don’t want to talk politics after you get home from the lab.”

“I’ve said that, haven’t I?  Well, okay.  Yes, Andie might just do it.  She’s a bright girl, even if she has a little too much color in her language.”

Kris nodded and a while later went to bed.

The next morning Andie picked her up on the way to school.  “I’ve been a good girl, since last night,” she told Kris.

“You’re always good,” Kris said with a laugh.

“No, I’m not!”  They both shared the laugh.

“I did think about it a lot.  I’ll talk about it with you at lunch, because if I don’t concentrate on these fuckin’ assholes out here on the road we won’t make it to lunch!”

It was a twenty minute drive and Andie really did focus on driving.  Kris didn’t like to admit it, but driving made her a little nervous, particularly in heavy traffic.  But like most things, Andie took it stride and did really well at it.

At school they went their separate ways for the first period.  Andie had a computer lab that she mostly spent playing first person shooter games on the Internet, while Kris was in HP English.  They were together in second period for HP physics and third period HP Math, which was integral calculus this term.  Fourth period they again went their separate ways, Andie to another HP English section, while Kris was Mr. Beck’s, the chemistry teacher, student assistant.

It always amused Kris that her mother disparaged her for not wanting a technical career, even though Kris had never gotten anything other than an A in a science class in her life, and most of the time, could at least figure out what Andie was talking about, even if she couldn’t get to those places on her own.

Lunch they usually spent in the library reading, but this day Andie wanted to go outside and talk away from everyone else.

“Okay,” Andie told her.  “I’m paranoid, okay?  Let’s just get that whole line of thinking out in the bright light of day.”

“Paranoid about what?” Kris asked, curious.

“Well, there’s a lot of fuckin’ bas-turds in the world.  If I’m not careful, they’re gonna fuckin’ rip me off.  No big fat fuckin’ asshole is gonna want a seventeen-year-old midget to win a Nobel, much less two of them.”

“You’re not a midget, Andie, you’re just short.”

“Yeah, you fuckin’ know it and I fuckin’ know it, but what do those fat fuckers know, eh?”

“Then there’s the fuckin’ power.  Jeez!  I never gave it a thought!  Those fuckers are going to want to step on the whole fuckin’ idea!”

“How do you figure?”

“I was doing the numbers last night after you left.  I was good, okay?  I was looking at the data I’d already gathered, okay?”

“Sure, Andie.  You’d never cheat,” Kris said sarcastically.  Andie gave her a finger.

“I’ve got a tank of hydrogen gas for welding and some finely powered borax for fuel.  As near as I can tell, I fused maybe two grams of shit yesterday.  Maybe.  The numbers said a hundredth of that, but I don’t fuckin’ believe them.

“Still, I mean Kris... a couple of pounds of fuel is going to be enough to light LA.  The gizmo would cost a couple ten million dollars.  I looked it up on the Internet last night.  LA Water and Power rates are set from their equipment investment, fuel and overhead costs, plus money for overhead and then 7% or thereabouts, for ‘profit.’”  Andie made air quotes around the last word.

“Right now they’ve got billions and billions of dollars sunk in power plants and distribution systems.  With a couple of these, they could do without a lot of that.  Most of that.  Fuck!  A big company would probably build their own fusor, instead of getting their power from the grid!  DWP would go broke!  The fuckers would kill the idea if they have the chance!”

Kris contemplated that and slowly nodded.  “You can get the TV and radio stations involved,” she told her friend.  “We can make it so that you’ll get credit no matter what.”

“You know what?  There were all those fuckin’ high school kids on the net who are doing this sort of research!  They fuckin’ well should be heroes; even if they’re fucking asshole dorks!  They’ve been on TV and all that shit!  But famous?  Ha!  Not!  They’re treated like junior assistant geeks and marginalized.

“Not me! No one is going to marginalize me!  I’ve got a plan!”

“A plan?”

“You fuckin’ bet!  You!”

“Me?” Kris was startled.

“You!  You know what you are with a fuckin’ camera?  A fuckin’ genius is what!”

“Well... I’m good but...”

“But what?  You’re good!

“So, I got a plan!”

Kris sighed.  “What’s the plan?”

“You and your camera, Kris!  That’s the key!  The Internet!”  Andie started cackling.  After a second Kris realized her friend hadn’t actually gone insane, she was just pulling Kris’s chain.

“And how is my camera going to help?”

“We’re going to fuckin’ explore the far side of that fuckin’ door!  I am, and so are you.  You’re going to carry your camera and I’m going to carry my father’s big fucking elephant gun!  You’re going to take pictures on the far side!”

“And what, pray tell, are you going to do if we find that cave is like Carlsbad or something?  Maybe those rocks are in Central Park?”

“Well, there’s gotta be some fuckin’ justice in the universe.  Karma, my karma, couldn’t possibly fuck me over like that.  I’m hoping for fuckin’ dinosaurs!”

Kris laughed.  “Well, dinosaurs are big enough to eat us, no matter how big your elephant gun is.  I don’t recall elephant guns helping those guys in Jurassic Park.  I’ll pass, thanks.”

“You will not!  You’re my friend!  We can do this!  We’ll be careful, and you’ll take pictures!  I was thinking maybe we’d put them up on YouTube or something, and maybe have our own website for the best shit.”

Kris thought for a second.  “You think it might be another planet?”

“Who the fuck knows?  We haven’t looked!  We fuckin’ need to go look!  And you’re chicken!”

“I’m not chicken, Andie.  It’s just that the first time I see a dinosaur I’m going home.”

BOOK: The Far Side
10.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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