Friday, May 4, 2018
Jim Crenshaw’s Epiphany
Shit, he was going fast! This old German motorcycle could really get going once it hit its stride. God how he loved riding this machine with the wind ripping at your clothes, and even the bugs bouncing off his goggles. The tires weren’t so good and he couldn’t get replacements for the damn things being metric and all. He’d have to figure out a way to put new wheels that would take American sized tires on this beauty if he wanted to get another few years out of it. And, man did he want to.
His baby was a BMW R71 and it was so good that the Army had Harley-Davison copy it near the middle of the war. This monster hummed. Whoa! A little slip of the back tire on some gravel brought him back to earth, and almost back to being under the earth. Then, a fucking pigeon almost hit him in the face and that really made him think about his mortality.
Alright, enough dare-devil stuff for one day. He throttled back to a relatively sedate 60 mph. Time to go home. He didn’t like going home anymore because his father reminded him that his favorite uncle was dead. What a crappy way to go, too. Coughing up your own lungs, and lying in your own pool of piss and who knows what else they found coming from his body. It gave him shivers just thinking about it. He hated his father who was a fucking bully. But, Jim had always loved his uncle and spent as much time as he could with the hard drinking chain smoking son of a gun. He was more than upset that his haven was gone. After next week, he would not have his uncle or his uncle’s home to retreat to
o when his home life got
to rough. He supposed that at age 16,
he could run off like so many others have.
Jim was big for his age, like his father and uncle. So, he could probably lie about his age and join the army. With the new war and all, the military were looking for young meat. He was on his way to his uncle’s house once more to check on a few things. Also, he wanted to solve the riddle his uncle had left him. He was sure the last message was meant for him.
What the hell did that mean? What was his uncle trying to tell him?
He pulled into the drive of his uncle’s old two bedroom home in a comfortable neighborhood. Man, he was going to miss this place. He found the key under the pot and was about to enter when the neighbor, Mrs. Bode, shouted for him to come over. He did, being the good boy he was and was glad he did. She consoled him and put a big piece of pie in front of him. Then, she proceeded to lecture him on the evils of drinking and smoking.
“Don’t you worry, Mrs. Bode, I don’t like either of those things.”
“Now, I really have to go Mrs. Bode.”
“Okay my boy…okay. I suppose I won’t be seeing much of you?’
“I suppose not Mrs. Bode.”
“Take care my boy, Take care.”
“I will and thanks for the pie.”
He quickly left and finally got inside the house. He stood in the small dingy hallway thinking of the word …
Well it started with a capital so it was probably a name of something. He decided to systematically look though his uncle’s pile of papers starting with the oldest looking first. He figured with this method he might come across what it was sooner. He reasoned that if his uncle had been trying to remember something, it would have to be something from a long time ago. Otherwise, the clue would be on top of the piles and he would have seen it by now. He figured his strategy was a wild ass guess, but at least it gave him a place to start. He knew his uncle was working on what the enemy was using to guide their missiles so that really narrowed the search down.
He wasn’t sure that his uncle should have some of these papers in his house. Several were marked Top Secret. That can’t be good, he thought. He continued on in the innocence of youth anyway. Stack after stack. Boring papers on radar and radio waves, and counter effects, and who knows what, but nothing with Skinne in it. A folder with contracts from General Mills, a letter from some guy named Tolman, and another guy named Spencer
, Bush. The folder
contents were all in order and kind of packed together. He put them aside, when
a promising stack caught his attention. Two hours later he was starved and
raided his uncle’s icebox. Yes, he
still had an icebox and probably the last iceman in the city coming every other
day to fill it.
On his way back to the table where he was staring bleary eyed at the latest stack of endless papers, he knocked over the pile he has set aside before. Cursing he started to put them back in order and the figure of $25,000 on a contract jumped out. That was a lot of money in this day and age. Who could be doing something for General Mills that his uncle might be interested in for 25 grand. He glanced at the contents, and saw the title “Organic Homing Device.” What the hell was that? The contract ran for almost a whole year for whatever it was for.
The next stapled group read Description for Directing a Bomb at a Target. Well, that might be something. The next down in the pile was “The Present Status of the “Bird’s Eye Bomb.” Now, that made him laugh out loud, and then, he saw it…THE GUY”S NAME… THE GUY’s FUCKING NAME![i]
Skinner…Butt Fucking Skinner. This was it! This was IT! That was the SKINNE he was trying to tell us. This is what his uncle was trying to remember. This was FUCKING IT. Some guy named Skinner had been working on directing a bomb and here it was. But now what? What the fuck do you do with something like this that has “Top Secret” stamped on everything? He guessed a good thing might be to read it first.
He folded back the first page and almost started to laugh out loud. The idea was so ridiculous that he almost put the document down and continue his search. However, the more he read, the more his confidence increased. This was really it.
Good job, Unc! You nailed it. But now what? How do you deliver this information so someone reads it and understands the significance of what he held in his hands? How do you walk up to someone and say, I think this might win the war, hand them some Top Secret papers, and walk away without getting shot or laughed out of the room?
Why… you hand it back to the guy who wrote it in the first place. Surely, the author would see the significance of what his uncle discovered. Surely, Skinner would be the person Jim needed to track down. Now, how does a 16 year old find a guy named Skinner in a country as big as the United States with a motorcycle that has bad tires and $10 in your pocket?
Shit, his uncle’s emergency money, of course. He said he could use it at any time and now was definitely that time. He ran down the stairs to the basement and stood trying to remember which can his uncle showed him and where he put it. After a half an hour he found the can, right where his uncle put it. The two hundred dollars in it should be enough to take him wherever he needed to go to find Dr. B. F. Skinner.
[i] - Description of a Plan for Directing a Bomb at a Target
"B. V. Skinner. K. B. Breland, and N. Gunman. "The Present Status of the "Bird's-Eye Bomb." ‘February I. 1943. OSRD NDRC Division 3. Spencer Files (hereafter cited as Spencer Files). 15. General Mills. Special Reports.
Contract no. OEMsr-1068. Spencer Files. 13. General Mills-Contracts and Vouchers.