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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)

TITLE: In the Throes of Metallurgy
By Troy Manning


Kevin could tell by all the sparks emitted at his birth, that his boy Justin would be no ordinary boy. As though it were routine procedure, the doctor excused himself from delivery room then returned wheeling in a cart containing numerous tools. After slipping his hands into what looked like welding gloves, Dr. Midgely handed one of the nurses an instrument Kevin recognized as a crowbar. To Kevin himself he gave bolt-cutters. When the umbilical cord was severed and saved for scrap-metal, the remainder that clung to Justin was filed down to form a shapely bellybutton. A disconcerted intern then wiped much of the grease from the babyís body. The metallic cry that issued from Justinís iron lungs as the doctor swatted him with a stainless-steel spatula resembled a trainís braking abruptly on its tracks. Even the otherwise unflappable doctor jumped at the piercing sound and dropped Justin with a clang to the ground. The cacophonous crying abated nearly as quickly as it began, however, and the doctor presented Justin without scratch or dent to Michelle, his mortified mother.

Although Justin did have a number of learning disabilities, he possessed remarkable motor skills and his popularity with the other children was seldom found wanting. Even when the girls in his class teased him by saying he was ďjust tin,Ē it was done more out of a fascinated affection than from malice. No small amount of his appeal was because of Justinís knack for using his unique qualities to his, and his classmatesí, advantage. Raising his hand and asking, for instance, if he could be excused to go drain his radiator turned tired clichť into magical realism. At other times, he would intentionally come to school unlubricated. And when he went to use the pencil-sharpener, it was difficult to tell whether he was already turning the crank or still just walking across the room.

While Christmas and Valentineís Day are often dispiriting times to many, Justinís season of melancholy tended to center around Independence Day. The year previous, some of the regionís finest psychologists and metallurgists had to be enlisted to summon Justin from his funk. Even though their efforts met with much success, their reports as to the cause of his near catatonia contained little more than conjectures. Of these, among the more credible was proposed by a specialist in pyrotechnical therapies. Personally a veteran of a few difficult deliveries, she suggested Justinís depression resulted from memories dormant from infancy of his traumatic birth. And the trigger mechanism for these memories was the firework displays his parents forced him to attend every 4th of July. Justin was indeed quite beside himself when released from the room in which the specialist conducted vivid simulations of firework cascades and cannon blasts to the tune of Tchaikowskyís ď1812 Overture.Ē Still, Kevin and Michelle thought the methodologies employed in their sonís diagnosis dubious at best.

As affable as Justin was, it wasnít until he nearly completed college before he had his first real date. This was predominantly due to the fact that there were precious few metal women around. Realizing Justinís finding an adequate match was highly problematic, his parents thought they would get an early start on the search process. They scoured the personals in such publications as Gentlemenís Quarterly and Popular Mechanics, and signed him up with online sites like eHarmony and Hotwire.com. Though he obtained a few face-to-face meetings, the women invariably declined any follow-up as they believed Justin would be high maintenance. In this they were only partially right. While Justinís regularly scheduled repairs were more costly than, say, a Volvo, compared with the rates of typical medical care they were practically negligible.

As lead technician at Modesto Toyota, it was Brandiís responsibility to stay current with the literature of her trade. Intrigued by the Popular Mechanics ad, she telephoned Justin and arranged to meet him. Although Brandi was primarily human, she did have a heart of gold and buns of steel. The latter being the result of continuing to work beneath a car while a colleague took it for a test-drive--so absorbed could she be with her craft.

It is true that many women enter relationships with men thinking they will be able to fix them. In Brandiís case, however, this expectation had far more plausibility than usual. Her eyes widened in delight as Justin disclosed a number of his disabilities. And she eagerly anticipated their wedding day when she could address his dread of sparks.

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This article has been read 403 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 03/05/10
This is awesomely creative! Love the title, the playful language and tone throughout, and the uniqueness.

It's breaking my heart that this is perhaps weak on topic, because it really stands out, otherwise.

Suggestion--shorter paragraphs. Second suggestion--more, more, more of this type of writing!
Phee Paradise 03/06/10
I loved it. It reads like a report and your subtle juxtaposition of biology and mechanics seemed natural.

I'm not sure if it fits the topic, but that would be up to the judges. It would be fascinating to read a story about Justin.
Marilyn Schnepp 03/07/10
Due to the longer than long paragraphs, I almost skipped this Masterpiece of Uniqueness and fun. Very creative, and although lacking Topic-Wise...one could assume that the whole scenario was "eekish", right? Want to read more of this writer's great creativity. Something definitely fascinating about this "State of the Art Craft..."(*.*)!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/09/10
This is fantastic. There were so many tongue-in-cheek statements that made me laugh out loud. I really enjoyed this one of a kind story.
Diana Dart 03/09/10
Ultra creative. Lost me in a few parts, but I think breaking up the paragraphs a bit for readability would help that. Love, love, love the ending.
Kristi Peifer03/09/10
Awesome! I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. Great creativity.

I had to chuckle at the Modesto reference. Sounds like we may be from the same general neck of the woods.