Go ahead, keep working. I’ll just watch, how about that? I don’t even mind if you use the good tools, you know where they are. Duct tape ain’t a bolt though, son. There are some things you can’t replace – like steel. Good old steel. You take your strings and your gloop and Jesus Christ, son! Put on a goddamn mask – smells like a fucking McDonald’s burned down!
You be careful with that soldering iron, son! Jesus Calamity, boy, you’re gonna blow the whole fucking house to hell. I never should have given you the green light on this. It’s made you crazy. You do know that right? This is fucking bonkers. I know, I know … she said you could. Your mother doesn’t seem to notice that someone replaced your brain with a rutabaga.
You wouldn’t think a bunch of cardboard and scrap could smell so bad. Smells like a hobo’s asshole, son. It really does. I’m not just saying that to build up your self-confidence, either. That is one godawful, shit-sniffing smell right there. God in heaven.
You know … you’re a weird kid. Just plain fucking weird. You didn’t take after me, that’s for damn sure. When I was your age, I was chasing girls and setting records on the field, the court, and the goddamn diamond. All you do is make your stupid shit that never works and jerk off. Hell, I’m beginning to think you’re a queer. Not that I mind. Lord knows, I tell your Mama all the time – that boy is a fag or my name’s not Roy Pearson. She tells me we gotta love you no matter what … and I do.
I do, son. I do feel that way about you, y’know? That’s what makes all this so hard for me. I love you, boy. Don’t you hear me? I worry about you. Chemistry sets and textbooks ain’t no way for a boy to have fun. You’ll be fifteen next year. I bet you don’t even know what pussy looks like. It ain’t right, son. Get it now. Hell, your Mama and I been together longer than Methusala’s beard … I’m lucky if she brushes up against me by accident. If I were you, I’d get that Johnson girl from down the street and peg her ass against the garage. She’s too young, so I’m not saying anything – just, if I was you – you seen the tits that little bitch grew over the summer? Jesus, son. You could have your dick inside that little bitch right now.
Oh, the look. Fine. I know what you think, but it’s not like I’m the only one who thinks it’s weird. What am I supposed to tell Frank Butcher? His boy is the captain of the football team. What about Uncle Earl? Johnny’s broke every damn track record in the state. So, what am I supposed to say? My boy built some weird shit out of garbage again. Shit, boy, you’re making a laughing stock of the whole goddamn family.
Save it. I know, I know. You’ve almost got it right. I get it. You think I don’t support you. If you’ll recall, I was the one that bought you a chemistry set in the first place. I didn’t know it would turn you into a faggot, though. Do you know what a faggot is, son? Or has your brain melted from all them plastic fumes?
You won’t tell me what this thing is, huh? Some kind of big state secret or something. Are you in cahoots with the CIA, boy? Hell, I let you take over the garage and this is how you repay me? You just ignore me and keep covering everything in airplane glue and foil? Tell me, goddamnit. What is it?
You really want to know?
I asked, didn’t I?
The boy looked up with a strange smile on his face. His bangs were damp, hanging into his eyes. There was fever in his eyes. Something that didn’t belong, but somehow looked the part regardless.
It’s a machine.
What’s it do?
It shuts your mouth, Dad. It shuts it right the fuck up.
Roy froze. A crazy disbelieving smile bloomed on his face. He licked his lips wet and there were embers in his eyes.
Say that again, boy.
But he didn’t say it again. Instead, he raised two wires in front of his face.
And then the wires touched. There was a moment when they both saw a spark leap between the exposed copper tendrils.
The explosion took out every building on the property. She found it when she came home. A big black circle that had flattened everything. She called his name, but she knew, deep down, that no one would answer.
They found debris as far as the edge of town. The smoke drifted all the way to Garberville. They looked at the textbooks more carefully, read his notebooks. They finally began to understand. Roy.
The boy hadn’t any choice, really.