Rocket O mine
I answered the door and there stood six foot six officer Murphy and a man dressed in street clothes named Smith. “Come in”, I stammered.
“You mister Goddard?” Murphy asked.
“Yes, is there anything wrong?”
“You have something in your back yard that has your neighbors concerned, Mr. Goddard.”
I looked at Smith but he was busy memorizing my front room. “Oh, you must mean my rocket”, I admitted proudly.
“That’s exactly what I mean”, was Murphy’s stern retort.
Before I could respond, Smith broke in,
“I’ll take it from here Murphy”. Murphy nodded and stepped back with his fingers dancing a jig on the grip of his pistol.
Smith looked at me, squinting like uncle Max, after he’d had a snoot full, “So you admit you have a rocket on your property?”
“Well, yeah”, I offered, “Frank next door has a skateboard trough in his backyard, so what?”
“So nobody’s going to blow something up with a skateboard is so what!” hissed Smith.
“Have you ever been hit in the chins by one of…” was all I could get out before I was staring into Smith’s sweaty palm.
“Shut it!” boomed forth from an obviously agitated Smith. “You have a serious problem here, pal, the FBI and the local SWAT team are outside waiting for my signal!”
I began to realize that my wife’s warning about my plan to travel to the moon was much more prophetic than her usual, “Just keep overcooking your bacon and your liver will resemble lychee nuts!”, although I suppose she could be right about that too.
My space obsession began when, as a boy, I watched the TV show, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I should be honest by stating that I was really obsessed with Erin Grey, occasionally hyperventilating during scenes in which she was sashaying around some very obviously chilly planet. My parents finally required that my viewing be chaperoned by great aunt Milspickle and it was then that I noticed the show was about space travel and that there were other characters involved as well.
Since that time, I have dreamed of traveling through space. I built model rockets and space stations as a boy and hung them from strings in my bedroom. I brought home library books on the subject of space travel. I built and launched model rockets from my back yard, only occasionally setting afire a neighbor’s roof. My hobby became so expensive, I got part-time jobs in the mornings, evenings, and weekends to support it.
My parents became concerned when, one day, I tried to go to school dressed as Gort the unpredictable but obedient robot. They were further troubled when I insisted on calling our dog, Jud, Captain Kirk, and the goldfish, Death Star.
Upon my eighteenth birthday I changed my name from Frank Hutsenfruth to Bob Goddard for obvious reasons. Apparently that was more than my father could endure for I was raised to bear proudly the Hutsenfruth cognomen. The source of this pride was that the family had traced the Hutsenfruth surname to a 14th century itinerate barber, Clum Hutsenfruth.
I can clearly recall my grandfather, Kurt Hutsenfruth, when reveling at holidays, saturated with whatever libation he could get his hands on, “You think Galileo took a chance sticking the sun at the center of the universe? Ha! What do you think your forebear risked when he invented the flat-top hair style in renaissance
You watch, one day movies will be made about Clum Hutsenfruth, staring Marlon
Brando or Charles Laughton!”. After which my grandfather usually feel face
first into the mashed potatoes. Florence
“How,” asked my father, shaking with shame, “could you end the Hutsenfruth line here?” My father was the lone male Hutsenfruth direct decendent and expected me to litter the future with male Hutsenfruth breeders. I was forthwith banished from the home and family until I might come to my senses and once more bear the Hutsenfruth appellation.
Homeless but not penniless I went forth to face what I expected to be the great adventures of my future. I still retained a part-time job but weeks sleeping under an overpass with Shaky Joe and Gimble Foot Frank jarred me to the realization that, although shopping-cart rodeo and games like what’s-in-the-bindle had been fun, I should probably be more serious about my future.
Tearful good byes were exchanged with my overpass mates, with Frank reminding me that grab-ass is a sign of manly respect. I then straightened up, squared my shoulders, and assertively pushed my shopping cart to the employment office.
Once the cart was secured to a light pole with a bicycle chain, I entered looking to score big in the job market. An office worker approached me smiling, but when he entered my olfactory orb he started to gag and mutter something like “rotting offal is not a scent that is likely lead to gainful employment”. I was then deposited upon the curb, the noise of the office door slamming and locking behind me.
So this is what is meant by rock bottom, I thought. Why had my employer at Hal’s Limburger Emporium not discussed my toilette? I must muster my wits and think my way to a better life, surely things can’t get any worse; at which point I stepped into the street and was sideswiped by an express bus.