Stories / By Age / Kid /
I’ve told how Rudy was my best male friend, my best friend period, my only friend: in a neighborhood of me and a bunch of girls (my age slot, that is, my immediate neighborhood).
Rudy wasn’t a good friend, he was a year older, he tormented me, but that has nothing to do with how precious he was to me.
I’ve told how Rudy read a lot: Hardy Boy novels, Tarzan … comix: Mad, EC, Superman …
One day in my back yard Rudy says to me, “We’re going to build a worm car.” He stands in the chaotic rear of our yard where a garden area was cleared but never husbanded, a tree complicating things on the garage side. Rudy holds a pair of 2x4s to the vertical. He must have dragged them over and dropped them there when I wasn’t looking. “About here,” he says for one vertical post. He holds it perpendicular to the ground, then drops it again: as he picks up the other, to post it somewhere else near by, then drop it too.
I have no idea what he’s talking about. But that doesn’t matter. I’m Rudy’s slave in all things. Later though he shows me: It’s an idea from a comic, a Superman comic. One of Superman’s garden variety villains builds an earth burrowing sub”marine”: a sub-earth: a worm-car. It has a screw in the nose, an auger, for burrowing.
I doubt that the Superman publisher hired engirneers to pre-think the worm car. The drawings showed a “car” big enough for the villain and several cronies to sit in, like driving in a car on the street. And a little screw, smaller than an airplane propeller by quite a bit, is supposed to drill them through the crust, through the mantle, through the core, through whatever is in the center of the earth, pull them along behind it, and out again on the other side: into “China.”
Rudy apparently is trying to figure out where these two posts, wooden!, for the worm car should go: to seat the two of us: him in the drivers seat, me the passenger.
Rudy picked up the posts several times, dropped them several times, then went back to study the commic book … That’s when I got to see it, got to figure out at least part of what he had in mind. And that’s as far as our worm car ever got. I never heard Rudy mention it again, once we’d looked at the comic drawings. I no longer remember what happened to the two 2x4s: maybe they rotten in my backyard. Maybe Rudy took them back away, maybe my mother dragged them off, though I doubt it: I don’t remember my mother ever so much as glancing at that awful part of the yard.
That would have been sixty-some years ago, but I was just remembering it this morning: as typical. Typical for how human beings “plan” something when they utterly lack the skills to engineer it intelligently. We could have built a space ship the same way.
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