March 01 --- The Claw of Archimedes

Holiday: Mechanics Day

It's kind of fun to do the impossible. - Walt Disney

BA drove slowly up the road toward the house on Highfield Street. It had been several weeks since he'd been out here. That idiot Joe hadn't been able to keep his mouth shut, and Fulbright had paid way too much attention to the house, for a while anyway. With all the damage done, it really wasn't much good to anyone. He gave a final glance around the neighborhood as he made the turn and parked in front of the house. He really didn't like cul-de-sacs.

He waited a moment to survey the house itself. It didn't look like much had changed since the last time he'd stopped by. The windows were still boarded up and the big dumpster took up over half the driveway. Shaking his head as he thought of the money spent, BA shut off the van and headed for the front door.

Face didn't meet him at the door, which was odd. He should've noticed any vehicle stopping here. The doorbell still hadn't been fixed, but when he tried the handle, it opened easily. Figured; the workmen would want all the doors to work. But he didn't like that Face had left it unlocked.

Didn't like that at all.

After another quick glance at the street behind, he pulled his pistol and stepped quietly inside. The downstairs was filled with sawhorses and stacks of drywall, dust everywhere, and a musty smell mixed with joint compound. Many of the walls were still stripped to the studs, waiting for their repair, and the floors were covered with plastic sheeting.

No place for someone like Face to be staying. No place for anyone to be staying.

It didn't take long to check the first floor, and he crept up to the second story. He wanted to call out, see where Face was, but he was more concerned with finding any unfriendlies first. This whole thing hadn't felt right. First that call from Face on the answering machine, asking BA to come over here. Then that second message that had come almost immediately after, telling him to 'forget it'. If there hadn't been something off about the tone in his voice, BA probably would have.

He carefully checked each bedroom and the bathroom. Nothing. He relaxed a little bit. There wasn't any work going on up here, and while there was a fine layer of dust over most of it, the bathroom had been cleaned along with one bedroom.

So Face really was staying here.

He did a quick scan of the backyard from the bedroom window before moving a little more quickly downstairs. The only place left was the garage, and BA was fairly confident no one would be there. He'd have seen some sign of a disturbance in the house otherwise.

He was just about to enter the garage when he heard it. Just a tiny 'ping'. He stopped, listening. There - another 'ping'. He eased the door open just a couple inches.


He didn't hear any moans or scuffling. Sure didn't sound like someone in trouble.


He opened the door just enough to sidle in, barely missing the Vette. He still didn't see anybody, and opened his mouth to call out.


He'd had enough. He strode around the front of the car and stopped dead.

Face was sitting on the floor, staring at the hammer he held, and let the head drop onto the cement.


That's when BA noticed the rest of the floor. There were several four by fours, nails sticking up out of them, all angles and bends. He looked at Face and knew exactly what was going on. He just didn't know why.

Sighing he walked over and sat down next to Face, who still hadn't acknowledged him. He hated these situations, but Face had called him, after all.

"It don't matter, you know."

"Sure it does."

"Face - "

"No, BA, it does. It's been one screw-up after another lately. I just... I just keep messing things up!" The hammer hit the floor again. Hard. BA reached over and gently took it out of Face's hand.

"We all mess up. Hell, if Hannibal didn't have us around, think where he'd be now." He looked at the boards again. "You think pounding nails is going to change anything?"

Face sighed. "Not really. I just thought... well, hell." He brushed through his hair. "I just thought maybe I could... I mean, who can't drive a fucking nail?"

BA actually chuckled. "A lot of people, Faceman. It takes practice - after you know how it's done, though."

"So how do you learn? I looked at some manuals and they just said 'nail this to that'."

BA shook his head. Once more reminded that unlike the rest, there were 'coming of age' experiences Face just hadn't had.

"You just need someone to teach you, that's all." He looked at the hammer. "I can show you. Show you a few other things as well. But that don't mean you'll be any good at it. Some people can, some people can't. Same as everything else. I couldn't pull off a scam to save my life - not without a lot of help, anyway. And you know, even with stuff I know how to do don't mean I can do it right. Sometimes it goes to hell on me."


BA smiled. "I just don't screw up where everybody can see it." He stood stiffly. Cement floors were not made for sitting. "C'mon, man. Let's see who hits their thumb first."