A New Paint Job


Brian W. Antoine

May 14, 1993

With a final twist, the last bolt holding the command chair in place was secure. Spinning it around, I sat down and turned it back to face out the front of the ship. All around the construction lab, robots under Pennys control were working on installing the main drive of the Sunbeam.

"I hope to hell Bob appreciates the trouble I'm going to."

"He will."

"He better. It's taken two days of redesign to move these damn consoles." The original design of the flight deck had included a single chair at the main controls. When Penny had talked me into taking on Bob as the pilot I had had to redesign the layout so as to allow for two seats in the control area and move the flight controls so that they made sense. We had just finished redoing the control layout and testing them about 3 hours ago. Then I'd had to reinstall the command chair and add the pilots chair next to it. With that finally done, I lay down on my back and inched my way under the main console to resume work on the control systems for the main drive.



"Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, what is it this time."

"How can you tell when a child is lying?"

"Huh" *BANG* "Ouch!" Damn, I was going to have to start wearing a hard-hat to keep from leaving parts of my scalp on this damned console. Slowly, I slid back out from under the console and sat down in the command chair. "Ok, what prompted this?"

"Well, I told you about Ficus wreaking the D&B."

"Yeah, which reminds me. How are the repairs progressing?"

"Fine, thank you for letting me borrow the construction robot. I'll let you know when it's ready to return. Anyway, as for Ficus, I asked Bob about it, but didn't really understand his explanation."

"Hum. Ok, I'll take a crack at it. Do you want the easy way or the hard way?"

"I think I'll want both."

"Ok. The easy way is that if their lips are moving, they're lying."

"Bob said the same thing. If it's true, how can you ever believe anything they say?"

"Because it's not always true. That's why it's called the easy way. It's easy to apply, but not correct enough to use on a regular basis. The hard method works better, but requires that you have dealt with kids enough to know when it doesn't apply. In general it goes like this. If by believing what the child tells you, the child could avoid getting in trouble, or if by your believing the child they could get something from you that they want, then they are probably lying. It isn't perfect, but with children it works more often then not."

"What if you haven't dealt with children much?"

"Well, in the case of you and Bob's kids. I say that you need to verify anything they tell you with him. He can sort out the lies better then you, and they will be less likely to lie when he's around. From what I've heard, they know you are more gullible then normal and they will push you to see just how much they can get away with."

"Ok, I'll make that rule number one. In dealing with children, always verify anything they tell you with an adult who knows them."

"Sounds good to me. It will save you a lot of trouble and may keep them from killing themselves playing with things they don't understand."

"Thanks, I think I understand Bob's comments now."

"No problem. Not being human, you have had to base a lot of your understanding of humans on the parts of my personality you inherited and on your dealings with me and the few other people you have talked to. It can't have been easy to try to second guess us, or even understand us a lot of the time."

"I'm learning though."

"That you are, that you are." I started to crawl back under the console, then paused. "Anything else before I get under here again? My head can only take so many bumps against this stupid thing."

"Well, that stuff you asked me to get together is ready. What are you going to do anyway?"

"Oh yeah <snicker>. Did you get the emblem completed?"

"Yes, but be careful where you place it. Considering what it's made of, half the thieves in the city will be after it."

The emblem in question was a copy of my personal crest. It was a solid onyx disk about 8 inches in diameter. Around the edge was a 24 caret gold ring and inside the ring was the greek letter Gamma done in platinum. Offset from the letter was an engraved wolf head done in other precious metals with a ruby for the eye. "Don't worry. After I magic it, no thief will even want to try to touch it."

I looked at my watch. "Hummm... It's after midnight. Do a quick check and see if anyone is around the D&B."

"Nope, it's clear. Bob left about 2 hours ago. It's just the construction bot and the ship."

I got up and left the ship. "Where did you leave the stuff?"

"It's over by the gate."

I picked up the supplies I'd requested and concentrating, teleported to a spot just behind Bobs house. Inside his garage, the construction bot was busy finishing its repairs and I had a few last minute changes I wanted to include. Sneaking inside, I laid out the supplies I'd brought and started giving the bot new orders. When it finished about two hours later, the outer hull of the ship was now covered in a white enamel with faint lines engraved in it. The final touch was the emblem I had brought with me and I mounted it on the side of the ship, just behind the new windshield. For protection, I also enchanted it to resist any attempt at removal and protected it against being altered. Nothing was going to affect that emblem short of dumping the whole ship into a nuclear furnace.

With a grin on my face, I stood back to admire my handy work. "There, that should teach Bob not to make fun of my car. Now who's vehicle looks like a space shuttle, even down to the tiles!" With a few final orders for the bot, I teleported home and called it a night.