Dial “R” for Robot
“Perfect present for Junior.” A man wearing a bedraggled Santa suit stood behind a table on the sidewalk. A row of bright plastic phones lined the front of the table.
“How’d you know I have a son?”
“You do, don’t you?” the man asked, opening his eyes wide.
Martyn glanced down to avoid the man’s eyes, and was arrested by the bizarre dials. A rotary phone dial, but with the entire alphabet in small letters, instead of groups of numbers. Above: a small display screen, like on a cell phone.
“OK.” Martyn dragged the dial around, let go. It spun quickly, stopped abruptly. The display showed “S is for Sale.”
Chuck tore open his last present. Martyn had almost forgotten the weird telephone.
“Turn the dial,” he said, at Chuck’s evident frustration. When the dial stopped moving, the display lit up with “B is for Bee.” Clarice raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t know. For some reason it seemed cooler when I bought it.” Martyn was distracted by a deep rumble, which quickly grew loud enough to shake the house. He ran out the door and looked around. It was so loud…. Then Mrs. Robinson across the street raised a trembling arm, pointing at his roof. He whirled and looked up. A black and yellow striped bee perched on the roof. It was nearly the size of the house. The breeze he was feeling came entirely from the bee’s idling wings.
He ran back in, slammed the door, and took his wife and son to the cellar.
“What?!” she demanded, jerking out of his arms and crossing hers under her breasts.
“Twistr? Twister?” Chuck asked.
“It’s OK, Kid,” Martyn said. “You have some things to play with while we’re down here.” He tossed two plastic balls past his son, who ran shrieking after them.
He leaned over to Clarice’s ear, which was hot with anger. “The rumble is a giant bee, perched on the roof. It’s as big as the house. Don’t…” But she was running past him, up the stairs, and out the door. “Clarice!” He was right behind her, caught up when she stood open-mouthed in the yard, hair blown back by the breeze from the bee.
“It was true!” she breathed.
The wings blurred and the bee took off, followed or chased by two news copters. They disappeared behind the Merton’s big oak just before Chuck emerged from the house.
“Hey Dad! R is for robot!”