Tag Archives: Chapter Five

Zoid Man: Chapter Five

18 Dec

Chapter Five


The older boy’s name was Harland Gillette, like the razor. Jack and Benny identified him from his yearbook picture in the Frankton Junior High yearbook. The picture was two years old, and Harland looked nothing like he did now. He was much younger and smaller in the picture. Not too different from Jack, for that matter.

Jack’s brother said Harland had been a couple of grades behind him.

“He played on the 7th and 8th grade football team and started his very first year. He was okay. And fast. Running back, I think. I was in high school, and his name got talked about in the locker room as someone to watch. Then he kind of disappeared all of a sudden. Why do you ask?”

“No reason. Kind of bumped into him a few days ago, you know.”

Over the next few days Jack and Benny worked on catching Harland as the mysterious neighborhood thief. Things started to go missing once again. A lawn mower from the Sizemore’s shed. One of the Rankin girl’s bicycles — and brand new, too! Axes, shovels, basketballs — a wide sundry of things.

In Mr. Nickers’ science class, the teacher somehow got off track of his lecture and rambled. Jack took advantage of the moment to shoot up his hand to ask a question.

“Doctor Nickers, if you wanted to catch somebody stealing something, how would you do it?”

He wasn’t a real doctor. But everyone called him doctor. Doc Nick behind his back. He was rumored to have a fondness for his female students.

“Actually, I heard of a case in another school where someone was going around stealing loose change from the teachers’ desks. We all keep a little spare change for emergencies, like a student who forgets to bring lunch, or can’t pay a fee or something.

“Anyway, John Howard, a science teacher like me whom I knew at the school came up with the idea of treating coins with silver nitrate.”

“What’s that, Doctor Nickers?” The other students figured out early in the year if you kept Doc Nick off the day’s lesson, you could avoid all kinds of work.

“Yes, well it’s a chemical that used to be dropped into the eyes of newborns to prevent blindness. And for other things as well. Some people think it’s a cure for warts. Anyway, Mr. Howard rinsed a lot of change in silver nitrate and left it on his desk for all to see. He figured that sometime during the day the change would be stolen.”

“Was it?”

“It sure was. So here’s the catch: when the thief took the money, she got it on her hands.  A chemical reaction took place, turning her skin dark black where she touched the money. So chemistry,” he said, tapping the rolled down periodic chart with his wooden pointer, “can be used in many useful ways.”

“You said ‘she.’ A girl?”

“Not all the bad people in the world are boys.” He grinned and winked at a very attractive female student seated at the front of one row of desks.

Jack continued.

“Where do you get silver nitrate?”

“I suppose at the drug store. I might actually have some.”

“Would you show us how it works?” The class seemed to perk up at what would definitely detour Doc Nick for another twenty minutes.

“Everyone turn to page 68 in your science book and read the section written on the board. I’ll go see if we can do the experiment.”

Books flopped open and the entire class breathed a sigh of relief as the teacher opened a closet door at the front of the class and switched on a light.

Rumblings of whispers and titters of laughter rippled throughout the classroom. Nickers called from within the closet,

“Quiet down, class!” and continued to rummage through his shelves, until at last, he found the silver nitrate.

“Aha!” He came out of the closet with a triumphant look, holding a small amber bottle in his hand. On the top of the bottle was a rubber squeeze-top dropper. Opening a drawer in his desk, he scrounged for change.

“Jack? You asked to see how this works — so come be my Guinea pig.”

Jack walked to the front of the classroom. Nickers had spread nickels and dimes into a small tray. He put on his thick, elbow-length gloves, and strapped on a pair of safety goggles. He carefully unscrewed the bottle and pinched the rubber squeeze top to draw up some of the silver nitrate.

The rest of the class stood up and craned their necks to see.

“Not sure how much to use. Heck, may as well get ‘em soaked.”

He pinched several droplets of silver nitrate onto the change in the tray with the dropper. Then he plucked a wooden tongue depressor from a glass jar on the desk and stirred the coins, making sure each was coated with the chemical.

“Okay, Jack … your turn. Reach down in the tray and pick up some of the change I’ve coated with silver nitrate.”

“Should I put on gloves?”

“Oh no! Then it wouldn’t work!”

“Is this dangerous to do? Is it poisonous?”

Nickers stopped to think a moment, then quickly said, “Heavens, no! Not a bit of danger. Of course, I wouldn’t put my hands in my mouth until you scrub the silver nitrate off them. Don’t worry about a thing!

“Now, quickly — grab some coins with your bare hands and rub them about. That’s it. Keep rubbing them. Now, put the coins back into the tray, and hold out your hands, palms up, so that everyone can see.”

Jack obeyed, and turned toward his classmates, extending his palms out and up. As he and others watched, his skin began to discolor. First to a chocolaty-brown, then dark brown, and finally to black.

The class gasped at the transformation.

“And that’s how the thief was found out! She didn’t know any better than to wash her hands — although plain soap and water wouldn’t do the trick had she tried. And when the money was discovered missing, all the teachers in the school had their students stand, hands out like Jack here, and the culprit was caught!”

“Uh, Doctor Nickers?”

“Yes, Jack?”

“Just how do I get this stain off my hands?”

“It should eventually wear off.”

“How long for that to happen?”

“Two … three days, I imagine.”

The class period bell rang out loud, and the students in Doc Nick’s class shoved and milled their way out into the hallways while Jack stood behind, looking at his stained hands.

The Saga of a Rescued Dog: Chapter Five

22 May


Photo by Graham R. Marsden Used by permission

Photo by Graham R. Marsden
Used by permission




The Saga of a Rescued Dog

Chapter Five: Time sure flies . . .

by L. Stewart Marsden



The two went through the door, and about an hour later, the mister emerged without our friend. The mister’s face was streaked with tears, and he turned and pinned Mangum’s picture and bio on the cork board, then quickly walked out of the compound and through the front door, letting it close by itself.

Hey, I said to the dog in the cage across the aisle from mine. What numbers are still left on my card that haven’t been crossed off?

He squinted and looked, then lowered his head and said something.

What? I can’t hear you, I said.

Six. Six days have not been marked off.




I’ve heard that for every human year on earth, a dog ages seven. I don’t know where that comes from. I’m four years old, as nearly as I can tell. But, am I really twenty-eight instead?

Time sure flies when you’re having fun. Or even when you’re not.

When the dog across the aisle said I had six days left — six days! — I called him a liar and said he was being cruel. After all, I can count on one paw how many days someone hasn’t been cruel to me.

I figured he wanted to get my goat for some reason.

Oh yeah? I barked back. You only got two days. Two freakin’ days! Do you hear me?

But I lied. He had about fifteen. He had come in after I did and knew better. But I didn’t like him. He had buggy eyes and no tail.

What dog has no tail?

Speaking of tail, mine had healed with the last two inches bent into an ell. What adopter is going to want a dog with a bent tail? Huh?

Next day Muffy got adopted. An old man and his wife saw her picture in the newspaper and came in.

Why, she’s just like my Cousin Gladys’s dog! Let’s get her, Henry, and the next time Gladys lords her dog over me, I’ll just say “Gladys, I have my own dog, and she’s every bit as good as yours.”

Muffy heard, and grinned at me. The irony wasn’t lost on me at all, and I wish I could have been there when those cousins got together again with their dogs. Or, maybe just one would have a dog. Life is truly stranger than fiction, I’ve heard.

Some human celebration was approaching — you know, the one where bad little misters tie firecrackers to dogs’ tails? Not my favorite.

But for some reason adopters started flowing into the animal shelter. I think the mister was so upset over Mangum that he went all out with the advertising. Guilt is a wondrous motivator.

And so dog after dog got adopted and left, their photos and bios going with them.

Even Damien. Yep. Damien was adopted, and the adopter was kind as kind can be and not into dog fighting.

It got to the point only me, the mutt across the aisle from me, the manx and that dodo head possum were the only animals left in the compound.

It was hot. Very hot.

And I was on my last day.

The mister strolled down the aisle in the compound several times, filling everyone’s water bowls — even dropping in pieces of ice, too.

He was a kind mister.

I kept thinking, Hey, why not take me home with you? I’ll be the best dog ever — promise!

And he would look me straight in the eyes, as though he heard my thoughts.

I’d take you home with me if I could. I really would. But the missus would move out. I’ve run through that hand, and we have six big dogs at home. I truly, truly wish I could.

I put on the saddest look I could muster. But he turned away and walked back out of the compound. I lay down on the concrete, trying to get cool. But I couldn’t help thinking about the next day.

So, I fell asleep and dreamed my regular dreams — Mister Master, punishment, the semi, Mangum walking down the aisle to the door, Muffy and Damien going out the other door. And that stupid possum and manx, staring at me from their little cages.


I awoke to the mister seeming to shout from the next room. It wasn’t an angry shout, but a YAHOO! cowboy kind of yelp.

It was late in the day, and I knew he was getting ready to close up and go home. But I could hear him, excited as all get out.

And when he came bursting through the door into the compound, he made a beeline for my cage.

This is him! This is definitely the one you want! Oh, his life before he came here was terrible — just awful! Mistreated like no animal should be!

I kept thinking — Wrong! We don’t want anyone to know about my past and about my hang-ups!

Walking into the compound, hand in hand, was a mister and his missus who grinned from ear to ear.

I think I heard the Alleluia chorus break forth from the heavens at that very moment!

They walked up to my cage, still grinning. She was crying slightly. I know I was. And probably grinning from ear to ear myself. I riveted my eyes on his, then hers, then his, then hers, remembering what Mangum had told me.

Oh — make eye contact. Be sure to do that. If you continually look away, they think you’ve got something to hide.

I had nothing to hide — that’s for sure! It was all I could do to restrain myself from jumping up on the door of my cage. Instead, my tail began to hurt it was wagging so fast!

Perhaps they would see the ell in it.

Let’s go fill out the adoption papers in the office and get everything in order.

God, I thought I’d never hear the mister say that about me!

And they walked back to the front, the misses looking back several times, smiling, and still tearing up as she went.

So there it was! This was it! Miracles of miracles — my luck was about to turn! Good-bye Mister Master! Good-bye BAD DOG! Good-bye hiding and getting hit or kicked or starved or a hundred other bad things my memory is full of.

What was that tune? Happy? Oh, yeah! HAPPYHAPPYHAPPYHAPPY ME!

Then I suddenly remembered when the mister first bent over to pick me up in the waiting room. And how Mister Master jumped into my head. And how I snapped at the mister for no reason at all.

Naw. That wouldn’t happen — couldn’t happen now, could it?

Could it?


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 22 May, 2014