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"THE ADVENTURES OF LONE WOLF SCIENTIFIC"


"The Adventures of Lone Wolf Scientific" is an electronically syndicated series that follows the exploits of two madcap mavens of high-technology. Copyright 1991 Michy Peshota. May not be distributed without accompany WELCOME.LWS and EPISOD.LWS files.


EPISODE #18 (released 12.9.91)


      The Couch, the File Cabinet, and the Calendar
After a long night of bickering over how to arrange the

office furniture, the new high-tech startup company is visited by a neighbor.«

                  by M. Peshota
   Dawn's dauntless talons were making their first

tentative poke through the cracked windows of the former fraternity house where the two entrepreneurs had argued the night away, when there came a pounding on the front door. It was loud and not at all hospitable sounding.

   "It is no doubt the furniture police come to arrest you

for your appallingly bad taste in the arrangement of office furniture," the computer builder grumped as he stalked to the door.

   "It's not my fault that no matter where we push your

precious research and development couch it causes the floor to buckle and sag." The programmer cowered on top the file cabinet, peering cautiously over a pillow he grasped in front of him like a warrior's shield. He clenched in one hand, as tightly as if it were a sacred parchment, a calendar topped by a photo of a giant staplegun in front of a sunset.

   "Oh no!  And I suppose it's not your fault that the

free calendar we got at the office supply store clashes wildly with my favorite couch pillow." He flung the door open in disgust. On the other side stood a woman, tired- looking, Duncanesque, her arms folded in front of her. Her hair looked like she had spent the night tossing awake. Her green caftan, with its paint smears and splotches along on the hemline, looked like she frequently paced the floor among open cans of paint. "Do you know how easy it is to hear your imbecilic bickering all the way over at my house?!" She swept into the livingroom.

   "It is not imbecilic bickering!" the computer builder

huffed. "I have been fighting like the dickens all night to keep that chintz-swatches-for-brains programmer from pushing my research and development couch into some dusty corner that will not show it off to its best advantage." He motioned disparagingly toward the programmer still crouched on the cabinet like a Christmas elf, holding the cushion in front of him.

   The woman made a quick examination of the saucer-eyed

programmer. The first thing she noticed was that he looked like he was about to cry. "What have you been doing to him?" she demanded.

   "Nothing, I--"
   "Did you kidnap him at a science fair or something?"

The programmer had lowered the pillow just enough to reveal his plastic pocket protector.

   "No!"
   "Then why does he look like he's been terrorized?"
   "Because he's my business partner!"
   "I was just trying to keep S-max's R and D couch out of

the line of traffic," Andrew.BAS offered in the way of explanation.

   "And while you're at it why don't you also tell her how

you suggested that we cover my couch with a blanket so that customers wouldn't be exposed to the shameful sight of its frayed ruffles and the springs popping from its cushions!" The computer builder snorted. "As if a working R and D couch is something to be embarrassed about!"

   "Well you're the one who wanted to push the file

cabinet out on the front porch so that we could be identified from the street as a real business."

   "Don't act so innocent."  S-max wagged a finger at him.

"«You're» the one who wanted to put the file cabinet next to my research and development couch, no doubt so that customers would assume me to be nothing but cheap clerical help."

   "I was only trying to keep them together since you

insisted the couch and the file cabinet were a matched set."

   "And they <<are>> a matched set.  I told you how I

found them both in the same alley!"

   "Gentleman!" the woman pleaded.
   "I'm sure we wouldn't be having all these arguments if

we didn't have so much office furniture to find places for," Andrew.BAS said to her.

   
   She glanced around the room bewilderedly. "All I see is

a ripped up couch and dented file cabinet."

   "That's what I mean.  If we didn't have all this stuff

we wouldn't have be having so many problems."

   "You've been arguing all night over where to put the

couch and where to put the file cabinet?" she asked in amazement.

   "Well, yes," said Andrew.BAS.  "I take it you don't

think that's normal for new business owners."

   "It is all the fault of Andrew.BAS," S-max accused,

pointing to the Cub Scoutish programmer. "He is the one with chromosonal deficiencies in the RNA strand having to do with the ability to arrange office furniture properly." He grunted. "It is no doubt those same warped RNA strands that are responsible for his leading a life of mathematical hooliganism as a computer programmer–"

   Before he could finish, their visitor pushed aside the

big-nosed computer builder and headed to the shabby chinz couch. Grabbing one of its ends, she dragged it to the window. She tucked beneath its ratty cushions the schematics, printouts, engineering magazines, tools, wires, and alligator clips that spilled from them. Then she collected the dirty throw pillows that lay scattered over the floor like misfired salvos in a war and tossed them one by one into a line on the couch with perfunctory indifference. She motioned to Andrew.BAS to climb down from the file cabinet, and after he did so she pushed it to an empty spot beside the stairs.

   
   The programmer nodded approvingly looking around the

neatened room.

   
   The computer builder gasped, "Why, this is perfect!"

He circled the chinz couch, surveying it from different angles. "This is exactly how our office furniture should be arranged. What style! What symmetry!"

   "But we still haven't found a place to hang the office

calendar," Andrew.BAS reminded, holding up the calendar.

   She snatched it and hung it on a nearby nail on the

wall.

   S-max gasped again, "You are a genius!  Mario Biutto

couldn't have done a better job. What decorating house did you say you are with?"

   Their neighbor rolled her eyes at the mawkish flattery.

"I'm Wilma," she said, extending her hand. "I live next door. I'm a professional painter."

   "And we're a high-tech company!" S-max said proudly,

pumping her hand.

   "I should have known," said Wilma.  "Was it your

business plans that I heard being shouted at higher and higher decibels all night?"

   S-max tossed his furry head.  "We are planning to do

nothing less than usher into being the very future of American technology. That is why you heard so much shouting. Already we have many exciting plans. We have rented a post office box. We bought $20 worth of stamps. We have procurred copies of the phone book for each of us. We stole forty pounds of 'While You Were Out' memo pads from our former ingrateful employer. We have 700 pounds of confetti. Someday very soon you and our other neighbors will watch amazed as the very street we live on becomes the next Silicon Valley. This house will be its center, of course."

   "Mmmm," the painter said in doubt. "We were kind of

hoping that once the fraternity moved out property values would recover." She looked over her two tousled, cacaphonous neighbors. The little one with the blond hair and wire-rims wore a white shirt and tie, although the shirt was rumpled and the tie was ripped as if it had gotten caught in a door. Or maybe the big one had yanked his tie or tried to tie it to a doorknob. She wouldn't put it past that one, for the big one had black, shifting eyes like those of a Middle Eastern terrorist leader. He also had a twenty-pound orange and black afro that made him look like a walking fire hazard. Above grundgy bluejeans, he sported a yellow t-shirt with a faded infinity sign on it. The t- shirt looked like it had had a collision with a pizza. Clipped to his belt was a walkie-talkie. Both men had plastic identification badges from a nearby military contractor clipped to their shirts. Somehow that did not surprise her.

   "One of my clients is a computer company," she said

finally. She said this with grim remorse. When she didn't say any more, the big one coaxed eagerly, "Please, please, tell us more!"

   "I painted a sign for them," said Wilma.  "That's what

I do, I paint company signs. But they never picked it up and they never paid the balance. I still can't get over it because I put so much work into that darn thing. They had me paint a naked woman on it–"

   "A naked woman?" said the computer builder.
   "Yeah, tangled in fanfold computer paper.  It was

gross. Painting it was an incredible amount of work."

   "Fanfold?!" he gasped.
   "I don't know what a nude wrapped in green paper has to

do with computers," Wilma sighed. "Computer companies are so strange."

   "Do you have any idea what happened to the company?"

Andrew.BAS asked.

   "They must have gone bankrupt.  Their phone is

disconnected. I–"

   "Can we have the sign?!" S-max interrupted.
   "No!" Andrew.BAS objected, arising from his slouch

beside the dented file cabinet. "We want to be taken seriously, S-max. Remember? We agreed on that."

   "But Andrew.BAAAAASS!" he wailed. "Think of how much

fun it will be building a computer company that has a sign with a nude woman in it."

   His partner frowned.
   "It will be so much more fun than growing a computer

company that doesn't have a sign with a nude woman in it."

   "No!"
   "Please, Andrew.BAS!  Can't we at least look at the

sign?"

   "You can have it cheap," Wilma offered.
   The programmer shuffled his sneakered feet in

annoyance. The last thing he wanted to do was provoke his business partner into jerking him around by his favorite engineer school-logo tie again, so he said, "We'll just look at it, o.k.?"

   S-max smirked victoriously.
   As they strolled to Wilma's garage, where the sign was

stored, S-max pointed out to the painter the gray, rusty van with the satellite dish on top broken down halfway in the driveway, halfway in the street. "See that lightning bolt zigzagging majestically down its front grill?" he smiled.

   "You mean that crooked line that looks like someone got

hold of a can of yellow paint they use to paint lines on highways and forgot to mix it before spattering it on the grill?" said Wilma.

   "Yes, that's the one.  As you can see, it needs a bit

of touch up."

   "It certainly does."
   "Should you ever find yourself in the middle of the

night with a little extra yellow highway paint, feel free to come over and–"

   "It'll cost ya."
   The computer builder grunted in indignation at the

thought of someone charging him for the privilege of restoring the artwork on his van, an honor he considered not uncomparable to being asked to touch up the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He remained moodily silent for the rest of the walk over.

   Company signs and cans of paint crowded their

neighbor's garage. One of the signs, standing on its side, read "Wayne's Lube Jobs." Another one right next to it read, "Wayne's Outboard Motor Repair." One to the left of it read "Wayne's Used Cars," and one behind it read "Wayne's Shoe Repair." Yet another read "Wayne's Barber Shop" and one next to that "Wayne's Shoe Repair," and another, "Wayne's Burglar Alarms." There were also lots of signs for businesses owned by Joes. There was "Joe's High-Risk Insurance," and "Joe's Balloonarama." There was "Joe's Plumbing & Liquor," and "Joe's Bankruptcy Center." There was "Joe's Emergency Pre-School Repair," "Joe's Creative Truck Restoration," and "Joe's Dial-a-Water-Conditioner- Repairman." There were a lot of businesses run by Franks too, but they tended to be less worldly in spirit than those owned by Waynes or Joes. There was "Frank's Hair Majesty," "Frank's School of Wisdom," and "Frank's Devotional Charter Service." There were not many businesses owned by people named Archibald or Clarence, but when there were they were often as stylish sounding as their proprietors' names. There was "Nail Sculpture by Mr. Archibald," and "Clarence's School of Mail-Order Litigation."

   Wilma led the way through an aisle of neatly stacked

company signs. It was almost like walking through a phone book. On one side of them, in alphabetical order stood "Frank's Devotional Charter Service," "Frank's Hair Majesty," and "Frank's School of Wisdom," while on the other side began the Joes. Taking a left at "Morton's Grub Street Reading," they came upon a sign with long, runic-style green letters. Wilma pulled it out from behind "Morton's Grub Street." It read "Dave's Altered States Data Repair." On it, a two-headed woman with sprigs of rhubarb poking from her ears perched kewpie doll-like on a mound of computer printouts. She was naked except for strategic cloakings of computer paper curling from her knees to her eight sets of ears.

   "This was a real challenge to paint," Wilma said,

pointing to the green sprigs growing from the odalisque's ears. "I must have spent four days getting this rhubarb right. And since I couldn't just go out and hire a model with eight sets of ears, I had to clip no less than 16 ears from pictures in fashion magazines and Scotch tape them to Mrs. Kliggerty–you know, the old woman who lives on the other side of you, you may have already heard about her arthritis, I sometime use her as my model, assuming her arthritis isn't acting up. Why the odalisque was supposed to have rhubarb in her ears, I don't know, but that's what the client asked for." She stared at the eight sets of Dali-esque ear lobes wistfully. "Computer companies are «so» strange," she said again, shaking her head.

   S-max paced back and forth in front of the sign like an

art critic. He stood back and gazed at it, rubbing his stubbled chin the way he had seen customers in Snookey's Parts Shack do when they were examining the fine art prints of integrated circuits hanging on the wall behind the cash register. He crouched down and, tilting his head sideways, squinted at it from the level of the floor. With his fingers he formed a frame and squinted through it at the rhubarb woman from different angles.

   He finally said, "I am in awe of how realistically you

have portrayed the crumpled heap of computer paper draped around the nude. I have never seen anything like it. The pale green lines and the holes along the sides of the printouts are so realistic that even I would be unable to distinguish it from computer paper heaped in the corner of my office. What's more, the way you have the paper jumbled around the nude's knees in so chaotic a fashion reminds me of many of my own doomed-from-the-start computer projects. There is verve, sassiness, style to your rendering of computer paper. Indeed, it looks like it's virtually crying out for someone to come walking through, become tangled in it, and be sent sprawling–just like the piles of computer paper in my office." He grunted in approval.

   "Then you'll buy it?"
   "Well, no.  I'm afraid the way the computer paper is

draped around the odalisque is not realistic enough for my tastes."

   "Huh?"
   "Observe."  He pointed to the odalisque's knees.  "The

way the fanfolds wind from her vericose vein-laden calves all the way up to her crooked neck–well, her two crooked necks. It's a known impossibility that a human being cannot be wrapped in fanfold computer paper without considerably more folds and creases around the neck than appear here. It's a fact. Considerable research has been done on this. In fact, I have often experimented with the phenomenon myself."

   "Well I must admit, Mrs. Kliggerty refused to pose in

fanfold computer paper for more than ten minutes at a stretch."

   "It shows."
   "But I'll give it to you cheap."
   "No, I'm afraid not.  I wouldn't be able to live with a

company sign whose odalisque is not wrapped in fanfold, tractor-feed computer paper with perfect realism. I would find it a constant irritation, like the man who buys an 18th century desk for $47,000 and must live with the two-by-fours that are propping up its drawers and legs." He scanned the sign-stacked garage. "What else do you have?

   His eyes landed on one that read "Joe's Balloonarama."

It bore a caricature of a well-known lawyer being hoisted through the clouds tied to a bunch of funny-faced balloons. He headed toward it almost instinctly. Before he got to it, though, he spotted another intriguing sign. That one read "Lone Wolf…" That's all he could read of it. "Lone Wolf…" and the picture of a slot machine. The sign was jammed behind "Joe's Bankruptcy Center" and "Frank's Devotional Charter Service." He pointed to it. "Lone wolves?"

   "Yeah, I'd certainly call them that," Wilma said.  She

walked over and dislodged the sign from its embrace with the "Joe's Bankruptcy Center" one. "They never paid me either."

   "Lone wolves are what we are," S-max said, holding up

one finger rhetorically, striking a melodramatic pose. "Howling hounds in the high-tech wilderness, lonesome mavericks, devil-eyed desperados unfettered by reason, unchained by civility, outlaws whose very dreams are new and savage, whose imaginations make the timid whelp with fear–"

   "And who prefer their odalisques wrapped in tractor-

feed paper with perfect realism," the bemused programmer quipped.

   S-max shot him a look of irritation, murderous in its

glower.

   "I can sell you the sign real cheap," Wilma said,

pleased at the thought of a sale. She pulled it from the stack. The full sign read "Lone Wolf Slot Machines."

   S-max took a step backward to scrutinize it from a

distance. "«Slot Machines»?" he said. He knit his thick brows. "We may have to change that," he said.

   "Well, I don't see why," said Andrew.BAS.  "We can just

hang it over those contraptions with all the parts in the Zip-Lock bags you sell through ads in the back of magazines." He was now trying to suppress an impish chuckle.

   The computer builder ignored his impudent companion.

"Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't," he read off the sign. Smiling, he turned to Andrew.BAS and said, "How apt, wouldn't you say? This is it!" He waved his arms in jubilation. "We have found a sign for our company! And a motto, too! Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it won't. It's a perfect company motto!" To Wilma he said, "We can buy it, can't we?"

   She nodded.  "Lone Wolf Slot Machines rolled three-

bananas right after I sent them the bill."

   "Lone Wolf Slot Machines?" Andrew.BAS moaned, his elfin

face screwing into distress as he viewed the sign. It had purple Old English letters too.

   "Tsk, tsk," the computer builder said, circling it with

growing admiration. "We can change the slot machines part to something more appropriate. Like Lone Wolf Voltage Concepts, maybe."

   The programmer groaned.
   "Or maybe Lone Wolf Big Visions of Tomorrow.  I like

that."

   Andrew.BAS shook his head as vigorously as he could.
   "Or Lone Wolf MIP Fantasies.  Now what's wrong with

that?"

   Their neighbor pointed to the 'Slot Machines' part of

the sign. "There's just enough room to paint over 'slot machines' 'scientific.' How 'bout that? What's wrong with Lone Wolf Scientific? We wouldn't even have to change the 'S'."

   "Let's do it!"  S-max jabbed a fist in the air.
   Andrew.BAS sighed.
   "Now what's wrong?  We couldn't have found a sign

that's more perfectly flawed for our needs. Look." The computer builder pointed to the purple slot machine painted in the bottom corner of the sign. "We don't even have to paint over that. We can turn it into a computer simply by painting over the slot machine's arm and adding a keyboard where the money is supposed to fall out."

   The programmer gazed at his sneakers sadly.
   "Isn't that right Wilma?"
   She nodded.
   "And we don't even have to change the apples, oranges,

and bananas on the slot machine's screen either. We can leave them there and just let people think it's a software error message or sumthin'."

   Andrew.BAS shook his head.  "I don't like the

'sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't' part."

   "What's wrong with that?  That can be our company

motto. It will be perfect."

   "Our company motto?"
   "Yes.  We can print it on product boxes, we can print

it on our product's manuals, we can print it on our business cards, we can emblazon it across our stationary, and it can serve double duty as a company motto and a product liability disclaimer when someone tries to sue us for whiplash or something."

   Now even Wilma was starting to look skeptical.
   "But I wanted our company motto to be 'To Boldly Go

Where No One Has Gone Before'–just like the motto of «The Starship Enterprise» on 'Star Trek,'" Andrew.BAS protested.

   S-max erupted.  "That is the most inane company company

motto I have «ever» heard! Every noodle-headed high-tech venture boldly goes where nobody has gone before. «Everybody does that», do you understand? When you become a high-tech company it's just naturally assumed that you're going to boldly go where no one has gone before, that that's what you're going to do, that's why you call yourself a high-tech company, because you do that sort of thing. You invest in space ships and such. You go around boldly…." As his words trailed off, he grunted in impatience. "'To boldly go where no one goes' is just too, too obvious a company motto!"

   "But I want us to be just like <<The Starship

Enterprise»," Andrew.BAS moaned, heartsick at the thought of not being able to include a literary reference to his favorite TV show in his computer company's motto. "–to boldly explore new worlds, to seek out new life forms, to –"

   "I tell you, Andrew.BAS, every high-tech company does

that! There is nothing unique about that." He wagged his finger at him. "We owe our customers more than just a space cadet platitude. They deserve a more complex explanation of what our computer company is all about, a more complete motto that tells them a little something about Lone Wolf Scientific, a company motto that sums up the entire Lone Wolf Scientific product line and the likely customer experience. 'Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't' will succinctly do jus tthat."

   "I don't know...."  Andrew.BAS gazed at the purple

slot-machine, crestfallen.

   "I once saw the motto written on a washroom wall at

Intel," S-max offered.

   "You did?"
   "Yes, and it was in Magic Marker too.  I've also seen

it printed on the bottom of lots of high-tech contracts, too."

   "Really?  I haven't."
   "Well you just have to look.  It's there.  It's usually

at the bottom in very small print–so small you generally cannot read it until you have a complaint with the manufacturer and read through the contract slowly with a magnifying glass and that's when you find it. But I assure you, it's there. It's a very popular saying."

   The programmer sighed.  "Oh, all right.  I guess if

it's on the washroom walls at Intel it's o.k."

   "We have a company name, Andrew.BAS!"  He once again

thrust his fist in the air. "And a sign and a motto!" Then he turned pragmatic and said to Wilma, "How much is all this going to cost us?"

   "That's company name consulting," she said, counting

her fingers. "Company slogan authorship. Company sign painting. Not to mention emergeancy corporate interior decoration. That's $1,587.45."

   S-max gasped.  Once he stopped sputtered he countered

smugly, "Three dollars and ninety-five cents. Not a penny more."

   "Twelve-ninety-five, plus a promise to keep the arguing

down at night and keep the computer nerds out of my backyard."

   "Only if you touch up the lightning bolt on my van."
   "Sold."
   As the two entrepreneurs shuffled home, each lugging

one end of the long, long sign with "Lone Wolf Scientific, Inc." now inked on it in curling purple letters, and the drawing of the slot machine now a drawing of a computer with apples and lemons on its screen, and Sometimes the Magic Works, Sometimes It Doesn't" etched in magenta block letters beneath it all, the computer builder marvelled, "Just think, Andrew.BAS, a mere twenty-four hours ago we were nothing but two military-industrial complex losers. We had little to our names but a box full of Gumbys and a zebra skin with which to cover my computer chair. Our most optimistic prospect for the future was to spend our days playing «Core Wars» and watching "Geraldo!" until someone was foolish enough to hire us again. Here we are, less than a day later, with a company name, a company motto (not to mention a company warranty policy and liability disclaimer), and a classy sign which, although it doesn't have a nude woman on it, will still look fetching when hung from the broken balcony railing on the front of the house. We even have our office furniture stylishly arranged."

   "We still have to figure out who gets which drawer in

the file cabinet," Andrew.BAS said.

   S-max grunted optimistically. "We have the rest of the

week to settle that one."

                       <Finis>

«In the next episode, "Engineering the Future of American High-Technology," the two intrepid techie-businessmen set out to design the very future of American technology.«

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