Toys
By T. “Trank” Will Izer
Everyone has their own idea about what's entertaining: for some, it's a good book; others enjoy the challenge
of the athletic side of life, while still others enjoy playing with mechanical hobbies. Each of these hold a
fascination for the hobbyist who chooses one of these, or one of the many other ways of self-entertainment
during the time they have for relaxation. Unfortunately, some choose hobbies that are extremely dangerous in
the general publics view. It is from this latter number of ‘enthusiasts’ that our current tale focuses on, a
youngish man with a penchant for explosions, one Elias Adon.
Elias Adon was exactly that; an add-on. Raised in a series of foster homes, Elias was an outcast almost from
the first breath; his step-father, a heavy-handed man who drank too much and battered the other members of
the household at every opportunity. His mother, a weak-willed woman who was barely out of childhood herself
and had a drug habit bad enough to keep her on a first-name basis with the local drug dealers, often trading
sexual favors with them in return for a fix. The resulting pregnancy from one of these ‘trades’ produced Elias
and the anger that was directed at the child because of his presence in the house was exampled almost
immediately; first through the lack of daily care of the newborn baby Elias by his mother—who left the boy too
close to a stove burner while mixing a ‘fix’ that caused the child a permanent scarring of his face, scalp, and
shoulder—to the throwing of the infant by his step-father for crying that left the boy with a concussion
resulting in Elias having a learning disability due to a bone fragment that was lodged and inoperable in the child’s
brain.
Shortly after this last, a social worker appeared at the Adon house with a court order to take Elias into
custody. The step-father—in a drunken rage—told the social worker to take not only the boy, but also his, ‘...
drug-using pincushion whore of an old lady.’ He proceeded to grab Elias and fling him recklessly at the social
worker; she almost caught the boy, but Elias's shoulder broke as a result of hitting the door-frame. As the
social worker ran for her car—the child screaming in pain—the step-father picked the half-awake young mother
up off the couch and hurled the scrawny woman across the living room and through the picture window. The
woman landed badly on the ground, breaking her neck as she hit; she died on the patch of cracked concrete
that served as a driveway. Elias’ step-father died in prison, while serving a life sentence for the murder of Elias’
drug-addicted mother, as the result of, ironically, being thrown from a second-floor tier and breaking his neck
during a riot. From that point on, Elias Adon was a ward-of-the-court and began his circuit through a multitude
of foster and group homes, as well as a short period of time in a juvenile detention centre while in his late teens.
By the time Elias reached the legal age of adulthood, he had been placed in the care of so many strangers and
in the company of a multitude of other children, that he had no chosen course for his adulthood and so began
wandering aimlessly from place to place. He worked sporadically, usually as a general laborer, earning enough to
spend a couple of nights in an over-priced, shabbily-maintained motel, eating what he could steal from a local
grocery or convenience store, or dodging the bill at restaurants. Elias had been arrested for minor misdemeanors
on occasion, but the free room and board of a jail cell was almost like winning a weekend at the higher end
hotels: clean clothes, three meals a day, time in the recreation area and the promise of a place to sleep that
didn’t require breaking your back to get it. Plus, if these things were of interest to you, there was usually illicit
‘home-brew’ in the kitchen, illicit drugs in the infirmary and/or illicit sex after lights out, but Elias avoided these
last like a plague. Tomato brew seasoned with cleaning solution wasn’t to his taste, he still remembered what
drugs had done to his mother and having sex with another guy was just as good as signing your own death
certificate these days, especially now that things like AIDS were out there waiting to be passed on like
counterfeit money in a card game. In fact, Elias was generally content with his own company, mixing in with
other people only when necessity demanded. If you stayed out of other peoples’ way, you were less likely to
find yourself needing the help of other people as well; that was Elias’ primary social rule, and, so far, it worked
admirably.
Because of his learning disability, Elias had not acquired much of an education, and had the overall formal
education of a sixth grade student, but Eldon developed a sort of intuitive ability that allowed him get through
life without too much trouble. He could read the newspaper—although the definitions of some words remained
indefinable—he could do enough mathematics to be able to determine when he was being ripped off by someone
for change when it was given to him at a motel—like the night-clerk at that last motel had tried to do when
Elias paid his bill. But it was the intuition that served him best in conjunction with the ‘street teaching’ he’d
gotten from the kids he grew up around and later, the inmates he’d done time with).
As Elias reached his late twenties, it was intuition that allowed him to build what he referred to as his ‘toys’.
Elias managed to get a full-time position with a demolition company. He’d gone in with the idea of applying for a
laborer’s job, maybe cleaning a site after the demolitions people had done what needed doing to necessitate a
clean-up. In the time Elias spent working with the cleanup crew, he gained enough knowledge to run a ‘dozer
and, over coffee and lunch breaks, he spent his time talking to the demolition crew getting a working knowledge
of explosives and the handling of them. A few more weeks passed and when one of the demolition crew wound
up getting married, the crew foreman asked Elias if he’d like to take a certification test. If Elias passed, he’d be
promoted to the crew as an apprentice; this would increase his pay and Elias would also get increased holiday
time and health coverage. Elias agreed; taking the exam and working the cleanup crew until the results came
back. A week and a half later, the foreman called Elias into the office.
“Eli, you passed. Welcome to the demolition crew. Sign this, grab a white hardhat, and shag ass out to the
assignment board; we’ve got a heavy schedule and team three is waiting for you at the board.”
Elias beamed, thanked the foreman and went out to meet team three at the assignment board in the coffee
room of the double-wide trailer. This was like a dream come true; Elias had always been fascinated by things
that exploded, from middle-school age on through to the present. He remembered watching things like firework
displays and farmers blowing stumps out in the field, enjoying the noise and the effect that an explosion could
have on the things around it. Stepping into the coffee room, the members of the team welcomed him into the
‘inner sanctum’ of the company, knocking on the top of his hardhat as they congratulated him; Elias’ smile grew
even more. He looked like he’d won the lottery.
The first Friday after his promotion, Elias was officially welcomed to team three by his fellow workers after shift’
s end that day. Being as it was also a payday, so Elias wound up being taken first to a pizza joint where the
demolition crew were treated like the Rat Pack had once been welcomed by Las Vegas. The little pizzeria even
named their house pizza The Demolition in their honor; a double extra-large with a deep dish crust that had
been developed specifically for this menu item, as it had a double topping of every ingredient on their selection
menu and a triple cheese topper. It had a circumference equal to that of a tire from a half-ton truck and took
four kitchen staff to carry the behemoth from the kitchen to the dining area. A sign over the register said that
if one was ever ordered and eaten by an individual, that person would get a certificate for fifty-two free meals.
So far, the pizzeria was proud to say that nobody had ever received a certificate (although a few had been
taken by ambulance in the attempt to win the meal ticket). Tonight was no different; the demo crew received
their food at no cost and their drinks at half price, celebrating their newest member until closing when they left,
singing drunkenly as they went to the parking area to get their vehicles. From the pizzeria, the three car
procession went to the outskirts of town where team three had imploded the fifteen-story building that stood
on a piece of property that was rezoned as an extension to the expanding business district. A rumor around
town was that the property was going to be the future home of a large hotel\casino that was purported to be
financed by a criminal organization. Another rumor was that the site had been bought to build a government
revenue agency; most of the locals agreed there wasn’t really a discernable difference between the two.
The group of late-night revelers pulled into the site, parking their cars next to the double-wide trailer that
served as the site office. Somebody suggested they go in and play cards, but that idea was discarded when
nobody was able to remember the security code for the door.
“Hey, Eli, have you got the key for the ‘dozer on your ring?”
Elias checked his key ring and found, after a couple of minutes of blurred checking that he did; he handed them
over. Then the new idea to entertain themselves was explained. As the idea was laid out, the excitement and
the laughter grew.
The most sober of the team was assigned to run the ‘dozer, cutting a straight path from one end of the site to
the other. After a suitable clear stretch had been cut, the team was preparing to run a short drag race.
Whoever lost what was being referred to as, ‘the final heat’, would be paid a sum of fifty dollars per man.
Because the ‘track’ ran parallel to the front of the site office, it was determined the runs would begin at the far
end of the freshly dug path and the race winner could be determined by a member of the team standing on the
metal steps leading into the office. This was agreed to by the whole team; Eli was to be judge since he didn’t
have a car to run the heats. Eli liked the idea fine; not being a drinker, the three beers he’d consumed that
night had thrown off his ability to stand without leaning on something. The railing on the stairs would serve his
needs admirably.
Eli, a drunken grin on his face, slurred the words, “Gentlemen, star’ y’engines!”
The cars were fired up, revving engines as the three cars made their way to the far end of the track. The two
drivers for the first run were decided by rock, paper, scissors at the start point; the odd-man-out was to start
the race.
As the two cars that were selected to make the first run pulled into the starting position, the cacophony of
revving motors from the far end of the site echoed, their driver’s courage intensified by alcohol consumption
and male ego, the odd-man-out stood before them with his hands raised. He looked like a conductor directing a
symphony to hold a note, which the two drivers did obligingly with accelerators pressed to the floorboards of
their respective vehicles. As he dropped his hands to his hips the racers dropped their transmissions into gear, a
cloud of dust, dirt and gravel bloomed behind them. The race was on.
Elias stared at the oncoming headlights, a drunken grin creasing his features and deepening the divot in his
forehead. He was happier than he’d ever been because he had been asked, if only by reason that he lacked a
vehicle, to be the person who made the final call on something. These guys trusted him enough to be a decision
maker; he was pleased by the trust of his friends and co-workers and vowed not to let them down. He watched
the oncoming fury of the two cars drawing ever closer. The short time it took to drive from one end of the
track seemingly suspended in a slow-motion that would go on forever.
The cars thundered past the mid-point of the newly carved stretch, rubble from the recent demolition to either
side like the bleachers at a real drag strip, and the drivers sitting slightly down in their respective seats like
they were trying to reduce wind resistance. The trailer was coming up fast, Eli illuminated by their headlights,
leaning on the handrail with a drunken smile spread across his face. The cars were running door-to-door;
another twenty yards and the first heat would be run and a winner declared. All of a sudden, the car on the
outside slewed with the right front tire throwing bits of rubber as it shifted to the left and ground against the
car in the left lane.
Elias watched the two speeding cars, not entirely aware of what was happening; it looked like they were
coming right at him, but Eli decided that it was only their headlights shining brighter because they were so close
to the finish. He also saw that the car of the odd man out who’d started the race was also moving towards this
end of the track, accelerating as it approached. When the car on the inside cut a path more directly towards
him, a chill of fear suddenly went up Eli’s back, making his teeth click a little. Eli realized that the inside car was
moving toward him; they both seemed to be making a left-handed approach and he suddenly felt real fear. He
could now hear the horn of the lone car behind the two racers bleating out a warning.
As the car with the blown tire continued to shift, it ground against the car it had been racing against as the
driver attempted to slow its bullet-like progress and regain control, taking his foot off the accelerator and
slamming the brake pedal as his left foot punched hard against the emergency brake. A shrill squeal, like a cat
whose tail had been stomped on erupted as the rear wheels locked. At the angle the vehicle was at, it proved
to be a mistake; the car slid sideways for a moment and then flipped onto its passenger-side door. It rolled over
without hesitation, bouncing down the remaining cleared piece of track, coming to a stop and bursting into
flames as it lay on its left side. The driver, pinned by the landing didn’t have time to scream as the flames
engulfed both he and his car. The air took on an odor of burning gas and something that smelled like roasting
pork being cooked.
Meanwhile, the second racer slammed the transmission into neutral, hoping that this action would save his life;
all this did little or nothing to achieve this. He was able to prevent the car from flipping over, but the lights of
the car approaching from the rear blinded him, the horn breaking his concentration. As a result, his car
torpedoed into the double-wide trailer, metal siding stripping as the car pierced it, bounced once and blew
through the far end where the explosives were kept. The little wooden shed with the triple-lock exploded,
throwing the vehicle that struck it backwards on its path. It landed on the roof of the third car and the horn’s
blaring was cut off with a shocking suddenness as the pile of rolling metal continued to hurtle toward Eli.
The last thought that passed through Elias’ mind was that he’d never again get to play with his ‘toys’ because
the explosives shed had been blown apart. This saddened him for a moment, but then he realized he’d been
lucky to have had the chance to use them at all, and he began to feel a little happiness creeping back. He was
smiling as a secondary explosion blew the ‘dozer apart like an M-80 in a cereal box, but he was still wearing the
hint of a smile as the blade of the ‘dozer neatly decapitated him.