Friday morning. Frank enters the stage. He is wearing his work clothes. He is obviously on his way to do some serious work.
The phone rings.
"Hi, Mr. Gruendel. This is FedEx. We have a parcel for you here, and we need to know what it is."
"Hmmm... No idea. Who is it from?"
"A Mr. NeverMindHisName."
"Ah. Yes. That is the defective Apple Newton MessagePad I bought in the US for spare parts."
"The... Never mind. It is, sort of, an electronic database. Ya know, what you use to manage your address data, to do list etc."
"Ah, I see. Newton... wasn't that the one without a keyboard?"
Frank (slightly impressed): "Yes."
"And it is defective?"
"Yes, it is. I need it to fix another unit I already own."
"Could you send us a fax confirming what it is and that it is defective? We'll need that for customs, I'm afraid."
"Well... not right now. I'm at home, so I won't have access to a fax machine until next Monday."
"Pity. This means you'll get the parcel 3 days later."
"I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about it."
"OK, then. Bye!"
Frank looks momentarily distracted. People with an excellent sense of hearing can hear him mumble 'Nothing I can do about it' under his breath a couple of times.
An eery phenomenon occurs. Frank's second half disengages from Frank. It looks like Frank's exact twin, only somewhat transparent. It turns 90 degrees counterclockwise to face Frank.
"Hey! Hey you! Nothing we can do about it?"
Frank, looking surprised and a bit frightened: "N... no. Nothing whatsoever."
"Think again, man! You do have that fax application on your Mac, don't you?"
"Are you kidding? Been there, done that. That was the application that steadfastly refused to recognize my modem, wasn't it?"
"Sure. But you could try, couldn't you? You'd get the parcel 3 days earli..."
"FORGET IT! NO WAY!!"
"Well... what about the PC? You do have a fax app there, don't you?"
"Sure. Oh, sure. And it recognizes my modem just fine. The down side is that to date it has never successfully sent any fax."
"I know. But you could try again, couldn't you? After all, you'd get the..."
Frank, close to exploding: "Hold your f***ing tongue! We have no time for experiments! Ya know, I do not know your schedule for today, but me, I have a brick wall to build. Preferably before it starts raining again."
Frank's second half, sounding subdued and very meek: "But... excuse my bringing this topic up again... you do have a MessagePad, don't you?"
Frank, looking surprised: "Now wait a minute..."
Frank's second half, his expression turning from subdued to eager: "And you have a modem, don't you? Remember, the cigarette box one that came with your Newton. The one you never used so far?"
Frank, thinking hard, mumbling: "We just might give it a try..."
Frank and his second half, mumbling unisono: "After all, 3 days are 3 days..."
Frank opens a cupboard and takes out his MessagePad. His second half looks over his shoulder, expectantly. While Frank spends the next 2 minutes creating a confirmation note, the second half's expression turns to utter satisfaction.
Frank opens the cupboard again, rummages a short while and triumphantly extracts a black box about the size of a cigarette box. He blows the dust off it and inserts two AA size batteries. Then he connects the modem to the MessagePad and to the telephone outlet. He taps a couple of times on the MessagePad's screen.
The modem makes clicking and beeping sounds. Frank, looking doubtful and staring mesmerized at the MessagePad's screen, whistles gently between his teeth. A big wide smile begins to spread on his face, nearly reaching his ears. Simultaneously, a similar smile spreads on the face of his second half.
While Frank switches off the MessagePad, his second half retreats back into Frank. A muffled "I told you so, didn't I?" can hardly be overheard.
Frank puts on a bricklayer's glove, humming. As he puts the second one on, the phone rings again.
"This is FedEx again. Just want to confirm that your fax has arrived."
"Oh. Cool. Thanks!"
"You're welcome. Bye!"
Frank, looking furtively over both shoulders, starts caressing the MessagePad. âWell done, my friend...â
Change of scene. Frank is outside, in front of his house, happily laying bricks. The rain is pouring. Nonetheless, Frank is singing, loudly and good-humouredly.
"There's nothing, nothing better than
that small computer with a pen.
Because one thing I can't abide:
Hardware that won't let me decide."