Ray rummaged around in another drawer and came up with a hand held instrument. It looked like a small TV remote.
"Try this. It should find any metal stud or electrical line in a wall. Assuming you're not drilling through a solid concrete vault. You're not, are you?"
Albert forced a smile back out.
"No, no, not at all. Simple little thing, really."
Al pocketed the stud finder and chuck key as both men headed back up the stairs. Ray had about one more shot at learning more about Al's prank. Not that he really wanted to know, but it was fun to rattle Al's chain a bit when he had the chance. At the top of the stairs, he gave it his best shot.
"You are going to tell me where I'll need to patch the hole on Tuesday, aren't you?"
Nice try, Raymond. Too bad Al wasn't born yesterday. Or the day before.
"Nah. If you haven't found it by Wednesday, let's just leave it for next year."
Now it was Al's turn to be smug. He felt lucky to have caught that one for what it was. He knew Ray could usually figure things like this out pretty fast. Borrowing this drill had been a real gamble, and a bit of a chance to brag: Catch me if you can.
At the front door, it was a time for the parting of the ways. They wouldn't see each other until Monday. Maybe not even until that Monday night at the restaurant. Albert had won, but Ray kept trying.
"Well, I'm sure it won't be too hard to spot. The janitors never vacuum on the weekend."
Al faked a crestfallen frown.
"Oh, yeah. Nuts. Vacuum cleaner."
Making his way toward his car, and away from Ray, Al let the smile come back. The Dust Buster was already in the car, battery charged.
"See you Monday, Ray. Good Luck."
"Same to you. Pity the victim."
Al got the last word:
"But not 'til it's over!"
With that bit of bravado, Mister Albert Hanover started his car and backed out of the driveway. Armed with everything he needed, save the drill bit, he was ready for a long night at the office. But first, a quick stop at the hardware store. Would Monday ever get here?
Ray went back inside, with the aroma of dinner telling him exactly what to do next. Sitting down at the table, he certainly noticed the steaming pasta dish before he realized that Barbara was indeed wearing his sunglasses.
"So what do you think? Does this prescription make me feel better?"
"I'll have to check later."
Barbara took the glasses off and they both went after the plates of pasta and warm bread. The conversation, however, was not over. Just relegated to second place.
"Any idea what Mister I'll Have Her is up to?"
Ever since Barbara had corrupted Albert's name to such an odd phrase, Ray found he had to be extra careful to not actually call him that to his face. Risky business.
"I'm not sure exactly, but I have a pretty good idea."
"Would you like to share it with the class?"
"Ok, but remember, this is a test of the Foolhardy Broadbashing System. This is only a test."
"I'll keep that in mind. What's he up to?"
"He's drilling a half inch hole in a wall somewhere."
"Well, Honey, you may as well give up. No way you're going to top that. A half inch hole. Wow. Who would have thought."
"THAT was sarcasm. I could tell."
"You caught me. Now, what's he doing?"
"That would be a mighty big gaping orifice for just a peep-hole, and way too big to just run wires through."
"But the perfect size to mount a modest video microcam. Which would explain the spool of coaxial cable good ol' Al tried to hide under that jacket on his back seat."
"You sly dog you. Then what?"
"I don't know- I can
ORIGINAL FICTION: "Climbers" (Chapter Two)
Hey, Ray's a complicated man. In the first chapter (which was really near the very end of the story itself), he was quite the outdoorsman for an indoor man. As the story progresses, he goes from an indoor type to a not-so-indoor type. Maybe never totally at ease outside, but at least he knows if he wants answers, he has to go outside to get them.
Ray seems remarkably eager to pop outside, for someone who the story has taken great pains to describe as hating the outdoors. Not even a second thought or the slightest hesitation?