The Bricolage Project Part 7: Christmas with the Jordans

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"So what do two you want for Christmas this year?" Gram asked everyone at the dinner table. Her work at the garage didn't give her the time to be thoughtful, so she asked her grandchildren what gifts they wanted.

"Just get me a giftcard for the cinema," Ellie sighed. There were plenty of things she'd asked for if she didn't fear they'd be too much to expect for a Christmas gift. Most times, she tried to supply her own needs herself.

Rory spent several moments chewing on his steak.

"Is there anything you'd like, Rory?" Gram asked.

It was too bad the scrapyard didn't have gift cards, but if she was lucky, he'd ask for a science magazine subscription.

"I don't want a gift. I want a favor," Rory said after he swallowed his food.

The Jordan women stopped eating, and both got a haunted look in their eyes. They could see where this was going.

"You're free to ask for whatever you want, Rory. Don't expect me to say 'yes' unless it's something reasonable," Gram sighed.

" I want to move a clunker I'm working on into the front yard," Rory said.

Gram sighed, "Our neighbors won't like it if you clutter the yard with an eyesore."

"Krillian is no more of an eyesore than any of our neighbors' vehicles, and I've fixed them all in our yard," Rory snorted.

Gram laughed agreement, "That's true, but you know what happens when you work on the cars of feuding neighbors. Does this car belong to anyone who's in a dispute with someone else?"

"No, Nix has kept to himself ever since he's been in the community," Rory said.

Gram frowned, "Nix? How did this Nix find out about you if he hasn't talked to the neighbors?"

Rory was often the main source of conversation in some quarters. Either they praised his skill as a mechanic or else called him a brat.

"I introduced myself to him," Rory shrugged as Gram groaned.

"How many times have I told you not to talk to strangers! You're so smart about anything mechanical, why can't you have more sense about people?" Gram said.

"How am I going to learn anything new if I only talk to the people I already know?" Rory shrugged.

"More like find new customers. I almost wish you'd just set up a lemonade stand like the other kids," Ellie snickered.

"Fixing clunkers pays more than selling lemonade, and I can do it year round," Rory said.

The mention of money softened Gram's mood. She made Rory pay her a storage fee when he had a repair job he was working on in the frontyard. The prospect of earning money, instead of spending it sweetened her mood, "How big is this clunker? How long would it take you to fix it?"

"I can only work at it on and off between paying projects. It might take months," Rory said.

"So this guy's a charity case?" Gram sniffed.

"He pays me in trade," Rory said.

"Trade?"

"He lets me use his fabricator. I can use it to reverse engineer any part and input scrap metals and materials into it, to make new parts for the paying jobs," Rory explained.

"Fabricator?" Gram asked, "What's that, a 3D printer? I thought they were only good for cheap plastic models." She wouldn't even know what a '3D printer', was if he hadn't asked for one last year.

"Yeah, but better. It can handle more building materials. Though some high-end Earth 3D printers come close to Imperial fabricators."

Gram did her best to stifle a sigh. It was better that her grandson surf the net for the latest news in science, rather than download trash. She practiced polite interest when he went on about the latest scientific development she couldn't appreciate or understand.

Ellie grimaced, "If 'Nix' is rich enough to have a 'fabricator' why can't you leave his 'Krillian' in his yard?"

"Because I saw a bunch of surveyors up at the highway when I went to see him. They said they would expand the lanes and he can't stay where he is," Rory said. He called up a picture on his Ipad to back up his claim. It showed men in orange vests and what looked like a portable telescope.

"The highway! You were out at the highway? What is this guy, a squatter!" Gram gasped.

"He's stranded there," Rory said.

"There's no way I want you to go anywhere near this man and his 'Krillian' again!" Gram sputtered.

"The highway. That sounds like that spaceship crash we saw on my birthday," Ellie said.

"Not you too!" Gram said.

Gram assumed that Rory was making up the story of a spaceship crash, and Ellie had neither backed up Rory or denied his claims until now.

"Yeah, it's him, the spacefarer," Rory nodded.

"I can't believe this. How long is he going to play this hoax?" Gram asked.

Rory called up more pics on his Ipad, "His equipment is too expensive to waste on a hoax for one kid. I created a holomask, so it'll look like an RV." He showed the picture.

"This is what Krillian looks like," Rory showed Krillian's hull, a once sleek and proud, but now broken vessel, like a balloon that had been busted.

"Look at this. I've been working on his stuff by playing with its automated repair systems. It's getting better, but it's still pretty messed up."

There was a series of before and after pictures. It looked like a high tech house hit by a tornado. It's walls were cracked in one set of pictures and sealed the next. The damages were so extensive, it was obvious it was a long term project.

Gram shook her head and sighed. There was a long period of silence before she said, "I don't care if he's a weirdo telling you lies or an alien. I should write off this 'Nix', but I'll make my final decision after Christmas, OK?"

Ellie spoke up," Can I change my Christmas gift for a favor too? I'd like to invite Nix over for Christmas dinner?"

Gram was about to ask, "Why?" Then remembered the pretty boy in a sleek bodysuit that was a wallpaper on Ellie's smartphone ever since her birthday.

Gram didn't hold out too long what with two family members gaining up on her. She showed up with her tow truck at Krillian's crash site the morning later to tow it to their frontyard. As far as the Jordans' neighbors knew, Rory was working on someone's RV.

***

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