The Jones System for Screw Organisation and Delivery
The Jones System for Screw Organisation and Delivery (JSSOD)
There he was on the stage, Captain Marvel Edwards, test pilot extraordinaire, him of the flowing blond locks and beautiful, beautiful white teeth. Jonesy of the balding locks and too many fillings was sat near the back with the other grunts – Chief Mechanic, him! – and in the rows ahead of him were personnel bods and project managers and even a guy from Poughkeepsie who’d won a tour in a raffle. There were murmurs of discontent from the other grunts as Marvel took the applause and beamed for the flashbulbs. He would be nowhere without men and women like Jonesy, without someone who had personally screwed in forty-seven thousand three hundred and twenty two tiny screws that would stop the temporal ship flying apart when the launch started.
And then it happened.
Down from the stage came Captain Marvel, down from the stage and into the crowd.
‘Where is he? Where’s the guy? Where’s the genius behind the patented Jones organisation and screw delivery system? The guy without whom I would be nothing if he hadn’t personally screwed in the forty-seven thousand three hundred and twenty two tiny screws that will stop the temporal ship flying apart when the launch started.’
Back stage Marvel asked him did he want a girl, or a guy? When Jonesy murmured of his wife, Marvel grinned at him, told him to fetch her along too. When Jonesy demurred once more Marvel took off his aviator sunglasses and through a smile that was forced and with eyes rimmed by fatigue almost begged him – ‘Please, take someone off my hands – for an afternoon! You don’t know what it’s like – I’m the man that men want to be, and women want to be with. I just want to sit down for a while, have a cup of tea!’
Though soon enough he would be sitting, and all by himself. He would be piloting the temporal ship on its maiden flight, strapped into the chair (187 screws) inside the cockpit (1,300 screws) just in front of the housing of the fusion reactor (25,038 screws).
Jonesy had a ticket to watch the launch from a nearby Cineworld with a bunch of the other ground crew, but not after that. The scrum he had to face trying to leave the facility, and it was nothing compared to the crowds of people at home, friends and neighbours and all the too busy to smile dog walkers, all of them suddenly wanting to shake the hand that had screwed together the most important ship in the history of science. He turned his car around, parked two blocks away and then crossed seven gardens until he arrived at his own.
Another scrum here, around the holoscreen in the lounge. When they saw him they surged his way. Jonesy retreated into his fortress of solitude – his garage. It was home to his pride and joy, a ’38 Lotus two seater he had put together from a kit. It was a mere twenty-seven thousand four hundred and six separate parts, but just to lay his hands on that gleaming bonnet, to feel the chill of the metal.
Calm slowly returned, his breathing settled.
When there was a discrete tap at the door a few minutes later he was calm enough for it not to startle. It was his wife, and she thrust through a crayon scribble on a piece of paper. It was a stick man lacking in hair with his right hand aloft holding onto a giant screwdriver.
Jones opened the door and let his wife into the garage. She shut the door and then locked it. She faced him, and said, ‘Hey mister, aren’t you the guy who invented the Jones System for Screw Organisation and Delivery?’
Jonesy could only nod.
His wife undid her top button. ‘So you’re king of screwing, right?’
Jonesy nodded again.
His wife got into the sports guy, and, holding the door open, said, ‘You gonna join me?’
Forty-seven minutes later she had to beg him to stop, but this time it wasn’t old baseball scores that has so effectively staved off the moment, this time it was a rattle, it was a sound from the car that should not have been there. He had put the car together using his system, he had worked out all the kinks in the system on this very car prior to accounting for and screwing in every single one of the forty-seven thousand three hundred and twenty two screws on the test ship.
Jonesy tore through the eighty seven binders till he found the section (suspension, rear, off side), and from there he went to the box sixteen and box ninety-three of the part installation confirmation forms to confirm that – yes – every single part of the suspicion had been fitted.
And yet, there was a noise. There was a rattle.
Jonesy went now to the original boxes for the car, able to find exactly the box he was looking for thanks to his label maker and the cross reference inked on both installation confirmation forms and written down four times in the binder.
Inside the box was a single teeny weeny steel screw, the lack of which was causing the car’s suspension to rattle.
‘Oh shit,’ Jonesy said. ‘I need to sit down.’