Pawtuckaway’s Junior Robotics 1981 Genius of the Year, A Poem by Chris Russell

I’ll Eat Your Face with a Wooden Spoon was the name of the Restaurant at the end of Pearly Street before the thing burned down, some say because of arson. Authorities had recently discovered the remains of tiny mechanical hand poking out of the rubble and ash. I went to take a look for myself only to be hit in the side of the head by a stone. I picked one up and threw it into the woods. “That was a warning!” I said. A baby crawled out of the woods. I felt another stone whiz by my ear. It wasn’t the baby. A woman came out of the woods. “Oh, thank god, you found her!” she said. “I’ve been blessed with child-finding abilities and was put on this earth to perform such a feat,” I said. “If it weren’t for you, she could have been run over by a car or gotten into a running lawnmower that was left unattended,” she said. “We don’t want a baby bumper,” I said. “Rattle under the hood,” she said. A stone hit her in the arm and she winced. “Someone keeps throwing stones around here. I’m beginning to think someone is using a wood chipper for something they shouldn’t and they don’t even realize they are launching bullets. “And some of them are big ones,” I said. “And they hurt,” she said. “How big do you think the welt on your arm is?” I said. “The diameter of a baby, painted turtle,” she said. “You’re a genius,” I said. The baby was crawling into a hole between some old, burned floorboards left over from the fire. It had what looked like a stick in its mouth, but upon closer inspection proved to be a wooden spoon, no doubt un-recovered. “There’s your lottery winner,” I said. A boy was running down the street after a squirrel, throwing stones at it. He was holding a lot of them in his shirt. “Aren’t you going to report him to Fish and Game?” she said. “No, I thought I’d let him beat the brains out of that squirrel,” I said. “You’re one of those guys who doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, aren’t you?” “Oh yes, I’m definitely one of those guys,” I said. “Hear no evil, see no evil,” she said. “Moral relativism. For all we know, that squirrel was the cause of this fire and could be a murderer,” I said. “Highly unlikely,” she said. “But still possible,” I said. Hey, sorry to change the subject but wasn’t your baby about to fall into a cellar and impale itself on a wooden spoon?” I said. “I don’t hear it anymore,” she said. “That’s because you’re not its mother,” I said. “How did you know?” she said. “Being a detective, I notice things,” I said. “I see, she said. “Do you always revisit your burn sites?” I said. “Only when I want to gloat over my resume,” she said. “And the baby wasn’t real. I could tell the moment a stone hit it and I heard a tink,” I said. “You’re looking at Pawtuckaway’s Junior Robotics 1981 Genius of the Year,” she said.

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