Pender glared at his marvelous invention. No matter how hard he hammered, the critical gear refused to turn.
Which meant the pendulum could never swing. And the pulley could never pull. And the mainspring could never spring.
And the crystal wings that projected from either side of his shining golden hummingbird would remain lifeless, eternally.
Pender’s invention lay motionless at the center of his desk.
He couldn’t bear to look at it.
Reaching across his desk, Pender pressed several keys of an antique black typewriter. A fatal click sounded in his private study. A bookcase swung open.
Pender jumped up, roughly grabbed one crystal wing and whisked his failure across the small study. With one lunging step he carried it through the bookcase . . .
Behind Pender’s books stretched a junkyard. An immense junkyard: his infinite, private, painful secret. His manifold failures littered a bewildering expanse. Scattered to the right and to the left, his wrecks had been thrown carelessly into chaotic nonexistence. Pender felt bitter revulsion for that junkyard. So many marvelous inventions, each aborted.
Pender tossed the shining hummingbird over a few broken things and it landed in a lifeless heap. He turned, determined not to see.
So many aborted dreams.
Every one wonderful.
An elegant baby grand piano, attached with baling wire to the top of a diesel locomotive. But the train was too loud.
A fifty-foot mechanical clown powered by the sonic energy of human laughter. But nobody laughed.
A glass carriage containing one thousand red roses and an Egyptian mummy. But the smell was horrific.
A flying saucer built with toilet paper tubes, tinfoil, rubber bands, white multi-purpose glue and three jet engines. But the rubber bands inevitably broke.
A magnificent hot air balloon of sewn-together silk stockings. A few stockings had holes.
A gigantic pirate ship carved out of Swiss cheese. The rats fled.
An upside down triangular house. That had a tendency to tip over.
A contraption consisting of a warped lawn chair, a pair of skis, one rubber tire, a bicycle chain, a mannequin, a cuckoo clock, a stove pipe hat, goose feathers, profuse sweat and shed tears.
Pender’s brightening eyes lingered on the contraption.
It had so much potential.
Impulsively, Pender grabbed hold of his preposterous creation, lifted it with all of his strength and carried it out of the secret junkyard into his small study. He placed the thing on his desk. He tested the bicycle chain and straightened the stove pipe hat.
Pender touched several keys of his black typewriter, closing the bookcase.
He feverishly went to work.