Lightning On Demand

You know what?

The run of the mill Frankenstein movie has tesla coils about the size of a magic marker sending that swirly zapping electricity toward our poor fool’s head. We hope for the best, because we’re prone to that kinda hubris. He lurches to life and makes us all sorry we ever thought it up in the first place. What a monster. What a mess.

So when the call came out, all underground-y like that, that the hard working scientists had built one about three feet long and esconced it in a shed with three story tower on it and a brutal metal sphere on top, we immediately forgot all about the bad moral mamajama about reanimation, and headed out to Hunter’s Point after dark.

I don’t know what’s more peculiar: Making a device that, under the direction of a sure hand on a high chrome evinrude throttle, spririts 40 foot lightning bolts into the sky, or )commissioning( such a device. We stepped aside as the warning bells sounded, leaving that 30-degree swath in front of the shed entrance that is required if the contents explode again and shoot out at 200 miles an hour. We looked upward, hopeful as the whine began to become unbearable. We all cheered when the first bolt bled out the side of the sphere, a very mystical substance.

It was fuschia colored. It appeared solid at the base. It spurted into the air like a sperm over roe. It forked into spikes, becoming pure light. This took about a second, although I’m sure it was much less. It represented 120,000 volts.

Do it again! we shouted, hopping around like toddlers discovering a boozy but effective clown.

They did it again, but only in the context of their testing testing testing. It wouldn’t do to saw it off and ship it to the private collector in New Zealand if it was not exactly perfect, although at this level, what exactly would exactly perfect be? I thought long and hard about this during the rest of the night’s firings. The bolts sought out the adjacent lamp posts. The prepared people saluted from afar with neon and flourescent tubes that sang a dim song everytime a bolt revolved their way. Farraday’s Law was proven again as the scientist stood in the sphere as it fired the plasma. Anxious federal officials insisted vehicle license plate 2mumblemumbleCharliesomething be moved immediately from the middle of the road. Restricted from smoking, drinking, taking still or moving pictures or investigating the dark areas roped off by caution tape, everyone continued to smoke, drink, take still and moving pictures and tromp over the caution tape on their way to look for a place to pee. I felt the whole crowd swirl into a visual cushion upon which I could rest my heavy head.

Who, I thought in that murky softness, wants this thing?

So with eyes locked on to every forky sputter, every jizzed power blurt, every pink thing in the night sky, I painted a picture of the man who wanted lightning on demand in his big back yard in the low end of the pacific ocean.

Could I go there? Knock on the door in a year’s time and say: “Hello. You don’t know me, but I know your lightning. I’m just stopping by to see how it’s doing.”

Would I be barefoot?



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