Alan watched as the woman reached in her purse for a cell phone while standing in the reference stacks at the library. She was wearing a light blue pant suit, like from another century, he thought and not her best color. She even carried a matching pocketbook and he bet her phone cover matched too. She pushed a few buttons and began talking, loud enough for him to hear twenty feet away.
Immediately, her attire aside, he hated the woman, providing him an interesting, slightly warm feeling all over, along with an idea for a new invention.
He began scribbling quickly in his notebook so he wouldn’t forget. Alan really wanted to get up from the table to tell the woman how rude she was, and when he saw she was headed toward the checkout desk, still talking on the phone. he stood and walked quickly toward her.
"This is a library," he said, when he was within a few feet of her, "Quiet is the operative word here, it's not a chat room."
She continued talking on her phone. Alan heard the phrase, "so you'll pick up the pot roast..." and then the woman's words trailed off, when she looked up and saw Alan approaching.
At the same time one of the library staff, a woman dressed severely in a dark green pant suit and carrying a stack of magazines, stepped between Alan and the woman.
"Sir, this does not concern you, please go back to your table."
"How do you know I have a table?" Alan asked, both flattered and upset that someone had been watching him. "Besides she's disturbing the library peace, and me, too."
The woman took a few steps away from Alan, but still had the phone to her ear. "And don't forget the carrots, OK? I have to go now." She clicked off the phone, and, ignoring both the librarian and Alan, began pushing some more buttons.
"See," Alan said in a loud voice, "She's a serial cell phone abuser. She's making another call."
"Sir, please go back to your table. I will handle this." Alan looked at the staffer, blinked a couple of times, and said, "I certainly hope so."
But he didn't move, watching the woman continuing to talk to someone else on her phone. "Yes, I'm in the library, and yes, I will get you the Grisham book and a six pack on my way home," clicking off the call. "Where is your new fiction?" she asked the librarian.
"She shouldn't be allowed to take books out, she's already broken about seven rules of library etiquette," Alan said in a loud voice.
"I'm going to call security," the librarian said. taking out her own cell phone.
Back at his table, Alan rearranged his table space and outlined his own cell phone in pencil on a sheet in the notebook, and quickly sketched in some of the dials and buttons. He was currently at work on an alarm for outdoor sheds, which he felt had some promise for those who wanted to avoid fertilizer theft. He would have to decide between that product and this new invention. So many ideas…he mused, looking over his sketch.
Alan was hopeful that whatever he worked on, it would have the near success of Instant Welcome, a device the size of a cigarette lighter which, when connected to a doorbell played a recorded message from the homeowner and allowed that person to record one back, so the resident would know who was calling and why, without having to look through the peephole, which he was sure had been engineered to fit the business end of a pistol barrel. With some special extra cost attachments, the homeowner or apartment dweller, could, if the caller was not known or invited, be able to spray water on the visitor through the peephole. Alan knew the device had the capacity to also spray ammonia or even acid.
The As Seen on TV people had loved it, they said, though without the acid/ammonia feature, which was: "Not such a good idea," the response said. It was always nice to get personal comments, even when rejected, Alan felt. They did note that their surveys showed it would likely not do well in the Midwest, where, the letter added, homeowners often didn't lock their doors.
Always looking at the mayonnaise jar as half full, Alan had created another idea to form a housebreaking team to work in Iowa and Minnesota as a means of increasing demand. He expected a positive reply from the marketing firm any day now.
The cell phone abusing woman was still standing in line at the circulation desk, talking on her phone, the librarians oblivious to her disturbing behavior. He added some wires to his cell phone sketch, and then went to the reference department to find some data on small explosives.
This is where it got tricky. He wanted to blow up the woman, but without any residual damage to the library, though after seeing their behavior, any of these so called librarians would deserve getting caught in the debris fallout.
Alan's headache was back, the result, he knew of having too many ideas running though his mind. He focused on the desired result, the woman placing a new call, and exploding in a few hundred pieces of flesh and body fat near the periodicals area, her head ending up nestled against a copy of People magazine, dripping blood and ear cartilage on the floor, a look of utter surprise on what remained of her face.
Of course it would have to be cleaned up before the children’s daily afternoon story hour. And, there might be some difficulty in gaining a patent, he guessed, but the profit potential seemed bright.
Alan smiled at the thought and quickly added a note on how to mix a small amount of nitro-glycerin with a triggering agent. He looked up again and watched the woman leave the library, still talking on her phone. He jotted down information on creating three number codes which could use a microwave pulse as the trigger, effective within twenty five to thirty feet.
He made another note to download some schematics of popular cell phones. He already possessed instructions for making a small nuclear device that he had intended for a neighbor’s dog that was forever peeing on his rhododendron plant, but found there was just too much paperwork needed to purchase uranium.
He considered following the woman to see where she lived, but felt pulled to begin work on his cell phone idea. No doubt she was a regular cell phone abuser in public places. He would run into her again.
When Alan arrived home a letter from the U.S. Patent Office had arrived. He had at least three patents pending for various projects and hoped this was one for his battery powered peanut shucker invention, one he was sure the Seen on TV people would love. It seemed affordable to offer two for one, and cheap to ship, which was where those companies made half its profits. He had some concerns about the demand, but the device was portable enough to bring to ball parks and stadiums, and even had an auxiliary plastic bag which would keep the shells off the ground or living room floor. He felt there might be some concern about the device's safety and the likelihood of lost index fingers in the shucker operation. But a product warning should be enough to avoid any liability. You want easier peanut shucking, you have to take some chances. He was sure plenty of people would be willing to risk a finger or two for easier shelled peanut eating.
But this response was about a different invention, one he called Peeper Vision, a tiny magnifier that brought images at least 30 percent closer than the unaided eye. Alan skipped to the bottom of the letter and saw that his request for a patent was rejected, with one of the four standard reasons for denial checked: idea not of sufficient public interest. He neatly folded the letter and placed in the Peeper file, briefly wondering if he should have included some actual photos taken with the device in the submitted plans. Peeper Vision had been well tested in his own apartment. It was connected to a hard as diamond needle-shaped mini-drill that could silently penetrate most paneling, wood and wallboard. Alan had been able to watch the attractive woman next door. He thought her name was Lacy, though it could have been Tracy or even Macy, if her family had lived in New York. His living room was next to her bedroom and the Peeper had worked quite well in showing Lacy/Tracy/Macy in all her glory as she prepared for bed. Unfortunately, the woman had recently moved, probably just as well, he thought, since she had started to put on weight over the past month Alan was not interested in testing the device on the his new neighbor, Philip.
He was not discouraged by the rejection, and began work immediately on what he would call, at least temporarily, Cell-Ray, hopefully not confused with the green, stalky stuff you eat, he laughed to himself.
Phones are really small transmitters, so he felt he could add a second dimension to his invention as a back up to the explosives -- a small chip which magnified the volume of the received call by at least 75 percent. You could hear a call in Cleveland, even if you were in Akron, he thought. It certainly would be enough to burst an eardrum, just as an extra benefit.
Alan wrote a note in his daily minder to visit the library again in two days on the off chance the rude cell phone lady would return. There he could to test his prototype's range, without the soon to be added explosives.
The following morning he was ready to try out his newest invention. As planned, he had adapted the keyboard to respond to a three digit code, which would override the volume control in any other phone and mimic the super enhanced volume on Allan’s phone. If he’d wanted to be sadistic he thought, he could gradually increase the volume manually, but that also allowed the subject to pull away from the phone, defeating the ultimate purpose. So he set the volume at full on his design model, and made a mental note to substitute another of his phones into service for his regular use.
But when his phone rang, ten minutes later, he automatically clicked it on and answered, forgetting at that moment that he should have reached for the unaltered phone. The three second delay from the telemarketer’s call just gave Alan a chance to say hello, twice, before the wall of noise blasted into his head. He didn’t know what hit him, staggering, knocking over his work bench, and falling on the prototype for Peeper Eye. He could feel the blood from his busted eardrum dripping on his neck, and then for a few seconds only, the diamond-sharp needle of the Peeper Eye as it penetrated his heart.