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Poem: "Shiny New Toys" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Shiny New Toys"

This poem came out of the December 4, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompt from aoife and technoshaman.  It has been sponsored by technoshaman.  This poem belongs to the series P.I.E. which you can explore further via the Serial Poetry page.

Shiny New Toys

The mail came on Friday,
but there was no time to celebrate until Saturday,
the rest of Friday being taken up
by Brenda's latest case on a will-o-wisp gang
and Darrel's latest case on a prostitution ring.

On Saturday morning, Brenda called Darrell
and said, "Do you have some time to kill today?"
"I'm actually kind of busy ..." Darrell said.

"My new toy came," Brenda said.
Darrell laughed.  "Mine too," he admitted.
"I got a PocketBook e-reader.  What did you get?"
"My upgraded combat wheelchair came," said Brenda,
"and I could really use someone to help test it out."

"For you, okay," Darrell said,
"but you can't tease me for reading on the bus."
"Deal," Brenda said.

So they met up, and Brenda showed off her new chair.
"It's based on a rugby chair, like my old one," she said.
"This one has a titanium frame rather than aluminum,
so that it's strong as well as light."  Other solid parts,
such as the seat, footrest, and spoke guards,
were either made from or lined with kevlar.
The wheels themselves angled sharply for stability.

"I'd say 'shiny,' but it's not,"
Darrell observed.

"The matte black finish cost extra," Brenda said,
"but it will be worth it for the added concealment.
Just look at the new framing -- offensive wings
to make the chair harder to stop, anti-tip guards,
a heavier pickbar in front for ramming or scooping things."
Her hands fluttered eloquently over the features.

The wheelchair didn't really look like a toy, although
Brenda's excitement telegraphed her intent to play with it.
It looked like a weapon, which it also was --
even before Brenda pointed out the sheathing
for her baton and stiletto and gun.

It sat there, squat and black and formidable
as the Rottweilers over in K-9.
Darrell liked it.

They lugged the combat chair onto the bus;
even "lightweight" metal was not all that light.
Brenda had well and truly earned
the bulging muscles on her arms.

Darrell brought out his new e-reader.
"It's in color!" Brenda exclaimed.  "Shiny."
"4,096 colors," Darrell said smugly,
"on an 8-inch front-lit screen
with 800 x 600 touch display."
He swept his fingertips across the screen,
opening and closing files to show off the features.

Field manuals, sport magazines, and adventure novels
filled the first several categories, but --
"You read paranormal romance?" Brenda asked,
quirking an eyebrow at Darrell.
He blushed and shrugged.  "Given your job,
I'm kind of in one now," he said.
"It seemed advisable to do some research."
"Point," Brenda conceded.

They reached the gym
and found an empty space for sparring.
Brenda practiced solo at first,
getting a feel for the new equipment.
She tested it for both speed and agility,
fingerless kevlar gloves squeaking on the wheels.

It was a bit awkward for a while,
because it was new, but as she got used to it
she began making sharp turns and wheelies
and odd little hops that lifted one side just off the floor.
Before long it moved like an extension of her own body.

Brenda grinned at Darrell and said,
"Come on the floor and give me something to work with."
So they ran laps together, and after some urging,
Darrell started harassing her, trying to cut her off
or dump her out or otherwise distract her.

They sparred a little, bare-handed,
but Darrell wasn't used to fighting this way
and Brenda allowed it would take some practice.
So instead he stood back and lobbed balls at her
to scoop up with the pickbar or bat away.

Brenda liked the new pickbar.
Darrell just liked watching Brenda
move around the gymnasium,
compact and powerful as a panther.

Twenty minutes later they were both
sitting on the bench, side by side,
carefully not looking at each other.

"I'm really sorry," Brenda said.
"I doh that," Darrell replied
through a handkerchief and a handful of ice.
He'd taken a basketball in the face,
bounced off the pickbar when Brenda missed a catch.

"Has the bleeding stopped yet?" she asked.
"Dot yet," he said, although the red stain
on the wet cloth had at least stopped spreading.

"I should have been more careful," Brenda said.
"Not everybody has my tolerance for roughhousing."
"I've lost sparring partners for the same reason,"
Darrell confessed, which was true.

"This was my fault," Brenda said.
Darrell lifted his free hand to stop her,
then pulled the ice away from his nose.
"I've gotten hurt worse in sparring before,"
he said.  "I dew the risks."  Then he grinned.
"But you can totally apologize by buying supper."

"That's fair," Brenda agreed,
and they shook on it,
and everything was fine.

They were on their way to the bus stop
when the will-o-wisp gang pounced on them,
four tough young men with knives and guns
accompanied by dancing sparks of blue and yellow
that surged forward like eager hounds.

Brenda and Darrell whirled into action,
slapping the guns aside and blocking the knives.
"Don't let the lights touch you!" Brenda yelled.
"They feed by draining vital energy."

Darrell dodged the will-o-wisps,
which were more distracting than fast.
He caught the closest man with an elbow in the belly,
folding him over and making him drop his knife.

One trained a gun on Brenda,
who popped a wheel in the air
and dropped it sharply on his foot.
He screamed and went down,
but kept his grip on the gun.
So she broke his wrist with her baton.

Another man hit Darrell in his already sore nose.
Darrell hit him back and felt bone crunch.
The gang members were violent and determined
but not very well trained, no match
for an undercover cop and a private detective.

Darrell looked over his two opponents
groaning on the ground.
Brenda had one sprawled unconscious
next to her wheelchair.

The fourth -- who had pointed a gun at Brenda --
was dragging himself slowly across the pavement.
In the fight, she had evidently broken both of his feet,
his right wrist, and dislocated his left knee.
"He wouldn't stay down, and he was aiming at you,"
Brenda said as she watched him crawl.

"I don't think he's getting up this time," Darrell said.
He walked over to the gang member
and leaned a foot on the man's back.
"Police," he said.  "Freeze."
The man went still underfoot.

The will-o-wisps drifted closer,
ominous globes of blue and yellow light.
Darrell jerked away from a blue one and said,
"Brenda, I really hope you have a way to deal with these."

She reached into her purse for a small packet,
then scattered fine black dust into the air.
It settled over the nearest will-o-wisp,
quenching its yellow light.

"Activated charcoal," Brenda explained.
"Good for purification and putting out magical fires."
The will-o-wisps shrank away from her.
It was difficult for her to catch them,
wheeling forward and flinging pinches of dust
at the same time.

Brenda passed the packet to Darrell
and let him chase down the last will-o-wisps
while she kept an eye on the gang members.

"I hope we don't get into trouble for excessive force,"
Brenda said as Darrell called the police station.
"Some extra paperwork, maybe," he said,
"but they pulled guns and we didn't.  We're fine."

The next day, Darrell was filling out the forms --
really quite a lot of forms -- for his part in the incident.
A florist brought him a violet hyacinth in a white pot
with a note that said, "Apologies again,"
a reservation card for a very nice restaurant,
and an e-book gift card that said,
"To shiny new toys."

* * *

Brenda's original combat wheelchair was similar to this.  The new one is even more formidable, along these lines.

Check out this comparison of good and bad wheelchairs in entertainment and these awesome designs.

Here's a video -- actually a beer commercial -- of people playing basketball in wheelchairs.  It looks a lot like the wheelchair basketball game that I watched once.  There are rules for wheelchair rugby too.

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Current Mood: busy busy

10 comments or Leave a comment
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: December 7th, 2012 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
:-) Cool.

Thank you, technoshaman, for sponsoring it!
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: December 7th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very cool! Thanks!
siege From: siege Date: December 7th, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome toys indeed, but you know what came to mind? What if those tip guards were ratchetable, or even a hand-pumped hydraulic system? You could lock them up or down for variable movement styles.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)


Presumably the tip guards are indeed adjustible, because a quick search turned up things like "make sure your anti-tip guards are secure and in the right position." Once you get out of the very basic stuff, wheelchairs seem to come with a lot of highly adjustible options.

So yes, Brenda probably has an anti-tip system that she can manipulate by hand while seated. For some circumstances the greater mobility of stepping down the guard would be worthwhile, in others the greater stability of anti-tipping would be better. She's used to working at speed, she kayaks, so this kind of maneuver is plausible for her.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: December 9th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, SHINY!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 9th, 2012 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like this.
eseme From: eseme Date: December 13th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I enjoy this new series! I like the way these two work together, and approach things differently.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 13th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like it.

A lot of this springs from my impatience with formulaic writing in urban fantasy. I wanted something different, so, this is who showed up.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 21st, 2016 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)


ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2016 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: PinkRangerV

LOL yes. I could totally see Brenda putting chariot spikes on her wheelchair. Feel free to prompt for it.
10 comments or Leave a comment