Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "When a Wheel Refuses to Turn"

This poem is spillover from the July 7, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] technoshaman. It also fills the "Pie" square in my 7-1-20 card for the Winterfest in July Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred, [personal profile] technoshaman, and [personal profile] mama_kestrel. It belongs to the Broken Angels thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"When a Wheel Refuses to Turn"

[Tuesday, April 26, 2016]

Boss Blaster was working on a car
in the driveway when a puff of air
blew the dust around him and
deposited a pair of guests.

They both looked Italian.

The teleporter had olive skin and
his short brown hair curled at the ends.
His passenger had long black hair with
a purple streak and tattoos on her arms.

"Here, you do something with her,"
the man said, pushing the girl
toward Boss Blaster.

"Excuse me?" the boss said,
straightening up from the car.
"What exactly is this?"

"This is a favor, the kind
that you do for us in exchange
for the kind that we do for you,"
said the teleporter. "I'm Favonio
and this is Fausta. She's driving
everyone nuts and she's been
through half a dozen compounds."

"Yeah, we have those too,"
Boss Blaster said. "We
call them teenagers."

Fausta's face was
sun-weathered but
her tattoos were still
crisp, and she had little
in the way of curves.

She might be somewhere
between seventeen and
nineteen, but probably
no more than that.

No wonder she was
driving people crazy.

"Are you okay with this?"
Boss Blaster asked her.

"Whatever," she said,
shrugging. "At least
America is new."

"Okay, how long am I
supposed to keep her?"
Boss Blaster asked,
turning to Favonio.

"We're only asking for
a month," Favonio said.
"We're not unreasonable."

"Well, I have other teenagers
in my employ," Boss Blaster said.
"Just bear in mind that this is not
a school, it's a working gang."

Interestingly, Fausta lit up
at that. "I can work," she said.

"Then we've got a deal,"
Boss Blaster said. "Favonio,
I'll see you in a month."

The teleporter nodded,
then swirled away in
a cloud of warm dust.

"So, what can you do?"
Boss Blaster asked.

"I fix things," Fausta said.
"I can fetch and carry,
even clean some stuff, but
more outdoors than indoors."

She wore practical clothes,
black jeans and a shirt that
left her arms mostly bare, with
chunky boots that probably
had metal caps in the toes.

She reminded him so much of
his foster sisters that his heart
ached just looking at her.

"Well, there's no shortage
of work," Boss Blaster said.
"Come on inside now."

Fausta hesitated, though,
looking over her shoulder.
"Nice car," she muttered.

Boss Blaster turned around.
"You like cars?" he said.

"I like American cars,"
Fausta replied.

"I can work with
that," he said.

Boss Blaster took
Fausta indoors and
made introductions.

Upstairs, he showed her
the flop room, and she
dropped her backpack
beside a bed there.

Then they went back
outside to work on the car.

Boss Blaster had some idea
what was wrong with the engine,
since the neighbor dropped it off
with an alarming rattle as it
crawled up the driveway, but
it was a nuisance to reach.

Fausta proved capable,
though, and she didn't
even hesitate over tools
measured in inches
instead of millimeters.

She held parts out of
the way, lifted things
without protest, and
handed him the tools
as he requested them.

They worked until
supper time, then
returned to the house.

Boss Blaster turned his back
for all of ten seconds before
the squabble started.

Cas held a plate of bread
high over his head while
Fausta struggled to reach it.

"No," Cas said firmly. "I
don't mind people snacking
before supper, but you are
filthy. Go wash first."

"Enough," said the boss.
"Cas, put the bread on
the table where it belongs.
Fausta, come wash up."

Boss Blaster herded her
toward the bathroom, and
handed over a packet of
energy gel. "Start with this,
you can eat it even grubby."

Fausta ripped off the top
with her teeth and sucked
the gel out of the packet.

"Thanks," she said as
she washed her hands.

"High burn?" Boss Blaster said.

"Not really," said Fausta. "I was
just too nervous to eat before I left."

And of course she hadn't said
anything about needing food.

Boss Blaster took his turn at
the sink. "You know those
ticket pockets in your jeans?"
he said. "Keep a packet of gel
in each one. If it's not you going
off-feed, it'll be someone else."

"Yes ... boss," Fausta said as
she followed him to the kitchen.

Cas had made beef stew
to go with the little balls of bread,
both flavored with Italian seasoning,
followed by rhubarb pie for dessert.

The food was simple, but rich
and delicious. Boss Blaster
grinned his approval.

Fausta flipped from shy
to brash and obnoxious
in the way that teenagers
often did, all rough edges
and sharp awkward angles.

Fortunately the other members
of the gang were young enough
to consider that sort of thing normal.

After supper, Boss Blaster pulled
Fausta into his office for a talk.

"Do you want to tell me what
made life so hard in Italy?"
he said. "Or would you
rather just get a fresh start?"

"Everything is boring," she said.
"They won't let me do anything real!"

Alarm bells went off in his head.
Boredom and teenagers were
like bleach and ammonia: sure
to cause tears sooner or later.

"Everyone either wanted me to go
to college or into the Business,"
Fausta said, throwing up her hands.

"What did you want?" said Boss Blaster.

She turned sullen again, mercurial
as the spring weather. "I like cars,"
Fausta said. "But my parents
don't think that's a real job."

"And yet that's how I wound up
in charge of this city," said the boss.
"I may have wound up doing more
with prostitution and real estate
than I ever intended, but I've kept
cars as the backbone of my Business."

Fausta perked right up at that. "Really?"

"Yes, really," Boss Blaster said. "I'll
even tell them so if that's what it takes."

"You'll let me work on cars instead of
stupid college?" Fausta said. "And not
just washing them for pocket money,
but tuneups and repairs and stuff?
Wait, if you've been doing this a while,
can you teach me anything new?"

Boss Blaster smirked at her.
"Ever work on a zoomwagon?"

"No," Fausta said, her eyes
widening. "I wanted to get in with
Ferrari, but my parents wouldn't help,
and I didn't have any connections."

"Come down to the basement,"
said Boss Blaster. "I just so happen
to have a fused engine from Ferrari,
and there's a bounty for anyone who
can help figure out why it did that.
All we need is a little bit of luck
and a lot of failure analysis."

Fausta gave him a shy smile
and lifted her hand, purple sparks
twinkling between her fingers.

"That's actually my superpower,"
she said. "I can manipulate luck,
not a lot, but usually enough to work."

"Then let's get started," said Boss Blaster.

[Thursday, May 26, 2016]

Boss Blaster and Fausta were
working on the NOS line for
a drag racing car when Favonio
appeared in the driveway.

"Time's up," the teleporter said.
"You should be packed already."

"I'm not going," Fausta said.
"I want to stay here."

Favonio's eyebrows
went up. "Seriously?
What does Boss Blaster
have to say about that?"

"I say that Fausta is
a good hand with cars
and she's welcome to stay,"
Boss Blaster replied.

"How the hell did you
manage that?" Favonio said.
"Everyone else has just
prayed for her to go home!"

"The mechanic, when
a wheel refuses to turn,
never thinks of dropping
on his knees and asking
the assistance of some
divine power," said the boss.

Fausta put down the wrench
and leaned against his side.
"Yeah, that was new," she said.

"He knows there is a reason,"
Boss Blaster continued. "He knows
that something is too large or too small;
that there is something wrong with
his machine; and he goes to work
and he makes it larger or smaller,
here or there, until the wheel will turn."

"That's all it was, really," said Fausta.
"I didn't fit in Italy, but I do here."

"Then you can stay," Favonio said,
"but you explain it to your parents."

Fausta groaned. "Why do I have to?"

"Because from what I've heard,
they love you, and only you can
explain what makes you happy
to stay here," Boss Blaster said.

"Can we finish fixing the NOS line
on this beauty first?" Fausta bargained.

"We'd better," Boss Blaster said.
"She's got a hot race tonight."

* * *


Favonio (Alfonso Tarantino) -- He has olive skin, brown eyes, and short brown hair that curls a little at the ends. His heritage is Italian. He speaks English, Esperanto, French, German, Greek, Italian, and Spanish. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Humanities at the Università degli studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli in Caserta, Italy. He chose a Modern focus and a particular interest in Geography. Favonio belongs to the Marionettes.
Origin: He got caught in a dust storm and developed superpowers.
Uniform: Favonio wears casual men's clothes, usually in earth tones like olive or khaki.
Qualities: Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Modern Humanities, Good (+2) Mobster, Good (+2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Impatient
Powers: Good (+2) Teleporting
Favonio travels with a gust of hot, dry air that carries dust. As a secondary effect this can cause migraines and mental disturbances. He can choose whether or not to shield passengers and/or bystanders from the effects, and when he doesn't, it makes a useful attack in combat.
Motivation: Efficiency.

Bachelor's Degree in Humanities
at the Università degli studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli in Caserta, Italy

Duration: 3 full years
Credits: 180
Head of Studies: Prof. Claudio Buongiovanni
The Humanities Bachelor’s Degree is a three-year program with an annual requirement of 60 credits (CFU). The Program offers three distinct curricula: Classic, Modern and European Studies. The first two curricula, Classic and Modern, provide a solid humanistic body of knowledge that is scientifically based on the different disciplinary sectors of ancient and modern Literature, Philology, Linguistics, Geography and History. These disciplines are enriched by the Program’s provision of archaeological and historical-artistic studies that significantly add to the student’s knowledge base. The recently established European-oriented curriculum is characterized by a marked openness to contemporary studies, and is particularly enhanced by a focus on European languages. The traditional courses, especially regarding the third and final year of the Degree, are integrated by regular seminars, specifically tailored courses and alternative educational pathways that provide students with the opportunity to investigate historical periods and textual material that have contributed to the development of Western culture. Thus, the Degree encourages the development of diverse forms of knowledge drawn from historical and cultural studies as well as from the exploration of ancient and modern literary production and communication systems. Students are therefore expected to acquire the necessary skills for post-graduate master level education that will enable them to access the teaching profession or other positions in either the public or private sectors of the labor market, including cultural organizations, publishing and communication and advertising agencies.

Fausta (Giulia Piazza) -- She has light olive skin, blue eyes, and long black hair with a wide purple streak on the right side. She has piercings at the bridge of her nose and septum, plus tattoos down both arms.
Origin: Her father is a supervillain who belongs to the Marionettes, her mother is from one of the satellite families, and Fausta developed her powers at puberty.
Uniform: She wears practical clothes, mostly chosen from the resource rooms, and she likes gradient tones. She cares little about how she looks.
Qualities: Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Mechanic
Poor (-2) Rebellious
Powers: Average (0) Luck, Average (0) Purple Hair
Motivation: Self-discovery

* * *

“The mechanic, when a wheel refuses to turn, never thinks of dropping on his knees and asking the assistance of some divine power. He knows there is a reason. He knows that something is too large or too small; that there is something wrong with his machine; and he goes to work and he makes it larger or smaller, here or there, until the wheel will turn.”
Robert G. Ingersoll, The Liberty Of Man, Woman And Child

Raising teens is challenging and rewarding. Adolescents have a number of tasks to accomplish on the way to adulthood, which can cause friction with parents and other adults, so here are some tips on supporting healthy development. This is why many societies have developed some tradition(s) for shifting teens away from parents -- fostering with uncles/aunts, apprenticeship, boarding school, etc. Sometimes it just takes a few moves to find a new place that fits comfortably.

The ticket pocket typically appears only on the right side in 5-pocket jeans, but a few brands offer a lefty version, and others put it on both sides in 6-pocket jeans. High-burn soups tend to favor 6-pocket jeans so they can store two packets of energy gel for easy access.

Energy gels come in various styles and flavors. Here's a look at the ingredients and performance of popular brands. Speedsters, who have some of the highest-burn superpowers, really will take a watery energy gel and fill a bottle with it to drink on the run, although packets are more portable. Some strongmen also like gels, more often the thicker ones; but others prefer protein. Fat seems equally popular between the two. Boss Blaster is using CarbBoom, which comes in many flavors and packs a lot of calories.

Enjoy a recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Stew.

Fresh Baked Bread can be made in about 5 minutes a day. Cas often throws in a couple teaspoons of mixed herbs to match whatever he else he's making -- in this case, Italian seasoning in the beef stew and bread.

Nebraska favors Rhubarb Pie.

NOS makes cars go faster.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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