Jack stared at the hand in front of his face. It was calloused, had grease stains all over it, and came from the man whose machines he had wrecked. The man himself was waiting patiently behind the hand with a large grin on his face, his goggles pulled up onto his head. A wetness spread through Jack’s pants, courtesy of the water he was sitting in. He ignored it, all of his attention on the bearded mechanic in front of him and the hand he held out. The man sighed and lowered his hand.
“Son, do you want to be sitting in that pile of oil all day?”
Jack glanced down to find that it was oil he was sitting in, not water, like he had assumed. The man’s hand lifted again and Jack eagerly accepted the help out of the puddle. He stepped gingerly around some smaller puddles on his way to the dry floor, despite his pants already being soaked with oil.
“You’ll not be able to work with those pants,” The man gestured to Jack’s pants as he shook his head. “I’ll go get you some new ones.”
The man turned around and walked to a metal cabinet, searching through it before tossing a pair of jeans over his back. Jack caught the jeans and started to walk away to get changed before turning back to the man. “Sir, why aren’t you mad about what happened?”
The man let out a laugh, a low and rumbling sound, before turning around. “Boy, this is the most excitement I’ve had in years!”
“But people could have been hurt!” Jack protested.
“Bah!” The man waved a hand. “Only if they were outside. The remaining anti-gravity generators could have easily held up the school.”
Jack nodded slowly, comprehension slowly working its way through his brain. “So no one was ever in danger?”
“Not really, but it probably scared some people.”
“Sweet,” Jack clapped his hands together and looked around. “Now… Do you know where I could get changed, sir?”
“Oh!” He dragged a hand down his face and looked up. “A little ways behind you there’s a hallway, and the first door in the right is the bathroom.”
I’m Jack turned around and squinted into the clutter of the room. Sure enough, behind a stack of boxes was the hallway. He jogged towards it, his pants dripping every step of the way. He entered the bathroom and quickly got out of his old pants and into the new ones, stopping only to wipe some oil off from his legs. The jeans were slightly baggy, but they were dry and good for working in.
When he walked back, the man was chest deep in one of the anti gravity generators. Jack coughed, and the man tried to stand up hurriedly, his attempt hampered by the fact he was still leaning into the generator.
“You’re back!” The man grimaced as he rubbed his head. “Hitting your head sure as heck hurts. The pants fit all right?”
“Yeah,” Jack looked down at the pants in question self-consciously. “So… um… what should I get started with?”
“Started with what?” One of the man’s eyebrows went up.
“Helping you out. It’s what I’m supposed to do, since I, um, destroyed some of the generators.” Jack said sheepishly, his eyes locked on his shoes.
The man’s eyes lit up. “Oh, that’s right! I remember now.” He looked at Jack curiously. “Now, what did you say your name was?”
“Jack, sir. Jack Hall.”
“Harold Stowe,” He said, shaking Jack’s hand. “Now, I dont want none of this ‘sir’ business. My name is Harold and that is what you will call me. Understand?” Harold looked at Jack intensely.
“Yes, si- Harold,” Jack corrected himself.
“Good. Then you can help me fix this,” He jerked his head in the direction of the anti-gravity generator.
When they got started working on the machine, Jack was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t all just ‘put this part here’ and ‘hand me that soldering iron’. Harold had him help build each part, and explained what each piece going into the part would do.
“This piece right here creates the anti-gravity field,” Harold held up something that looked an awful like an electric motor. “And this piece keeps it rotating at the right speed for our needs.”
They finished fixing up the anti-grav generator in what seemed like no time at all, and had only barely started to work on the next when the bell rang, signaling the end of school. Jack was sad to leave the school, not just because he had such a good time with Harold, but because he was dreading his parents reactions to what he did. He had a feeling that they wouldn’t be as lenient as the Dean with his punishment.