The tree stood on the edge of the White House lawn, swaying in the breeze.
The scars along its trunk mocked him.
Abe now really hated that tree.
Not enough time, he thought. Not enough time for this.
Lincoln leaned on the axe blade, pushing it into the spinning grindstone. Sweat poured off of his brow, and his shoulders ached with the strain.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe,” he mumbled. “First, not last!”
Next time, he’d just have the artillery boys use it for target practice.
We don’t like it when you call them retards. They’re gifted or special now.
Some of them do amazing things. They were called idiot savants, but we dropped the idiot part.
Political correctness. Bah!
See that drooling sack of crap in the corner?
Can’t tie his own shoes. Can’t put on a shirt. Barely knows to go to the toilet.
Put an onion and a cleaver in front of him, and he’ll dice that sucker up in less than a second.
Potatoes, celery, cucumbers…
Perfect little cubes.
He’s the reason we stopped doing Animal Therapy, you know.
Please don’t ask.
Chemists get eyewash stations and fire extinguishers.
Physicists get Geiger counters and thick rubber gloves.
Biologists get inoculated for everything.
That leaves zero budget for the mathematicians.
It’s drilled into every schoolkid not to divide by zero. The government’s done a great job of distributing “safety zeroes” to schools to protect kids who go ahead and try, but the professionals have to work with the uncoated wild variety to get the equations to stick.
Long ago, I fell asleep next to five blackboards full of wild zeroes. The exposure destroyed my nervous system.
ALS? Just a cover story.
Every seventeen days, a rabbi comes to the factory to look over our machinery, inspect the mustard seed and other ingredients, and then tell us that with absolute certainty that Mustard Man mustard is not Kosher.
It’s not like we hired him to do this. One day, he just showed up and wandered around before saying something rude in Yiddish and stomping off.
Who is he? I’m not even sure he’s a real rabbi.
Do they have badges or licenses? Is there a serial number in that beanie thing they wear?
I think he’s an escaped mental patient.
Contrary to popular belief, the Greek God Of Thunder Zeus and the Roman King Of the Gods Jupiter were not the same being.
Sure, they look alike, but the truth is they’re not exactly alike.
You can easily tell them apart by the thunderbolts. Zeus prefers javelin-like lightning strokes with small jaggies in them while Jupiter prefers massive strokes with only three or four jaggies.
I learned this from Vulcan, who has the manufacturing contract for both.
And, yes, Vulcan actually is Hephasteus. But his real name is “Leslie.”
Try being a big macho blacksmith with a name like that.
Just as Mrs. Butterworth’s bottle has a human shape, so does Mustard Man Mustard. But it’s not the shape of Mustard Man.
It’s shaped like Howard B. Kremple, former vat inspector. His untimely death resulted in a large settlement with his family, the disposal of three tons of Mustard Man German-Style Mustard, and the distinctive shape of the Limited Edition bottle.
It resembles Kremple in all but two regards:
Howard was completely bald.
Howard wasn’t smiling like that when they pulled him out of the vat. His face was locked in a hideous, silent scream.
Still, it’s better than nothing.
Abraham looked in his mug, frowning.
“Is there a problem, sir?” asked the steward.
“Is this coffee?” asked Abe.
“I don’t think so,” said the steward.
“Okay,” said Abe. “Is it tea?”
The steward sniffed the liquid in the cup.
“It’s neither,” said the steward. “It’s bourbon.”
“Bourbon?” said Lincoln. “Ah. Bring me the rest of the bottle, then.”
Lincoln looked out the window of the rail car.
It would be nice if they were moving. Or were still hooked to the engine, for that matter.
They’ll come back for me, he thought. I’m the President.
He sipped and smiled.