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´╗┐Title: Handyman
Author: Banta, Frank
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Handyman" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


                            By FRANK BANTA

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                     Galaxy Magazine August 1962.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

                They didn't have to worry about a thing
                for the rest of their natural lives....

James Ypsilanti swung at the door with the steak cuber. Or was it
the cube steaker? No matter. The door was a good, hardwood door and
resisted his onslaught well. But time was on his side.

He had the energy and the time, he knew, and sooner or later the door
would be kindling.

It was the door to his room. It was evident to him that he did not need
the door to his room and that he _did_ need heat. In fact he had better
get some heat pretty soon--although he was keeping warm enough for the
present by beating on the door. So he would beat this door to kindling,
and then he would build a nice, cozy fire in the hall that would keep
him warm for a long time ... if he was stingy with his fuel.

The carpenter came by. The carpenter was always coming by, except when
you wanted him, Jim realized. The carpenter was a mighty, mighty busy

The carpenter stopped short when he saw Jim demolishing the door. In
fact he came to a grinding halt.

"Jim, why didn't you tell me!"

"Carpenter, how was I to know where you were? Who can ever find you?"

"I know Jim. Jim, you work so hard!"

"Yes!" he said, pounding.

"Take this hatchet, Jim. A hatchet is what you demolish doors with!
Good-by." The carpenter departed.

James Ypsilanti swung on the door with his newly acquired hatchet. Soon
he was ready for his fire. He struck a match, and in no time had the
pile of varnished kindling blazing smokily in the hall. He held his
hands over the blaze.

"Ah, good, good. Good." He closed his eyes. "What could be better than
this?" Then he opened them again regretfully. "It's dinner time. I'd
better fix it while I have my fire going." He hurried to the kitchen
and chose a can of eggs-bacon-and-pancakes from the massive stores.

       *       *       *       *       *

Opening the large can, he heated it over his hall fire. Then he dumped
the contents on his tin plate and ate.

"Murder," he thought somberly. "That's what I'm in for. Practically
murder with consent. She said she couldn't live without me. Margie
begged me to kill her, you might as well say. Good old Margie; a good
kid, but I killed her. And now.... Well, that's life!" He speared a

"Damn, but it's _cold_!" He threw an armload of wood on the fire and it
blazed up. "Sure wish these carpenters had feelings. My lord, they got
no feelings at all!"

The carpenter arrived with a new hardwood door. Whistling cheerily, he
began to install it where the other one had just been hatcheted away.

"Carpenter, that door won't be staying there long. I'm almost out of

"I hope you don't expect me to be surprised, Jim, if this door doesn't
last very long. The previous twenty-two doors at this location,
Jim, did not last very long either." Still whistling to himself, he
installed the last of the hinge screws.

"Why don't you just _give_ me the doors, instead of causing yourself
all this work?" demanded James Ypsilanti.

"'Inmates will not be issued materials,' Jim. I've quoted that section
of the rules to you many times, Jim."

"But couldn't you just _lean_ the door up against the door jamb and
leave it?" argued the inmate. "You go to a ridiculous amount of

"It is not ridiculous, Jim. I am a carpenter, Jim. Good-by."

After lunch, James Ypsilanti crawled into his escape tunnel.

He liked to go in there every day and daydream. The tunnel ended
abortively at the wall of the prison, for the prison wall extended down
into solid bed rock for a meter, and it was fabricated of one-meter
thick compressed steel. It was the nearest thing to an exit that the
prison had.

Officials had always come and gone through the massive, englobing wall
by matter transmitters. "Smarties couldn't find me though, when I was
in my escape tunnel," he chortled, as he stretched out in the cave
under the concrete. "They can walk through walls, but they couldn't
find _me_." Then his tone became baleful. "The smarties'll never find

       *       *       *       *       *

As James Ypsilanti chopped on the door next day, the carpenter stood
cheerily watching.

"Carpenter, why don't you fix the damn heating plant? Then I wouldn't
have to be chopping up your doors all the time to keep warm."

"I am a carpenter, Jim, not a heat-plant fixer, as you well know from
our previous negotiations on the subject."

"What will you do, carpenter, when I have used up all your doors?" the
convict jibed.

"Why, Jim, we will have to send out for some more," the carpenter
answered condescendingly.

"Still, I wish you would let _me_ work on that heat plant," urged
Ypsilanti. "I might fix it."

"'Inmates will not be permitted to disassemble or otherwise interfere
with the machinery of the institution,'" quoted the carpenter. "Need I
say more, Jim?"

"Okay," said James Ypsilanti, resuming his destructive work on the new
door. "Scram, stupid." The carpenter departed.

"That dope," Jim said between blows, "is even foggier in the head than
my lousy lawyer was, and that's going some."

"Jim," said the carpenter, returning and sounding very pleased with
himself, "look here at what I have found, Jim."

James Ypsilanti turned to look at what the carpenter held in his hand.
It was a carpenter's square sheathed in plastic.

"Found enough of them to last me a lifetime, Jim," said the carpenter
complacently. "I'll never have to buy any."

"No, you won't," agreed James Ypsilanti bitterly. "Can't you get it
into your head that you and I are the only ones left on Earth? After
the war the rest left. They couldn't _find_ us when they evacuated this
atomic-explosion wrecked planet, because we were in this escape-proof
jug. So they went away and _left_ us!"

"I know, Jim."

Ypsilanti studied the mobile features of the carpenter, searching
intently for a sign.

But the carpenter robot strolled away, whistling.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Handyman" ***

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