Daffy Braggart stood atop an ill-defined structure, looking down on the Buyit oil fields. In the distance the sun hit a spot of metal, making it look like a lit torch - which if it were would have horrifying and hilarious consequences. Because, you know, oil!
Far down below her - where they belonged! - were the faceless laborers laying the tracks and switches of newly delivered spankmeum. That's why McNam had quit by the way. He'd taken one look at the shiny new metal and said, "Are you fucking kidding me!?"
So Daffy had been forced to hire another contractor. An older, squishier gentleman she didn't want to ride like a pony who protested a little - "Are you sure this is durable enough for trains?" - but still agreed to do the job when Daffy offered three times the going rate. Tim's groans had been audible from neighboring buildings back at the Braggart office.
But even getting three times his requested pay, this new contractor - this Niels guy - just couldn't meet Daffy's ridiculously overblown expectations. "Why has construction stopped?" she demanded when construction had stopped.
"Sorry, Miss Braggart, but drill heads wear out fast. Especially in this rock."
Why there's such deep-drilling going on for a frickin' railroad is because they had to build a bridge. Why rail layers are pulling double duty building a bridge is because Daffy was too stupid to take all these things into account. But, again, let's just go with it...
"That is unacceptable!" Daffy had said to Niels with all her haughty idiocy. "You're just not trying hard enough!"
"Uh, ma'am, the success of an engineering endeavor is not wholly dependent on elbow grease."
As she stared blankly at him, he clarified, "The drill heads are shot and I can't move forward until new ones arrive."
"It's taking too long," Daffy said dismissively. "Use the spankmeum."
"Use the -!? Miss Braggart, even if we weren't already laying the spankmeum as rail - making it all spoken for, as it were - we are not in any way equipped out here to cast new drill heads!"
"Then we'll order them from Spank himself!" declared Daffy.
"Okay, let me see if I understand what you're asking... You want us to go faster, so we should order brand new, un-cast drill heads from this Rearend guy - from across the country - and wait for that to be delivered rather than use the drill heads already on order which - even factoring in shipping delays - would still arrive sooner?"
"I'm paying for the track so I'll pay for the new drill heads!"
Niels had been in this business thirty years. He didn't much care to strap some rich idiots vanity alloy to his equipment but with how much this Braggart nutjob was paying, he reasoned it would be an affordable risk. The customer is always right after all - even when they're pants-crappingly wrong.
And he really wanted to avoid another lecture from Daffy on the wonders of spankmeum. That line she always finished with - "...And a spankmeum butt-plug is like having white-hot joy itself embedded in your anus!" - had given him nightmares for a week.
So construction ground on - and the original drill heads did arrive before the spankmeum. Niels quietly continued to use those, rather than subject his own business to some loopy science experiment. Still, he fared batter than the other engineers Daffy began bringing in to design this project. Halfway through it's completion.
Apparently time doesn't exist if you're an Objectivist...
The first engineer presented what he felt to be his finest work to Daffy Braggart. She sneered at it. "I expected some new means of construction to properly honor this new metal!"
"But engineering doesn't work like that," the first engineer tried to explain. "You go with what works best, and this does. It's got a nearly perfect history, it's stable but basic enough -"
It had been hard work, dismissing all those professionals. "I want it to last five years longer!"
"Well, if we reinforce with steel -"
"But that won't-"
So many who couldn't grasp the Greatness of Spank's new metal. So many concerned with swishy collectivist ideas like "physics."
"Miss, I think we'll need a different alloy for -"
"The hell we do! More spankmeum! More and more spaknmeum!"
Only by sheer force of personality - meaning an extended tantrum - did Daffy get her way. It was a unique skill she'd developed in kindergarten to make others give her their juice boxes.
And it was paying off. Down below her was the furious work of third-rate sheister engineers, employing hordes of underpayed illegals to make the dream of one Daffy Braggart come true!
Which promptly collapsed because structural engineering requires more than self-importance.
...Hah! Just kidding! We're not getting out of this mess that easy!
As the author wept at his unending torment, Ennis Buyit happened to appear to engage Daffy in a pointless conversation for the purpose of bitching about Niels. After Buyit left, Niels showed up to bitch about Buyit. Then Daffy went back to her trailer so she could BAWWWWW! all over her Livejournal like the spoiled pinhead she is. And when she was finished, who should be outside to meet her than the one and only Spank Rearend!
Rearend had driven all that unspecified distance to see Daffy of course. Driven in his long, sleek convertible that was definitely not compensating for anything. As always, he was heroically absorbed in his own Greatness and didn't notice Daffy's approach.
"Spank?" she asked... Not like that.
With Heroic Willpower! the other rich idiot tore himself away from himself to address Daffy. "Well, I wondered if I would run into you here," he said with poorly feigned nonchalance.
Daffy felt all a flutter like the silly bimbo she is. "No one told me you were here. I'll have to fire someone later..."
"Oh, I was just coming out to see how my new metal's doing," Spank explained. "Not to see you of course. I haven't been, like, out here to Colorado six times in secret because I'm stalking you or anything. I just care about metal."
Daffy found it so sexy when a man didn't care about her, just hard rigid alloy jutting into the air. "I was just discussing ordering more spankmeum. At some point in the past."
"It'll cost you more," Spank said. "I'm not doing you any special favors just because you're the only one in the world buying my shiny new metal."
"Oh, I wouldn't expect you to," Daffy said. His disdain exhilarated her! "But will it get here in time?"
"I'll work my minions to death to ensure it does," reassured Spank.
"You know, I have my own ideas on how to build your bridge. Want to see my etchings?"
So he showed her his etchings. Yes, they're both that dumb.
They mooned over each other some more, all the passion of a moldy sock. "But is there any other reason you came all this way?" Daffy asked hoping for Spank to sexily rebuff her again.
He didn't disappoint. "I'm taking a look at a copper mine out here too. Because those are still a profitable venture in 21st century America."
"Why don't you get copper from Franky's - I mean, the d'Ano mine?"
Spank looked uncomfortable for the first time. "I don't know... That guy makes me feel funny..."
"I know what you mean," Daffy said, turning away to hide her spreading grin.
"But when I buy it, I might need a branch line," he said.
"Oh Spank! I'd be happy to lay one for you!" Daffy just got more and more turned on the less he displayed any interest for her beyond the utilitarian. Almost as much as impersonal business transactions. "I love being out here, you know. So much building and mining and drilling goes on..."
"I know what you mean," agreed Spank. "It's a welcome change from the rest of the country."
And that made Daffy sad. "Spank, what's wrong with the world? Why can't things be Great anymore?"
"I learned in school it's because the sun is slowly going out, so everything grows cold and stops." Spank Rearend smoked ALOT of pot all through school so his recollections were fuzzy at best. "But I always figured we could make a new sun."
"Really? Me too!"
Smiling, Spank pointed out to a distant column of smoke from the Buyit oil fields. "And there it is being made!"
Though how petroleum would supplant the gigaton-scale fusion reactor of the sun wasn't something either bothered to think abou -
Wait. Column of smoke? Oil fields!?
Rather than address the potential oil fire, Daffy asked Spank about his car. "Is that a Hamhock Motors, uh, thing?"
"Why yes. Yes it is," Spank replied, always happy to show off his things. "I'm not actually driving back to wherever I live. It's being shipped and I'm taking my own plane."
Daffy was enthralled with his conspicuous display of disposable income.
"And I'm actually not going home just yet," Spank continued. "I'm going to Minnesota."
Daffy scrunched up her nose the way whiny airheads do when they're confused. "Minnesota? But it's full of lice!"
"Holy crap, it is!?"
"Well, not lice lice but, like, poor people and stuff."
"Oh. Well, I guess that's bearable."
And so Spank drove off, having not really advanced the plot and Daffy drove herself to the other airport or something while thinking about how wicked hot Spank was but she couldn't get a flight back home because Tim had been there and gotten the last ticket. Despite that not really being how airports work.
"Curse him!" she said. "He's not even in this part of the narrative!"
"Yes I am!" Tim corrected her.
Because they were now both back in New York. In car. And in a hurry to get somewhere.
"Damn, who needs transitions when you can warp time and space?"
Now don't you start!
Their car was blocked at seemingly every intersection due to the copious construction products, repairing the old streets.
"This wouldn't happen if they'd just let someone with vision build roads," Daffy said petulantly.
"Daffs, I could explain - again - how no single individual has the time or money to maintain something so necessary to everyone as the friggin' roads but seeing as you ignore me anyway how about some exposition? Like what you're going to tell them about your precious magic metal?"
"It's not mine!" Daffy said defensively. "It's Spank's metal!"
"Which makes me wonder why they don't ask him about the damn thing..."
A dreamy look in her eyes, Daffy curtly explained, "Because he couldn't be bothered with the concerns of others."
"He sounds like such a lovely sociopath."
They were on their way to see the National Metals Committee - one of those smaller federal bodies dedicated to regulation. And one of the few that actually did their jobs.
And they were mighty cheesed off at Braggart Big Damn Rail laying track with a new and completely untested alloy.
"Do you want to bury this company? Forgive me for asking but I really wonder sometimes."
"And why are you so scared, Tim," Daffy asked because she thought it sounded clever.
"Oh gee, let me think - because the feds could fine us somewhere in the tens of millions, because we could get sued by every single customer for reckless endangerment, because if this while thing goes 'tits up' as Boyle has so eloquently put it we'll be out not just what we wasted on this vanity project of Rearend's but any possible damage to our existing equipment!"
Daffy found her brother so tiring. He didn't understand rules only applied to other people... Of course, from her perspective he was a other. So did that mean the rules did apply to him.
"Ouch, philosophy hurts my head," Daffy said. "I'm going to get a cup of coffee."
"But we're in a moving car!"
Fortunately, Daffy Braggart is immune to logic.
She found her way into a diner. "Bring me coffee, manservant!"
"A spat-in cup a' joe it is," said the waitress.
Now settled with her coffee and self-importance - just like back in college! - she looked around at the other patrons. Old, greasy, and oh so poor.
"So this guy, he's goin' on about 'What is the porpoise of life?'"
"The porpoise? Ain't that a fish?"
"Somethin' like that. I didn't get it either."
"Wasn't that same guy goin' on about Gort was it?"
That got her attention. And the attentions of someone else.
"I know that Gort feller!" declared a harmless lunatic. "Saw him fly to the Moon, I did! He brought back the infinity cheese!"
Daffy found this to be very significant...
But enough of that. We've got an awfully long and just plain awful chapter to finish.
Spank Rearend was sitting in his office wondering if he should invest in some transitions when some big nosed freak came in.
"Mr. Rearend?" asked the freak. "I'm Dr. Rowling from DOI."
Only with Great and Heroic Effort did Spank recall this was the guy coming by from the government. "I suppose you're here to tell me how to run my business?"
Dr. Rowling sighed. Apparently Rearend was one of those types. "No, not in so many words... Mr. Rearend, may I sit?"
"...Okay. My concern isn't how you run your business but that you follow existing regulations. There are standards for massive public works as this Rio Norte line and these bridges -"
"There's nothing public about it!" snapped Rearend testily.
"It's public enough. It crosses public land and our citizens will naturally use it once construction is complete. My concern, that is my department's concern is that your new, uh, alloy..."
"Spankmeum!" Spank declared proudly.
"Um, yes... That it's suitable for these purposes."
"I don't need other people telling what I can and can't do with my own metal!"
"You do if public safety is related. And it's very related on a railroad."
"But for god's sake man! There's not even any evidence it can support a train!"
"No! No! No!" Spank plugged his ears. "My metal is shiny and it'll work because it's shiny! You're fired!"
"But I don't work for you..."
* * *
Daffy was sulking because her contractors had reneged on the switch and signal orders. Just because she called them lice and threw peanuts at them was no excuse to be walking out on her, Daffy Braggart!
Of course that wasn't the only excuse. "I refuse to work with that crap!" said Lester Moen.
"What, the switches?"
"No, that 'spankmeum' stuff. It's a damned nightmare. I mean, it turns green when it gets cold! What the hell sorta metal turns green!?"
"An awesome metal," said Daffy with snotty superiority.
"Yeah, well you can keep it 'cause I'm done."
Daffy didn't understand. Why would anyone turn down an opportunity to work with Spank's glorious spankmeum? It couldn't be anything wrong with the metal itself... no, it had to be something wrong with Moen. He was just too scared of Great new things - like spankmeum! - and was running away.
"Well fine," she snapped. "You just can't handle spankmeum!"
But Moen had already left.
Returning to her office - because that didn't happen in her office - she encountered Edguy Dithers again looking like he had horrible news.
"Horrible news, Daffy." Hey! I was right! "The National Metallurgical Institute just put out a warning against using spankmeum! They say it's not safe for construction or manufacturing or even being near in a light rain."
"Well they can't get away with that! I'll go yell some sense into them right now! Teleport!"
And with a burst of brimstone, Daffy Braggart appeared at the Institutes new Hampshire office to pester some more people who have real jobs. Striding through the front door, she let loose - "Do you realize what it says in your statement? Do you know the unfounded claims you're making against Spank's spankmeum?"
"I'm just the receptionist, ma'am," replied the lady at the front desk. "If you'd like to meet with someone, I could call to see if they're taking visitors."
Daffy wouldn't wait of course. Spotting someone she recognized, she shot off - "Dr. Stieg!"
Dr. Stieg recognized her. Unfortunately. "Oh, Ms... Braggart, is it?"
"Why did you publish this slander against spankmeum?"
"Ms. Braggart, slander is spoken. In print it's libel. And what we published was neither because it's true."
"But you said spankmeum -"
Weary, having just gotten off the phone with the man himself, "Mr. Rearend's alloy is unstable and would make for poor structures of any sort. That's the science of it. I'm sorry Ms. Braggart but these things don't take personal feelings into account. Good day."
And he was gone before this could devolve into another repetitive back and forth about a made up metal.
Daffy was confused - as usual - but soon angered. All these people with their fancy degrees, they were just jealous of Spank! He'd done something great and they just couldn't wait to tear him down! How typical of these lesser classes! "I'll show them! I'll build every new line of Braggart Big Damn Rail with spankmeum! I'll tear up the old lines just to lay more spankmeum! And I'm renaming the Rio Norte the Jon Gort Line!"
Distantly, Tim Braggart was getting one hell of an ulcer.
And so am I. Let's finish it now before I have to type spankmeum any more tonight.
"Don't I have another scene in this chapter?"
Tim, do you really want to argue with your sister again about spankmeum? And get the same result as everyone else?
"...I'll see you next week."