Randy Ingermanson 

Randy Ingermanson has published six novels and received about a dozen awards for his writing. He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and is the entire software department for Vala Sciences, a San Diego biotechnology company. Randy is the inventor of the "Snowflake Method," used by novelists around the world to design their novels. He the publisher of the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, the world's largest electronic magazine on writing fiction. More than 1000 novelists read his daily blog, the Advanced Fiction Writing Blog. Randy's goal is to become Supreme Dictator For Life, and he may have already succeeded. Visit his site at www.SupremeDictatorForLife.com.

I Can Explainify...

Randy Rooney aka Randy Ingermanson

I sat at my computer, staring at the Apple Web site, wishing I had the money to buy one of the brand-spanking-new iPads.

This was the machine that convinced Amazon to switch its model of dealing with publishers. This was the future of e-books. This was going to save the cookies of writers everywhere.

And I couldn’t afford one.

I was so engrossed in reading the tech specs of the new miracle machine that I realized I wasn’t alone only when a surge of expensive men’s cologne invaded my nostrils.

“Nice iPad!” It was the voice of my plumber, Sam.

I spun around in my chair. “What the devil are you doing, walking in—”

Sam stood grinning. He was dressed in a perfectly tailored tux. I’d never seen him wear anything but stained T-shirts, filthy blue jeans, and work boots the size of Montana. Normally, his hair is a tangled helmet of wolfish fur. Today, it looked like one of these $200 haircuts Bill Clinton made famous.

“What . . . what happened to you?” I looked up and down at Sam’s new getup.

“I can explainify, but it’s a kinda long story.”

I pointed at his spiffy haircut. “Nice coif.”

Puzzlement shrouded Sam’s face. “Don’t know that I’d call it nice. I had that swine flu thingie a month ago, but I ain’t coughed in a week.”

“Coif.” I pronounced it carefully so it sounded like kwof. “Your haircut. It looks good on you.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Lookit, sometimes I can’t understand a thing you say, but never mind. I just come by to let you know I won’t be working for you no more.” His eyes fastened on the iPad on my screen. “Oh, hey, you getting one of them too? I got mine the day they come out. Igor convinced me.”

This flurry of information left my head spinning. Sam was quitting the plumbing business? He had an iPad already? And who the heck was Igor? “You’ve lost me.”

“I ain’t surprised. You never was too quick on the uptake. Whatcha want me to explainify first?”

“Let’s start with Igor. Is he your new employee?”

Sam shrugged. “Not exactly new, but yeah, he works fer me. Mostly he’s my driver, but also my bodyguard.”

I pulled back the curtain and looked outside. My driveway is about thirty yards long, and most of it was filled with an enormous Hummer limo—the kind my kids and I laugh at whenever we see one because it’s just too ridiculous.

Pacing back and forth in front of the Hummer was a large man with a heavy, Slavic face, smoking a cigarette. A thick bulge under his jacket near his heart told me he was packing some serious heat.

Somehow, I didn’t laugh. “Um, wow, Sam, looks like the plumbing business has done pretty well for you. You’ve got to replace an awful lot of twenty-dollar washers to lease a Hummer like that.”

“Lease?” Sam said in an offended tone. “Leasing’s for sissies. I bought it. Cash.”

I stared at him, trying to figure out how he could afford a beast like that, plus a bodyguard-driver. Sam’s never been one to fear overcharging, but even at a thousand bucks per toilet, something still wasn’t adding up.

I leaned back in my chair and squinted at Sam. “So . . . you said you were quitting working for me?”

He grinned again. “Yup, I’m retired from plumbing now, all thanks to my barrister. And you, a’course.”

“Barrister? Me?” For a minute, I wondered if maybe the swine flu had addled Sam’s brains. It was entirely possible. Based on past experience, addling his brains could only be an improvement. And there was no doubt about it—something had done a pretty good makeover on Sam.

“Yeah, you.” Sam ran a beefy finger under his collar. “Now I ain’t never been the jealous type, but I can’t help but notice that you sit here all day getting rich typing, while honest guys go broke getting their hands dirty.”

“I’m not—”

“Don’t get me wrong. I ain’t jealous and I don’t grudge you none of that, even if it ain’t fair. But I finally decided that there had to be a easier way to make a living than fixing things and I decided to join ya.” He grinned at me as if that explainified it.

“Um, right. But what’s this about a barrister?”

Sam whipped out his iPad. In his enormous hands, it looked as tiny as an iPhone. “Here, I’ll just forward you this e-mail. It’ll explainify everything.” He thumped away at the screen for two full minutes. “Oops, looks like I ain’t got 3G access here. I guess you’re in a dead zone. You mind letting me into your WiFi network?”

“You have a 3G iPad?” I couldn’t help but shout. “That’s impossible! They’re not even out yet.”

Sam shook his head. “Well, I guess if you buy it in a store, no, they ain’t out yet. But if a feller has enough money, there’s ways to get one early. Anyways, I can’t send ya this e-mail unless you tell me your network password.”

“Sorry, I don’t give that out. Security, you know.”

“No problem,” Sam said. “I know all about them security problems. Which reminds me, will you help me out when that feller from Dodge calls? I give him yer name as a personal reference.”

“Dodge?” I said, trying to remember who made Hummers. I didn’t think it was Dodge or any other part of Chrysler. As usual, Sam wasn’t making any sense.

“It’s part of my cuperation,” Sam said.

“Well, I’m glad you’ve recuperated, but I don’t see what that has to do with Dodge or anything else.”

Sam gave me a pitying look. “Look, just cause you ain’t got the sense God gave a banana slug don’t mean you can’t help out a friend. Will you put in a good word fer me when the feller calls?”

“I . . . whatever. Send me the e-mail and I’ll let you know.”

Sam grinned and thumped me so hard on my shoulder, I thought he might have dislocated it. “Thanks! I’ll just mosey on my way, then. When I get out of this 3G dead zone, I’ll send you that e-mail. It’ll explainify everything.”

I watched him stump out the door and down the walk. Igor snapped to attention, saluted Sam, and scurried to open the door of the Hummer. A minute later, they were gone.

I checked my e-mail every ten seconds until Sam’s e-mail came through.

The subject line said:


My stomach felt like somebody had poured hot lead in it. Please, please, please no. I scanned the contents of the forwarded letter:

For your kind attention,


I humbly crave your indulgence in sending you this mail, if the contents does not meet with your personal and business ethics, I appologise in advance.

I am BARRISTER STEPHENN OLIVER FAROUK ( attorney at law). I represent Ali Ishmaeli Hazzani estates. Ali Ishmaeli Hazzani was the chief security advicer of the then military leader of this country (Nigeria) in the person of Late General Rabu Zuhedi who died on the 13th of June 2003. With the advent of a new democratic dispensation in the country under the leadership of Gen. Alwaani Israhim (Rtd), my client has come under severe persecutions due to the sensitive position he held in the last military regime, presently he is under house arrest restricted only to the confines of his village.

I dialed Sam’s cell phone.

He answered right away. “So did that e-mail explainify things?”

“Sam, please tell me you didn’t fall for one of those Nigerian scams. Tell me you didn’t quit your business, buy a Hummer, and hire a bodyguard because you thought you’re going to get fifty million dollars. Tell me—”

Sam cut me off. “No, I ain’t done none of those things. What kinda ninny do you take me for?”

“Then . . . why’d you send me this e-mail?” I asked.

“Did ya read all the way to the end?”

“Um . . . no.” I continued scanning the e-mail. There was the usual nonsense about $33.6 million (USD) in a vault in the Central Bank of Nigeria, about to be confisticated by the government unless claimed by a suitable US partner. Finally, I reached the final sentence:

Should this proposition be of interest to you, you can reach me through my e-mail address so that I can explainify the rudiments of this endevour.

Cold sweat sprang out on my back. “Sam? Did you write this letter?”

“Edited it. I figgered it was a good letter, but it wasn’t quite grammatified right, and if a feller like you could make buckets of cash fer doing nothing but typing, then I could too.”

“Sam, you’re in a boatload of trouble.” A lightning bolt of inspiration hit me. “And by the way, how do you spell Dodge?”

Static crackled over the line but Sam’s voice rode right over the top of it. “If you can’t figger that out, maybe you ain’t the right feller to help me out. Maybe you been scamming me all this time, holding yerself out to be a bigshot writer.”

“By any chance, do you spell it D-O-J? As in Department of Justice?”

Sam sighed with relief. “I guess you ain’t as dumb as you look. So you’ll put in a good word fer me with the feller from Dodge? He says if I cuperate with him, he can maybe get me off light.”

“I’ll tell him the truth. I’ll tell him you’re a complete idiot and you had no idea what you were doing.”

“Yer a friend. And a decent feller, I don’t care what everyone else says about you, which is plenty.”

* * *

The next day, a package arrived via uniformed courier.

My daughter signed for it and brough it into my office. “This is weird,” she said. “It has your name spelled wrong, and there’s no return address. Think it might be a bomb?”

I shrugged my shoulders and was rewarded with a surge of pain where Sam had thumped me. “I’ll risk it.”iPad -3G

I unwrapped the package. Inside was a brand-new iPad, the 3G version still not available in stores.

My daughter squealed when she saw it. “Daddy, I can’t believe it! I Who do you think sent this to you?”

I massaged my aching shoulder. “I guess we’ll never explainify it.”


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