Another in a series of "Where Do Ideas Come From?"
After a day at the park, I was having a hard time buckling my prospective brother-in-law's son into his child safety car seat. So many straps and a tight fit. The chair reminded me of an ejector seat used by jet pilots, so my brain went...hmmm...
I have a hard time strapping in my sister into her CX-52 safety car seat. CX stands for Camacho Experimental. The number is the how many seats my dad has designed. Nadia giggles when I put her pudgy arms through the shoulders straps. She waves her fingers in my face and puts one up my nose. Gross. She thinks it's funny. Yeah, funny.
"Quit it, Naranja."
"Your sister no es fruita," Dad says from the front seat.
Her name sounds like the Spanish word for orange. Nadia. Naranja. Get it? She's an orange. I gotta get my laughs somewhere.
I snap her shoulder straps into the center buckle with a bright red button. I dig under her butt to find the lower straps. She squirms and kicks me in the chin, and laughs so hard drool spills down her chin.
My sister would find a car wreck funny.
"I go boom!" she says.
"No," I say to her, "No boom this time. This time you stay. Okay?"
"No, I go boom!"
"Boom! Boom! Boom!" She pounds her fists on the arm rests.
"No way," I say to her, "No way, I'm going after you for the millionth time."
"Nadia secure?" Dad says.
I tuck on her straps and fit her sun hat on her big head. "Secure."
"Okay, let's go."
I point my finger at Naranja's face and whisper, "Don't mess around with it. I mean it this time."
She sticks her tongue at me.
I shut the door and walk around the back of the rover. I rattle my dusty, dented bike on the rack to make sure it doesn't fall off. Then I get in the rover next to Dad. He blesses himself, looks at me and I bless myself. Then we put on our googles.
The rover takes off down the rutted dirt road. I look back at my sister and she's singing to her Ms. Masked Marvel Doll. Dad skids the rover, slams the brakes, climbs a steep hill, bangs into a pot hole the size of a crater and nothing. The head cushions on Naranja's keep her noggin from slamming around and making her brain into oatmeal.
Dad's smiling. So far, so good.
Yeah, I pray. I pray this is the last test of the prototype and...
The ceiling above my sister's seat pops off.
The rockets under her car seat fire and she blasts out of the rover. Smoke floods the rover. I can't see and thing and I'm choking to death. Dad slams the brakes. I hit my buckle release and jump out of the rover and land in dirt. I tear off my googles and rub my stinging eyes.
The bright red and white striped parachute is easy to spot in desert blue sky. A trail of smoke drifts over the sage brush. The orange seat sways easy, like a swing at the park, as it descents to the ground. I let out a big breath.
|CX-32 Prototype Ascent Rockets|
"Accelerometer failure," I try to cheer him up, "Those things are iffy."
He grunts. Not convinced.
"No way she figured it out," I say, "Not this time."
Ugh. I unhitch my bike and push off through the scrub. I really hoped this one was it. I've collected every thorn and spiny needle in this desert on my legs and arms that I'm surprised there's any left. I check my bike compass and steer toward my sister. Her nonsense babbling brings me closer to her. I skid to stop, kicking up dust, and hop off my bike.
The parachute flutters over her like a curtain. Naranja stuffs some fabric in her mouth and chews on it.
I signal Dad my location and take out her water drinky cup from the pack on my bike.
"Thirsty, little booger?" I pull the parachute fabric out of her and give her the drinky cup.
Naranja sucks it down. That's when I see the arm rests. The covers are torn off and connections exposed.
The scorched rover pulls up and Dad gets out. The hot engine ticks in the sun.
"How does she do it, Dad?" I show him the electronics. "How?"
|Unofficial CX Prototype Testing Ground|
Fifty-two times. Fifty-two! My little sister has hot wired the CX ejector seat and went BOOM!
"Back to design," my Dad says. He unstraps Naranja and carries her back to the rover.
"Daddy, I go BOOM!" She laughs like its the funniest thing ever.
Wait 'till Mom finds out...