Kristine S. (NHBookLover) - 3/18/2007 9:52 AM ET
LOL..........you got me! I was waiting for it to "go off" and I guess it did. Kris
|"Alright, it's the green wire...there...yeah, that's it. Cut the green wire, not the red. Not the red."
"Green wire, right, I see it. I'm cutting...now." This was the first time DeVries was letting me do the job and, I swear, I could hear my boss sweating next to me. Pencil light in one hand, procedure manual in his other, so close to me he was almost in my uniform. He wasn't leaving anything to chance.
"Next step, Forester," he said evenly, cradling the manual like it was a Gutenberg and reading from the damn thing like it held his salvation. "Starting clockwise, remove the four screws on the support frame and then gently...and I mean gently...withdraw the frame from the assembly."
"I'm on it, Boss," I said, reaching for a number three Phillips -- non-conductive and non-magnetic, like all the tools these operations require.
"You're not on nuth'in until you repeat back what I said. You know the drill."
"Fine. Starting clockwise, remove the screws--"
"The four screws."
"Starting clockwise, remove the four screws from the support frame and then gently withdraw the frame from the assembly." I hate jumping through hoops, and felt like Harper was lining them up for me now. "Better?" I said, lacing my comment with a little too much indignation.
DeVries put the manual down. Slowly. (In this profession, putting things down in the wrong place or at the wrong time could have nasty results.) The pencil light remained in his hand, fixed in position like it was welded there. I've seen him do this before with the particularly sensitive devices -- selectively moving the parts of his body he needed and locking down the rest. Just his head swiveled now, his beefy face inches from my own, his eyes boring through to the back of my head.
"Listen Forester, I spent years developing my skills, and I'll be damned if I'll hand 'em over to an assistant who puts his personal pride before the team. You're good, I guess we both know that, but good ain't good enough when people are depending on you and all you can think about is yourself. You know what's at stake here, so no more shit. Either follow the drill, or bail. You choose."
I felt a flush spreading over my face and tried to hide it by focusing on the illuminated metallic guts in front of me. The intensity of his anger came off him like rolling thunder, but the light he held remained absolutely rock steady. My convictions would waver before it would.
"Alright, I'm sorry," I said as I turned away from the device and looked at the opened manual with its detailed schematics. The pages were white and contrasted starkly against the gray rubberized surface of the worktable. I was beginning to think maybe those sheets held my salvation. The one way -- the only way to get myself out of this mess. "I'm ready to proceed," I mumbled. The formal response. By the book.
The DeVries glared at me for a moment more then carefully picked up the manual and resumed reading. "Unlatch and remove the rectangular access plate by depressing the release latch located at the three o'clock position. Once removed, use a number five probe and set the exposed timer switches in the following sequence: 1 - off, 2 - off, 3 - off, 4 - off."
This was the hairiest part of the deactivation sequence -- no room for any slip-ups -- but DeVries' voice had become completely emotionless and controlled. Damn, he was good.
I repeated each instruction before executing it, and replaced each tool in its proper place before going on to the next. A page turned, a step completed. Instructions given, feedback provided. Call and response. The minutes ticked by until, finally...
"We're in the home stretch, Forester. The easiest place to screw up. So listen carefully. The activator chip is a small silver square seated on a card in the lower left quadrant. Do you see it?"
"I see it."
"Good. Using a small needle nose, remove the activator chip."
"Understood. I'm removing the activator chip...now."
A slight tug and the chip came free into my waiting hand like an offering from a defeated enemy. I stared down at it for a moment marveling at its complexity, this small token of my first success. I looked up again to the table covered with at all the components the device had yielded up to us. Ironic, I thought: a puzzle solved with the removal of its pieces. Now, just the outer casing of the device remained.
DeVries held it in his hands for a moment, looking at his reflection in the polished surface.
"Now, Harper" he said, "let's figure out why this damn thing keeps the burning toast."
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