Judged to a Hair’s Breadth and Timed to the Second

What most people misunderstand about magic and mischief is this: More is NOT always better. Bigger is not always better. Any idiot can blow something up, and it doesn’t take finesse to turn someone into a toadstool. As I’ve said before, it’s all about the timing, and the fine touch.

Let me show you how to unravel a day.

The human female has dragged herself out of bed and thrown on a t-shirt and yoga pants (something no one wants to see), fully intending to do some time on the treadmill (since it is eleventy million degrees and 103% humidity outside, with a 60% chance of rain and a 100% chance of mosquitoes). However, as she’s waking up and bringing the mental and physical systems online, she’s discovering that I nudged a microbe or two her way. She’s got a headache, a sore throat, and that creepy back-of-the-neck-feeling that presages a day or three of low-level miserableness. Because she’s cautious the worrying sort, she’s forgone the treadmill for trying to find a place doing free Plague testing near the house.

Tsk, tsk. The local news website hasn’t been updated since February, so she’s looking on her own. Place #1 has a privacy clause that lets them use everyone’s personal information in any way they like. (They work for me.) Place #2 doesn’t have any open appointments until the end of the week. (Also thanks to me.) Place #3 is on the other side of the next city over. Place #4 is a tent in the parking lot of a department store, but it’s close, and they’re doing appointments. There you go, woman! There’s your chance. No, no time to change! Who’s going to see you anyway? It’s a drive-through!

Here we are, in traffic on the busiest street in town. Great Frigga’s Corset! The obnoxious notes of the human female’s ring tone are blaring from her backpack! To leave it or to pick up? To leave it or to pick up? She’s got to decide. It might be the human male, out doing the grocery shopping, asking a mundane question about, oh, I don’t know, bananas or something. It might be the debt collector that has been calling the female looking for the male to ask him about what they say he owes on a truck and won’t believe her that they are looking for Mr. Middle Initial T and not her Middle Initial C. husband. But it might be important…

See? Long red lights are a good thing. She just has time to answer. Ah. It is the human male. Now what sort of fruit-related—

“Hey! It’s me! The brakes are failing on the Honda an I’m headed to the dealership!”

“Oh, no! Should you pull over and call for a tow?”

“I think I can make it.”

“Okay. I’m almost at the testing place. Let me get my nose swabbed. It’ll take a second and then I’ll meet you there.”

Norns’ nighties! This day is just getting better, isn’t it?

Ehehehehee. The testing kiosk is not drive through, it’s walk-up. The human female has to subject the public to her yoga-pantedness. Ehehehe! And the kiosk lady’s microphone is broken. (I was here earlier.) She’s holding up post-it note signs with instructions and she and the human female are engaging in a sort of deranged pantomime and trying to pretend the human female isn’t standing there half-undressed and feverish and sticking a glorified Q-tip up her nose and swizzling it about.

Back in the car. Which way are you going, mortal? Your best bet would usually be to go down Road A, but–as you know from your traverse of it last week—there is some mysterious project going on that has lanes closed and trucks and big diggers and men and flags and cones, if not any actual work being performed. (Me again.) No, you’re better off taking Road B, which will bring you around to Road C, where the dealership has a side entrance.

Augh! No, you moron. Not that side entrance. Not the one with the gate across the drive. You know, the one they closed when they expanded the dealership and created a new entrance on the access road. Now you’re boxed into a 10′ by 20′ area that backs out onto a busy, busy thoroughfare. Fenrir’s Fleacollar, woman, who taught you to drive?!

Whew. All right, she managed to turn the nerdmobile around, dash out, go forty feet, and turn into the driveway that works. And there is the human male. Looks like he made it in one piece. Let’s have a look at the car.

Hmm. An Ominous Puddle. Now, it’s quite usual in this part of Midgard for autos to make puddles in the summer. Something about the air conditioning condenser, blah, blah, condensation, blah, blah. I can teleport, I can’t be bothered with the details. Just know that AC puddles should be under the right front/center of the vehicle, not the driver’s side wheel.

Eeew. The tech is sniffing the Ominous Puddle. His pronouncement? Brake fluid. As in, the very last of it. That was close, humans! The car is in good hands (I hope), so can we go home now? All of this carefully-timed mischief is making me hungry, and there’s a grilled-cheese sandwich calling me.

(later) The auto shop has called and the human female has been awakened from her brief, headachy nap. We are now back at the dealership awaiting the diagnosis and verdict.

Ah. Ahahahahahaha! I knew all along what the problem was likely to be, but this has worked out better than I hoped. You see, the vehicle recently had some scheduled maintenance, and I “helped” the mechanics with some of it.

That bit, right there. But just as the mechanic was going to remove his 10 mm wrench from the little nut that seals the brake line, I told a very funny joke, and he was distracted. He left the wrench in place and signed off on the job as complete. That little wrench has been affixed to the brake line for two weeks, not sticking into the brakes, not jamming into anything, not making any funny noises, just gradually vibrating as the vehicle moved and loosening the nut micrometer by micrometer. And today, when it involved a runny-nosed human female in exercise wear and bad hair, cold items from the grocery rapidly becoming warmer in the trunk, and temperatures bordering on the Saharan, the nut turned the last little bit of the way and let all the brake fluid run out.

To say the staff at the dealership is apologetic would be an understatement of elephantine proportions. Not only is today’s complete brake flush and fill on the house, but they’ve refunded the price of the original service.

And as I understand it, the tech who made the error gets to pay for that out of his salary. As it should be!

What? You think *I* should be held responsible? Pffft! I can’t help it if I’m supremely hilarious and he was eminently distractable. Nope.

You see, though–this is what I’m talking about. Human male killed in a fiery no-brakes crash? Not funny. Human female with actual Plague? Not funny at all. Everyone sweaty and inconvenienced and select individuals embarrassed and/or a bit poorer and all the plans for the day gone whoosh right out the window? Sublime.

Learn from the Master.

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