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Wait for Weight

By JACK McKENTY

Sometimes the best incentive is to tell a man that success will throw him out of a job!

Illustrated by SIBLEY

When Dr. Allport Brinton's alarm clock sounded, it brought madness. It was very clever; it not only rang chimes of amazing penetrating power, it turned on all the lights in the room, closed the window, and started his bath water running. But this morning it was not appreciated. In fact, as Dr. Brinton got out of bed, he silently called down evil on the technician who had built it for him.

[Illustration]

The "off" switch was on the wall farthest away from his bed and was controlled by a hairtrigger combination dial that couldn't be operated by anyone not fully awake. Dr. Brinton fumbled for a while, then gave up and started looking for his bedroom slippers. They had apparently crawled away during the night.

He padded into his bathroom barefoot. He was about to see what a hot bath would do for what he had already diagnosed as a histamine headache when the alarm clock, having decided that anyone who could sleep through ten minutes of chiming was unwakable, stopped chiming, turned off the lights, opened the window, and let all the water out.

Dr. Brinton was walking back toward the light switch when he tripped on his bedroom slippers and fell back into bed. No further invitation was necessary; he slept till noon.

Dr. Brinton unmistakably had a hangover. Considering the party he had attended the night before, it was not surprising. Actually, it was remarkable that he had been able to get out of bed at all. During the fourteen years that the Rocket Research Station had been in operation, the parties that were held every time another test flight resulted in failure had grown from a few drinks in somebody's room to a mammoth bust up that left the whole place partially paralyzed for days afterward.

First as chief chemist, and later as director of the Station, Dr. Brinton had attended every one of the scores of parties during every one of the fourteen years. It spoke well for his endurance to say that he was back at his office at one o'clock. Some people didn't make it until the next day.

His secretary, who didn't drink, was one of very few who were at work on time. She walked into his office and stood in front of his desk, tapping her foot. Her facial expression showed that she thought people who got drunk at parties were amoral, degenerate, and entirely unfit for administrative positions. Dr. Brinton, who had been mentally comparing the relative merits of Prussic acid and hanging as pain relievers, sat up straight to prove that he was moral, alert, and ready for any problem that might come up. His secretary sniffed to indicate that she didn't believe him. Dr. Brinton dropped his eyes to admit that maybe he wasn't at his best at the moment, but it was only a temporary condition, and by tomorrow he would be okay.

"In two minutes you'll wish you were dead," said his secretary. "Read this."

She handed him a letter. He read it and his knuckles cracked as he gripped the arms of his chair.

"Senator MacNeill coming to visit here ?" he cried in alarm. Though his voice was squeaky, he was surprised to hear it at all. "Get me a line to Washington, our top priority, Audrey at the Naval Department."

The call was put through.

"Commander Audrey? This is Brinton at the Station. Joe MacNeill is coming to visit us. Can you head him off?...

"Yes, I know, but he's on one of his economy drives. We just did a test yesterday and if he inspects this place now, we won't get enough money to build a pinball machine. Delay him a week, anyway....

"Well, try. I'll arrange a tour for him as best I can, but if he doesn't come, I'll be much happier. Let me know as soon as possible. Fine. Good by."

He scribbled a memo and carried it out to his secretary. "Copy of this to all department heads, right away... Continue reading book >>




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