The Vaporizer (Flash Fiction)

“What are ya doin’ ya old slug?” Bob growled.

Brian paused, looked at the glass, and glared back. “What?”

“Yer fuckin’ foaming the hell out of it!”

“Ah shutup,” said Brian as he finished pouring the third beer into a massive glass mug. “Every beer needs some head.”

“I need some head,” said Bob with a big smile. “Hey-o!” they said in unison and clinked their large mugs together.

Bob set his glass down on the kitchen counter, pushing a stack of mail to the side. “Bleh, so many bills, man. I gotta invent some thingy, ya know? I always wanted one of those things like in that 1984 flick. Where they burn the news? What was it called, burn hole?”

Brian, tilting his 36 ounces of beer like a sailor that’s just made landfall, paused, burped and answered. “Memory hole.”

“Yeah, yeah. Memory hole. But you can’t have nothing like that no more because of the damned EPA. They’d shut ya down. I need a vaporizer like in the space movies. I should invent a vaporizer. I’d make gagillions.”

“You could paid yer bills then,” said Brian.

“Pfft. Nah,” said Bob, and they both laughed. Bob, feeling slighted by Brian drinking so much more beer than him, began to chug on his own mug.

“But ya know,” started Brian, “even that would get regulated into the ground. EPA’d be making you have filters and bags and all kinds of crap to catch the ashes. How would you get rid of the ashes?”

Bob shrugged. “Put ’em back in the vaporizer. Just keep cycling through.”

“But what about the bags and filters and such?”

Bob shrugged again. It was all so clear to his inventive mind. “Put ’em in the vaporizer.”

“Oh no, no, no,” roared Brian. “The EPA ain’t gonna allow that kinda material as bags then. Come on. It’s gotta withstand the vaporizer, not being able to get burnt up in it.”

“I don’t care,” said Bob. “It’s my machine and by god you can put the bags right back in it and burn ’em up if you want to. The EPA can kiss my ass far as I’m concerned.”

Brian pointed his hefty glass at Bob. “EPA’s gonna get ya for it, I’m tellin’ ya.”

Catherine, after hearing the mumbling of two men growing into a low roar, came into the kitchen to investigate the commotion. “What are you two going on about?” she asked.

“Fuckin’ EPA is putting me outta business before I can even get my feet of the ground!” Bob said. He took a gulp from his sweating mug.

“That’s how it always is though,” said Brian. “The government always has to have their piece of the pie. Heaven forbid they make their own pie, oh no. They can never do anything on their own. It always has to be off the backs of brilliant minds like Bob here. The EPA is just another example of that.”

Catherine gave them looks that ping-ponged between the two. Her eyes squinted as she prepared to ask a question she wasn’t sure she wanted an answer to. “What’s the EPA doing?”

“Fuckin’ me right in my vaporizer.” Bob said. Brian gave a grunt-filled giggle and nodded in agreement.

Catherine saw the two men and the embittered faces they wore. She saw the tall mugs nearly drained with beer and threw her hands up in surrender. “I’m going over to Susanne’s” she said. “I’ll be home in a few hours. Please,” she begged, looking at both of them as though they were children prone to losing all control, “if you run out of beer, please call me. Don’t get it on your own. I can grab more on the way back.” She hurried out the door before any nay-saying could be provided.

The two men, still with disgruntled looks on their faces made eye contact then. It occurred to them both that their hypothetical situation of a nonsensical product had produced real anger, anger enough to drive the lone female from the house and leave them with several uninterrupted hours and a bounty of beer to fill them with. Simultaneously, their scowls morphed into smiles and they cheered once again.

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