For the Busy Business-Parent

Whimsical Bedtime Stories for Children of All Ages

U.S.S. Starship Treehouse
Chapter III

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After that first trip in the car with Grandma, when he was introduced to the wonderful treasures available only a mile down the road, for weeks on end Timothy had taken an old red Western Flyer wagon, the kind with wood slatted sides, and lashed it to the back of his bicycle.

Towing the wagon, Timothy had made trip after trip to the combination Antique Store & Flea Market owned by Jonathan and William McGregor.

The McGregor brothers were as different as night and day. Jonathan specialized in unusual things of exceptional beauty. His brother Williamís collection, on the other hand, ranged from the supremely useless to the incredibly interesting. It was in Williamís section that Timothy had found an entire bin of dusty flight instruments, including a perfectly good aircraft compass.

William McGregor had developed the curious habit of taping nonsensical labels to various items in his shop, identifying whatever it was as something else entirely. It made the regular customers crazy, but to Timothy, the labels made perfectly good sense. The dented window fan marked "Propulsion System" for example, and the huge old toaster oven labled "Food Synthesizer" simply confirmed his initial impression that he'd come to exactly the right place to do his shopping. Timothy pulled a small spiral notepad from his pocket. He kept track of each and every item and how much it had cost him.

Four automobile seats from a 1959 Nash Rambler, rather badly in need of upholstry, bore a dingy cardboard tag identifying the set as a "Flight Deck". They even had retro-fit seatbelts. Perfect! What was a Starship without a Flight Deck? And since they reclined, the seats could do double-duty as beds. There were plenty of old umbrellas in the McGregor's shop, some of which actually worked. At a dime apiece, Timothy could afford four. His mind was racing a mile a minute. Let's see...add four of Grandma's old sheets, open the umbrella, drape the sheet over the top, and bingo! a private sleeping compartment. Uh-huh, those would do just fine. He added Flight Deck and umbrellas to his list. Sixteen dollars and forty cents. Expensive, but definitely worth it.

Last week Timothy had discovered a sparkly plastic shower curtain with pink rings, hanging from a yellow hula-hoop. This festive structure had been identified as a "Combination Transporter Chamber/Personal Hygeine Area." The latter came complete with three items; the first being a green plastic watering can. The other two items were a red camping porta-potty and a miniature blue plastic wading pool.
The hula-hoop, plastic shower curtain and watering can contraption was capable of being suspended over the wading pool via several bits of rope attached to a screw-in ceiling hook. The space-conserving nature of the set-up made perfectly good sense, Timothy reasoned. Of course, you'd have to be careful that you didn't accidentally transport yourself someplace else right in the middle of a shower or something, but other than that, it was a pretty practical arrangement for a compact space vehicle.

A small bag of stick-on letters, the kind you use to spell out the name on the side of a boat had been taped to the side of the watering can, presumably as a purchase incentive.

In a cluttered plastic milk-crate, shoved under a table, he'd found a double string of Christmas lights, the majority of which worked. They were marked twenty-five cents. Timothy visualized taking a piece of chicken-wire, and covering all but a few strategically placed holes with a sheet of aluminum foil. He figured he'd mount the lights in the open holes. He'd snip some of the other wires to make bigger holes in which he could mount the aircraft instruments. Wow, this was great! Add these to the eight-track stereo tape player he'd found and just like that, he'd have himself a seriously impressive instrument panel. How could anybody possibly resist this bounty? He bought the whole thing, eight-track tape deck and all, for the bargain price of six dollars and fourteen cents.

Bits and pieces were added to his stockpile as needed, but day after day for the past week, Timothy had gone back at the McGregor's shop, to stare longingly at an ancient 286 Commodore computer. The cardboard tag read "Inter-Stellar Navigation System," and it was marked fifty dollars. The instructions in the little silver book said this particular model contained exactly what he needed. Timothy stood there trying desperately to figure out how to afford it. He sighed and shook his head. There just wasn't a chance.

So far, Timothy had spent a grand total of twenty-seven dollars and forty-eight cents of the birthday money he'd kept squirreled away in his sock drawer. But he was almost out of money and he knew it. He'd be surprised if he had five dollars left, even counting the four pennies in his back pocket. He sighed again and was just getting ready to turn away when William McGregor walked up with a purple crayon in his hand and scratched out the zero on the $50 price tag.

Timothy's heart began to pound. Surely it was too much to hope for. He held his breath as he looked up into William McGregor's twinkling blue eyes. "Sale," William remarked gruffly. "Place is too cluttered as it is," he muttered. "Get the fool thing out of here and I'll throw in that un-interruptable power supply over there, he said, gesturing towards a perfectly good battery-operated power source. "That piece of junk is in the way too," he grumbled.

Timothy was almost bursting with excitement as he started digging into his jeans. It was a little hard to do with his fingers crossed, but he wasn't going to take a chance. Let's see...three dollars, four dollars, the crumpled bills landed on the counter.

He was up to four seventy-five... try another pocket...dimes in this one...four eighty-five, four ninety-five, here's a penny, that's ninety-six...uh-oh... now reaching in his back pocket for the pennies... ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine...awriiight! Five whole dollars! Yessss! Yesss! Yesss! He could do it! It was his!

OK, it was a fairly marginal computer system to begin with, and the images on the screen were pretty poor and mostly greenish, but Timothy was in seventh heaven. Mr. McGregor was obviously in the mood to clean house, because along with the uninterruptable power supply, he threw in a working 14" color monitor whose only defect happened to be a thin, six inch scratch across the screen. Astounding luck. What more could anybody possibly ask for?

Timothy loaded up the wagon and peddled his treasure back to the house. On the way he considered his good fortune. He could be wrong, of course, but he suspected that he might have gotten such a good deal because the McGregor brothers thought his grandmother was a bit unusual herself.

He thought about this for a moment and decided that they might have a point there.

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