Sammy Dinks’ Junk Dump was where Henry Toaster was born. It was an unlikely place for a boy of any kind to be born, and it may never happen again, but it happened once.
Sammy’s was known far and near as the place where people could bring and leave their old broken stuff. Toasters, clocks, mowers, lamps, computers, motors and tires, cushions and shoes, TVs, even bathtubs and toilet bowls, if junky, ended up at Sammy Dinks. At night, Sammy drove his 39-year-old station wagon around collecting other junk that people put out.
Sammy took the old things apart in his workshop, removing the motors and wires, glass and batteries. He cut up the flat metal parts too. With his tools — hammer, pliers, screw driver, and blow torch — Sammy reconnected wires to motors, and built electric toys for the kids of Willietown, where he lived.
With nipper pliers and nibblers, he’d cut and bend metal from toasters and ovens, and make funny shaped bodies to fit the mechanical dolls he made. The kids called them robots because when each mechanical toy was wound up, it moved its arms and legs and blinked its eyes like a robot — slow, stiff, and always the same way.
One night while Sammy was away looking for what he called “good junk,” a thunderstorm circled over his junk dump. Lightening crackled and it started raining. Thunder cracked, and a strong wind blew open the door to his workshop.
The wind blew rain into the shop and soaked the pieces for two little robots Sammy was building. The pieces for his two little creations, one with pants, one with a dress, measured the size of loaves of bread. They lay unassembled when a lightning bolt hit the workshop and sent mighty electrical energy into the puddle of water accumulated around the robot parts.
Buzzing, hissing, crackling, bright red green and white sparks lit up Sammy’s worktable. Hundreds of little robot pieces shot into the air. They glowed orange when they melted together. Bolts, wires, and computer chips danced in sync from the electrical shock, and coming together, formed two different clumps.
When the second lightning bolt struck the workshop, it zipped through the cover of a toaster and a zinc toilet top, cut them into shapes with arms, legs and fingers, and tore the stuffing out of a pillow that looked like fluffy hair.
The third and final bolt to hit the shop that night glued battery liquids and computer parts together and these popped right into the new creations. Then the most amazing thing happened. When the cuckoo clock on the workshop wall struck midnight, the boy-like robot now standing on the table opened its eyes.
After the buzzing and sparks stopped, and the rain slowed to a drizzle, the boy’s big round eyes blinked as if they itched. Then he yawned and burped. Across his chest under a pair of rubber band suspenders over a handkerchief-made shirt was the label from the toaster that the lightning bolt cut to make his body, Henry Toasters.
Henry’s eyes scanned the shop. On the table, he saw a little figure that looked like him, yet different. It had lots of long silky hair but no hair on its face, and instead of overalls covering its body, a white skirt made from a paper lampshade reached to its tiny knees. Henry’s eyes moistened, he couldn’t swallow, and there was like a butterfly flying around from his own knees to his belly and through his breast.
Henry’s coaxial cable fingers reached out to the little resting thing’s Greek motif top, gently pulled back the torn flap that read, Caution: Contents May be Extremely Hot, and behind it saw a bolt missing from a row of several. Henry undid the side button of his overalls, and with a tug, pulled out one of his own bolts.
He inserted the bolt into the little body’s side, pushed back the caution tab, saw the eyelids in its head slide up, and he smiled. His hesitant hand extended, the other little one took it, and its legs shaking, it stood, and when she smiled at him, the butterfly in his chest darted, an intoxicating motor oil smell twirled through his head, screws quaked, flanges rattled, and all pain in his side melted.
As the thunderstorm receded, a big bucket of bolts in the sky observed its tinkering, beheld it was good, and slowly pronounced, “If this one doesn’t turn out better than the one from dust, it’s Craigslist for this whole high maintenance planet.”
And that is how Henry Toaster was born.
Luis de Agustin, a West Windsor resident, writes on investment for an economics research boutique, as well as other fiction. Everything on him but his clean laundry hangs at about.me/LuisdeAgustin.