Clive grew tired of the clash of egos between the owner, Mr. Rhodes, and the wizard, Garbol. All he cared about was getting the factory back on track—the fulfillment of Garbol’s contract to ‘rid the assembly plant of any and all pests, including gremlins, that are deleterious to the well-being and profitability of the company.’
Garbol strode into the factory and walked down the main line. About a third of the way down he stopped.
He held his cue stick high, his open hand forward. “Boz!” he roared.
The hood of a car popped open, the radiator cap popped off, and the gremlin from yesterday shot out with a geyser of water, landed on the floor, scurried up to Garbol and hopped on a bench in front of him. The creature shook like a cat drenched in ice water and squeaked. “Boz.”
Garbol put the cue under its chin. “Hello, Boz.”
“Boz.” The gremlin wrapped its arms around itself.
“You know I will eventually get all of you, so you might as well tell me where all your friends are.”
“Havana,” Boz squeaked.
Garbol smiled. “That’s cute.”
Boz gave him a sheepish smile.
“But you know that’s not what I mean.” Garbol pulled back the cue and squatted in front of Boz. “Tell me where they’re hiding.”
“No, no,” said Boz, shaking his head.
“Tell me.” Garbol kept his voice soft. Kind even.
“You’re an admirably loyal soul, Boz. But I’m going to systematically go up and down this factory, clearing every space until all of them are cornered.” The wizard pointed his cue stick up and down the factory floor. He stopped at a three-compartment recycling bin. “Clive, do me a favor and put that bin behind us here. It’s disrupting my rhythms.”
Clive hurried over and pushed the bin next to some fire extinguishers and emergency equipment.
“Boz,” said Garbol. “Trapping your friends will cause them a lot of stress and fright.” Garbol circled the cue around Boz’s face, and the gremlin followed it with his eyes. Again he pointed it back and forth along the factory floor. “First they will panic and run toward the back. Then as I come closer… and closer… and closer… they will scramble around trying to avoid me, upset and afraid. In the end, they will feel like they are going to die just before I stuff them into a bag where they will be even more confused and afraid.”
The gremlin trembled violently, frowned, and let out a tear.
“Tell me where they are, Boz.”
“Oh, this is just great,” said Rhodes. “Are you a fraud? You can’t even get this beast to give up his comrades. If I knew that was what you were going to do, I would have sent you away. Maybe you should go home and let a man handle this job. Clive, bring me a rope and some Jay-Z on the iPad.”
Garbol turned to Rhodes, nose-to-nose, gritting his teeth. “The job’s not finished. And a man who brings contraband parts in from Cuba should be very careful about calling others ‘fraud.’” He smiled thinly. “The trick is to give them no way of escape, because they will find it if you do. I’m giving him a chance to make it easy before I sweep through everything in front of me.”
Garbol looked back at Boz, who crossed his arms and pouted.
“I’m sorry,” said Rhodes. “But I’m sure you can understand my concern. You’re getting nowhere with it, so why are you wasting our time?”
“I never waste time,” said Garbol. “Everything I do has a purpose, and you best keep that in mind.”
“Well you don’t leave a guy with a lot of confidence, sir.”
Garbol banged his cue stick on the floor. “If you hadn’t said ‘sir’ just now, you would have barnacles for ears, Mr. Rhodes.”
Clive shook his head and looked back at the bench. “Hey. Where’d he go?”
Garbol and Rhodes turned.
“See what I mean?” said Rhodes. “You can’t even hold on to one of them. Can’t we get someone a little more competent from the guild?”
Garbol chuckled. “It’s time we remove all incompetence from this factory, Mr. Rhodes, and we are going to start with you.”
“What?” Rhodes stamped his feet. “Get lost! I’ve had enough. I’m kicking you out now, and my lawyers are going to draw up a long letter of complaint to the guild about you, along with a hefty lawsuit.”
Garbol’s eyes smoldered. “The job’s not finished. In fact, it cannot be finished until you are removed. You will promote Clive to have full control over the plant, and you will step away with zero control of operations. And you will do it today. Before I leave.”
“You can’t do this,” said Mr. Rhodes.
“I have to,” said Garbol. “You legally bound me to do so in the contract.”
“Now I now you’re crazy.”
Garbol pulled out a sheet of paper and handed it to him. “You’re not just a jackass, Mr. Rhodes. You’re a pest that is deleterious to the well-being and profitability of this plant. By the contract you signed, I am obligated to get rid of you in order to finish the job. We can do it the hard way, which will cause you much stress and fear, or we can do it the easy way, where you simply promote your good man here, and step away. Make a choice.”
Rhodes read through the contract and his face fell. “I see. This is only good if you get all the gremlins, though. You clear them all out, and Clive’s your man.”
“Done,” said Garbol. He opened the recycling bins, and a dozen or so gremlins huddled in each one. “See. You give them a way to escape and they will find it.” He shook out a garbage bag and grabbed a couple by the ears, dropping them in. Boz sat in the back of the middle container. “Don’t worry, little fella. I would never allow him to inflict Jay-Z upon you.”