Carl Lydick needs lots more than our help

26 Aug 1995 09:55:40 GMT

Thought I'd let you all know about my interesting experience.

I was coming back from getting my weekly dose of taquitos in downtown
L.A. when I decided to take the 210 out from Pasadena. There was
CalTech! I dropped off the freeway and got directions to the computer

"Here to see Carl! Friend of his! Just tell him old CIACON is here to
see him," I announced, bluffing like hell to a secretary. "He does VAX
for you guys," I added. She gave me a blank look.


"Oh, yeah, we go way back," I said. I checked my shirt for stray
guacamole, wondering why she stared so oddly. She made a call.
Instead of taking me into an office, a guard came and said, "Come with

We went down an elevator for a long ride. Then some stairs; several
flights. I began to get nervous. "Where are we going?" I asked.

"You've been cleared. That's all I can say," said the guard. He looked
nervous, himself. We heard a distant pounding noise.

We came to a steel door. "I don't feed him. This is as far as I go,"
said the guard. The pounding was louder. We gave each other a look.

"Lend me your gun," I said. He shook his head.

"I can't. It's in his contract. No visitors with guns and no second
visits." He ran back upstairs, taking them three at a time.

I slowly opened the door, and saw a computer room littered with busted
monitors and keyboards. A large man, wearing a straightjacket, was
kicking a computer cabinet. A spool of tape unreeled itself as he

"Stupid bastard! Dumbass! AAARRRGH!"

"Carl?" I said, timidly. He spun around, glaring at me with reddened

"And who the fuck are you? Another psychiatrist? Another dummy?"
Spittle dripped from his chin. His nose was bleeding. His eyes were
like brake lights.

"I read your stuff on the Net," I said, stunned at his appearance. It
was the first thing I could think of. Then, attempting to placate this
monster, I said, "Heh heh, you called me stupid once, about..."

"ROOSEN! YOU STUPID, DUMB...ARRGH!" he screamed, and staggered toward
me, teeth gnashing.

"Gravity! It was about gravity," I gibbered, scared shitless. He

"You're not Roosen?" he said. "No," I answered.

He ran to phone that was off the hook on a desk and began screaming
into it. "I want Roosen now! He stole my telescope! He's DUMB! I
know VAX! I know VMS! READ MY CONTRACT!" I noticed belatedly that
the phone cord had been yanked from the wall.

"Listen, Carl, I came to ask you something," I said. "You aren't a
Turing machine or a program, obviously. What do you do all day?"

He quoted from his sig. We know it by heart, so I won't repeat it

"And I work on rebuilding my VAX! I'm almost done! I only need a few
more parts! See?" He looked around, proudly, at the total chaos in the
room. "I ordered the parts, and they sent them, and I was almost
finished, and then...well, the RAM chips...well..." and then his look
became terribly sad. I felt real sympathy for this monster.

"What happened to the RAM chips, Carl?"

"I, I, ate 'em," he cried, and stricken with the enormity
of his crime, burst into tears.

"Jesus," I muttered under my breath.

He brightened. "Let's flame some stupid moron," he said suddenly.
"You're dumb, you'll like this!" He scampered like a kid to a darkened
corner of the room, where a brand new Pentium machine with a 21'
monitor sat. Flawless, save for the blood-covered keyboard. I soon
saw why. With his hands bound by the straightjacket, he typed out his
messages with his nose.

"Here's one, guy says VAX is outmoded. I'll type YOU STUPID MORON,"
and he carefully and softly typed this out, until he saw the author.
"Roosen. ROOSEN! THAT IDIOT!" He began banging away, harder and
harder, hurling his face at the keyboard until he looked like Woody
Woodpecker on amphetamines. "SNOOPIT BNASTARD! I'LL TELL YOU ABOUT..."

I carefully backed away, and out of the room, quietly shutting the door
behind me. I didn't stop to check the lock. A gazelle could not have
caught me as I went up the stairs.

As I passed the office on the way out, I had to stop and talk to the
secretary. "How long has he been down there like that?" I asked.

She thought it over. "Hmmmm...since lunch," she said.

"What! You mean, he's not a prisoner?" I gasped. "He's wearing a
straightjacket! There's an armed guard!"

"Oh no," she said, "he's got a contract that goes until 2010 for the
VAX, but we don't use that stupid old thing anymore. He just orders
spare parts and writes software nobody uses. He just likes the
straightjacket, I guess, cause he wears it every day - but he's always
on time!" She gave me a bright smile.

"But what about the guard? Why the guard?" I had to know.

"Well, you said he's your friend. Don't you know how many people want
to kill him?" she asked. I thought it over.

"No," I admitted, "I really don't. He subscribes to more newsgroups
than I do."

(With apologies to T.H. White)

Wayne Johnson

"Many's the slip 'twixt puddle and hip"