Con Permiso

Woodruff and Bob knelt over a long piece of paper, stretched out on a hot sidewalk.  A towering building rose up beyond a large grass-covered campus.  Bob grimaced thoughtfully, while Woodruff peered down at the drawings like an art critic.

“Okay, we have to stop with the revisions,” Woodruff said.  “This is it.”

“You think it’s ready?” Bob said.

“Totally ready.  Although I still say we don’t need the back patio cover.”

“Yeah, because I’m totally going to sit out on an uncovered patio.”

“That’s my point.  I don’t think you’re going to sit out on a covered or uncovered patio.”

“Just you wait.  I’m going to sit the heck out of that patio.”

“That’s not a thing.”

“You’re not a thing.”

Bob rolled up the paper, like a scroll, and tucked it under his arm as he stood up.  Woodruff led the way up the wide walkway toward the front door of the towering building.  The reflection of the sun off the tall front windows blinded Bob and he raised the roll of paper to cover his eyes.

“That’s one thing I won’t miss,” Bob said.

“The glare from the sun?” Woodruff asked.

“Yep.  Good riddance.”

“Hear, hear.”

“No.  There, there.”

Bob squinted his eyes as he pointed to the sky.  Woodruff pulled open the front door and they entered an expansive lobby.  An oval desk sat at the far end, beneath a mosaic portrait of a rocket ship.

“How can I help you?” the perky brunette receptionist asked.  Her white toothy smile was so bright that Woodruff and Bob could not help but smile back.

“Yes, hi,” Woodruff said.  “We’re here to get these plans approved.”


“That’s right,” Bob replied.  “Which floor is planning and development on?”

“Uh, Research and Development is on level 4,” the receptionist replied with a furrowed brow.

“That’ll work.  Thank you, my lady.”

Woodruff and Bob marched toward the elevators to the left of the reception desk.  Bob adjusted the roll of paper under his arm and Woodruff pressed the silver button with a red light at the center.

“She seemed nice.”

“She sure did.”

After a ding, the elevator doors slid open and they entered the square compartment.  Woodruff pressed the button under the number four and Bob wedged himself in the back corner.

“What are you doing?”

“If the elevator plunges to the ground I want to brace myself.”

“The elevator is not going to plunge to the ground.”

“I’m sure that’s exactly what everyone who dies in an elevator thinks, right before it plunges to the ground.”

“How is standing in the corner going to help you anyway?”

“Having two walls to absorb the impact,” Bob said.  “Plus, statistically speaking the southeast corner of the elevator is the safest.”

“First off, that is idiotic,” Woodruff said.  “And second, that is the northeast corner.”

“Northeast is the second most safest.”

With another ding, the elevator doors slid open to reveal several rows of chest high cubicles.  Woodruff shook his head and held the door for Bob to enter the office space.  A man wearing a tie and a short-sleeved white shirt walked by, carrying a stack of papers.

“Excuse me,” Woodruff said, as he stepped out of the elevator to join Bob.  “We’re looking for someone to approve these plans.”

“Approve plans?” the man asked.  He shifted the papers in his hands and scrunched his nose underneath the weight of his horn-rimmed glasses.

“Yeah, we need a permit,” Bob said.  “You know, before we start construction.”

“A permit?” the man placed his stack of papers on a nearby desk and adjusted his black tie.

“Yeah, we’re just looking for a standard building permit.”

“Nothing fancy.”

“But this is NASA,” the man in the short-sleeved white shirt said.

“Right, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, we know.”

“Everything is up to code,” Bob said.  He unrolled their plan on top of the man’s stack of papers.  “We just need your okay.”

“Is that drawn in crayon?”

“Yep, hot blue magenta.  Bob made it himself.”

“The crayon?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What exactly am I looking at?” the man asked.

“These are blue prints, or hot blue magenta prints, for a summer home,” Woodruff replied.

“And why did you bring these to NASA?”

“Oh right,” Bob said.  He struck his own forehead with the palm of his hand.  “My bad.  We’re going to build it on Mars.”

“You’re going to build a summer home on Mars?”

“That’s right.”

“We were in Arizona last summer and it was so hot we just wanted to die.”

“Instead, we decided to build a summer home away from the heat.  After a quick Google search we found that the median temperatures on Mars beats anything Earth has to offer.”

“After that we audited a couple of Astronautical Engineering courses.  You know, to learn how to build a space habitat.  And then we designed a comfy summer home for the red planet.”

“I can’t give you a permit to build on Mars.”

“Well not with that attitude,” Woodruff said.

“How are you even going to get to Mars?”

“We’ve got that covered.  Woodruff has been lighting off rockets since he was eight.”

“I was in the Cub Scouts.  With Bob’s crayon experience, we just fashioned a giant molding and we’ll fill it with go-go juice.”

“You made a giant crayon molding and filled it with fuel to launch you to Mars?” the man asked and pressure his glasses back up against his face.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Bob said.  “But we’re going to test it first.  As soon as Zubu passes his pilots exam.”


“A friend of ours,” Woodruff replied.

“He’s a chimpanzee,” Bob said.  “Not to be specist.”

“We figured if they are good enough for NASA, they are good enough for us.”

“Let me get this straight,” the man in the short-sleeved white shirt said.  “Your plan is to fly into space in a Crayola shaped rocket, piloted by a chimpanzee named Zubu, and build a summer home on Mars?”

“That’s about the size of it.”

“Did you bring the designs for this death trap?”

Bob pulled a wad of toilet paper from his back pocket and unfurled it.  An image of a red crayon was drawn across the squares.   He held it proudly in front of the man with the short-sleeved shirt.

“It’s to scale,” Woodruff said.  “Each square represents a six foot section.  The crown is the cockpit.”

“What’s the diameter?”

“Nine feet.”

On his wrist watch the man keyed in a series of numbers and peered at them through his horn-rimmed glasses.  He made a face, like the one Bob made when he smelled Kenny’s belly button.

“Even if you filled the fuselage to the top you wouldn’t have enough fuel to reach Mars.”

“The fuel just has to get us out of the atmosphere,” Bob said.  “Our FCE will get us the rest of the way.”


“It’s a proprietary propulsion system,” Woodruff said.  “It runs off an organically fed, renewable source of energy.”

“What’s the source?”

“The makeup is 59 percent nitrogen, 21 percent hydrogen, 9 percent carbon dioxide, 7 percent methane and 4 percent oxygen,” Bob said.

The man tilted his head sideways and turned his eyes to the ceiling, while he processed the mixture.  His mouth fell open and he turned his gaze back on Woodruff and Bob.

“Are you telling me this thing runs on farts?”

“That’s right,” Woodruff proudly proclaimed.  “Our bodies will operate as zero waste facilities, turning beans into fuel for our Fart Combustion Engine.”

Woodruff and Bob high-fived each other and a low loud hum reverberated from Bob’s backside.

“Excuse me,” Bob said.  “That was wasteful.”

The man in the short-sleeved white shirt stared at them for a long moment, behind his horn-rimmed glasses.

“Well this I’ve got to see,” the man finally said.  He pulled a pen from his shirt pocket and signed their plan.  “Approved!  Let me know how that turns out.”

“Thank you, we will.”

Bob collected their plans and Woodruff pressed the button for the elevator.  The doors opened with a ding and they entered the compartment, leaving the man in the white short-sleeved shirt alone.

“He seemed nice.”

“He sure did.”

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The Land of Look Behind and The Unsaid are published by Cedar Fort, Inc.

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