Papa’s workshop was a ramshackle one-story two-room shack. At daybreak, Jacob led Farley to check it out. As they approached, junk increasingly littered the road. Spools of wire, scrap metal, various electrical equipment, and miscellaneous do-dads cluttered the ground on both sides of the path.
“Your dad must have been quite the electrician.” Farley marveled.
“He never really finished. We’d make regular trips with our donkey and wagon to grab stuff from a big neighborhood a couple of miles from here. He’d grab anything he thought looked useful. Most of it ended up here.”
“You have a donkey?”
“We had one. He died right before Papa went into the water.”
Farley stopped walking and looked at Jacob, “I haven’t really wanted to press it, but you keep saying he went into the water. You mean that he drowned?”
“He just dove into the water and never came back up.”
“His body never floated to the top?”
“Nope,” Jacob looked away and started walking again, hoping to avoid the rest of this inquiry.
As they got close to the shack, Farley stopped and looked off at the cluttered field just beyond.
“Is that the solar field?” Farley asked, staring at what Jacob knew amounted to twenty-three rows of forty solar panels each, all various mismatched designs and sizes.
“Papa’s been working on it for years. It doesn’t really work. It generates electricity but he could never get a battery to store the energy he said he needed. Seemed kinda pointless to me. But he claimed it didn’t actually matter for what he had planned, so he was re-working it to not need a battery.”
“What was his ultimate plan? He ever say why he needed so much energy?”
“Nope. Just said he needed it.” Jacob responded.
“Well, he had to have something in mind kid. That’s enough power to light a million of your little cabins. You never helped?”
“He wouldn’t let me. Said it was for a big surprise.”
Farley stepped into the shed. Jacob had not touched anything since Papa had left. Most everything was covered in dust. The twenty by twenty-foot room was well lit by eight large windows, two on each wall. Unlike the technological junkyard outside, the inside of the shed was neat and organized. Small technological devices and various electronic projects lined the shelves, desk, and the large counter in the back of the room. Overhead hung a ceiling fan and lamp. Farley flipped a switch on the wall. The fan came on.
“Well there’s power coming to here from somewhere,” said Farley.
Jacob was surprised himself to see the lights come on and the fan turning. Papa worked out here at night some, but Jacob had never considered that Papa used light beyond the small portables he’d often made Jacob recharge using the bike.
Farley noticed. “You didn’t know he had power out here?”
“Papa never let me come in. It was a rule.”
“Really? Obedient little guy aren’t you? You haven’t even looked in here since he’s been gone?”
“I poked around a couple of times. I know it’s stupid, but I keep thinking he’ll come back. And I don’t want to get in trouble. Besides, the farm keeps me busy.”
Farley walked around the room examining its contents. He smiled as he examined some of Jacob’s father’s notes and various little projects. Jacob guessed Farley was smart like Papa.
After about fifteen minutes of actually sitting at father’s desk and rummaging through his notes, Farley seemed satisfied. “This is excellent. I can’t tell exactly what he was planning but his calculations are flawless. He was creating a device capable of sending a very strong charge to something very quickly. Would take one heck of a sunny day.”
Jacob followed Farley as they both stepped outside and moved to the solar field. Slowly walking through the panels Farley examined the overall setup, his excitement appearing to grow. Finally, Farley stopped walking, put his hands on his hips and turned to Jacob. “Kid, it looks like I’m going to have to finish what he started. He certainly left a lot to work with. And you’re going to help me.”
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