Raymond sought out Javier, his third shift, electrical lead. Javier was a Master Electrician and had proven eager to make a few dollars on side jobs.
“Javier. I have a little problem. Do you know anybody who installs security systems?” Raymond asked.
“Whatchya got, boss? It helps if I have a little bit more information. Are we talking a warehouse, the trailers, your house?” Javier asked.
“I know this young lady who lives with her mother. The young lady has reason to believe that crime rates are going through the roof all over the city. And she doesn’t live in a great part of town.” Raymond said.
“None of us do, boss.” Javier said. “Say, this wouldn’t be the young lady you have been seeing lately, would it?”
“Why would that matter?” Raymond asked. He really did not want his workers to get involved in his life. He belatedly figured out that he had invited Javier’s involvement as soon as he asked for advice, albeit on home security rather than romance.
“Well, you gotta know I did not care for you very much when you first came here. I would not have pissed on you if you were on fire. But lately, well, you have almost been a human being. We all figured it was because you got a lady friend.” Javier said.
“I have kind of warmed up to you but I would still charge full retail and you would have to wait in line until I got to you. But her...I am gonna take care of her.” Javier said.
Raymond was not sure if Javier was kidding him or not. Some people you just cannot tell. But Raymond trusted Javier and gave Jave Margie’s phone number and address.
The next morning Raymond asked when Javier would be able to get to the job.
“Its already installed boss. I was going to tell you about it.” Javier said.
“The one thing you gotta know is that you better be ducking your head when you walk through the beaded curtain in the hallway.” Javier said.
“What beaded curtain?” Raymond asked.
Javier cocked an eyebrow. “I am guessing you have never been to their apartment.” Javier said.
Raymond shrugged. “Margie never invited me.”
“That is probably because her mom is a crazy cat lady. The whole place looks like a gypsy wagon with beaded curtains, hookas, candles and crystals.” Jave said.
“Cats?” Raymond said with a grimace. Raymond did not like cats, no not at all.
“Yeah, lots of them.” Javier shared with a wicked grin.
Tearing his mind from the horrible possibility that his new girlfriend was on her way to being a crazy cat lady, Raymond asked, “What did you do?”
“I electrified the bead curtains.” Javier said. “I had never been in an apartment with bead curtains before but the idea was a no-brainer.”
Seeing Raymond’s look of non-comprehension Javier elaborated. “Your girlfriend’s mother put a bead curtain in the hallway so they did not have to look at the door. I added a second, shorter bead curtain about six inches farther away from the door and then added some more ‘strings’ to the original curtain.”
“Then I hooked up an electric fence charger to the two curtains. The long bead curtain to ground and the shorter one to "hot".If an intruder closes the circuit between the two curtains then a sensor triggers an SCR that dumps a charged capacitor and the intruder gets a surprise.” Javier said.
“Wait, won’t that whack Margie?” Raymond said, alarmed.
“Nope. Your girlfriend is short and her mother is even shorter. They will walk right under the second curtain and never trigger. Besides, I put a photo-cell into the system so it is not hot when it is daylight or the lights are on.” Javier said. “But you, my friend, better call ahead and have them turn on the lights or the system will knock you on your ass.”
“What do I owe you?” Raymond asked.
Javier quoted a price that was almost trivial.
“No, no. That is not enough.” Raymond said. He did not want to be owing favors.
“Trust me. I am making money on this deal. Nearly all the materials were salvage. My sister-in-law is married to a Basque sheepherder and he donated the electric fence charger. The capacitor was shot so I used a couple of 0.9 micro-farad capacitors salvaged from microwave ovens. The only items I spent money on was some copper wire, a photo-cell and a bunch of metal starfish beads.” Javier said.
“So just how powerful is this system?” Raymond asked.
“Well, the original charger was rated for fifty miles of electric fence and still have enough juice to fry the ears off of a coyote or knock a love-sick bull on his ass. That was before I doubled the capacitors.” Javier said.
“It won’t kill an intruder, will it?” Raymond asked.
“Probably not. I mean, it might if he has a heart condition. After all, he is likely to part the long curtain with his hands and contact the short curtain with his forehead. High voltage usually travels along the skin and it shouldn’t stop his heart.”
“But it will stop him, right?” Raymond asked.
Javier grinned wolfishly. “Seven Joules at 4000 volts will lay him out like a ball-peen hammer to the head. He won’t be able to move for an hour. Probably won’t remember anything for a couple of days. His biggest problem is hitting his head when he falls.”