Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Shrewd King 4.3: Chernvosky and Janelle take a walk

The upside of being on the Quick Reaction team was that Chernovsky could court Janelle. He was surprised to learn that Janelle did not have much spare time and that he had to wait for her.

He was also surprised to learn that she was the mastermind behind ‘Berfa’ the punt gun that delivered five pounds of nuts and bolts into a swath of carnage twenty feet across at a hundred yards. Berfa had been a game-changer during encounters where Chernovsky’s fighters were outnumbered five-to-one. 

A single pull on Berfa's lanyard launched 240 steel projectiles, any one of which could easily shatter a man's thigh-bone at a hundred yards. Nothing takes the starch out of twenty fighters quicker than seeing fifteen of their comrades ripped a sunder with a single bellow of a cannon.

Both Janelle and Chernovsky felt the physical attraction but Janelle was unimpressed by Chernovsky’s courtship techniques. Chernovsky made the tactical mistake of suggesting it would be "convenient" if he moved in with her the second time they met.

Chernovsky had been a star football player in high school and college. He never had to work to get female companionship. That was about to change.

Perhaps “star” is too strong of a word, but he was a prize and there had been plenty of high school girls, and later college coeds, who wanted to be able to document their desirability on social media that they had ‘made it’ with a starter on the football team.

Obviously, there were points in Chernovsky’s favor. He was physically magnificent and he had proven plenty smart enough and flexible enough and honest enough to make radical adjustments when his tactics proved inadequate under fire.

When Chernovsky brashly suggested that they cohabitate, Janelle suggested they go on a walk. In the middle of the day. With all of their clothes on. For lack of a more clever response, Chernovsky reluctantly agreed.

Chernovsky was having his doubts as they started their ten-in-the-morning promenade. He had about decided that she was a bull-dyke and she was jerking him around.

Instead, Janelle explained the facts of life to him. “I looked around. Birth-control on demand is a thing of the past, just like $3 a gallon gasoline and unlimited electricity.

“I am sure you can find a girl who will haul-your-ashes if that is all you need” Janelle said. Yes, she used that old-fashioned term. “That would not be me.”

"Like I said, I am sure you can find a girl to 'do the dirty' with you, but you might want to consider that penicillin and Z-packs are also history. The girl who will do-the-dirty with you is likely doing the same with a bunch of other, desperate men." Janelle continued.

"If you decide to go that route, don't come knocking on my door. Ever. I will know. I work at the only bar in town. People talk. I listen." Janelle said.

"Can't you feel the attraction?" Chernovsky managed to choke out. He was not used to "No." although he was thoroughly versed in the concept.

Janelle glanced sideways at him. The two feet of air shimmered with pheromones. "Of course I can feel it. Doesn't mean I am going to be stupid, though."

The conversation continued with fits and starts. The topics turned bland when they passed other courting couples and turned tense when they had privacy.

"I was a bastard." Janelle told Chernovsky. It was a plain statement of fact.

"Bastard is an ugly word." Chernovsky said. Many of his team-mates had come from single parent families.

"Not having a dad who will claim you is an ugly thing." Janelle said, bitterly. "Not having an adult man defend you when your mom's boyfriend decides it is funny to burn you with his cigarette or pokes you with used needles is an ugly thing, too."

"I won't do that to any of my kids, especially after Ebola." Janelle said.

"I see how hard it is for families with two parents have to work to keep their family together. I can only imagine how hard it is for a single mom, now. And I have no intention of ever finding out." Janelle said.

Chernovsky groaned. This was not going the way he expected it to. However, as a man who got straight to the point he did appreciate that she wasn't making him play guessing games.

"I could move in with you and we could sleep in separate beds." Chernovsky suggested. He really did need a place to live.

"How long do you think that would last?" Janelle dismissed the idea out-of-hand.

A quick glance at Chernovsky suggested that Chernovsky may have already calculated those odds.

"So a relationship is out of the question?" Chernovsky half asked, half stated.

"I never said that." Janelle said.

"I am not adverse to having a relationship. I am not even adverse to exploring the physical side of man-woman relationships but it is going to come with conditions." Janelle said.

"Like?" Chernovsky helping her along.

"Exclusivity. If we are dating you can't be chasing other skirts." Janelle said.

"I need to know if our relationship is going somewhere." Janelle said. "I won't settle for being put on hold. I won't be your Tuesday-Thursday girl when the boys aren't bowling girl."

"Finally, if we get to where we do something physical, it can't be anything that will make a baby until after the wedding." Janelle said.

“Things happen. You could die. It is a risk of the business you are in.” Janelle said. “Knowing who your father is will count for a lot in this world."

Chernovsky resigned himself to a long dry spell. Janelle was right. He could have found a convenient booty call but there was something about Janelle that screamed to his DNA. She was the one.

Chernovsky did what he always did when he found himself way over his head. He found an expert; Janelle's mother, Kate.

He leveled with her. No point in asking for advice if you leave out important facts.

Kate winced when he mentioned that he suggested cohabitating.

Kate's advice was radical, at least from Chernovsky's perspective. "You need to show less initiative. You come from a get-it-done environment and you need to slow down. You might suggest three different dates and let Janelle decide which one to go on."

"Another thing you have to keep in mind" Kate said "is that courtship is not combat. Courtship is exploring. It is testing to see if somebody can be trusted. The only way to do that is to be a little bit vulnerable, to share something that could hurt if the information was mis-used. Then, wait a little bit to see if the person was worthy of trust before sharing a larger vulnerability."

"Finally, if you really do need a place to stay, let me know. I am sure we can find something better than a tent." Kate said.

For their next date, Chernovsky suggested they could go for another walk or they could hang a swing in a tree by Kate's store or maybe she could show him the shop where she had designed and built Berfa. 

She was more than happy to show him Kelly's shop.



  1. Communication and vulnerability... Foreign objects to people like him!

  2. Okay, I'm the nerd. Did you ever mention how Berfa was loaded, primed, and fired?

    1. I had that all planned out but thought it would bore most readers.

      *Breach loaded.
      *Single cartridge.
      *A simple can holding the five pounds of 3/8" diameter by 1/2" long bits of rebar.
      *A cardboard "pringles can" holding the payload can and keeping the propellant in its proper place.
      *A few layers of wax paper
      *A twenty pound chunk of concrete, cast in place

      The cartridge, which is quite long, is inserted into the breach

      A paint stir stick is placed over the rear of the cartridge in Katy-bar-the-door fashion to prevent it from sliding back out when the muzzle is elevated.

      There is 0.45" a hole and nipple in the barrel of the gun that is cunningly aligned with the location of the powder charge.

      The loader rams a trocar down the nipple to pierce the pringles can.

      Then the loader places a .44 Magnum shell primed with a Federal #215 primer into the nipple.

      Upon ignition, the powder charge combusts and creates pressure on the rear face of the can holding the bits of rebar and equal-and-opposite force on the slug of concrete.

      Conservation of momentum suggests that the shot charge traveling forward at 1000 fps will be matched by the chunk of concrete traveling aft at 250 fps.

      The kinetic energy of the shot will be 0.5*5lbm*1000fps^2 vs the kinetic energy of the concrete 0.5*20*250^2. It is a good idea to not be standing behind Berfa when she belches.

      The mass of the cartridges, though large, is compensated by the fact that Berfa can be wheeled around and fired on a carriage made of bicycle wheels.

      Thanks for asking. I have been wanting to get that off my chest.

  3. Thanks. I'm processing this one . . . so, no recoil since recoil is the ejected mass, but with the downside that it's horribly dangerous on the rear.

    Nearly the best possible weapon if you're surrounded!!!

    Trajectory won't be very flat, so range will be limited. But it's not a scalpel, it's a hammer.

    Cool. Thanks!


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