Robotic goats and a storm

Sign painter Hiram Smith got along well enough with his neighbor John Ling, an eccentric inventor, but Smith always thought the tinkerer’s creations were a bit silly. His latest invention seemed particularly absurd: robotic goats — and not full grown ones, either — juveniles.

John told Hiram, “There’s a huge market for these guys: petting zoos. They never grow up so they’re always cute!”

“Sure,” said Hiram, “But you’ve made them out of steel. Each one weighs a ton. And, okay, they’re friendly, but they’re not all that cuddly. Well, good luck anyway — I need to get out to Route 5 and do a job for the local theatre group. They’re doing ‘Julius Caesar’ and I’m to paint a sign advertising this, including its most famous line.”

“I dunno, Hiram. Look at those clouds — big storm’s a-comin’…” warned John.

“Yeah, and I’m here wasting time giving you oddly specific information,” replied Hiram. “I need to head out there now!” So off he went.

Sure enough, a twister came up just as Hiram had finished the sign. The wind tore panel after panel away. Whoosh! There went the name of the play! More creaking and screaming wind — and the panel with the dates was ripped off and flew away! All the while Hiram clung for dear life to the framework of the billboard.

John Ling saw the storm was bad and knew what he had to do. He sent his barnyard robots out to the billboard where they leapt up to protectively surround Hiram, just as the wind gained even more strength — shearing off the first two words of the quote. The terrified man was now nothing but grateful for John’s bizarre inventions and hunkered down, riding out the storm between the legs of the heavy, immovable, robotic baby goats.

When the storm finally abated, nothing remained on the billboard’s platform but the mechanical livestock, a single panel reading ‘Brute’ and a very humbled sign painter, shaken to his core, who realized one thing:

Hi would have got torn away with ‘Et Tu,’ if it weren’t for those metal Ling kids.


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