The red-headed secretary asked, “Names, please?”
“To see H. Joshua Blair. We have an appointment.”
“It’s for three-thirty. We called up two weeks ago.”
The secretary said, “Oh, yes. I have you on the list.” She checked them off, studied them vaguely, asked, “What was it you wanted to see Mr. Blair about?”
Ted Baker held out the small steel box he was carrying. “About this.”
“Ah--what is it?”
“It’s a box.”
“I can see that,” the redhead snapped. “What is it for? What does it do?”
“It’s for construction work. It makes holes.”
The girl sighed. It was late in the day and she didn’t care much, really. She snapped an intercom button. An inquiring voice rasped at her. She said, “A Mr. Baker and a Mr. Stephens to see you.”
Evidently it was all right because she snapped off the button and pointed to a door. “In there.”
They went in the door and faced a desk large enough to play tennis on. The man behind the desk gave them a cordial snarl. “Well, what have you got on your mind? And don’t take all day to tell me.”
Ted extended the box. “This. We’d like to sell it to you.”
“What is it? A bomb?”
“No, sir. It makes holes. It makes holes real quick.”
Blair scowled at the box. “What the hell do I want of holes?”
Bill Stephens came forward with further explanation. “You see, sir, Ted and I are inventors. We make, well--things. We’ve been working on this invention in our basement and it seems to be a success.”
“We don’t quite know why it’s a success,” Ted said, “but it is.”
“We’d like to demonstrate it for you.”
“Well, go ahead and demonstrate.”
Ted raised the box and aimed it horizontally at nothing in particular. He pressed a black button. There was an odd whirring noise. He took his hand off the button and lowered the box.
“What are you waiting for?” Blair growled.
“Nothing. That’s it. I’ve made the hole.”
“Are you two crazy? What kind of a fool trick--?”
Ted reached down and took a pencil off the desk. “May I borrow this?” Without waiting for permission, he put the pencil carefully into the place he’d pointed the box. Half the pencil disappeared. He took his hand away. The part of the pencil still in sight didn’t come with it. It stayed where it was, lying in thin air, horizontally, with no apparent support.
H. Joshua Blair goggled and turned three shades whiter. “Wha-wha-what the hell!”
“And now, if you’ll try to move the pencil, the demonstration will be complete.”
Like a man in a trance, Blair got up from his desk and grasped the pencil. It wouldn’t move. He got red in the face and threw all his weight on it. It would neither pull nor push. It stayed where it was. Finally Blair backed away from the thing. He leaned on his desk and panted.
“You see,” Ted said, “The hole goes into the fourth dimension. There’s no other explanation. And the fourth dimension holds solider than concrete.”
Old Blair’s head was spinning, but business instinct came quickly to his rescue. “What happens,” he asked, “if something in the third dimension is in the way?”
“It gets out of the way,” Bill said.
Ted demonstrated. He trained the box on the visible remains of the pencil. It vanished.
Blair said, “Well, I’ll be damned!”
“We figure this will save you a lot of money in construction work,” Bill said. “You can get along without riveters. You just have a man put holes in girders with this and push the rivets through. You also make holes for the beam-ends, and your entire building will be anchored in the fourth dimension.”
“Do it again,” Blair said.
Ted made another hole and put another pencil into it. Blair grasped the pencil and applied leverage. The pencil snapped at the point it entered the next dimension but the broken end of the far piece was not to be seen.
Blair asked, “You say you two invented this gadget?”
“That’s right,” Bill said. “We’ve got a workshop in my basement. We invent in the evenings after we come home from work.”
“What do you work at?”
“I read gas meters. He’s a clerk in a supermarket.”
“I suppose you want money for this thing.”
“We’d like to sell it, yes, sir.”
“How much do you want for it?”
“Well, we don’t know. What’s it worth to you?”
“Nothing probably. Leave it here a few days. I’ll look it over and let you know.”
“And don’t call me--I’ll call you.”
“Leave your address and phone number with my secretary.”
After Ted and Bill left, Blair yelled, “Get me Jake Steadman in the engineering department!” He didn’t bother using the intercom, but his secretary heard him anyhow.
Ted and Bill went to work on an idea they had for the treatment of leather. You dipped your shoes in a solution and they lasted forever. The thing didn’t work too well, however. It was full of bugs. They tried to eliminate the bugs and once in a while they thought of H. Joshua Blair.
“Don’t you think it’s about time he called us?” Ted asked.
“Don’t be so impatient. He’s a big man. He owns a big company. It takes time.”
“He’s had over a month.”
“Relax. We’ll hear from him.”
Another week passed, and another, until one evening Ted came galloping into the workshop with news. “That big new addition to the City Hall! They’re working on it! H. Joshua Blair Construction Company. A big sign says so!”
“Relax. You’ll blow a tube.”
“Relax hell! He’s using our invention to put up the steel girders. Just like we suggested to him. Guys with boxes like ours making holes and putting in rivets!”
Bill stopped what he was doing. “He said he’d call us. Maybe he forgot. Maybe we better go see him.”
They both knocked off work the next day and got to Blair’s office at nine o’clock. The red-headed secretary said, “You’ll have to make an appointment.”
“Appointment hell!” Ted headed for the inner door. Bill followed him. They went into H. Joshua Blair’s office to find him in conference with two vice-presidents. Ted said, “Mr. Blair, we came--”
“Who in the devil are you?”
“You remember us. Ted Baker and Bill Stephens. We came about our invention.”
“Our hole maker. You’re using it on the City Hall addition.”
Blair glowered. “Where’d you get the idea it was yours? Have you got any patents to show?”
“Well, no. We didn’t--”