The Celestial Hammerlock

by Donald Colvin

Tags: Science Fiction, Novel-Classic,

Desc: Science Fiction Story: This bigtime space promoter could get the Horsehead Nebula in a flying mare--but pinning a planetoid is tougher!

SPACEGRAM

From: Jed Michaels,
Ryttuk, Eros
To: H. E. Horrocks,
Interplanetary Amusement Corp.,
Cosmopolis, Earth
I QUIT, YOU BALLOON BRAIN.
JED


ROCKET MAIL (Second Class)

Dear Michaels:

Your last message indicates you wish to leave the employment of the Interplanetary Amusement Corp. Under our employee policy, this is allowable, effective upon completion of your current assignment. Under precedent set as long ago as 2347 A. D. the company will even pay the cost of your message of resignation.

However, the words “you balloon brain” do not seem a necessary part of that message and will be deducted from your salary.

Furthermore, I have a few words of my own to say. You march straight into my office, Michaels, just as soon as you get back from Eros. Eros? WHAT IN HELL ARE YOU DOING ON EROS?

Horrocks


ROCKET MAIL (First Class)
Mr. H. E. Horrocks
Dear Balloon Brain:

If you paid a little more attention to your office and less to that golf course on Venus, you’d know what I am doing on Eros. I got here two days ago via Mars with a herd of six wrestlers, in accordance with your own written memorandum. We were to appear at an Auruchs club smoker.

Upon arrival, I found that no preparations had been made for us and nobody knows anything about an Auruchs club.

The people here are nuts. They talk in six syllable words and their idea of a good time is to sniff flowers and do five dimensional calculus. They have less use for wrestlers than I have for you.

Michaels


ROCKET MAIL (Second Class)

Michaels, you nitwit:

That wasn’t Eros, you idiot! You were supposed to go to Erie--Erie, Pa., right here on Earth!

If you remembered even your sixth grade Solar System history, you would know that the planetoid Eros was settled in 2141 by a group of longhairs headed by Prof. M. R. Snock, a philosopher with a dozen university degrees.

He wanted to show that war, crime and all forms of violence would disappear if people thought only beautiful thoughts.

The planetoid is lousy rich with erydnium ore and the people keep in luxury selling it to space freighters. They spend their time being gentle and thinking beautiful. There hasn’t even been a spitball thrown there in eight generations.

A fine place for you to show up mahouting six wrestlers with no foreheads. You’re lucky they haven’t thrown you in jail.

Horrocks


ROCKET MAIL (Postage Due)
Mr. H. E. Horrocks
Dear Jellyhead:

What do you mean lucky? We are in jail.

Right after we got here, the boys decided they had been cramped in that local spaceship and needed a workout to limber up. As soon as they got started, they were surrounded by a bunch of scrawny males, all sniffing hollyhocks.

Their spokesman, a bald bird with rosebuds in his whiskers, touched me with a gold-headed cane and said that apparently we were not yet attuned to the high mental plane of the planetoid, and would we mind going into protective custody while they worked over our egos and cured our kineticism.

I said suppose we wouldn’t. He looked shocked and waved his flower and said that then, although it had never happened before, he supposed he would have to call the space patrol and have us thrown into the hoosegow on Ganymede.

I translated that into basic wrestler for the boys and we agreed we’d better go along. We’d heard about the jail those tough space patrol babies operate on Ganymede.

The flower lovers took us to an old erydnium pit and asked us to please go down. Now they’re perfuming us every hour and feeding us flower bulbs to make us gentle.

We could climb out of this rat-hole whenever we wanted, but that would be climbing straight into a striped spacesuit.

I think about you all the time. And if you think they’re beautiful thoughts, you’re as crazy as I’ve always suspected.

Michaels

P.S. The boys asked that I enclose this note from them:

Dear Mr. Horox:
We do not like it here Mr. Horox. The Grub is no good. You come get us. Plese Mr. Horox. Come soon.
Gorilla Man Thorpe
Choker Jonas

R. Z. Zbich, light-heavyweight champion of the Moon, Mercury and the inner rings of Saturn
Gorgeous Gordon
Barefoot Charles Anya
X, the Faceless Wonder


ROCKET MAIL (First Class)

Mr. Jed Michaels

Mr. Michaels:

Don’t think you can sit around doing nothing and collect pay from the Interplanetary Amusement Corp. You’re suspended until you get out of there.

Horrocks


SPACEGRAM (Collect)
Mr. H. E. Horrocks,
Cosmopolis, Earth

MY RESIGNATION IS A MISTAKE. I WITHDRAW IT. YOU ARE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE BOSSES. IMPROBABLE AS IT SEEMS, I LOVE YOU.

JED


SPACEGRAM
Mr. Jed Michaels,
Ryttuk, Eros
ONLY ONE POSSIBLE CAUSE FOR YOUR LAST SPACEGRAM. HAS SHE A SISTER?
HANK


ROCKET MAIL (Second Class)
Mr. H. E. Horrocks
My dear employer and pal:
Eros is a wonderful asteroid!

Toward the end of the second day in the pit, the wrestlers limbered up. Zbich and the Gorilla Man worked out on headlocks, Gorgeous Gordon did calisthenics, and Barefoot Charley, Choker Jonas and the Faceless Wonder got themselves into a grunting free-for-all.

After that got under way, I heard a squeal and a girl came bounding down the pit side. She was young and dark-haired and pretty. She might have been as intellectual as the president of Harvard above the shoulders, but what a framework she had to hold up that brain!

She went over to Gorgeous Gordon and she said, “Ooh!” With all the flower lovers around here, it was probably the first man with muscles she had ever seen.

The big ham swelled up. He flexed his arms and stuck out his chest. “OOH!” said the girl, and went bounding back up the side of the pit.

I stopped the exercise and the wrestlers sat and mused blankly at each other.

In a few minutes, our little visitor was back again. With her were about a dozen pals, differing in details, but resembling her in the important points.

The leader was a tall, brown-haired, gray-eyed girl, with a face where intellect fought a losing battle with a dimple. The others helped her down the pit side as if she were something fragile and precious, like maybe a new bottle of perfume.

Then our pal went back to Gorgeous Gordon. “More ooh!” said the girl guide.

You know how wrestlers are. They’ll slap each other silly to get the cheers of four kids on a street corner, or commit mayhem for a purse big enough to buy a ham hock. In five seconds, we had going one of the finest wrestling matches in the history of good, clean sportsmanship. And over the cracking of wrestler’s bones rose the shrieks of the girls, showing that their throats were in the right place, even if their brains weren’t.

The gray-eyed girl sat with me on a flange of unmined ore. She was Aliana, a direct descendant of the leader of the Eros pioneers. As such, she was princess of the planetoid, although she left most of the governing to a council of elders, apparently as outstanding an array of mossbacks as ever smelled a gardenia or just plain smelled.

“I sometimes think, Mr. Michaels,” Aliana told me, “that we of Eros have laid too much stress upon the cerebral. I wonder if our lives would not be fuller if we also included some of the more vigorous activities, such as the one in which those men are now engaged.”

“If it’s a vacation for your mind that you want, Princess,” I agreed, “those boys are your meat.”

Just then the Gorilla Man got a leg split on Barefoot Charley and began to braid his toes.

“How stimulating,” breathed Aliana. “What is proper for the onlooker to remark in such a situation?”

“A satisfactory outcry, Princess,” I explained, “is, ‘Break it off!’”

“Break it off!” encouraged Aliana.

I had to wind it up, finally, before the wrestlers reduced themselves to blubber, thereby forcing the Interplanetary Amusement Corp. to go out and lasso itself another herd.

The girls went giggling up the side of the pit. At the top, Aliana waved at me. The others blew kisses, not caring much where they landed, as long as the receiver had muscles.

Next morning, a young man came into the pit. He announced that, upon Princes Aliana’s orders, we were to have the freedom of Eros, so that contact with the planetoid culture could win us from our uncouth ways.

He was too young to be wholly gentled by the flowers and the council of elders. So the Choker showed him a wristlock. And when the Choker tossed him on his ear in the erydnium ore, he said words that were not beautiful. Maybe there’s something to the people of this asteroid.

Anyway, everything is great now. We wander wherever we please, as long as we return to the pit to sleep. When nobody is looking, we sneak into the royal palace courtyard and put on a wrestling show for the girls.

And the nights! Ah, the nights!

Don’t turn entirely green with envy, Hankus. At least leave your nose the familiar red.

Jed


SPACEGRAM

To: Jed Michaels, Ryttuk, Eros

FINE WORK. RETURN IMMEDIATELY. WILL MEET YOU AT MARS. MAYBE YOU CAN PERSUADE SOME OF THE GIRLS TO ACCOMPANY YOU THAT FAR. AM SENDING THE WRESTLERS TO SATURN.

HANK


ROCKET MAIL (First Class)
To: H. E. Horrocks,
Cosmopolis, Earth
Dear Hank:

Go to Mars, the man says. I can’t go anywhere. The elders caught us giving a rassle when Aliana was away and we’re in again.

These flower roots taste terrible.

Jed


SPACEGRAM
To: Jed Michaels,
Ryttuk, Eros
YOU BLUNDERING BABOON, YOU’RE FIRED.
HORROCKS


ROCKET MAIL
(Free, Royal Frank)
Royal Palace, Eros
To: H. E. Horrocks,
Cosmopolis, Earth
Dear melon brain:

I gather from your last message that you wish to discharge me. I accept the offer, fat boy. In fact, under royal Eros precedent, which I made up three minutes ago, we will even pay for your message. However, the words “you blundering baboon” do not seem a necessary part of that message, and their cost will be taken out of the first bit of business that the royal house of Eros decides to honor your puny little corporation with.

If any.

Times are changed, Hankus. I’m a big shot now.

A few hours after we got back in the pit, Aliana came back and sneaked down to see us. She said she thought it was about time to end this council of elders’ nonsense and she asked our help.

I told her plan to the wrestlers in words of one syllable or less. They all agreed except the Faceless Wonder.

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