Chapter 1

“The first meeting of the Maple Street Chowder and Intergalactic Exploration Society will now come to order,” I intoned from my lofty position as High Chief Muckitey-Muck, Lord of All He Surveys.

“Yeah, yeah. Get on with it” murmured my worshipful sycophants.

“Now that we have re-organized as the Maple Street Chowder and Intergalactic Exploration Society, we will begin with a new set of minutes of the meetings. We will also no longer try to maintain conformance with any particular set of rules of order, since you assholes are either too dumb or too smart to determine the difference between old business and new business.”

I paused for a slug of Venusian beer. The taste wasn’t all that great, but it made Old Yeller growl.

“First, let’s get a report from our treasurer. How are we doing on the financial side, Hank?”

Hank Roberts took the floor, with a pile of spreadsheets nearly as high as his head.

“Damn, Hank,” I told him, “You don’t need to account for every individual nut, bolt and screw in your report.”

“Worshipful Master High Muckitey-Muck. These are not the detailed reports. These are single sheet summaries of each individual active project.”

“No shit? I had no idea we were so active. How in the hell do you keep up with that many projects?”

“It is a chore, but at least most of them are long range projects. Some only report every few months. When you send people out to colonize other worlds, they seem to have more on their minds than reporting to the home world.”

“How do you find the time to even enter sporadic data into so many projects?”

Hank blushed slightly. “I, um, solicit help where possible.”

“Such as?”

“The guys waiting in line to aid in the Moon maiden project have been helpful. They have a good bit of time on their hands, especially when Big Joe is at bat. We also give away one of Gloria’s DVDs for each hour of volunteer work.”

“Hmmmh. Good idea. Sign me up for three hours. Ok, can you give us an overall summary?”

“Overall, we are ahead by $563,783,452,777.63, but it’s all tied up in Unobtainium futures.”

“Unobtainium futures?”

“Yes. The broker gave me his personal word that we will be able to buy thirty or forty countries outright when this thing hits.”

Oh, shit. It just dawned on me. “What is your educational background, Hank?” “I am happy to say that I have a PhD in Bean Counting from Hahvahd.”

“You’ve never taken a science course in your life, have you?”

“No. Why should I? The American Mismanagement Association says that a good manager can manage anything. There is no need to be knowledgeable about the business or product. The only thing that matters is the bottom line.”

“I see. Then what is our net worth without the Unobtainium component?”

“Give me just a moment. Ah!, here it is. Without the Unobtainium component, we have a net worth of $112,483.67, negative.”

“And how did it come about that we are so far in the hole?”

“The primary factor was the prepayment of the five million dollar commission to the commodities broker.”

“I see. I think all the brothers see. Hank, your only hope of leaving this room alive is to provide full and complete details of all your contacts and transactions with this feather merchant. Furthermore, if your bank records show the slightest increase that can be traced back to this wonderful investment you made, you should abandon all hope for a speedy recovery. Take him away, boys”

Bang, bang, bang went the gavel.

“I declare a 30-minute break while Hank volunteers his information. Did anyone see where Kelley and Nelly went?”

Bang, bang, bang went the gavel.

“The meeting will come back to order. Does anyone have news?”

A very old gentleman from the back of the room with a huge grin on his face was wildly jumping up and down and asking to be recognized.

“Sir”, I intoned in my most resonant voice, “Are you a member of this society? I don’t recognize you and this is a closed meeting.”

The old man sprang to his feet. “Of course I am a member, you lunkhead. I’m Robert Goddard, named after the father of rocketry.”

“Sir, you cannot be the Robert Goddard who is a member of this society. That Robert Goddard is 27 years old and for the past three weeks has been on his way to the center of the universe as the pilot of a scientific discovery ship. Please leave now or you may join Hank as he leaves--and in the same condition.”

“No, your worshipful High Mukety-Muckedness, it’s me, Bobby. Who else knows about that time we visited the Snelling sis--”

I cut him off as quickly as possible, to spare embarrassment to the beautiful Snelling sisters--and perhaps myself, as well.

“Very well. The chair recognizes Robert Goddard--even if I don’t. What happened, Bobby? Why do you appear to be 147 years old and why are you grinning like a jackass eating sawbriars?”

“You ain’t gonna believe this, Jake, but I found it.”

“Found what?”

“I found the fucking Fountain of Youth.”

“From the looks of you, it works pretty damned good, I would say.”

“That’s just the point, It doesn’t work on men. It only works on women.”

“You mean... ?”

“That’s exactly what I mean. Any woman I take there immediately is changed into a teenage sexpot with all the right stuff in all the right places.”

“How much do they pay you?”

“Pay? Why would I ask for payment from such enormously grateful girls?”

“I see. Then that explains the stupid grin on your face, doesn’t it?”


“It also explains the fact that you look like death warmed over after a long, long time in storage.”

“Unhuh. The way the fountain works is every year it takes away from the woman adds about 15 minutes to the man’s age. Based on that, I’m about 147 years old and don’t have much longer to live. I just wanted to get back here and let everyone know about it before I punched my ticket.”

Bang, bang, bang went the gavel.

“Order! Order! This looks like an excellent opportunity to balance the books after the damage done by our resident MBA (mini-brained asshole). Those interested in the location of this fountain, line up over here with ten bucks in hand.”

Bang, bang, bang went the gavel.

“No need to tilt the room, folks. We will make sure everyone gets access and will simply tack the ten buck fee onto your membership dues.”

I skimmed through my notes, looking for something that would be interesting enough to get the attention of a room full of horny nerds. That’s a frightening thought, isn’t it? A roomful of horny nerds? For some reason, most people think jocks are the only ones who get horny. Hah! The stories I could tell!

Let’s all calm down a bit and listen to a status report from Dr. Verne, on his latest exploration. Come on up, Jules, and share with us about you latest trip to the moon. As I recall, you made this trip inside a bullet fired from a gun, didn’t you?”

“Thank you for allowing me to present my findings, Dr. High.”

He began. “When we built the equipment for this expedition, we were really strapped for funds, so we bought everything off AliBaba to save money. None of the components was compatible with any of the other components and there was no documentation of any sort, other than the catalog picture, which was quite nice, by the way.”

“Yet you plowed on, didn’t you?”

“Yes, there was no way to go but up, we thought. Unfortunately, there was another way. Some time after launch, while we were still getting over the effects of the 3,000 g forces from the rail gun, the instruments showed that we had turned around and were heading back toward Earth at a frightening speed.”

“Since you are here, can we assume that this was or was not the case?”

“At the time, we simply ignored the instruments, writing off their indications as yet one more outcome of the funds cutbacks by the recently deposed bean counter.”

“What happened then?”

“We splashed down somewhere in the South Pacific and I mean, we splashed. All those tsunamis around the world back then were the result of our impact.”

“Yet you survived?”

“Apparently so. Our best guess is that one of the items we bought on AliBaba as a joke must have worked as promised. It was called the ‘All Purpose Wonderful Thing’. We bought it as sort of a joke, but looking back, we would all be dead if it had not worked.”

“I was going to ask how you survived a 3000 g acceleration.”

“That was a clerical error.”

“A clerical error?”


“How in the hell can you attribute an error of three decimal places to a clerical source?”

“Our computer was down for new spark plugs, so we borrowed the bean counter’s computer.”

“A computer is a computer. How could using someone else’s computer affect the numeric result?”

“The best we can tell is that his software got so confused, trying to handle numbers with more than two digits after the decimal point that it simply ignored them. When the maximum acceleration level it predicted was three million gees, we concluded that it was wrong and went with a value of three, instead.”

“How in hell could you do something that stupid?”

“Did you ever read the history of the Hubble telescope? They had separate analyses that conflicted and concluded that it would cost fifty million dollars to make a proper test. Since this was considered unacceptable, they chose to spend 150 million dollars to store the equipment for three years, then launched it and repaired it in space where it was easier to get to. We weren’t anywhere near to being in the running for the Darwin Award on this one.”

“The Darwin Award?”

“Look it up. Ok, so here you are, having created a huge hole in the Pacific Ocean, yet miraculously surviving. What happened next?”

“We wound up sitting on the ocean floor, relatively unharmed, other than our pride. We even had time to get out and walk around a bit before the water rushed back in. Here are some of the pictures we took.”

“That is amazing, Dr. Verne, but you had to be concerned about the forces of the returning waters causing you to be rolled and tumbled like a boulder in an avalanche.”

“Very apt description, Sir. If it had not been for the serving wenches we took along, it might have been a very uncomfortable experience. However, those fine ladies have such control over the contents of their steins and bosoms that they never spilled a drop or slipped a nip.”

“That’s almost unbelievable, Dr. Verne.”

“Yet here we stand. Is there anything else you would like to know? Did I mention the mermaids?”


“Yes, sweet children that they are, and such fine examples of female pulchritude. The lack of legs is no impediment to swimmers with a tail. An unpublicized aspect of the popularity of women swimming with Dolphins is that men can enjoy swimming with mermaids, for similar reasons.”

“You don’t mean... ?”

“Yes, I do, but I can’t say it in this story. All I can say is that it is refreshing to mingle with females who have not been taught to reject men.”

“Then why did you come back so soon?”

“Simple. We got tired of eating fish, if you get my drift.”

Bang, bang, bang went the gavel.

“Meeting adjourned.”

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Story tagged with:
Mult / Humor / Science Fiction / Space / Aliens /