1965-04-23 - Grand Theft Dinobot
Summary: Arlo and Elmo jack a robot dinosaur, because of course they do.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
elmo arlo 

Arlo is working, just like he's supposed to be. The toilets sparkle, the sinks glisten, and he's just finishing mopping the floor. He may not fix stuff, but he keeps it nice for the people who do, even if they are still working on opening the place.

Elmo's finishing up his day of work, although it's late. Does anybody sleep around here? Only that big russet cat. Elmo and JP are always around, always up at odd hours, almost always working, except when they take breaks to argue. Anyway, Elmo comes up to Arlo with way too much energy. "Hey, wanna go give a dinosaur a lift?"

Arlo looks up from rinsing out his mop and says, "You wanna go do that now?" He's got a more languid way about him, but he perks up at the mention of the dinosaur. "Whose truck are we gonna use?" Apparently his man is busy tonight, because he's all sorts of ready to get out of here and cause trouble.

"Gonna borrow one." All the aura of trouble that's hung around Elmo is coming into focus. He grins at Arlo, sharp and bright. "Keep your uniform on, ain't nobody gonna be the wiser. Nobody looks at janitors and electricians." He's wearing his own mechanic's coveralls, heavy work gloves tucked into the belt.

Arlo's smile spreads slowly. Elmo's energy is infectious. "Yeah. Get a clipboard. If you have a clipboard no one questions what you do." He sets the rinsed mop where it belongs and empties the gross mop water. I'll be your eyes and ears. Let's do this."

Elmo does get a clipboard, because that's a good idea. Nobody will look at it closely enough to see that it has a shopping list, a to-do list for the garage (he complains every time he has to add something to it), and doodled schematics. He grabs his toolbox and they head out.

They take the subway to a couple stops away from the fairgrounds in Queens. Meanwhile, Elmo's asking Arlo about what happened the other day with that display Rex. "I'd swear it wasn't a machine. Looked wrong, felt wrong, yannow? But then—" he shrugs expressively. "Whaddaya think happened?"

"I don't know, man," Arlo says. "Once that little girl started climbing on it, all the whirring stop and it had a heartbeat. Maybe she was a little mutant who brought mechanical things to life or something. Whatever she did, that thing was alive, for real alive." He shakes his head. "Crazy stuff."

Elmo's eyes get big. "No kidding. Wow! Do you think it was a real Rex, like actually lived? Or maybe her idea of one? Oh man. Wish I could talk to her." He adds, thinking it over, "It didn't wanna hurt her. Acted like she wasn't there. Well, I'm glad it didn't go for the bait I set for it. I like that one." He has opinions about robot baby dinosaurs.

"Yeah, it was acting kind of like, I don't know, like what do I know about dinosaur behavior?" He shrugs a shoulder and waves a hand. "But yeah, I'm glad the little one's okay. Too bad we don't have her here, she could touch it and we could lead it away while it was walking all by itself." Because surely that's what would happen, a totally tame, compliant dinosaur baby.

"What do you think happens when it's not an animal-shaped machine? What could she do?" Elmo's all caught up in theorizing about the little girl's powers. "If she's a mutant she's young to manifest. Ain't unheard of though." He keeps talking about it all the way to Queens.

"Well I buy that a hell of a lot more than I buy magic," Arlo says with a sour look. He still can't wrap his head around magic. Gnosticism of his faith, maybe, but. He's happy to talk about it, too, musing about what else she could do, and do her mom and dad even know. While they travel, he's got his ears pealed for anyone who might be talking about them. Just because.

Elmo makes a hilariously neutral noise, and doesn't say anything about how he knows up close and personal that magic is a thing.

Nobody is talking about them, amazingly. They're just a couple of blue collar guys on the subway, along with a dozen others. Everybody is tired and in the willful-ignorance bubble that's required to live in New York City. When Elmo and Arlo get off the subway in Queens, nobody even looks up.

Arlo hops off the subway and makes his way to the surface. "Man, I haven't been in Queens in, like, ever. Until yesterday. Isn't it weird how you can live your entire life in New York and still go places you've never been before?" He's forgotten all about magic. The stuff makes no sense anyway. At least mutations are science.

"It's got folds, this place. Fifth-dimensional. I read about that in this Pohl book." Elmo's gaze is jumping along the street lined with parked cars, searing for one he wants. "But Lindon lives here so I'm here all the time." He heads down the sidewalk, turns a corner, and stops. "There you are, beautiful." He's talking to a truck. A big flat-bed pickup, with build-up wooden railings. Perfect for moving baby dinosaurs. "Arlo, have a look around, would you?"

Arlo's lips twitch at the mention of Lindon. King of the fairies. This from the guy who cross-dresses in his spare time. He looks around, and he listens. "I got a guy, maybe forty or fifty, walking the opposite direction two blocks over. No one making noise in the apartments except a couple having sex and another one fighting, so they're distracted. No cop cars." He gives his thumbs up stamp of approval for the stealing of this flatbed.

Elmo shakes his head in admiration. "Jeez, you're useful." He cruises on up to the truck and jimmies the lock so fast it's like he's just using a key. He gets in and opens the other door for Arlo, then flips open his toolbox. "Not that, not that…here we go." He's muttering under his breath, like he does constantly while working. What he pulls out is a switch soldered to a bundle of wires and circuit board.

Arlo smiles crookedly. "Hey, you're the guy who can zap people." He keeps his vigil, giving warnings of people who might notice them long before those people have the chance, giving Elmo time and space to work his own variety of magic. The kind of magic Arlo actually believes in.

Elmo tucks the little device into a cupholder. He flicks the switch, and the truck rumbles to life. "Good girl," he says, patting the dashboard. He eases her out and they head for the fairgrounds. "I'm pretty useful too," he's got to admit.

"Yeah you are," Arlo says. "The stuff I do isn't worth a damn unless I got someone like you to do it for." He smiles crookedly and says, "That came out cornier than I meant. I only mean, you know, for stuff like this." He piles into the truck on the passenger side. "Are we going to return the truck when we're done or is this ours now?"

Elmo snorts, eyeing Arlo. "Then we make a good team." He starts to say they're borrowing the truck, then rethinks it. "I don't need her, but maybe you do?"

Arlo shakes his head and says "Nah, I got my Beetle. She's a piece of junk, but she's my piece of junk. She'll start for me most of the time." He pats the dashboard of the truck as though to console it. "Besides, who drives in New York City, yeah?"

"Mosta the time? I'm gonna fix that ignition." Elmo's offended by the idea that someone working at his garage has a car that only starts most of the time.

He has to drive around some to find the service roads heading into the back of the fairground. A yawning guy in a booth waves them through without even making them stop.

Arlo grins. "I wouldn't trust her in any other hands than yours. Maybe JP's." He waves amiably to the yawning guy as they rumble on through. "This is going to be so great," he says. "Where are you going to put it?"

"Haven't worked that part out long term," Elmo says, with a laugh. "Bay two for now. He can hang out with Jeanne." Jeanne d'Arc, JP's sexy muscle car.

The road loops around to the dinosaur exhibit. There's other people working under big lights, trying to repair the damage caused when the now headless animatronic Rex came to life.

Arlo says, "Uh oh, what do you want to do about those guys?" He nods toward teh workers under the big lights. "Gonna be hard to hide from them. We want to say we're maintenance crew bringing it in to get a closer look at it? I mean it did sort of malfunction and move on it's own…"

"Funny that," Elmo says with a glint of pure mischief. "Yeah, that's what we're sayin'." He pulls up to the Brontosaurus display, just as bold as brass. "You're learning on the job," he tells Arlo, getting out and grabbing his toolbox.

Arlo says, "Boy am I ever." He hops out of the truck and doesn't have to look around suspiciously to be aware of things. What the workers are talking about, what sounds they're making. He spares them a glance to take in more details. "All right, where do you want me?"

|ROLL| Arlo +rolls 1d20 for: 12

The other workers are mostly working, complaining about it, or goofing off as much as they can get away with. There's a few glances at Elmo and Arlo, but completely unconcerned. They're all working guys stamped from the same mold as Elmo, at least, if not Arlo.

Elmo's heading straight for the baby bronto that's his favorite, and beckons Arlo over. "C'mere, we're gonna look busy. Ohhh look at that hydralic servo—" He's genuinely delighted with how the robot is put together.

Arlo follows after, peeking over Elmo's shoulder to look at what he's doing. It's genuine interest, but also looking like a newbie who just started this job. "You want that I should take notes, boss?" he says with a gesture to the clipboard. "So yous can have your hands free?"

"Yeah, very important, takin' notes," Elmo says, grinning. He points out this and that part to Arlo, "—this is to put pressure behind that line, there," and in fact gets kind of lost in it. Until a foreman comes over. "Hey, you guys here to work on the baby?"

|ROLL| Elmo +rolls 1d20 for: 2

Arlo nods to Elmo, and he jots down notes, turning one of the papers over so he can write on it. "Put pressure behind that line there," he murmurs, drawing a little sketch. When the foreman starts to come over, he nudges Elmo, then glances up and says, "Yeah, we're workin' on the baby."

Elmo doesn't…seem to notice the foreman. He's just going on about the inner workings of the dinosaur robot. Until Arlo nudges him and he looks up, startled. "Wha—Yeah, of course we are!" He sounds like he's getting annoyed. "Move outta my light, willya?"

Arlo asides to the foreman, "He got up on the wrong side of the bed, I'm guessing. Anyway, we got this covered." He tries to draw the foreman away from Elmo with conversation "So what happened to the big guy?" He nods to the T-Rex. Looks like he just kind of blew up."

The foreman gives Elmo an annoyed look back, although he does move out of the light. "Helluva thing," he says to Arlo, glad not to talk to the cranky one. "They say it went haywire, started moving, tried eatin' some people. One of those mutants was here, made a shield. Kept everybody safe. When it exploded, too, mosta the shrapnel didn't hurt anyone." He's cheerfully recounting the story. "Good thing, too. Mutants ain't so bad, you know?"

|ROLL| Elmo +rolls 1d20 for: 20

|ROLL| Arlo +rolls 1d20 for: 18

Arlo's eyebrows lift. "Started moving and trying to eat people?" He whistles low. "I've had nightmares like that, looking at these things at night." Then he half-smiles, rubs his hand through his hair, and shrugs. "Yeah, I guess they're all right. Sure handy in a pinch, I'll tell you that." He keeps an ear on Elmo. "Crazy, ain't it? Wouldn't trade this job for the world, though."

Elmo chimes in, "We gotta make sure this one's not gonna anything it ain't supposed ta." He's found the zip for the cloth cover and undoes it, gently pulling it back to expose the robot's head and neck. "Gorgeous." He sighs over it as if it was a beautiful woman. "Look at that, you see that junction there? That's where the main power branches off."

The foreman is getting interested too, peering over his shoulder (but staying out of the light). He laughs and whacks Arlo on the shoulder. "Tell me about it, huh! Scary goddamn things. I dunno from these robots. I maintain hydraulic lifts."

Elmo lights right up. "I'm an expert. Let me show ya something. You too," he waves Arlo closer, his eyes bright. And he launches into a lecture about everything he can tell about the robot. A lecture punctuated with Yiddish and a lot of expressive hand gestures. Other guys get interested and come over. He lectures them too.

Arlo comes closer to Elmo, and he just listens to him go. He suppresses a grin as Elmo does as Elmo do. "Genius," he says, and he takes notes on the clipboard. "Can you teach me all this stuff, boss?" He looks around at the others. Are they getting a load of this? He knows it's all part of the scam, but damn, he's actually impressed.

Elmo maybe slightly forgot that they're here to actually steal the thing and not just tell a bunch of mechanics all about it. "Uh—yeah, I mean, that's what you're here for!" he says, mock scolding Arlo, grinning like a fool. "Anyway, guys, much as I'd love to take it apart here, it's gotta wait for the shop. We gotta rig a plank and get 'er loaded up."

This, the foreman is more than happy to rally some guys to help him do. When Elmo makes the baby Bronto come to life and shuffle up the ramp, it's to an admiring audience. The foreman asks Arlo to come by the site and they'll let him work on some of the stuff, too.

Arlo helps out, because he's a helpful new employee who totally knows this is normal procedure. "Hey, yeah, I'll do that," he tells the foreman. He even believes it for a second, because honestly, wouldn't it be so cool to work with these things all the time? But that only sells it more. "Youse guys have a good night," he tells them.

Elmo and a couple guys get the robot secured with straps. "You know your stuff," one of them says to Elmo, impressed. Elmo waves it off. "Eh, just got a knack for it." Understating the issue. "Hey, see you guys around huh?"

When he gets back in the truck with Arlo, he's practically vibrating. "God I wish JP coulda seen that." He can't stop grinning, a little crazily.

Arlo gives Elmo a low-five below the window line so no one else can see it. "He'll never believe it," he says, "but I'll vouch for you." Unless, at the time, it's funnier not to. But in the moment, he's all in! He gives the guys a wave. Once they're on their way, Arlo just laughs. "I can't believe we're not sitting in a jail cell right now."

"Me neither," Elmo confesses, also laughing. "I never stole something before where they helped me out with it." He pulls out, passing the booth with the same yawning guard. Who peers after them, but doesn't seem to object. The drive back to Mutant Town goes smoothly, although the occasional car going by ogles the dinosaur with eyes wide in delighted disbelief.

Arlo slinks down in his seat with his hair across his face so he won't get recognized later. "I can't believe we pulled this off," he murmurs, "and I can't even brag about it, but you and me, we'll know. I guess JP will figure it out too when there's a baby dinosaur hanging out with Jeane."

Elmo cracks up. "I'm dyin' to see the look on his face." It's coming on midnight when they finally get the ramp set back up, all the straps off, the garage door open, and the baby dinobot settled in his new home. "I'm gonna name him Owen," Elmo says, out of nowhere.

"Owen," Arlo says, glancing at Elmo as he stands, arms folded over his chest. "Why are you going to call it Owen?" He tilts his head as he inspects the baby dinosaur more closely. "I guess it kind of looks like an Owen. Maybe a little."

Elmo has hearts in his eyes, fussing around the robot. "Of course he does. He looks just like an Owen. Right, bubbeleh?" He pats it fondly. It's still charged up with his power, and it looks down at him with faint whirrs of its servos. "Now don't eat anything, and scare JP when he comes down," he instructs it. It makes a funny chirr noise and wags its tail.

Arlo laughs and shakes his head. "Look at you, all paternal." He just watches, leaving Elmo to his bonding while staying clear of stompy robot feet. "To bad you can't rig it to move when JP comes in," he says, "I'd love to see the look on his face."

Elmo has to tear himself away from his new son so they can take the truck back, though. On the ride back, he tells Arlo, "You oughta go and learn somethin' from those guys, if you want. Get apprenticed, maybe. You could do a lot worse."

"Yeah, but I wouldn't be able to work at the garage," Arlo says, "and even though I don't think JP thinks very much of me, he did give me the job. Maybe if they let me only come in a few times a week. But they'll figure out soon enough that we stole this little guy."

Elmo shrugs, because Arlo has a fair point about who stole the dinosaur. "Look, you do what's right for you, okay? You find a better opportunity, take it. Don't worry about us." He parks the truck in the same spot he stole it from and reclaims the device he's been powering it with. "I know jobs ain't thick on the ground for you, but, yannow. Just in case."

"I like this gig," Arlo says as he looks around. "JP thinks I'm an idiot, but he says 'we' when he talks about the team, and that… I couldn't get that at some other place." He smiles wryly and glances at the ground. "I dunno. I can make money anywhere but where else could I have a family?"

Elmo shakes his head, with a wry smile of his own. "He doesn't think you're an idiot. He's just kinda …private. If he thought you were stupid, believe me, you'd know it. Not everybody can be as sharp as he is, though, we're all kinda idiots compared to him." This from the guy who just gave an impromptu thirty minute lecture on engineering. He tilts his head at Arlo, thoughtfully. "S'a good question. Nowhere else is gonna be like here."

Arlo eyes Elmo, dubious. "I guess," he says, "but it doesn't take a genius to mop a floor." He shrugs and smiles crookedly "What do I know? Maybe he just explains stuff because he likes teaching. I dunno. I get a little jumpy about that kind of thing, because people assume if you live on the street, you're an idiot who failed somehow. I went to some of the finest schools in New York."

"He does like teaching, believe it or not. And he's gotta explain stuff to me all the time." Elmo winces. "Yeah, I know they do, tateleh. But you're no idiot. You could do worse than goin' back to school, too. That you could do while working at the garage." It's like he really wants Arlo to do better than the rest of them.

"I was thinking of going to get my GED," Arlo admits. "I don't want to go through high school at my age, but I could get the GED and it'd be like I did. I could study on my off days." He rubs at his shaven chin. "Yeah, I could do that. It might open some doors. I don't want to clean shitters all my life."

"I don't want you to, either. Sure it's honest work, but you can do better. A lot better." Elmo's looking at Arlo seriously, as they return to the garage. "Besides. That'd show your ma, huh?"

Arlo takes a last look around the garage, satisfied that it's clean enough for when the others roll in in the morning. With a grin, he says, "Yeah, it would. I should become something better than she wanted me to be. Have her chew on that." He claps Elmo on the shoulder. "But I'll stick it out here for now, gotta take care of you guys. Anyway, I'm heading out. Try to catch some Zs before the morning shift."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License