The day had started out so much like a typical saturday morning as I went outside to fetch the paper.
was unpleasantly suprised to find a bearded old man in his
through my garbage.
"Excuse me, Sir," I said, "What in heaven's
name are you doing messing up my rubbish bin?" The man looked up
inch-thick glasses and
paused his search briefly.
"Well, looking for
banana peels, ofcourse. Do you happen to have any on you
by chance?" For a
moment I questioned whether I was truly awake or not.
"Banana peels?” I
replied, “Why on earth would you need those? You don’t plan
on eating them, do
"Oh no. No, no, no!
That would be a terrible waste, a terrible waste indeed!" The bearded man
looked about suspiciously and hunched closer toward me, whispering: "If
you must know, I am building a spaceship out of them." I stared
at the man dumbfounded and smiled nervously.
I decided to indulge the confused old man: "Well, I'm no
engineer, but I assure you rockets use gigantic thrust engines running on
massive tanks of hydrogen and oxygen."
"Yes, yes," the man
agreed, "That is the conventional method, the tried-and-proved way, the
easy way. It won't get you as half as far as a banana peel spaceship, but it works. You
see, banana peel spaceships are a real possibility. They would've been the
standard right now, if not for them. They don't want you to
"They?" I asked.
"The banana producers. Chiquita is the biggest and most agressive of
the lot, but the smaller ones from the Carribean were real pioneers of the
Before the man could finish
his entertaining ramblings a yellow van marked ‘B.I.M.H.’ turned around
the street corner and slowed onto my driveway. Its side doors slid open and out
came a group of men in white hospital clothing. One of the younger ones walked
up to me and introduced himself as Dr. Finckweizl. He had a calm and soothing
"I'm terribly sorry if this man caused you any problems," the
man spoke. "He escaped the clinic this morning. Spaceships again?" I
nodded. "Last week he tried building one out of mashed potatoes. You can
image the mess it made," he grinned, producing a business card.
I smiled and accepted the card. It read:
Broadenburrow Institute of Mental Health
Dr. Q.H. Finckweizl (Jr.)
Assistant neuroimaging and rehabilitation
"You can call me with
any questions, or if your property is in any way damaged. Please do let me know if you find anything," he emphasized. His colleages were roughly escorting the old
man into the van. The man had quickly stopped his
protesting and cursing and by now, I felt sorry for him. "Thank you for
your understanding Sir,” said Dr. Finckweizl, “Have a pleasant day."
him, to which he nodded and turned to join his colleagues in the van. After having watched the van speed away I simply stood there, dazed by this weird chain of events. It
occured to me Dr. Finckweizl hadn’t even asked my name. A while had passed, and
I decided to clean up the garbage the man had so enthusiastically distributed
about my driveway. Doing so, my eye fell on a worn little bound notebook lying
in the lawn.
Inside were innumerable
pages, filled with handwritten text and penciled schematics, detailed
instructions most certainly made by the old man himself. The book had an
unpleasant musty smell to it and some pages were stuck together by what
appeared to be dried-out banana pulp.
"... While braiding the displacement
engine it is of the utmost importance to use only premium quality peels of the Musa acuminata species.
Inspection for fusarium wilt, black sigatoka and other common diseases is vital
for correct functioning of the craft. Braiding should occur at temperatures
below freezing point to ensure a tight bond between each peel as well as
preservation of the organic matter... "
"... five-thousand-and-eighty-three kilograms
of healty, unprocessed Musae will yield enough material for a three-person
craft. Larger crafts will require additional amounts which can be calculated
with formulas found..."
"... Checklist: 1. Engine core temperature
at designated levels and stable 2. Aft traction flaps folded 3. Hull elasticity
above 116 GPa ..."
On and on it went, pages of
incomprehensible technical gibberish. I must admit I quite admired the man's
vivid imagination. After having cleaned the driveway I proceeded to fetch the
paper as planned and the day progressed as usual.
That night, I had already
forgotten about the banana man altogether, yet during my sleep I dreamt
full of banana trees, strange planets and men in white jackets chasing
wouldn't be the last time though. For eleven days I was tormented by
lucid dreams. It's safe to say I went bananas. Wherever I would go
publicly I would somehow discover them. People ate
bananas during traffic jams. Rebel outbreaks in the Banana republic.
stations playing Deep Purple's Bananas. My wife's favourite desert?
Then one day I remembered the notebook, and took a glance. Two days
later I read it three times in one sitting. At first the technicality
complexity of it all confused me. But I persevered. By day, I would be
a sales representative. By night, I would sit in the attic, trying to
sense of the equations and formulas that lay at the heart of the Banana
Spaceship. I reread old highschool books. The local grocer became a
friend. Initially I think it was all out of sheer curiosity, to see if
work of Donacci - which I had discovered to be his
name - had any truths to it.
But when I started to believe, that's when everything truly spiraled
control. I was entranced.
In the frenzy some things
went under the radar. My wife left me. I lost my job, and a lot of weight, too.
Not that I noticed; My biggest concern was keeping the fruit flies at bay. But
when that day finally came, when I first started that magnificent craft with
mulchy and trembling fingers, then came the reward. The fruit of my
labor, if you will.
The journeys went
effortlessly, and the places and things I
saw were unbelievable, but so
I regret having to be so terse.
I would tell you more about them, but...
- Outside, a yellow van parks near the front door -
Big thanks go out to The Debutante and The Custodian for proofreading and helpfulness. Thanks for the warm welcome guys!