Lenny wouldn’t call himself a mad scientist. He’s definitely not angry. Most of the time he’s actually pretty happy. His sister sometimes says he’s crazy, but that’s how siblings are. He’s pretty sure she doesn’t mean it.
Just this week, she asked him to babysit her twins. No one asks crazy people to babysit. Obviously, his sister has complete faith in his sanity. Lenny was actually looking forward to babysitting. Genius needs an audience and all that.
As soon as the door closed, Lenny looked at his niece and nephew. “So, which one is Clara and which one is Charles?” Lenny asked.
The small person wearing the large hair bow looked angry. “I’m a girl,” she squeaked.
“Does that make a difference?” Lenny asked.
“Clara is a girl name,” the other child said seriously.
“I get it,” Lenny said. “Hair bow child is a girl, so she’s Clara and you are Charles,” Lenny said. “I’m your Uncle Lenny. It’s nice to meet you. Would you like to see my lab?”
Charles nodded. Clara’s eyebrows were trying to meet, just above her nose. “What’s a lab?” she asked.
“The best place in the whole world,” Lenny said.
Clara smiled. “Better than Disneyland?”
“What’s a Disney?” Lenny asked.
“Disneyland is an amusement park with rides and people in costumes and stuff,” Clara said.
Lenny shuddered. “That sounds dreadful. My lab is much better than that.”
Clara frowned. “I don’t know.”
Charles patted her on the shoulder. “Let’s just see it. Then we’ll know which is better.”
“Great,” Lenny said. “Step this way.” He moved the painting of Einstein and pointed to the red button. “Charles, do you want to push the button?”
“Okay,” Charles said. He pushed the button. The floor below them slid away. They fell into a pool of blue jello.
Lenny laughed. “Isn’t this great?” he asked. Clara and Charles were frowning. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“This was my favorite shirt,” Charles said. “Is it ruined?”
“Maybe,” Lenny said.
“That was scary,” Clara said. “You should have warned us.”
“Oops,” Lenny said. “Well, let’s move along.”
They climbed out of the vat of jello and walked between open tanks of jumping, snapping fish. Charles moved closer to one of the tanks. “What kind of fish are these?” he asked.
“Piranhas. If I push the button behind Hawking’s portrait, the room gets flooded and they can get free. It’s a security feature,” Lenny said proudly.
Charles and Clara moved away from the tanks and scooted closer to Lenny. “That’s scary too,” Clara said. “This is not better than Disneyland.”
“But they’re not scary right now,” Lenny said. “Do you want to feed them?”
Clara squeaked and shook her head. Charles frowned. “Are you going to feed us to the piranhas?” he asked.
Lenny laughed. “Of course not. I have hot dogs somewhere to feed them.” Clara continued to shake her head. Lenny sighed and looked around. “Well, do you want to see what happens when I push the button behind Shrodinger’s picture?” he asked. The children both shook their heads. “No one ever does,” he said. “Okay then, let’s move on.”
He led the children into the next room. This room was illuminated by a bright glow coming from far below the narrow walkway that crossed the room. “Look, lava,” he said. “Who wants to throw their shoes in?”
“Not me,” Clara said.
Charles pulled on his sleeve until Lenny looked down. “Uncle Lenny, it’s too hot in here. Can we go somewhere else?”
“Fine, fine. I’ll be the one to throw my shoes in,” Lenny said. He slipped off his cheap plastic shoes and tossed them over the edge of the walkway. They caught fire as they hit the lava and Lenny laughed.
Charles and Clara were frowning again. Lenny sighed. “All right. We can move on. I’ll show you my latest invention.”
He led the way into his lab. He pointed dramatically to the machine at the center of the lab. Clara and Charles looked at the machine and looked back at him. “Isn’t it impressive?” Lenny asked.
“What is it?” Clara asked.
“It’s my newest invention,” Lenny said.
“What does it do?” Charles asked.
“It makes chocolate taste like dirt,” Lenny said.
“That’s bad,” Clara said. “Uncle Lenny, you need to learn how to be good.”
“I do?” Lenny asked. Charles and Clara nodded.
“Hmmmm. I’ll have to think about that,” Lenny said. An alarm sounded and Lenny sighed. “Well, let’s go back. Your mom is on her way here.”
He pushed aside the picture of Newton. “Who wants to push the button?” he asked. Clara and Charles hid their hands behind their backs and shook their heads in unison. “Fine, I’ll do it,” Lenny said. He pushed the button.
They shot upward on a column of air and then were sucked through a tube that dumped them back upstairs in the living room through the fireplace. Clara frowned. “That was scary,” she said.
The doorbell rang, and then Lenny’s sister opened the door. “I’m back, how was it?”
“He took us to feed piranhas and throw things in lava and he wants to make chocolate taste like dirt,” Clara said. “It was scary.”
Charles nodded. “He ruined my favorite shirt,” he added.
Lenny’s sister narrowed her eyes. “Lenny, you’re still crazy. You need to come over and mow the lawn as punishment.”
Lenny smiled and nodded. He was good and liked to help out, no matter what Clara said. Besides, he’d wanted to test out the precision of the flamethrower he built last month. That would cut the grass quite nicely, right?