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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy
by Bill Monks

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Dear Mr. Waygate:

I thought you would like to hear from a grateful customer how your Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy came to my aid. I noticed recently my Waygate Pentium was running as slow as a snail walking backwards. I had become such a joke among the 486ers I began to shun them. My computer would be classified as new if it weren't a computer. I had paid twenty-three hundred bucks for it in May. I see now that it isn't even listed in Waygate advertisements. Your cheapest now is fifteen-hundred and a lot faster and more powerful than mine is. Throwing in a free Cannon printer really hurt. I paid three hundred bucks for mine. The speed of advancing technology is frightening. What you invent today you have to market within the month; soon I guess you will date them like milk cartons. I finally figured out that the right time to buy a computer is in the future.

Luckily, knowing nothing is perfect; I paid extra for your Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy. I wanted to be guaranteed the very best of support.

Seeing "Old Bess" had started to drag, I mean slow, I immediately took advantage of my Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy in order that she might regain her youth. My only concern was how long it would take your repairman to come to my home.

Charlie, a technician in North Dakota answered my phone call and I explained the problem.

"Bill, you have a virus that has destroyed a part of your conventional memory." I quickly denied his accusation, telling him I had always used protection, that my Norton's Anti-Virus program was constantly on guard. He kept insisting it was a virus. I felt like a nice girl being accused of being the East Coast distributor of a venereal disease.

He spent the first hour giving me tons of instructions and having me push every combination of keys on the board. Charlie was about as patient and as persistent as you can get. He finally gave up on the idea of a virus.

"Charlie, don't waste your time, just send out the repairman. I got the Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy," I said.

There was a long pause. Finally, I again heard the voice from North Dakota.

"Bill, do you have a Philips-head screwdriver, tweezers and a needlenose handy? We are going to have to go in." I thought only surgeons used that language to one another.

What in hell does he mean "we"?

"I want you to take the case off the tower, go in, and move some parts around."

"Charlie, I get nervous when I wind my watch."

"Don't worry about it."

I thought, a six-month-old $2,300 computer is going to have its guts switched around by a guy who puts his finger in his ear when he tries to pick his nose.

Taking the tower off was not tough. That's what I would like to say, but for me it was tough. The second and third hour was spent taking "Old Bess" apart.

"Tower off."

"Do you see the battery in the corner?"

"I see nothing that looks like a battery."

"That round disk in the corner."

Long pause.

"Is it about the size of a nickel?"

"Yea. Do you see that set of...?" (God knows what he said.) "I want you to move the jumper off the second of the third set of..." (?) "About three inches from the nickel."

"What's a jumper?"

"That's what's connecting them."

Long pause.

"Charlie, I think I see those things." There was a whole bunch of little things that were about three thousands of an inch wide in sets of three and four. Some of them were connected to each other by these tiny, tiny things he called jumpers.

By now I have my trusty magnifying glass in hand and my arthritic spine is killing me. I go nose to nose with the jumpers.

"Bill, I want you to take the jumper off S3 and S4 and put it on S2 and S3."

"What do you mean S3 and S4 and S2 and S3? What the hell do you mean, there is about a hundred of them?"

"Each one has a number on it."

"You're kidding."

Sure enough. I peruse them with the glass and they are numbered. Talk about a prayer on the head of a pin. I'm talking about parts that I can only see with a magnifying glass. I am in the heartland of the microprocessor.

Now the impossible starts. I have to pull a jumper off and attach it to S2 and S3. To really appreciate my task you have to see a jumper.

Look at this one. (.)

Using the needlenose to get a hold of a jumper is like trying to pick up a grain of sand with the bucket of a steamshovel.

I struggle and struggle. My right thumb, damaged in an accident, is useless. I keep thinking, if I ever do get this damn thing off, I'm sure in hell going to drop it into that maze of the microscopic, and how would I ever be able to face Charlie?

I soon realize moving a jumper requires the hand of a female violinist with the nerves of a person who has been dead a week. I reach into the very depths of my faith and beg God for a steady hand. The jumper is soon submerged in a drop of sweat from my nose. It takes forever and forever, but I do it.

After accomplishing my mission, I re-hook up all the plugs into the back.

During this whole operation the phone line has been open. It has taken so long Charlie has had his Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy lunch. I am exhausted, my suspenders are soaked with sweat and my back is killing me.

"Hey, Charlie, what did you have for lunch? Sounds pretty good. I'm starving. Okay, Charlie, switch on." We booted it up for about thirty seconds to a minute.

"Okay, Bill, shut it down. I want you to strip it down again and put the jumper in its original position."

In the pause that followed you could have built a pyramid and gotten a good start on a second. Finally, Charlie spoke up, a real cool guy.

"Bill I've got plenty of time, be careful, put the jumper back exactly where you had it. You don't want to blow the motherboard."

"Charlie, are you sure you have plenty of time?"

"Bill, I'm with you till the job is done. You have the Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy. No problem." I had a strange feeling that Charlie had a big grin on his face.

"That's great, Charlie. Listen, Charlie, moving that jumper took a lot out me. Besides that, I think I was lucky as hell. I'm not as nimble as I used to be. You will have to bear with me, I'm on in years, just hit 92," I lied. "I'm missing a thumb on my right hand. The other problem is I have to hold my right hand with my left to stop it from shaking. Stay next to that phone, Charlie, I'll be needing your support."

I then went into my kitchen and had my Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy lunch. There was no need to hurry. Charlie had plenty of time. I started the meal off with a Manhattan followed by a well-cooked cheeseburger. I always noticed that after a second Manhattan there was no need for me to hold my right hand with my left. I almost forgot that Charlie was on the phone.

After a leisurely lunch and a glance at the newspaper I picked up the phone again. "Hey, Charlie. I had a delicious lunch and now I'm going to get hot on that jumper." I went back to "Old Bess" and replaced the jumper without hearing an explosion. I guess I didn't blow the motherboard, whatever the hell that means.

"Charlie, the jumper is back in its original position."

"Bill, push the button."

"Old Bess" came flashing on at top speed.

May I suggest, Mr.Waygate, that you include with your Platinum Premium Service & Support Policy, a packet containing:

1-Philipshead screwdriver
1-Magnifying glass
2-Manhattans, very dry.

A grateful customer,

Bill Monks

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