I was more than a little annoyed at Charlie's attitude: finding a way to use the time-field controller as a weapon was a good thing and even a little clever. But perhaps I should've mentioned that it could be non-lethal. "I'll just knock them out."
He looked both satisfied and inquisitive, so I continued, "The trick is that if part of the body is sped up, it doesn't get any fresh blood and goes to sleep. So what if you isolate the head? The brain doesn't get any oxygen or blood, and the guy conks out in just a few seconds of accelerated time."
"I don't know. I don't like the idea of isolating the brain like that; you could upset various rhythms. But there is a very simple way to deal with the problem. Just give me the controller and run for your bike. I'll take care of the rest."
I started to ask whether he had a divine revelation on the topic, but I didn't want to hear the answer. I handed him the controller and started running. The rest were right with me--Allen took the lead almost immediately.
Of course I looked back. The thugs were gesturing as though they had guns, and they were kind of slow to realize they didn't. Then they started after us, and I remembered something really important about Charlie.
He was a really practical guy, especially when it came to medicine or anything related. He probably knew about as much as an EMT back then, and a lot of people were surprised at his hobbies: his mom, a nurse, got him into needlepoint, macramé, and such. But it made sense, because the needlepoint was good for a surgeon's fine control, and any doctor ought to know how to tie a good knot.
Yes, the goons' shoes were joined at the laces, and they dropped like a pack of plastered penguins.
"The shoelace is mightier than the wedgie?" I asked Charlie. He just grinned and nodded. We reached our bikes and got aboard while the gang that couldn't think straight wrestled with Charlie's handiwork.
We had barely set out when Allen, who was still in the lead, motioned us into some shadows. The ruckus had attracted some cops, and although the goons finally had the sense to take off their shoes, the cops' guns were handier.
"Why do I think your guns and friends are parole violations?" one of the cops asked.
A familiar voice answered, "I don't know, unless you're an awful good guesser."
Another familiar voice said, "Manny, remember our little talk about indoor and outdoor voices?"
"But we're outdoors!"
The sound of a minor scuffle followed, and we decided to head for home. As I told Dad later, friends are good for passing time, but sometimes you have to know which one to pass it to.
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