Of the people that work for me, I know the least about the two I affectionately call my mad scientists. Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.
The two are inseparable. They dress almost identically, clad in white lab coats every time I see them. They eat together. They work together. I believe they spend all their free time together. Even their rooms in the servant quarters connect via a large pocket door.
The two differ greatly, however, in most every other way. The barrel chested Mr. Smith stands tall, erect and proud, evidence of his military service. He looks fit, though I’ve never seen him exercise. He keeps his brown hair pulled back into what has recently been labeled a man bun. He paints his fingernails black. His voice pitches higher than you’d expect of a man his size. You hear it often. He talks a fair bit.
|Not really Mr. Wesson, but close!
Conversely, Mr. Wesson’s shorter-than-average stature sports curly blond hair points which in every direction, much like Harpo Marx. I know he is quite fit, as I spar with him on occasion through the tutelage of my personal trainer, Annabelle, a spider. (You read that right. More on her another time.) Curiously, I couldn’t describe Mr. Wesson’s voice since I’ve never heard it. He says nothing. Ever. In fact, I’ve always thought—but never confirmed—that he and Mr. Smith have a kind of private language, as they have constant conversations, where Mr. Smith talks and explains and queries and jokes, and Mr. Wesson does little more than clap, or nod, or point to his computer.
Given their joint nature, I call them “they” frequently.
They claim there is no such thing as magic, and that every bizarre and amazing thing I have witnessed in my world can be explained through advanced science. But they sheepishly smile when they confess they don’t quite know just how this or that was done. Yet.
They work in the basement of my home in New Orleans. The shiny metal laboratory surfaces support a myriad of test tubes and glass bottles of all shapes and sizes, Bunsen burners, computers and monitors, a Jacob’s ladder (you may have to Google that), and a machine that goes “ping.” In this space, they design and develop weapons and charms (we call gonzos, heaven knows why) and enhancements to my motorcycle leathers. (I have a complicated life.)
When they aren’t working directly for me, they create illusions for magicians all over the world. In fact, it’s my belief that they once were stage magicians. I base this on how I find their lab, which requires me to traverse a small maze of faded and worn boxes, gadgets, gizmos, hoops, platforms, and large colorful balls, all of which has old text that reads either “The Amazing Zingo” or “The Mysterious Mr. Moustafa.” I imagine that each of them used those names, and that they first met perhaps in a circus or some side show, and that separately, neither could amount to much, but together they became a formidable duo.
My basement, like my house, configures itself as needed -- whatever you need, the house simply provides. (Yes, you read that right. More on the house another time). When the two men need a laboratory, that is what the basement becomes. When I need a sparring ring, that is what the basement becomes. When they want me to run some nefarious obstacle course, that is what the basement becomes.
Here’s the kicker. When the mad scientists need their lab, you have to go through the ginormous maze of magic tricks. Each and every time. Sparring ring? Entire basement. Obstacle course? Entire basement. Cockroach convention? Entire basement. (Read right… another time… Geez, someone ought to write a novel.) It’s as if the existence of the lab hinges on the history of the men. That, for them to be productive, they have to be reminded of where they came from.
Every time I walk through it, I intend on asking them. Once I see them, however, with their noses buried in some problem, or eating while lunch and chatting, or analyzing my blood work, I realize it isn’t really my business. They would have told me if I needed to know.
Some things are best left a mystery.