“It’s a propeller,” Carlos said, rolling his R sound. “It worked for your glasses, so it should work for your drone, right?”
Though Carlos was Hispanic, he had just learned to roll his tongue, and he did so whenever he could. Arnold pushed up his glasses again, noticing the tape wrapped around them this time and sighing.
“But my glasses don’t fly.”
Carlos stuck out his tongue and bit down a little like he did when he was concentrating. He used the remote for the drone to send it into a spin. The propeller base broke free of the tape, and the drone went into an uncontrollable turn, descending until it slammed into the ground with a crack.
“Oops,” Carlos said. “We’ll get it right next time. For real.”
Arnold shook his head, and the two boys walked over to the drone in the grass. Arnold picked it up and rotated it in his hands. He frowned. Another crack ran along the body of the drone, but the other three propellers seemed to be still intact.
“Maybe we should ask your dad,” Carlos said, looking over his friend’s shoulder.
“No! We can do this!”
“Sheesh, calm down, bro. Maybe he could at least help us fly it the right way.”
“It’s not that complicated, Carlos,” Arnold said, mocking his friend by rolling the R in his name. “The joysticks either make it go up and down or spin in a circle. What more do we need to learn?”
“I don’t like your attitude, bro. I’m just trying to help.”
Arnold sighed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get upset. I’m just frustrated.”
Arnold pushed up his glasses again, and they walked back into Arnold’s parents’ garage. His father’s workshop was normally too high for them to reach, but they had pushed the step stool over so they could access all the tools. The two boys stood side by side, and Arnold picked up the hot glue gun.
“Won’t your dad notice if you use up all his glue?”
Arnold plugged the cord into the outlet and loaded a glue cartridge into the back. He held it up and looked at it until the tip started to smoke a little. He set the gun back on the wooden workbench with a thunk and situated the drone in his father’s vice. He was careful not to pinch his fingers as he clamped the jaws around the drone. He was also careful not to clamp them too tight, but he needed to use both hands to squeeze the glue gun.
“I’m not going to use all of it. He only builds his models like once a month anyway. He’ll probably not even remember how many glue sticks he has left.”
Arnold picked up the glue gun and put a dollop on the top of the propeller base.
“Here, hurry and put the propeller back on while the glue is hot.”
Carlos complied, sticking out his tongue and biting it again as he eased the part back into place. He was careful not to get the cord that connected the propeller to the motor in the glue. When he was done, the two boys shared a look.
“How long before it dries?”
“I don’t know. Five minutes maybe. What’s the rush?”
“My mom thinks I’m in the basement playing still,” Carlos said, grinning. “She’ll probably figure out that I snuck out to come here and I don’t want to leave before we get this flying thing down.”
Arnold laughed. “Yeah, I guess we should be quick. If my dad comes home, he’ll be mad if he catches us using his tools.
“What if your mother comes out? Won’t she be mad?”
“She won’t come out. She’s watching Orange is the New Black. She always takes a nap when she’s watching that.”
After they felt five minutes had passed the two boys went back into the yard and powered on the drone. It hovered for a little while, and they both sported a smile at their success. Arnold sent the drone in a loop around the lone oak tree in the front yard.
“Bet you can’t thread the needle through the branches,” Carlos said, hopping from one foot to the next in excitement.
“Bet I can!”
Arnold rose the drone up and used both joysticks at the same time to try and loop around the first branch. Instead, he slammed into one, and the glued propeller went crooked. The drone started spiraling downward.
“We’re going to break this thing into a million pieces before we learn to fly it properly.”
“Will not,” Arnold said, jogging over to pick up the drone again.
A squirrel was in the oak tree and dropped an acorn down at the same time Arnold reached the drone, and he screamed, startled. The squirrel started to chirp, and Carlos burst into a fit of laughter as Arnold picked up the drone and jogged back.
“I’m telling Rachel that you’re afraid of gray squirrels,” Carlos said, laughing and grabbing his stomach.”
“So what. When I show her I can fly a drone she’ll think I’m the coolest in the class.”
“Yeah, right. No one’s cooler than Sean Paul.”
Arnold pushed up his glasses again, and they went back into the garage. He had forgotten to unplug the glue gun, and some had melted onto the workbench. He had to yank the gun free, and when he did, he decided not to put the drone back into the clamp. He told Carlos to chip away the old glue and when the task was finished Arnold squeezed on a fresh layer.
This time they opted to wait ten minutes before flying again. Arnold refused to let Carlos have another try, determined to make a successful pass through the tree branches. He concentrated as best as he could, remembering what went wrong the last attempt and compensating this time. He spun over top of the branch and his eyes widened. He clipped a leaf but the drone stayed airborne, and he spun it in a circle in celebration.
“Told you I could do it!” Arnold said, pushing Carlos’s shoulder playfully.
“Arnold!” came his mother’s angry voice from behind them.
He spun and saw his mother standing over the workbench. She yanked out the hot glue gun cord and kicked over the step stool. She banged a fist down on the workbench before starting to clean up, mumbling to herself.
“Good luck, dude,” Carlos said, a worried look on his face.
Without another word Carlos ran across the street to his house, ducking around back and disappearing. Arnold swallowed hard and pushed his glasses up on his face. As he entered the garage, his mother spun and folded her arms, giving him a look that he knew meant a severe spanking was in his future.