THE INVENTIONS OF DR. EDGAR EUPHONIUM: THE HORSE WHISPER TRANSLATOR

“Bhat are be doig here?” I asked. My speech impediment was caused by the fact that I was plugging my nose. I was plugging my nose because it stank to high heaven. It stank to high heaven because we were on a farm.
“Unplug your nose, Gottfredson, you sound like a congested bumblebee,” Dr. Edgar Euphonium said. “And we’re here to test my latest invention.” He gestured to the field of horses before us.
“You invented a horse?” I asked.
“Don’t be a jabbernowl, Floyd. You can’t improve upon the design of a horse. I mean, I suppose you could add a seat belt and perhaps a deodorizing spray for the smell. Softer hooves, less menacing teeth. And a sidecar! But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
I was confused and tired and getting annoyed by the smell. It was six in the morning and there was a chill in the air. My loafers were damp with dew and my straw boater wasn’t doing much to protect my ears. The coffee in my travel mug was lukewarm and I really just really, really wanted to be back in bed. I’d stayed up late last night listening to tapes of The Jack Benny Program, and around eleven I received a Paper Airplane Telegram from Dr. Euphonium to meet at Old Man Tabey’s field. Technically, he wanted to meet at dawn. Technically, he was lucky to get me at six.
“Floyd, my boy, I’ve been observing these horses for some time now. Trying to tap into that elusive equine majesty. After weeks of study, I haven’t been able to tap into that, per se, but I have made an astounding discovery. Did you know that horses whisper?”
“Don’t you mean whinny?” I asked.
“Nay, Gottfredson, they whisper. And yes, ‘nay’ was a clever pun.”
“Well, clever is being generous,” I said. “What do you mean, they whisper?” The doctor was getting that ‘I’m glad you asked, Floyd’ look in his eyes.
“I’m glad you asked, Floyd,” he predictably said. “I observed one morning the mouths of the horses moving, as if in conversation. At first, I thought I must’ve been seeing things. But then, the next morning I saw it again. And the next day and the next day and the next day and the…”
“I got it,” I said.
“I tried to read their lips,” he continued, “but without getting closer, all I could decipher was the word ‘watermelon’ repeated over and over. But all that will change with my latest invention, the Horse Whisper Translator!”
Now, this was intriguing. Animals had always been an interest to me, from my pet cat Harpo to the penguins in the zoo. I’d read a book once that suggested some animals were even smarter than people. I wasn’t sure about that theory, but after growing up with the Muppets and Looney Tunes, who didn’t want to see real live talking animals? “What is it?” I asked.
“It’s a bit complex, but basically I aim this modified Walkman at them and press the rewind button, and the sound travels straight from the horse’s mouth to the modified Walkman, into these ear buds and voila!”
“Why the rewind button?” I asked.
“Hey, who’s the scientist here?” Dr. Euphonium snapped. “I get to choose the activation button, and I choose the rewind button. Yours is not to reason why, Gottfredson! Why don’t you ask a more meaningful question like, how does the Horse Whisper Translator work, exactly?”
“Okay, how does the Horse Whisper Translator work, exactly?”
“Oh, that’s technotronic twaddle; you don’t want to know that. Now! Behold! Bewatch! Belisten to the Horse Whisper Translator!” We popped in an ear bud each and Dr. Euphonium (over) dramatically pressed the rewind button. There was a shushing whir of the Walkman in reverse mode. And nothing else.
“Did you press the rewind button?” I asked.
“Not only did I press it, I (over)dramatically pressed it,” he replied. We waited.
“I’m not hearing anything,” I said.
“That’s because they’re not saying anything,” he said. We waited.
“I’m cold,” I mumbled.
“Did you hear that? The horses are cold!”
“That was me.”
“Oh. Pipe down, Floyd.” Dr. Euphonium aimed the Walkman closer to the horses. Just then, one of them, a brown horse, trotted over to another one, also brown, and whispered into his ear. “Floyd, they’re whispering, look! Listen!” The Horse Whisper Translator began whirring louder and through the ear buds the horse’s voice crackled through.
“Look Morris,” he said. “Dr. Doofus is back.”
“Yeah, Frank,” the other said. “I can smell him from here.”
“Smell me?” the doctor said. “They must mean my cologne, Eau de Table Periodique.”
“You hear that, Morris? He chooses to smell like that. What a maroon!”
“Such a reddish purple fellow, indeed,” the horse named Frank agreed. “Next he’ll say his hair is supposed to look like that.”
“My hair is supposed to look like that,” Dr. Euphonium said.
“Told you,” said Frank.
“And what about the whole wearing socks and sandals thing?” Morris said, chuckling.
Dr. Euphonium fumed, “I have a fungal condition about my toes.” He was either blushing or getting angry. Either way, his face was beet red.
“A fungal condition about my toes? Who talks like that?” Frank said.
“Dr. Doofus the maroon, that’s who!” Morris replied. Dr. Euphonium huffed and snapped off the Horse Whisper Translator.
“I’ve heard enough, the invention is clearly faulty.” He said, and removed our ear buds. I stifled a laugh.
“It sounded clear as crystal to me.”
“It’s faulty, I say! Faulty, faulty, faulty!” he shouted, stalking off. I didn’t know about the doctor, but I felt better and more awake. The horses and I had a good laugh at his expense. I couldn’t wait for his next invention.

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