by Wilf James.

"Betcha carn do it Gary!"
"Just you watch Jim. I been practising with this pistol"
"That ain no pistol, its 'n 'ose pipe."
"It's a paint pistol, they call it an air brush"
"Doan look like no air brush t' me, its a spray gun, innit?"
"No, don't be daft Jim, I didn't mean an huh-air brush, I meant an air brush."
"Well, let's see ya do summink wiv it then."
"Watch this.  If I was using a spray can I'd do this - right?"
"Now watch, the paint doesn't hardly touch the surface."
"Hey do that again!"
"What, like this?"
"Jeeze man, youse got summink there Gary!"
"I like to think so Jim."
" I ain't never seen anyone paint where the paint doan touch the wall."
"It does, but it doesn't look like it."
"It looks like you could put a bit o' paper unner that"
"Try it, and see what happens."
"It woan go, but it looks like it orter go."
"Try using your knife."
"What yer done?  You aint used no invisible glass or suthink?"
"No.  Watch when I try another coat. The first one is dry now."
"Shee-it.  I doan believe it.  Howdya make it shine like that between the coats?"
"It's this air brush and the way I mix the paint."
"That ain't no ornary paint, ya done summat wiv it!"
"Yeah man, and I ain't telling nobody.  Now watch this with the thinners."
"Je-eeze man, that is sumfin else.  That's like paintin 'aloes."
"Sure thing man,  I call it an afterglow.  Now try putting a bit of paper underneath."
"There aint nuthin there but the 'alo still glows.  I can put my 'and in it 'n it still glows,
an' it woan go away neither."
"It lasts for about a week and then it fades so you can't see it in the day time but it keeps
going a bit longer night times."
"Whadya gonna do with it Gary?"
"Have a bit of fun and then I reckon I could make a bit of money with it."

He did. Gary Jones had a lot of fun. He had always wanted to get that special effect with his spray cans but all the good places got painted out before he could paint a picture that was so good that no-one would paint over it. He tried everything he knew to produce a paint which nobody could paint over. He read books about paints and varnishes until he knew them by heart. He recycled his old spray cans with his own mixtures to test what the books said. They were usually right. Then he went deeper and read up on the polar structures of fluid interfaces. Gary investigated Langmuir and Blodgett films and electret surfaces. Then he produced a soluble transparent electret film which would take a special paint mixture. He said that his paint went on like the bristles on a brush, always on end. Beyond that, he would say no more.

Gary had fun with his graffiti. He sprayed a bright yellow rectangle on the window around a restaurant's menu display. It improved their business - long after they planned to close for the night! He sprayed the rear lights of cars and lorries red. These ideas had the effect of producing extreme consternation when the owners tried to turn the offending lights off . He made a local traffic signal permanently green for pedestrians and red for vehicles. Even with the lights deactivated and covered with a black cloth, the images of a red light and a green walking man were still clearly visible. Advertising hoardings were suitably adorned. A toothpaste advertisement took on a different view when the teeth of a pretty young lady actually shone - yellow - an inch in front of her face. Coffee was never bluer, and the man in a 'before and after' advert was given a shining halo - before. A giant pair of spectacles outside an optician's shop developed a luminous pink hue. (Gary had always wanted to see the world through rose-coloured glasses.) A skull and crossbones with the legend "Dead End" was not appreciated by the undertaker who tried to remove it from his shop sign. The police were not amused by a picture of a sow defecating on the windscreen of their car.

No-one saw Gary Jones doing any of his painting. The air brush was less conspicuous than a collection of spray cans would have been. The painting stopped just as the miracle paint had begun to be news. It became a nine days wonder for the general press, but there were quite a few arguments and photographs in the learned journals about it for months afterwards. Gary had made a very interesting and painful discovery just when he was getting the public's attention. He accidentally spilled some of his special paint on the floor in his workshop and then stepped in it before it had dried. This had no immediate effect other than to create impressions of his shoe on the floor as he walked around his studio. However, later, Gary discovered that the paint adhering to the sole of his shoe was repelled by the footmarks on the floor. He sustained a twisted ankle and a broken arm as he fell and he collected more bruises as he tried to get up to ring for help. He had a scientific turn of mind so he experimented a little while he sat on a chair, waiting for the ambulance service. His paint had more uses than immediately met the eye - or foot.

When Gary got out of hospital he could move with difficulty and a stick. He wasn't fit enough to resume his alfresco painting experiments but he was able to try the effect of painting a circle on the floor of his studio and the whole of a small drawing board. The drawing board floated two feet above the floor. Gary then stacked things on the drawing board to see if it could hold the extra weight. Then, using his stick and a chair to stabilise himself, he sat on it. The effect was comparable to sitting heavily on a stone wall. The drawing board did not change height by a millimetre. He experimented with a long piece of painted wood and two lines painted on the floor (in a different place of course) and made a levitating guide track.

Gary Jones was not satisfied with his levitating paint. He wanted to find out how it worked and how it could be improved. His next discovery was how the effect of the paint could be polarised. He found that if two adjacent areas of paint were exposed to a strong electro-magnetic field, the surface below had the effect of a mirror. A board painted in this way would float without the need of a painted area beneath it - while the power was applied.

"Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the summary of the history which led to the founding of the Gary Jones Floater Corporation."
"When you start to drive a Gary Jones floater, you must follow the safety drill. It is clearly printed on the front panel. A Gary Jones floater is inherently safe when the power is on; it cannot collide with anything, including the ground. All Gary Jones floaters are voice controlled. A floater requires very clear and precise verbal directions about where you wish to go and where you wish to land. This is much harder than it sounds.
Remember that there are towns on Earth called Heaven and Hell, and Gary Jones floaters can go to both places. If you use a sexual expletive - expect to visit a red light district. If you say 'Piss Off!' to a floater it will, and you could end up walking home - wetter!"

Copyright (C) W. H. James 4/3/1988
Revised 21/5/91 and 29/11/98
(1296 words)

Wilf James,106 Jarden, Letchworth, Herts. SG6 2NZ, UK. E-mail  wilf dot james at ntlworld dot com This version of my email address is to beat spammer's robots.
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