(I was feeling bored, so I thought I would whip up a 'quickie'; please x-cuse the length):
We had gone with 'Fred' (all ficticious names) to look at an F4U Corsair -you know; the legendary World War Two fighter plane- he had bought that supposedly needed 'a little work', and towed it home backwards behind his pickup, detouring down a labyrinth of back roads to his suburban home with a red flag on the big four-bladed, thirteen-foot two-inch propeller's hub with the navy blue wings folded up and out of the way. Later that same day, he gave us the bad news over the phone; the Pratt & Whitney 2800 'Double Wasp' 18-cylinder air cooled 2,000 horsepower engine was badly in need of an overhaul and exceeded by far the wear and tear its total hours on the hour meter and fancy price tag should have indicated.
Next day, while he drove back alone to argue with the seller, we rounded up the few still-active members of the old crew, and told them the whole sad tale. Turns out, one of them knew of a 'low hours' Double Wasp that had been salvaged from a Corsair that some luckless barn-stormer had flipped on landing in a cow pasture and cartwheeled, resulting in a totally wrecked and unsalvable airframe and a good engine that was a 'Don't want'er'. We all pooled our spare change, and the spare Double Wasp was obtained for a song and dance and handed over, and as we trucked it to Freddie's home and private airfield with a hanger in the back, the gang was asked to keep it on the mum to surprise Fred.
Meanwhile, Fred called long distance to moan and groan that he'd had no luck being reimbursed by the seller for the swindle, and he was headed back and would be home later that afternoon.
Fred had one of those fancy 'aircraft propeller' ceiling fans in the den that opened out onto the cement patio, hanger, and mown grass strip, and the gang decided to play a leetle trick on ol' Freddy boy. We got the house roof opened up and had replaced the piddling ceiling fan motor with the Pratt & Whitney, and bolted it all down to the joists up there in the attic crawl space. Fred's wife was away for the week visiting her sick younger sister, so we were able to pull it off -literally- without a hitch.
We were just getting everything put back together, just in time to wave sympathetically to our dearie Freddie boy as he arrived in a foul mood.
"Join me for a beer?" Fred groused unhappily to us, as he dragged several six packs out of the back of his truck.
"Sure," we all nodded, trying real hard not to crack smiles. Actually, it pained every one of us royally, to see the state he was in. Why, he hadn't even noticed -or bothered to ask- what the whole crew was doing there at the house! That was bad; real bad.
"Well, come on in, boys," Fred said, leading the way through the back sliding door. "We'll be along in just a minute," someone said; "so why don't you kick your shoes off and get settled in. And, oh by the way, could you give the ceiling fan cord a tug and see what's the matter with it? It doesn't seem to sound like its old self, somehow."
"What? Well, criminy!" Fred groaned, looking up at the original fan blades and not noticing the shining Pratt & Whitney engine hub. "Seems like there ain't nothing been working right lately!"
Everyone held back and listened, until we'd heard the shoes tumble to the floor, followed by the unmistakable sound of the ceiling fan cord being pulled.
"Surprise!" we all called out, as the engine caught, and all 2,000 horsepower of the mighty Double Wasp erupted in a full throttle roar.
The sliding tempered glass door shattered into a million bits as the side table lamp got sucked up and pieces of it thrown in every direction. This was followed by the paintings of galloping wild mustangs getting sucked off the walls and following the table lamp in bits and pieces. Fred stared up at the roaring ceiling fan, and dived off the couch just in time to dig his fingers into the deep pile shag carpeting and hang on for dear life as the couch rose up into the whirling blades and met the same fate as the pictures.
By this time, all the rest of the furniture in the room had followed suit, and our grins had turned to awe.
Someone shouted, "I thought you set the throttle to idle!" as someone else replied, "I thought YOU did!"
Then the roof took off straight up into the air and hooking over like the space shuttle doing a 'roll maneuver' on liftoff, did a three-and-a-half gainer, and narrowly missed Dorothy and Toto flying past, and the Wicked Witch of the West riding on her broomstick, and I watched the roof come sailing back down straight onto the house, as I heard Fred shouting, "It ain't funny, you guys!"
Then I woke up on the couch and Fred was staring out of the sliding glass doors at the shining Double Wasp mounted on the engine stand in the cement patio. "You could'a told me in advance," Fred stammered, looking happier than I'd ever seen him and trying to act angry at the same time and failing miserably at it. "Saved me a long haul talking to that chisler, and all for nothing, would have, when you had this beaut in your back pocket and all. And-- and gee, thanks a lot, guys." He tried to hold back tears. Big boys don't cry, unless it's an F4U Corsair.
"Don't mention it," someone said happily. Then, looking over at me, "Hey, Jack, you alright? You look a bit green around the gills there, somehow."
But all I could do was lay there on that magnificent old sofa and stare up past the galloping wild mustangs in the gilt frame on the wall, at the imitation aircraft propeller ceiling fan.
"Now Jack," the other said, "I see that evil glint in your eyes, and you better not be thinkin', what I THINK you're thinkin'."
"Naw," I replied. Then I let a long, slow grin spread across my five o'clock shadow. "Jist don't go giving me any funny ideas, is all I got to say."