In the end, they got plenty more help than they needed: just about everyone came out. Those who didn’t come to pull came to watch, and none of them would be chased off. Ms. Sally and Ms. Katie (and Stefan in his wheelchair) watched over the kids, Rita let Sondra go but stayed with Big Ben herself, and they were the only ones left behind.
Cody and Johnny tied four ropes to the framework, then tied knots in the rope for hand-holds. Nearly everyone brought gloves, for the chill as well as protection. They assigned four people to each rope, and Johnny, Palmer, Max, Charles, and Tim took up positions at the bottom. “Pull!” Johnny yelled, and the ramp began scraping across the pavement. “Wait! Wait!” Johnny waved everyone to a stop, then ducked underneath and jacked it up. “I guess we’re all anxious to try this out, huh?” Laughter from the others.
“It might work just as well that way,” Cody muttered to Sondra, Tina, and Kelly, sharing one of the inside ropes. “It won’t be as easy to get up the slope, but if something happens it wouldn’t slide back much either.”
Johnny’s cry, “Pull!” cut off any response, and everyone hauled away. The ramp rumbled up the hill; this time the extra help kept it going. The onlookers cheered as it climbed the incline up to the street. As the people at the end of each rope neared the street, they stopped and hauled on the ropes, creating some bunching-up — but the ramp was already up the steepest part of the driveway. Johnny dropped the jacks again; Cody untied the ropes and took his place with the men.
“We’ll need to turn it a bit before we get it in the road,” Cody said, pointing at the bottom of the ramp. “It’s not straight.”
Johnny nodded and raised the jacks again; they straightened the ramp, waited for a break in the traffic, then pushed it into the street; Johnny quickly dropped the jacks and everyone backed up to watch.
They only had to wait a minute: a truck rounded the corner from Satellite Blvd., climbed the ramp, and went over the top. The front of the truck dropped, smacking the pavement with a flat THUD, then it slowly went tail-over and landed on the cab and bed with a crunch sound. Many cheered; others gasped.
“One less of the fuckers,” Palmer said. “That one’s for you, Stef.”
Another truck rolled up the ramp and nose-dived into the pavement; the first truck caught and held it, tail pointing almost straight up. More cheers. A third truck climbed the ramp, braked, and ended up caught on the ramp hanging partway over; a fourth stopped at the bottom of the ramp. After a moment, it backed up, waited for oncoming traffic to clear, and went around.
“Looks like they’re routing around a road hazard,” Cleve said. “I guess the show’s over. At least we nailed two of ’em and trapped a third.” The onlookers, and many of those pulling the ropes, decided there was nothing else to see; they turned away and walked or biked back to Laurel.
“A lot of effort to take out three trucks out of… however many,” Tim said, “but worth it.”
“We’ve learned a thing or two, I think,” Charles said. “We know the trucks can be tricked. Maybe we can come up with a way to take out more of them.”
“Yeah, like run a road over the edge of the Grand Canyon,” Cody said. “I’m not sure if the world would run out of trucks or the canyon would fill up first.”
“Good point,” Charles said. “Maybe we should duck inside and talk about this for a few. This wind is starting to cut right through my sweater.”
They turned toward the QuickFill, and seconds later heard another THUD-crunch — they turned back to see one truck on its cab and a second truck climbing the ramp, dropping off the end and then falling onto its side.
“What the…” Tina said for all of them. “What happened?”
“It’s like the other trucks disappeared as soon as our backs were turned,” Tim said. A third truck climbed the ramp and landed atop the other two. “It’s not the same, the first pile only had two trucks and neither one landed on their side.”
“I’ve got an idea,” Charles said. “Everyone turn away. Don’t look at the trucks.” Shortly after they turned: THUD-crunch. “Don’t look!” A few seconds later, they heard another truck climb the ramp and THUD-crunch to the pavement. Charles nodded; they turned. They had heard two trucks go over, but only one lay shiny-side-down in the street.
“Huh,” Charles said. “It’s like a reverse quantum effect — instead of requiring an observer, this requires no observer. Come to think of it, did anyone ever see a car change into a pickup?”
Everyone shook their heads. “So they are disappearing?” Kelly asked.
“I think so, hon. They’ll jump the ramp, crash, and — as long as nobody’s watching — disappear.”
“And they’ll keep doing it,” Cody grinned. “Well… I’d say this was well worth the effort, then.”