In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, they can be found by clicking the labels button "stuff I made up".

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Last Call


Kevin glanced around the bar, while he sipped his scotch and water. The bartender, who he had made an acquaintance, glanced at him every few minutes to see if he wanted another drink. When he did, he’d just tip his head and tap on the bar next to the drink he was in the process of savoring.

Tomorrow, Kevin was going back to work. He’d ship out at first light and be gone for at least six months. Until then, he’d enjoy the little time left and observe the people in the bar.

Kevin thought about work. They hoped for a few thousand tons of ore, although he knew they might not have that much left. Whether they did, or not wasn't important, he’d make good pay, which was pro-rated on the current value of the ore. Pay was always good and he would come back with more money than he could spend. There was always more ore farther out.

“Do you need another drink?”

Kevin broke his thoughts, looked at the bartender and shook his head: “Maybe in a few minutes.”

Kevin examined the clientele. They were a varied bunch, but they all made him feel a little out of place, with his neatly trimmed beard and short hair cut. Most had long hair, but little anywhere else. Most didn't even have eyebrows and the body piercings were a little hard to fathom.

After sitting for a few minutes, a couple wandered to the bar and sat next to Kevin. Glancing over, he checked them out and decided to strike up a conversation.

“Are you going to college?”

The woman turned, looked at Kevin like he crawled from a crack in the wall and answered: “I’m a professor of advanced human behavior studies.”

Before Kevin could reply, the woman’s suitor added: “I’ll have you know she’s published numerous papers and is respected by the academic community.”

Kevin eyeballed the man. Dressed like most of the others in the bar, his long hair, effeminate manner and strange piercings made him think of circus performers. Tickled, he just laughed, turned away and continued with his drink.

Catching movement from the corner of his eye, Kevin turned to find the young man standing with a menacing look. On guard, he turned and faced the man and waited.

"We don’t have to put up with this.”

The man grabbed the hand of the woman, and they disappeared into the bar. Kevin shook his head and went back to nursing his drink. Glancing at the clock, he downed the rest and tapped the bar.

“Are you ready?”

“Damn straight. “

Within moments, the bartender returned with another drink. Kevin thanked him, over-tipped and watched the bartender wander away to another customer.

Tasting his drink, Kevin thought again on how crummy the scotch tasted. It tasted of chemicals and the fine process of long aging seemed to be ignored. The bottle was supposedly from the best, but the taste indicated otherwise.

Within a few minutes, the bartender wandered back to Kevin and struck up a conversation.

“How long are you going to be gone?” 

“Six months.” 

“You’re a miner?” 

“Yep. Been doing it all my life.” 

“ I've thought of trying it” 

Kevin looked at the bartender and made an instant assessment: He wouldn't last a week and probably come home in a frozen body bag. 

“I hear they’re hiring. You might want to give it a shot.”

The bartender, looking thoughtful, replied: “Maybe I will.”
Kevin waited for the bartender to continue.

“So, how long is that for us?”

“How old are you.” Kevin replied.

“Thirty”

“When I get back, you’ll be crapping in diapers….when you’re not constipated.”

The bartender looked hurt, which made Kevin feel a little ashamed - for a moment. After a little more thought, he decided he didn't care. What could he do? Get mad? Throw a punch and get his ass whipped?

Kevin thought of the ore. Without it, fusion generators were useless and the sources were getting further away. Right now, miners were gone for 30 years, Earth time. The sacrifice and pay had equal value, which was huge. Kevin was rich, although every trip brought a new currency standard and an increased respect - or maybe fear - for those that worked the mines. When they returned, they had damn near free reign, within limits. A bar brawl was ignored and those injured could only chalk it up to experience.

“Last call.”

Kevin downed his drink and said: “Make it a double.”

The bartender returned with his drink and Kevin gave him an extra big tip. He knew he insulted the man and felt a little guilty, even though he looked as though he couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag. In fact, considering the rest of the clientele, he was a bruiser. The thought made Kevin laugh out loud, which brought curious stares from the bar patrons.

Feeling like a trained animal, Kevin decided he’d had enough. He had one stop to make at the local house of ill repute and he only had so much time before the ship left.

Kevin stood slowly to make sure he had good balance, and started for the door. Before reaching the door, he found the couple from the bar sharing a table. A little peeved and completely unashamed, he winked at the woman and blew the man a kiss. Both were shocked and the man started to stand.

Kevin smiled and stepped toward the man. The man quickly sat down and tried to ignore Kevin, who now was only a few feet away.

When he reached the table, Kevin stopped, bent over and kissed the woman on the lips, while staring at her partner. The look of anger in his eyes was only overcome by his fear.

Kevin looked at the shocked woman, nodded his head and stepped toward the door. Within seconds he was outside and walking down the street. He looked at the people walking by and realized he found the citizens were increasingly different after every trip. If this continued, the next time would be more than disappointing. They were like adolescents; small, out of shape and wrapped up in a self-importance that was completely dependent on what Kevin brought back after his six months of hard labor. Without him, their gizmos and technology were useless. Hell, they couldn't survive a week without any of it. They lived in fear the constant supply of ore and generations would be interrupted. It was easier to put up with the whims of the miners than suffer the consequences of hindering the supply.

Speaking to himself, Kevin whispered: “Never again.” and vowed to go to the Europa colony after the next trip. It wasn't home, but neither was Earth. They couldn't even make a decent scotch whiskey.

“Maybe they’ll have a fat woman” Kevin added. Whistling to himself, he continued down the street. He’d better hurry; he only had so much time.

Sniffing the breeze, Kevin heard the test run of the ship’s engine in the distance. They sounded good; he was ready to go back to work.

5 comments:

  1. Lots going on here - great read!

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  2. I like where this is going...!

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  3. I appreciate your comments. They mean more than you know.

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