Chapter Twenty Five




I guess Destiny had stayed up and read or something. I woke up about six, wondering what time I'd fallen asleep on that couch, it must have been pretty early. I started coffee and was glad the robots were almost as good at cooking as they were bad at making coffee, because I didn't even feel like making coffee, let alone cooking. Well, they cook all right unless it had to do with barbecue sauce, and who has barbecue in space? Especially for breakfast?
Or pork, I remembered. I don't eat pork, it's been way too damned expensive for the last half century or more, way before I was born, and I like beef and chicken better, anyway. But George Wilson, one of our guys who hauls first class passengers, eats it sometimes. The company has pork on the first class boats and he tells me the pork is as bad as the coffee. Odd that they cook bacon pretty good, but all you have to do with bacon is microwave it. The robots would have to be dumber than they already are to mess bacon up. Besides, only rich people eat pork bacon, normal people have turkey bacon and you cook them both the same way. I had a pork bacon sandwich with lettuce and tomato in a restaurant once and couldn't tell the difference. Except for the size of the bill, that was a damned expensive sandwich!
But that one trip I was hauling frozen pork to that big science station in orbit around Venus I had plenty of pork. Too much damned pork. Especially since I can't cook pork much better than the damned robots can. Yeah, my parents taught me to cook when I was a kid, but we were poor. We had to print everything out and we damned sure couldn't afford a luxury like cookbots or pork.
I was twenty five before I ate my first ham and cheese sandwich, as a treat to myself on my birthday. I didn't see what all the fuss was about, I thought thin sliced turkey was better, and a hell of a lot cheaper...
Huh? Oh, sorry, my mind kind of wandered. Anyway, while coffee was perking and the robots were making breakfast and Destiny was sleeping I took my shower and got dressed.
The smell of decent coffee that robots can't make must have woke Destiny up, because she walked in as I was pouring the first cup. I handed it to her, said “Good morning, sweetheart,” and poured a cup for myself and kissed her. “Hungry?” I asked as I sat down. “I had the robot make waffles and sausage.”
“Sausage? You have pork?”
I laughed. “Of course not, it's beef sausage. The company sure isn't going to pay for pork unless there's rich passengers traveling first class. And I damned sure can't afford it on a captain's wages.”
“That's too bad,” she said, “I love pork sausage but it's way too expensive to eat very often, I feel guilty when I do eat pork. Too frugal, I guess. I usually just eat it on my birthday for breakfast.”
“I never ate any,” I said. She switched the video on and we watched the “news” while we ate. There was one interesting item about a robot probe that was on its way to Alpha and Proxima Centauri at five gravities thrust, though. I wonder how fast that thing would be going by the time it was halfway there? Compared to Proxima, Neptune's right next door, and it's a long way off, even from Mars! It was already months ahead of its telemetry, and no, I don't know what “telemetry” is but that's what they said on the news. It sounded impressive to me, anyway. They said once it got there it would be four years before any data about those stars came back. Four years, that's a hell of a long way off.
It was almost eight so I kissed Destiny again and went to the pilot room. Everything was normal, so I started my inspections. It would be a light day, since I didn't have to inspect quarters. I still had a hell of a lot of ion engines to check out, though.
After the generator had blown out I'd reduced power to a third of the engines, and shut down engine twenty four, the one I'd made sputter when I'd killed all them damned pirates in the rock storm, and sixty four and seventeen, the ones with the funny voltages, were completely offline too.
I plugged robots into all three of them and had them do a “twenty four hour diagnostic” which is what they tell me the robots do when you plug them in like that. I'd see the results tomorrow. I might need those motors when we were closer to Mars and pirates were more likely.
I climbed up the five damned flights of stairs, and walked past the commons on my way home. The German woman was in there eating, as usual, and four more were playing cards. I wondered what they were gambling for... oh hell, I'm a dumbass, they were gambling for drops, of course. What else would they be playing for? I pretended not to notice and went home.
Destiny was reading, so I got a cup of coffee and started to sit down. “That's nasty robot coffee,” she warned.
I poured it down the drain, rinsed out my cup and the pot and started a new pot. I had the robot make roast beef sandwiches, and we ate them when the robot finished. Destiny turned on the video to watch an old Western and put her tablet down when it started. I asked what she was reading.
She grinned. “A history of fones. I was reading an old historical novel about a nineteen thirties prison where they executed criminals by electrocuting them. Creepy book, but hard to understand in places, I have to look stuff up to see what the author is talking about. Like back then ‘fone’ was spelled with a P H instead of an F, I guess it was pronounced ‘pone’. And they weren't really fones, they only did speech and they were all wired together, either attached to a wall or by a wire that went into the wall. Fones, or ‘pones’ as it was spelled then, didn't have radios or batteries or computers in them. There wasn't even any such thing as a computer that existed in the nineteen thirties!
“That prison book was creepy, I haven't finished it yet. Barbaric back then.”
I asked “What are you putting on?”
“An old western with that one guy from Rawhide, called The Outlaw Josey Wales,” she answered, and added “I haven't seen it yet,” which surprised me. She's the one that got me liking these old westerns. I said “There's a movie listed that says it's about a nineteen thirties prison, I wonder if it could be from that book you're reading?”
“Probably not,” she said, “but anyway the movies are never faithful to the books and usually aren't nearly as good.” That was a long movie, but it was a really good one. When it was finished, Destiny asked “Are you hungry?”
“I could eat.”
She told the robot to cook a pizza and bring us some beers, and we drank our coffee while the pizza was baking.
When the pizza was done we watched a funny old movie called “Smokey and the Bandit”.
We went to bed after it was over. Well, after cuddling and listening to music for quite a while...


Chapter 24
Chapter 26

mcgrew publishing