Let's get back to I've A Nuking.
Jessie was at the bar. A train sped by the window and rattled all the bottles and the tables and the guns people left hanging at the front. I saw the bartender, an old Caldaray with wrinkled tentacles and a mop of white hair, shudder at the noise before returning to work. The air was thick with smoke and low on lighting.
I made my way across the floor. I was pleased to see that the bar patrons were the usual roster of rat bastards and sex fiends I would have found in this district years ago. A scar-patterned Black man in a white cloak sat across from two Latinas with matching crab tattoos on their faces. Standing by the jukebox in an orange sweater, a green-eyed Selek with a missing ear and grey fur watched a diminutive Asian girl with dyed-blue hair bringing him drinks. On the side, a trio of Nalg-nas, beet-red and built like semi trucks, sat around another table playing with knives and a severed hand. A Polyp played cards with some North Croatian soldiers, uniforms and all; there was some serious coinage on its side of the table. Its opponents looked pissed.
My focus was on Jessie, “Jess!” I called out.
She faced me. Black-haired and almond-eyed, her bronze and round face lit up when she saw me. She was in the chequered coat I got her for Christmas and a pair of black pants. She was still a bit heavy, her thighs thick and her body as broad as I remembered it. That was fine; I could never picture her thin.
“Took you long enough,” she said, holding up a glass of something awful, “I was in here for hours yesterday.”
“I got held up at the station,” I told her, trying not to mention the food poisoning I suffered on the train. “Do you have the package?”
She reached under her chair and lifted up a black suitcase. “Fourteen fucking hours of Neo Fascists talking about Mars’ economy,” Jessie told me before putting it back down again. “Why did I do that again?”
“H.Q. needs that intel.”
“I’m sure learning that the East Martian dollar has passed parity will be integral to the war effort.”
With a smile, I moved my chair closer to her. “Every minute counts. We’ll have the boys back in the office keep an eye out for code when they transcribe it all.”
She scoffed. “They’re welcome to it. Can’t believe I miss checking the radar.”
My hand sought hers. “I missed you, y’know.”
“Oh, Kent,” she cooed, gripping my fingers, “I missed you, too.”
My shoulder pressed against hers. “You look great, by the way.”
She laughed, “Still fat, you mean?”
“You’re not fat.”
“I’m fat, love.”
“Don’t lie to yourself.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m fat.”
“You’re just big; broad-shouldered and wide-hipped, yeah, but not fat.”
“Sounds like fat to me.”
I sighed. A Priest of Rock once told me that men were handicapped by a need to make sense. I was starting to think he was on to something.
The doors were thrown open. Five Levennan boys entered with one of their jewel-encrusted women, diamonds embedded in her supple green skin. She was on the arm of the tallest man, a passably handsome man with a t-shaped body and long legs.
“Hey-hey!” the tall one laughed, pointing our way, “Es fat gerl from yastarday! And shae breng skennae man over to boom-boom!”
His friends joined the chuckle. I ground my teeth. Jessie looked at me and shook her head, “Don’t.”
I wanted to; by void, I did. I hated it when she called herself fat; I liked hearing it from other people even less. My body boiled with every word and joke they exchanged. In my head, I translated the odd word here and there. They were speaking in a mix of English and the West Kal Island dialect. Key words like ‘cow’ and ‘huge’ made themselves known to me. And they were making me angrier.
Something bounced off the back of my head.
To this day I don’t know if it was an orange or a baseball. In any case, it put me over. Flying from my seat, I vaulted over a table and rushed them. Years of CQC training floated to the surface. Two of his friends saw me and ran ahead, arms out to tackle me. I ducked and grabbed their wrists, rising as I slid between them. Shoulders rotating, I had them flipped. One of the remaining three grabbed the girl and leapt behind the massive man in white; his other, smaller friend fainted. That left me and the big one.
Idiot thought it was a good idea to throw a kick at me. Stepping to the side, I caught it in mid-flight. One free arm reached for his vest. My weight shifted. We tumbled onto the friends of his I tossed. Flipping myself on top of him, I gripped his shoulders and slammed the back of his head into the floor.
“You wanna fuck with me?” I asked, dropping an elbow into his face, “You wanna fuck with a government man? Eh?”
“I think he gets it,” I heard Jessie say, tapping my shoulder feverishly.
“Oh, no,” I spat, staring into my opponent’s bruised and frightened eyes, “He –”
I heard safeties being released.
I turned to see the Caldaray bartender holding two class-five hunting rifles in its tentacles, massive pump-action weapons with multiple barrels. They were aimed at me.
“Gwet,” it tried to say, “Gwet ohwet ovv my barl.”
I took the hint. Hands in the air, I rolled myself off the Levennan. My head jerked to the door and I shot my lady a look. Jessie ran ahead and I walked backwards, arms still raised. Behind me, I heard her take her guns from the hooks out front and turn a knob. I sped up.
When we were far enough from the danger, Jess started talking again.
“Well, great job,” she began, kicking me, “Not only did I waste a weekend listening to a bunch of gasbags, but you kept me waiting a whole day, then started a fight and got me kicked out of a bar when you showed up.”
“I was defending your honour and shit.”
“Defending my honour got us thrown out of a bar.”
I pocketed my hands and looked at her, “You didn’t really like it in there, did you?”
Hesitating, she took a moment to take that in. “Well, no.”
“You’re welcome, tubs,” I teased her, putting my arm around her shoulders.
Jessie gave me a hard look and a soft smile. “Shut up and kiss me.”
I pulled her close and tasted tobacco.
See you next time,
EDIT: May 23, 2012. Edits.