Unnamed Journal Volume 3, Issue 3 - Page 24

Cantilever Jones Lands Hard "That's Master Idiot to you." "Oh of course, Master Idiot. Please forgive me, Master Idiot." "What's your favorite part of hyperspace, Norl?" "I hate you." I saunter back down the ramp very pleased with myself. The Underofficer is beating a worker with a cheap flash-whip and he seems to be pleased with how his day is turning out, too. * * * I find the canteen via Norl's sense of smell. He says it's the only establishment that doesn't smell like iron and laundry. I'm not sure I know what he's talking about but we get to this place underneath a sign carved into some old piece of dry-rotted wood that says something in Zinzoan I can't understand but looks modest enough. Inside a handful of the same downcast bastards who were unloading my ship a moment before are now waxing merry and playing Oocarroo with their modest pay, cheering each victory and defeat with throated glee. I wander over to a table and when a girl comes by and calls me "starman" I tell her I'll have the usual. She nods and wanders off and Norl crawls down my sleeve to my hand and nibbles at the wood of the table. I tell him not to eat it and call him a dope but he calls me a shriek that's apparently an unprintable insult in his lizard language and one or two Zinzoans look at us queer but we laugh inside our minds. The girl brings a mug of some kind of spice beer and a bowl of light fried snacks. Both taste okay. A little while goes by and I see not-Harn slip through the door. I feel the impulse to wave her over but I suppress it. Rule One of Smuggling: Never act like you want to see anyone. I drink my beer and feed Norl a fried something and did not watch her come over. She sits down and faces oblique from me and we wait for the girl to come by and she has the same as me and now Norl has two bowls to poach food from ("I am not poaching") and we pretend to make idle small talk and then she rubs her leg against mine. "My boot," she says "You'll find it in there." "Really?" She scowls at me. "That was moderately kinky, Master Idiot." "So it's not just me." "Nothing is ever just you."