But of course all of that was just background. I was still vaguely haunted by The Kid's remark about never having ridden in "a genuine General Products transparent hull" ship before. Here's this poor gap-toothed Okie geek living in a galaxy teeming with ships of all shapes and sizes, and he thinks ours (loaded as it is with potions, lotions, notions, powders and smokes of all descriptions, not to mention bristling with as much weaponry and firepower as I could force in) was some reason to get excited.
And he might have been right about all that. But clearly he couldn't see that our adventure, our trip, was Something Different and really WORTH getting excited about. It was a classic affirmation of everything Right and True and Decent in Men scattered across all of Known Space, wherever they might be. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic POSSIBILITIES of life's potential in our galaxy -- but only for those with True Grit. And we were chock full of that..
My attorney understood this concept -- despite his racial handicap. But The Kid was not an easy person to reach. He SAID he understood, but I could see in his eyes that he didn't. He was lying to me. And he was quickly moving away, eyeing the airlock nervously, perhaps hoping to push us back through it.
Suddenly my attorney slumped over, a moan escaping from one of his mouths. "My hearts," he groaned. "Where's The Medicine?".
"The Medicine?" I croaked. "Ah, yes ... well, it's back on our ship." The Kid seemed petrified. I moved quickly to ease his worries. "Don't worry," I said. "My attorney has a heart condition -- angina pectoris. I thought that was some kinda constellation, but ... I have the cure for what ails him back on our ship, if we could just...." I began moving toward the airlock, an arm looped around one of Nessus's necks. This didn't help.
"Turn up the fucking music!" he screamed. "My heart feels like an alligator! Volume! Clarity! Bass! We must have bass! What's wrong with us?! Are we all OLD LADIES?!".
"Yeezus, pay no attention to this swine," I told The Kid. "He can't really handle The Medicine. Actually, we're BOTH Doctors of Journalism and we're on our way to cover the biggest story of our generation." And then I began laughing.....
My attorney hunched around to face The Kid. "The truth is," he said, "we're heading out to croak a spineless swine named Ausfaller. We've known his shifty type for years and he's recently become a real major pain in the ass. And you know what that means, right?" .
I wanted to shut him off, but we were both helpless with laughter. What the fuck were we both DOING out here in this desert, when we both had bad hearts? .
"Ausfaller has cashed his check!" my attorney snarled. "We're gonna rip his lungs out!" .
"And eat them!" I blurted. "That bastard won't get away with this! What's going on in this galaxy when a scumsucker like that can sandbag a doctor of journalism?!".
Nobody answered. My attorney was still slumped over, moving shakily toward the airlock and the tube back to the Skydiver. The Kid was behind us, gently but persistently herding us toward the airlock. .
"Thanks for the offer of a lift," he was saying. "Thanks a LOT! I LIKE you guys, REALLY! But don't worry about ME! I think I'm gonna stay out here for awhile longer! I'm really starting to LIKE the quiet!".
And with that he slammed the airlock door shut behind us and dogged it tight. The lock cycled through, and we began crawling slowly, shakily, back over to our ship. And the sooner we got there, the better. .
"Good riddance," mumbled my attorney as we made our unsteady way through the tube. "We had a real freak on our hands. That boy made me nervous. And did you see his EYES?!"