[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 20
June sat down and stared at Joey. He was cute in a boyish way. It was so sad that he’d also been ripped from his home. There was nothing to do but let him hang there and work it out himself.
Vic had left in a huff. That was so typical of him. Just when things get tough emotionally, he bails out. Perhaps that’s why she never found herself interested in him. Sure he had the bad-boy, seventies-slacker-mentality, give-it-to-the-man that made him endearing, but that was only good for so long. It was actually starting to get old.
Maybe she’d grown up along the way and he hadn’t. That had to be it. Vic was Vic and always would be. With Dexter, Mike, and Argmon around why should he change?
Joey still hadn’t moved. June placed the immobilizer gun on the table. It was a good weapon, but only good for one shot before you had to recharge it. Dexter had brought it up and had put it in the lounge. Dexter had a way of knowing when things were going to happen.
She wanted to reach up and brush his curly, blond hair from his eyes, but she’d tried touching a person in an immobilizer field before and had her hand stuck. The field could be deactivated if you wanted to, but it also wore off on its own after an hour or so.
“You shouldn’t have gone after Vic like that, Joey. He’ll help you if you let him, but you can’t attack him just because you’re upset over this mess. You know what I did when I got here? I curled up into a ball for a week and refused to eat or talk or anything. It didn’t help until I started talking about it. Oh, and don’t mock his authority either. He really doesn’t like that.”
June had butted heads with Vic on more than one occasion. He was a man who always wanted to either be in control or give the appearance of control. Unfortunately June had become much the same except much less pig-headed than Vic.
“So how long should I leave you there?” It hadn’t occurred to her that Joey had no idea how long he would remain up there. “I can turn this off any time, but I’ve got to know that you’ve calmed down and you’re ready to start accepting this. I know it’s difficult, but throwing a fit isn’t going to change anything. In fact it’ll just make things worse for all of us.”
Joey’s eyes moved and kept looking at her. He could hear her. She’d been placed in an immobilization field before and you could move your eyes, hear, and breathe. That was about it. It was a very efficient weapon for capturing people.
“If I let you down, will you sit and talk to me and not go all bonkers? Blink once for yes, twice for no.”
Joey blinked once.
“If you try and jump me like you tried to jump Vic, I assure you that I’ll scream for Dexter. He was nice to you once, he won’t be so friendly the second time, I assure you of that.”
The gun had several buttons on its side, all unlabeled. Why people who made things like this felt the need to make everything without good identifying marks was beyond her. Perhaps it was a way to create a more universal weapon without specific markings for one specific species. Who knew?
All she knew was the red button was on and the green button released the person.
“Brace yourself. The table is hard.”
She pressed the green button and Joey fell onto the table. He bounced slightly and gripped his side and groaned. She’d forgotten he was already hurt.
“I’m sorry. I should have put something soft down for you. I thought you’d catch yourself.”
Joey grunted, “Don’t worry about it. I’m fine.” He rolled off the table and onto the bench seat.
“We’ve got something around here for pain, but it’ll put you to sleep.”
“I’d rather be awake right now, thanks.”
June bit her upper lip. “You want a beer or something?”
“No. I don’t want anything.”
“Do you want to take a shower?”
“No! Nothing. Just leave me alone.”
“Look, Joey, I was depressed for a long time when I got here too. I know what you’re thinking. Talk to me.”
“If you know what I’m thinking then you’d just leave me alone.”
She wasn’t about to do that. “I took pictures when Vic took me back. If you want to, maybe later, you can look at them.”
“Are they something that’ll make me feel better?”
“Well, no. They’re kind of freaky with all the empty houses and empty streets. I still have nightmares.”
“Like the one I had?”
“Yes. I’m pretty sure I pushed that onto you. I’ve done the same thing to Vic.”
“So what’s up with him anyway? He doesn’t seem really surprised that I’m here or even care that his mom wants to see him. He just acts all tough and distant.”
June shook her head and brushed her hair back. “That’s just the way he is. Figure he came here and had no idea what to expect and no one here to help him. I think he thought he might find his dad and imagine how he felt when he got here, your age, and was all alone. He’s been through a lot.”
“How’d he get this ship and everything?”
“That’s for him to tell you. I’m not going there and I probably won’t be there when he does finally tell you. Hearing that story once was enough for me.”
And it had been enough. She still got shivers thinking about the first time Vic told her. She’d only been on the ship for a couple weeks when he told her. She would listen to it if Vic made her, but she wasn’t going to do it willingly.
“It’s that bad?”
“Look, you’ll have to wait until he tells you, but yes, it’s that bad. If you think you’re having a bad day, well, just wait until he tells you. You’ll look at him differently. He’s stubborn and all, but…”
What else could she say. She hadn’t given it much thought about what Vic’s personality was like. After hearing his story about what it was like when he got here, she didn’t want to hear anything more about it. He’d tried on occasion, but she would always have something better to do and leave him talking with Mike or Dexter.
SPX-39’s head rose slightly from its body. June smiled. Finally a distraction. The robot was distracting almost to a fault.
“SPX-39, it’s safe to come out. This is Joey. He’s not going to hurt you.” She held a hand out to allow it to sit next to her.
“SPX-39 is not so sure about that,” it said in its electronic voice.
“He’s from the same place that Vic and I are from. You can trust him.”
“SPX-39 doesn’t trust Vic.”
“You trust me, don’t you?” June asked in a cooing voice.
SPX-39 expanded a little more. She had to work with it many times. Vic just didn’t have the ability to talk nice with it. He got frustrated too easily.
“SPX-39, this is Joey. Joey, this is SPX-39.”
“Um, nice to meet you.” Joey reached out to shake its hand.
SPX-39 shrunk back.
June said softly, “Where are your manners? Shake Joey’s hand and be nice to him. He’s not going to hurt you.”
“SPX-39 thinks he wants to crush my hand.”
“He’s not going to crush your hand.”
Slowly one arm extended and touched Joey’s ever so briefly before retracting.
“Now that you’ve done that, please go talk to Tootsie so we can get underway.”
“Because June wishes it, SPX-39 will do it.”
The robot expanded to its full height and raced from the room. June laughed. Joey was still looking at his hand.
“What is it?” she asked.
“That’s the first robot I’ve touched and I think it was the strangest thing that’s happened to me since I’ve been here.”
“Really? You’ve met Joop-Nop, haven’t you?”
“Well, yeah. That was weird too. Is there anything else I should be prepared for?”
June laughed. Oh was he in for more surprises. He still hadn’t met Mike.
Purchase your copy today